GHANA: WILL THE RETURN OF THE DIASPORA MAKE A DIFFERENCE?

Posted on December 10, 2010

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Thoughts on Reversing Ghana’s Brain Drain Key to Development….

In my last post, I called for Princeton University Professor of Philosophy Kwame Appiah, born to a Ghanaian father and a British mother, who herself lived in Ghana for over fifty years of her life, to come back to Ghana….

I am sure Wole Soyinka would want Appiah back as well. He thinks that reversing the brain drain is the key to Africa’s development.

http://www.cp-africa.com/2010/11/29/reversing-brain-drain-key-africas-development/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+CelebratingProgressAfrica+%28CP-Africa%29

To that I shout, “ELEPHANT TURDS”

Let every last Diasporan African come back, a member of the intelligentsia or not, and I wonder if it would make one iota of difference. For when will there be “truth and good governance”?….Pretty hard to put the cart before the horse.

First, there is a theory out there that Africans in Africa don’t truly want the Diaspora, often referred to as “the golden goose”, back. Well, yes, to visit friends and family and bury dead relatives, but NOT on a permanent basis. Hell, wouldn’t that mean that remittances-#3 in foreign exchange earnings-would stop? Wouldn’t that mean the relatives, who had made it overseas, would have to join the fray here in the WILD WILD WEST and survive like all of us here? So much for the family pension and support.

In actual fact, about 30 million Africans live and work outside their home countries. They send home some $40 billion dollars per year, close to the $50 billion the G-8 nations pledged to Africa a few years ago. Hey, their brains are at work for Africa, only outside Africa.

And what’s more, how many Diasporas actually truly plan to return…on a permanent basis? Wouldn’t that mean giving up a career, a salary, a pension fund, health benefits etc…etc…Have you seen any stats on just how many have returned, started businesses, stayed and made a difference? Do you ever read success stories besides Patrick Awuah and Ashesi University ?

Also one would think that the massive, bad news Africa media coverage intimidates people from coming back. Tragic, horrific, bad news stories that get front page coverage in the local press do influence decisions. How about this one:

http://tettehamoako.blogspot.com/2010/01/brutal-end-to-2009horror-all-over2-kids.html

I’m sure that put on the brakes in more than one person’s mind planning to come back in 2010 ….

But the one that grabbed me most was Daily Graphic front page story on the Diapason suicide in July, 2008. There is this picture of a terrific house in a posh Accra neighbourhood with a couple of cars parked outside and then this story….

http://tettehamoako.blogspot.com/2008/07/grisly-suicidei-failed-to-reconcile.html

Ugh, what’s the message there? STAY WHERE YOU ARE!

And just recently you can imagine the wires burning in the Ghanaian communities around the world at the news items concerning a father forced to rape his daughter during a bus hijacking at Kintampo-actually a hoax- and the burning to death of a 72 year old woman accused of being a witch at Tema Site 15.

And why shouldn’t the Diaspora stay where they are? Just google life expectancy for various countries and note the growing difference. I did it for my two countries: Canada 81 years, Ghana 56.6 years. Then think about differences in education and health care, you know those quality of life-standard of living indexes…

But, I think the most telling, determining factor is where would those returning live. A lot of Ghanaians residing abroad have built residences here in Ghana for their returns only to see their neighbourhoods compromised by commercial, noise making enterprises and looming apartment buildings. Why don’t government agencies like town and country planning, municipal environmental health departments or the environmental protection agency protect these neighbourhoods? You draw your own conclusions…..

Really though, we must put a positive spin on this for all is well and the status quo reigns. The entrenched elite that gets the best of everything is propped up and the diaspora is kept at bay. Heaven forbid if Ghanaians returned to stay with their value systems, work ethics and critical thinking along with their expectations for a better society with better public schools and health facilities, infrastructure etc.

Forgive my sarcasm, but I’m throwing down the gauntlet. For civil society and the rule of law to take hold, lots more diasporan Ghanaians have to return and challenge the status quo. At a distance, social networking just isn’t going to cut it.

MADINGHANA, WHO INCIDENTALLY HAS NEVER REGRETTED FOR A MOMENT HIS RETURN TO GHANA ELEVEN YEARS AGO, WELCOMES YOUR THOUGHTS ON REVERSING THE BRAIN DRAIN AS WELL AS STORIES OF PEOPLE MAKING SUCCESSFUL RETURNS AND MAKING A DIFFERENCE.

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