500th MADINGHANA POST: OPRAH, BRENE BROWN AND ME!

Posted on June 20, 2013

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This is the 500th post since I started the madinghana.wordpress blog on May 17, 2009. Remember the mad could stand for my state of mind, although I think I have become saner over the years. But more and more, I would like to think, it’s all about the acronym m.a.d. standing for MAKING A DIFFERENCE
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This post is about ME, and only ME. That’s one of the 22 madinghana blog categories and of the 499 posts, there are only 28 where I have indicated ME. I’ve never felt that I am important in the scheme of things. It’s always been about the issue, be it local here in Kumasi like signs or noise or zoning or speed bumps, be it national like right at the beginning of the blog in 09 Obama’s visit or now the SCRAP SHORT TERM TOURIST VISAS TO GHANA, be it African like posts on Libya’s former dictator Gaddafi or Sudan’s present dictator al-Bashir or those reflecting on the world like the celebration of International Women’s Day.

The springboard for this post is a magazine article in the latest June, 2013 issue of O The Oprah Magazine..and not the on-line edition. How did we get the real McCoy here in Kumasi you might ask? Well, African-American guests left it for Charity who told them she just happens to be Oprah’s biggest fan in the whole wide world. I just happened to pick it up to look at the pretty pictures…..
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The article is entitled “The Whole-hearted Life” and it features a conversation between Brene Brown, a social work researcher at the University of Houston, and Oprah. I had never heard of Brene Brown of TED talk fame and Brene Brown, author of Daring Greatly.
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But, along with Oprah, I’m having an a-ha moment.

In the article, Brown talks about her own a ha moment which sprang from a quote by Theodore Roosevelt:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the ,man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs…(And) if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”

From this quote all her research into vulnerability and scarcity came into perspective. It’s hard to articulate all this in the western context that Brown lives, works and studies in, so I’ll try to briefly translate it into a Ghanaian context..

In the west, scarcity is seen in terms of never having enough, always wanting more. It gives rise to shame and fear. Here, I think, scarcity is real, people just don’t have, and it often gives rise to corruption, cheating and trickery born out of a feeling of impunity and never associated with shame nor fear.

And if one chooses the ethical life here, scarcity just leads to silence and paralysis. People just get used to having less, living with less, expecting less, and further rationalizing having less and arguing against efforts to create more.

Here’s an example, I think…as I have mentioned, I have been lobbying for the elimination of short-term tourist visas to Ghana and I got a question on what the benefits would be. Here’s the Facebook conversation with my brief introduction:

Christopher Scott
An interesting conversation when I was out on FB campaigning for the Scrap Short Term Tourist Visas to Ghana! May I add that this is the mindset we are up against…..looking forward to your comments……

“Christopher Scott
Great initiative! If you are concerned about tourism in Ghana, take a look at another FB group page SCRAP SHORT TERM TOURIST VISAS TO GHANA and sign the Change.org petition of the same name. Thank you.

………………….What are the benefits of scraping short-term tourist visas?
11 hours ago · Like

Christopher Scott Increased arrivals, better branding of GH-reflects people friendly, open, job creation, poverty alleviation, increased tax revenues
10 hours ago via mobile · Like

………………………..On the surface, all are plausible reasons but needs to looked at in-depth…
10 hours ago · Like

…………………………Christopher, somehow, I think that is not what Ghanaians want. Job creation? What kind of jobs? Tax revenues? I almost laughed when I read that one. Even with visas we have enough problems. How are we going to cope when we leave our ‘doors’ open. Let us be realistic here. When we are talking about things like these, let us not leave out culture. We can’t all do things the same way. It must be adapted to our culture or else it won’t work and it will just frustrate us.
10 hours ago · Like

Christopher Scott Just join SCRAP SHORT TERM TOURIST VISAS TO GHANA FB GROUP. There is a different us, a different culture of faith and values. And you will sell more …………….!
3 hours ago via mobile · Like

………………………Why do I feel as if I’ve just been insulted? You obviously have different values..”

But the whole-hearted person engages. He dares to show up and be seen. He’s in the arena. That’s me! I’m here and I’ve been here for a long time.

Yes, I am vulnerable, especially initiating the SCRAP SHORT SHORT TERM TOURIST VISAS which is perhaps taking me along on a collision course with the Ghana Immigration Service. To date, about a month and a half into the Change.org petition of the same name, we have 122 signatures. It is understandable why there are not more…

But my life is more meaningful now knowing that I am energizing an issue. Tourist visas to Ghana are increasingly more expensive-funnily enough rates increased on May 1 the day I initiated the campaign. What’s more regulations have been put in place like acquiring a letter of invitation from someone in Ghana. Undoubtedly, these stricter requirements are having a detrimental affect on Ghana’s tourism industry and on the nation as a whole.

I am thankful to whatever pushed me impromptu on May 1st to start the campaign and I pursue it with joy knowing that if the cause succeeds, it will benefit a lot of people and establishments, an economy and a nation. And should I stumble and fall, at least I tried; and sometime, someplace, someone will continue the mission.

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Posted in: ME