Diasporian News of Thursday, 26 September 2013
Source: Sakyi, Kwesi Atta
By Kwesi Atta Sakyi
I was motivated to write this article by a rejoinder to one of my recent articles entitled, Ghanaian Diaspora and Agricultural Development in Ghana. The forumer on Ghanaweb intimated that many rich Ghanaian Diasporeans fear to go home to invest because our politicians treat them to sore looks, and as cash cows to be milked.
He revealed that some aspiring presidential candidates, prior to the general elections, troop to foreign capitals to meet with the Ghanaian Diasporeans to raise huge sums of money from them for their campaigns, promising them heaven on earth should they win the elections. This practice has been going on for decades so much so that our Diasporeans in places like the UK, the USA, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and Canada are sick and tired of the perpetual begging. In the first place, Diasporeans have not been enfranchised with the vote; neither is there a Ministry set up solely to deal with their welfare.
It is estimated by IOM that there are about 1 million Ghanaians in the Diaspora who make substantial contributions to the Ghanaian economy by their remittances, which at the last count is about 4 billion dollars per year. It is now estimated that Diasporean remittances are the third source of foreign exchange earnings in Ghana.
This is the more reason why our government should seriously consider empowering Diasporeans with the vote, as it is done by countries such as the USA, the UK and the like. Nigerian Diasporeans send home about 18 billion dollars a year, while Egypt leads in Africa with 21 billion dollars annually. There are those propagandist Ghanaian Diasporeans located in foreign capitals, who spew garbage on Ghanaweb for days on end. I wonder how much those mispatriots send home to Ghana to help the national kitty.
They write jaundiced, prejudiced, highly biased and subjective articles on behalf of their preferred political parties in Ghana. Are they sponsored to write? Of course, in this day and age, we cannot deny them freedom to free speech and conscience. What is abhorrent, is their penchant, proclivity and lewd inclination to fabricate insults and blatant lies about their own country and post them online, denting our image.
Such nonsensical writers include Adofo Rockson, Katakyie, Kwame Okoampa Ahoofe among others. It is very sad indeed that in this age and day of enlightenment, such characters in the Diaspora should do a disservice to their country by writing to inflame passion, and to stoke the embers of tribalism, and to poison the minds of Ghanaians so as to hate their lawfully-elected government, or to rise up against one another.
Is Ghana not a land of sages, savants, gurus, and astute people? Is Ghana not the land of Kwegyir Aggrey, Kwame Nkrumah, John Agyekum Kufuor, Kofi Annan and Nana Akufo Addo Dankwa, among other illustrious personalities, past and present? At least, it is comforting to learn that the current administration in Ghana has set up a Diaspora desk at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), based at the Flagstaff House, to coordinate and promote Ghanaian Diasporean affairs.
Hopefully, this outfit will eventually grow with time to become a fully-fledged Ministry. It is hoped that Diasporeans will keep faith by supporting whichever government is in power to solve the myriad problems at home. Of course, the relationship between the government on the one hand, and the Diasporeans on the other hand, should be on a quid pro quo or reciprocity basis. Nothing goes for nothing. In 1776 at the Virginia Congress, and again in a symbolic act of defiance against totalitarian rule from far-flung Britain, the Founding Fathers in America rebelled in the Boston Tea Party and declared, ‘No representation, no taxation.’
In similar fashion, Ghanaian Diasporeans can also declare, ‘No franchise, no remittance’. I will suggest that our various embassies and high commissions around the world should keep tabs on those roguish foreign-based Diasporean writers who ruffle feathers and muddy the media waters. If such miscreants are found, they should be brought to book by making them face the full rigour of the law, whether Ghanaian law or the law of the land where they are domiciled or better still, they should be dragged and paraded before the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague.
We cherish freedom of speech and conscience but not the freedom to incite people to rebel against their duly elected government, or to take the licence to insult with impunity, and impugn the integrity of leaders, by alleging corruption against them without substantiated evidence. When people write in the media, they should proffer balanced views and write with facts and figures. They should aspire to write even-handedly without emotions, sensationalism and insults.
Diasporeans should also be wary of Presidential aspirants and their cohorts from Ghana, who approach them for funding with the promise of awarding them lucrative contracts, and rewarding them with ministerial positions should they win the elections. Our rich Ghanaian Diasporeans should be discerning when they are approached by these globe-trotting politicians, who use general elections campaigns to cash in on the occasion in order to fleece them of their hard-earned dollars. In commerce, there is an injunction which states, caveat vendor, caveat emptor.
The seller and the buyer should all beware when engaging in transactions. It is also said that once bitten, twice shy. It will be better for our rich Diasporeans to go home to Ghana to invest in viable economic ventures, rather than throwing away their largesse at mirage political aspirations.
Ghanaian Diasporeans should discountenance some of those political globe-trotters who go round the globe as doomsayers and demagogues, peddling lies and polluting the minds of Diasporeans that there are dire economic straits at home. Which country is not going through difficult economic vicissitudes? The friendly advice to Diasporeans is that they should endeavour to go home often to visit, so as to see things for themselves first hand, for, seeing is believing.