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Opinions of Monday, 11 September 2006

Columnist: Akosah-Sarpong, Kofi

Aliu Mahama And The Youth

Kofi Akosah-Sarpong, in Ottawa, Canada, says Ghanaian youth can accelerate Ghana’s pace of development, as Vice President Aliu Mahama urges, if they are oriented heavily in Ghanaian/African values first in a country which youth have appear directionless and weaker grasp of the country’s development process

Ghana’s Vice President Alhaji Aliu Mahama is good at raising pressing development issues that run at the soul of the country. Since becoming Ghana’s number two man, he has attempted to tackle developmental issues that appear insurmountable, from the terrible sanitation situations to rough infrastructural constructions to indiscipline. While his ability to see clearly through the dense national developmental issues may reveal his training as a building engineer, Mahama has not been able to use the enormous array of Ghanaian indigenous values and experiences, waiting to be tapped for national development, in the country’s progress.

Sometimes in confronting Ghana’s developmental problems Mahama reveals not only his ruling National Patriotic Party (NPP)’s lack of thorough grasp of why some of these obstacles stall Ghana’s progress but also the entire Ghanaian elites. Mahama’s youth-and-national-development talks reflect elites who are increasingly finding it difficult to raise the future national developers. And if the newly emerging controversial Canadian-driven science of epigenetic is anything to go by then the troubles Ghanaian youth are displaying in pushing the future development of Ghana is a mirror image of what Mahama and his associates have passed on to the youth – a country which elites have weak grasp of the cultural forces expected to drive its progress.

From his “failed” much-hyped war against indiscipline to efforts to re-orientate the office of the Vice President as a platform for developmental ideas, Mahama has failed to consistently link his broad range national developmental conversations heavily and openly in Ghanaian/African values and experiences as have been the case with other ex-colonies such as South Korea, Botswana, Japan, and Malaysia.

This makes Mahama’s conversation with Ghanaian youth as to how they are to carry out the mantle of Ghana’s progress not only confusing but shallow in regard to pinning his well-intentioned talks in the Ghanaian environment. In a country where the youth are directionless, a reflection of the weaknesses of the elite, Mahama’s urging of Ghanaian youth to “embrace measures that would develop their talents to accelerate Ghana's pace of development” sound superficial at best in practical terms and irrelevant in the real Ghanaian development process. Ghanaian youth handle skillfully the future progress of Ghana, as Mahama instructs them to do, if the fundamental values and histories that are they are to use are weak at best at the national level. How are Ghanaian youth to link, say, indigenous heroes and heroines such as the legendary Okomfo Anokye and Yaa Asantewaah as inspirational developmental role models in Ghana’s progress?

Mahama’s buzzword at the University of Ghana’s Newmont Ghana National Youth Achievers Awards forum, where he urged Ghanaian youth to either die a bit for Ghana’s progress was “change.” Ever since Mahama surprisingly became Ghana’s Vice President, he has been grappling with “change” in his attempts to float the re-thinking of Ghana’s progress. However, Mahama, like many a Ghanaian elite, is yet to demonstrate consistently and openly at the national level a thorough understanding of the indigenous values and experiences that could be mixed with Ghana’s colonial legacies and the enabling aspects of the global development process to effect a Ghanaian change and drive many a youth who is confused to help accelerate Ghana’s progress.

In the absence Ghanaian elites’ inability to re-orientate their country’s developmental passage within their core values in the global competitive development game, Mahama soliciting of the youth to “eschew negative tendencies and work hard to create a society where the country's cultural norms and practices would constitute the basis of moral judgment” will not have any impact on Ghana’s progress if not seen within the lens of Ghana’s values. From many a negative behaviour such as Pull Him Down (PHD) syndrome to poor sanitation practices, the view is that these negative attitudes emanate from Ghanaian elites’ inability to harness their well tried and tested values deeply to direct Ghana’s progress. In this sense, the youth crisis is a crisis of their elders’ inability to nurture their children to face future developmental challenges of Ghana.

Mahama’s talks of youth mentoring should start at the foundation of Ghana - traditional institutions, where the youth will be able to learn Ghanaian traditions and customs from first hands in their attempts to re-orientate and equip themselves both culturally and morally, and prepare themselves for Ghana’s developmental mantle from their elders. The idea here is that, a society’s progress, at any time, is measured by how its youth are grounded in the innate values that drive the society’s progress.

Mahama can take the lead by floating an annual development-driven Ghana Youth Festival where all forces of progress in the country would be marshaled to prepare the youth for the future progress of Ghana.



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