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Opinions of Sunday, 2 August 2009

Columnist: Nyarko, Kingsley

Diversity, key to progress and development

A lot of Ghanaians are almost on the verge of giving up on the country, simply because they find it extremely incomprehensible why they continuously wallow in abject poverty in the midst of abundant material?? and mineral resources. They struggle to come to terms with the disconnection between these resources and their living conditions, and wonder when they are going to reach the “promised land”- socio-economic wholeness. And I think that they are bloody right. Their fears and disappointments are no fluke when we take a look at empirical evidence and history. In fact, there is an inverse relationship between our natural resources and our standard of living. If you take a critical look back at our history, we don’t deserve to be where we are in this century. We should be doing better than most of the emerging economies in Asia such as Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and many others.

Apart from the fact that we are the first country in Africa, south of the Sahara to gain independence from our colonial overlords, our founding fathers laid down a very strong foundation upon which we have failed over the years to build on. Although, the pace of our development has been very slow, I am optimistic that there can be a turnaround if the right measures are put in place. Many a Ghanaian thinks that although things seem to be out of hand at the moment, they will look up again. And I cannot agree more with these bullish individuals who seem to have the nation at heart. The onus therefore lies on the government to act swiftly by implementing pragmatic programs to put the economy on the way to full-scale recovery.

We can overcome our failures, and put our disappointments behind us because in my interactions with some of the folks scattered around the globe, I see the soul and psyche of individuals who think Ghana and nothing else. People who think that it is time to put our beloved country at the right place in history. These are people who think that if they fail to make our country a better place for our children and generations unborn, posterity will not forgive them. In fact, to make an impact in this world, and create a good future for the next generations demand that we have to lose for them to gain. If we don’t sacrifice, they would be sacrificed. If we don’t give, they won’t receive, and their futures will not be different from ours? even worse I vouch.

But for us to be able to realize this noble agenda of transforming our motherland, it behooves on all of us to contribute our quotas regardless of our political affiliations, religious associations, biases, etc. It is only after we have come to the realization that the survival and success of the nation is the collective responsibility of all Ghanaians, and not a select few of individuals who think they own the country that we can confidently claim to be on the path of progressive and sustainable development. We don’t succeed when we always stick to our own opinions and consider those of others as nothing more than a figment of their own imaginations. We should learn to accept the ideas, views, and opinions of others regardless of their tribe, religion, political affiliation, etc. etc. if those ideas are capable of moving our country forward. The moment we perceive people, who hold views contrary to ours as enemies, and not partners in progress, we are denying ourselves of progress.

The business of politics or governance is not about us, our parties, “our world”, but the country. For us to succeed as a nation, we need to promote and appreciate diversity. We should understand that "the diversity in the faculties of men, from which the rights of property originate, is not less an insuperable obstacle to a uniformity of interests. The protection of these faculties is the first object of government."? James Madison. According to Malcolm S. Forbes, "diversity is the art of thinking independently together." Let our government and politicians do their best in promoting and forging diversity, and not division among the citizenry. Let us promote diversity in our country; let us agree to disagree without being disagreeable. That is the beauty and essence of multi-party democracy. Progress is conceived on ideas and delivered via diversity, and not insult and intimidation.

In concluding, we have to fathom that we stand a greater chance to gain, and thus move our dear country forward when we respect and appreciate each other irrespective of their backgrounds. Let us do our best in burying our biases and prejudices, and recognize and utilize the potentials of the Ghanaian; anything short of that will drag us back. Let us not forget that unity in diversity is the strength of progress and development. We stand when united, but perish when divided. God bless Ghana!!

Source: Kingsley Nyarko, PhD, Educational Consultant, IAF- Munich (kingpong73@yahoo.com)