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Opinions of Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Columnist: Kuma, Francis Kwaku

Ghanaian Engineers and Scientists: The eagles that refuse to soar

In this era of robotic technology our cocoa farmers still use the same farm implements used by Tetteh Quarshie centuries ago when he first brought the cocoa beans from Fernando Po. In this machine era the Kente weavers in Bonwire still use the same Kweku Ananse web weaving techniques used generations ago when the kente was first discovered. 

In this era of ploughs, and combine harvesters our noble farmers still depend on sticks, hoes and cutlass to cultivate the land. The question is where are our scientists and engineers that successive governments spent so much money in training?

It’s a know fact that since the days of Nkrumah several other governments tried in developing our own scientists and engineers. Talented students were sent to universities abroad to acquire skills needed to develop our industries, agriculture, housing, drainage etc. Apart from the USA and the UK these students were sent to Eastern European countries to train. 

Fidel Castro of Cuba also trained scores of them in the field of engineering and science. Despite all these efforts none of these students have been able to wave the magic wand to change the fortunes of the country.

Some of these science and engineering students failed to return to help the country. These traitors now live in the comforts of Europe and USA while the poor people who helped to finance their education still flounder in utter dearth. Some of these self-centred ones let down the country by naturalizing as citizens of their host nations. 

They gave several excuses for failing to return to Ghana. The frequent one is the country does not have the required facilities for effecting any systematic transformation. The irony is these guys were sent abroad to acquire the essential skills that will help the country develop these facilities.

In any case the loyal ones who returned sadly became eagles that cannot soar. Open drains choked with filth in Accra and other major cities in Ghana still plagued the country. Industries in Tema are collapsing due to lack of technology and constant power supply. Our science and engineering flops have failed to move Ghana to the promise land of milk and honey where our children can enjoy and achieve their dreams. Where our teenagers like their equals in the UK or US can also play computer games on the Nintendo DS and listen to soul searching music on iPod Nano. Where did we go wrong?

Given that our scientists and engineers happen to be falcons that cannot scale the cottons of the heavens we should seek for Scientists and Engineers abroad. We should seek engineers who can develop underground sewage system so the Korle lagoon will be free from human waste. Engineers that can develop solar panels so we could have uninterrupted power supply which the Akosombo is incapable of providing. Instead of begging for aid from the America as we often do, we should rather beg for the miracle performing scientists and engineers in the Pentagon and NASA, to help us transform the corn growing belts of the Afram Plains into the prairies of Canada. 

The scientists and Engineers that have forged the Orion Space Shuttle destined to carry man to the planet Mars in the near future to help build canals to irrigate the Accra plains into arable lands once again. The developed countries like the USA or the UK entice Scientists and Engineers into their countries through various science and engineering schemes so why not do same.

Every year DFID, Ford Foundation etc offer scholarships to so called brainy students from Ghanaian institutions to further their education abroad. Well, DFID or Ford Foundation should consider focusing their attention on our artisans like the blacksmiths, wood carvers kente weavers etc. Unlike those so called scholars these artisans are more innovative. 

The blacksmiths for instance produced the hoes, cutlasses etc use for cultivating the land. These agencies should consider supporting these artisans to develop harrows and combine harvesters so our farmers in the Northern Ghana could grow more millet to feed the nation. So Aveyime rice growers in the Volta region would not have to break their backs on the paddy fields.

Our scientists and engineers just like the legal flops turned politicians have failed us. There is this argument that we had independence at the same time as Malaysia. The mockery is while Malaysia is so industrialized we still depend on the same rudimental implements used by our ancestors centuries ago. This goes to prove that our ancestors were smarter than us. 

With all the exposures and trainings we had we have failed woefully to improve on the inventions we inherited from them. We are incapable of improving on the farming techniques they transferred to us. Neither have we been able to improve on the catering skill they bequeathed to us.

Francis Kwaku Kuma

Koforidua Poly