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Opinions of Friday, 15 February 2008

Columnist: Ablakwa, Samuel Okudzeto

I weep!

While the international spotlight on Ghana due to the Ghana 2008 football tournament was reaching its crescendo and we were all happy as Ghanaians that we were receiving positive attention in the international media, President Kufuor by one singular act might have totally eroded these gains.

So this is the extent the African leader will go just to receive any award and so-called acceptability from the Whiteman.

I simply couldn’t believe my eyes when watching GTV news last Saturday the 9th of February 2008 only to see President Kufuor in Rome at the conference of the World Food Programme. Now this is the shocker - transported to Rome were innocent children from Ghana who we are told were selected from beneficiaries of the Government’s School Feeding Programme to go to Rome and tell the world how but for President Kufuor’s School Feeding Programme they would have been hungry, would have had stunted growth and even might have died by now.

After these pathetic coached recitals by these kids from Ghana, the news item proceeds to tell us that President Kufuor was then awarded for this heroic feat of providing one hot meal a day for these Ghanaian children.

Clearly, this whole episode is a huge dent on the African image. This action is yet another disgraceful one that will portray to those whites in Rome that the African Leader thinks of his people as backward and absolutely inferior. What is worse, it shows the lack of vision and the lack of basic understanding of what national leadership is and therefore what a Presidency should entail. The African confidence has once again been punctured and this time by her own immediate past African Union Chairman.

I am sure that even the whites in Rome will be extremely frightened at this development because they know that the Government of Ghana’s own statistics indicate that less than 10% of basic school going children is being fed. Am sure they will be wondering what is happening to the other 90% that’s if they remain alive as we speak. Even for these lucky 10%, the whites at the conference will be wondering what happens to them so far as breakfast and supper are concerned. Yet again, the whites will wonder what happens to these children on vacations and holidays when they don’t go to school and hence cannot taste of President Kufuor’s one hot meal a day.

I Cannot fathom why anybody will want to award a president for attempting to feed less than ten percent of school going children in his own country once a day and minus vacations and holidays with aid money – or is this a manifestation of how low the bar is brought when it comes to the assessment of the African leader! Those whites of the World Food Programme who gathered in Rome to perpetrate this aberration should be ashamed of their double standards and hypocrisy and as for our Ghanaian Government headed by President Kufuor I pray they find their conscience.

On the other hand, there are more important issues on the rights of children and why for cheap anti-Pan Africanist propagandist goals, the rights of these children could be so flagrantly violated just to facilitate a nebulous award for the President. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states:

PART I

Article 1

For the purposes of the present Convention, a child means every human being below the age of eighteen years unless under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier.

Article 2

1. States Parties shall respect and ensure the rights set forth in the present Convention to each child within their jurisdiction without discrimination of any kind, irrespective of the child's or his or her parent's or legal guardian's race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, property, disability, birth or other status.

2. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that the child is protected against all forms of discrimination or punishment on the basis of the status, activities, expressed opinions, or beliefs of the child's parents, legal guardians, or family members.

Article 3

1. In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.

2. States Parties undertake to ensure the child such protection and care as is necessary for his or her well-being, taking into account the rights and duties of his or her parents, legal guardians, or other individuals legally responsible for him or her, and, to this end, shall take all appropriate legislative and administrative measures.

3. States Parties shall ensure that the institutions, services and facilities responsible for the care or protection of children shall conform with the standards established by competent authorities, particularly in the areas of safety, health, in the number and suitability of their staff, as well as competent supervision.

Yes, these children might be very poor and may even truly depend on this hot meal a day programme for survival but they also have rights and we should respect their rights and also protect them from further humiliation in Rome. And I dare ask that will President Kufuor have loved to have any of his grand children be amongst these children who were sent on this discriminatory recital in Rome? Will any of the ministers of state have loved to include their children amongst these pathetic children? Well, I know this is not even going to be possible on the basis that the children of these “great” people of our country don’t even attend these sub-standard schools where these one hot meal a day are being served. It’s sad that Government didn’t think about what this does to the self-confidence of these children of ours.

Again, the Kufuor administration must be told that this act itself is a confirmation of the levels of poverty and hardship in this country. That school enrollment will increase by more than 30% because of GH C 3 Capitation Grant and school feeding, and that parents will allow their children regardless of the shame and indictment on their responsibility, to recite these coached testimonies of how one hot meal a day rescues them from hunger, stunted growth and possible death is a reflection of the intolerable levels of poverty in Ghana and the failure of the NPP’s economic interventions over the past seven years.
God Save us!

Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa (Former President, NUGS, Leading member, CJA)

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.