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Opinions of Monday, 16 July 2007

Columnist: GNA

Poverty - Does it also affect the mind?

A GNA feature by Hannah Asomaning
Accra, July 09, GNA - It is the poor man that goes to seek advice from a rich man and not vice versa, Kwame said when discussing the issue of development and international relations with the writer. This statement is true in all aspectS of our Ghanaian society and even beyond; it is even seen in our religious settings. In the churches when there is fund raising programme, people forget that it is God that gives, the rich members of the church are selected as chairmen to preside over the programme.
This implies that the poor man does not have the capacity to gain wisdom not to talk of giving his opinion when there is a problem that needs brainstorming So does poverty affect the mind or for that matter, one's thinking level.
This scenario described above is reflective of the relationship between developing countries and the developed world. When our leaders travel abroad to negotiate policies with their European counterparts or with other leaders from the developed countries, are they able to speak on our behalf?
Do the ideas they put across reflect what is happening in the "third world" countries or it is what suits them? No wonder that Ms Maria Martens, a member of the European Parliament in Brussels remarked that African leaders have no capacity to negotiate with their European counterparts.
Maria Martens made the remark when African members of the "The Third Chamber," a Netherlands based NGO, that advocates strengthened political support for international cooperation and sustainable development visited the European Parliament to have first hand knowledge about the work of the European Commission.
It was not the first time that the members were hearing that, after 50 years of EU support for Africa there continued to be more poor people on the Continent.
It is ironic that after African leaders meet with the G8, IMF and the World bank, services that are needed most by the developing countries are more expensive than in the developed world. For instance one does not need up to a thousand dollars or even half to travel from Europe to the United Kingdom or America but when you are travelling from Africa to any European country, the United Kingdom or America you certainly need more.
Internet services in Ghana are expensive as compared to Internet services in the developed world.
Telephone facilities are equally expensive as compared to telephone services abroad.
When foreigners visit Ghana and are virtually "worshipped," one would think they have all the answers to eradicating poverty and thus it is very common to hear people say, "Obroni give me money." It is true when Mr. Kwesi Jonah, a Political Scientist at the University of Ghana said there is not much difference between liberal and social democrats in the African political setting.
Listening to an FM Station, Mr. Jonah said even though there are some cardinal differences between the two systems, developing countries are not entirely independent in deciding the approaches to their economies. He maintains that these economic programmes are handed down from Breton Woods' institutions and thus erode the impact of the political ideology of governments on their countries.
Our governance in Africa is not even determined by who is ruling, but by where the money comes from.
When you have no money to rule how do you determine your system of governance. The developed country is thus being governed by the developed world even though we have our governments. Again I ask, does poverty affect the mind? Your guess is as good as mine. 18 June 07


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