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Opinions of Saturday, 21 January 2006

Columnist: Amankwa, Kwame

?Opanin Bob Ampadu? - says do not Lead till death do us part

It will appear that the best way to prolong and enjoy life is to have the opportunity and capability to hold dearly onto whatever gives you the ?feel good? factor, even if it amounts to displeasing others or presiding over the demise of your competitors and I believe this is a basic maxim held by many of our leading political elites.

There is an academically rich but practically poor continent called Africa. I do not wish to bore you again but this land continues to suffer from man-made social and economic tremors ever since it divorced itself from its colonial overlords. Our misfortunes have often been exacerbated by evils such as poverty, war, corruption, famine, environmental degradation, etc but worst of all has been bad leadership. In fact there have been extremely few good ones and plenty of bad ones. These bad guys have misruled and mismanaged to the extent that many innocent ones have been sent early to their graves. And they tend to stay the longest.

Even when some of the colonial overloads have had a change of heart and indicted the worst of the worst on the grounds of human rights abuses, money laundering etc, their fellow partners in crime have done everything possible to shield them away from prosecution and justice through the provision of safe transit routes or havens. Recently, a well built macho man, top influential person was found with over ?1m (one hundred million pounds) in his fridge in the UK. He was busted by the authorities. Days later this fellow had jumped bail and was back in his home country CELEBRATING HIS ?SAFE ESCAPE?. After all only superman has ever achieved such a feat. In the olden days, he would have been secretly drugged and hidden in a diplomatic baggage to go back to face justice, but these days they have become bold and daring. It is alleged fellow accomplices helped ?Kojo Kuri? to undergo the greatest gender ?realignment? in recent history, becoming ? Adwoa Kao? - well standing boobs, expensive lip stick, posh ladies knickers, abrokyire ladies shoes and hand bag, sleazy walking style, lip ? lip sweet voice, tantalising eye lashes, big afro-wig and all and thus evaded even the most observant of UK immigration officials. This sort of behaviour has often landed the continent in crisis.

Amanfuo, whenever there has been crisis, benevolent people from outside like Sir Bob Geldof - the ?Nana Ampadu? of western music - have never hesitated to organise aid concerts around the world to raise hard cash to feed, clothe and shelter the unfortunate in Africa. Even this gesture is sometimes abused by the very same leaders who created the crisis in the first place. Sometimes it feels like Africa is a land without owners, borders, authority or people. There have even been cases where individuals have sat down, bought their own ammunitions and hired strangers to go and overthrow governments so that they, not the people can enjoy the booty. Raping mother Africa and robbing her of her valuable resources has now become an international business. We claim to have Union of heads, Union of Currencies, Union of Security, Union of this and that, yet the continent is very exposed.

Many of my friends from the West Indies, an area which is less economically endowed, with bitter experiences of their own, have often expressed disgust at some of the stories of looting, abuse of expensive resources emanating from the continent. And the Almighty even continues to bless us, they say abundantly, with more resources- oil, oil and oil- which is making even the Chinese and Indians sit up and take notice.

Amanfuo, when you let your very own children go needlessly hungry, naked or parentless, (and many Africans are!) your neighbours will come in to feed them and by implication have a greater influence over the future of the family. A wicked neighbour can take advantage and abuse the children, rain soul destroying insults on the parents, grand parents etc or even take over the home in some extreme cases. Sadly this is what has been happening to our Africa over the years.

Outsiders and insiders are abusing our children as young as 10 years, the spread of prostitution for ?belly? purposes, looting of our land, feeding of natives to lions etc, stealing of millions of barrels of oil, dumping of unwanted goods, stealing of expensive cultural artefacts, dilution or adulteration of our customs etc. These days a Kumasi professor can not even use the ?G? word or refer to some man behaving girlishly when doing their engineering work as ?Kwadwo Basia or the Kwadwobasianization of our campuses? without being lambasted centre, left and right. Amanfuo, whatever happened to ?Akosua Kuma? in the land of plenty?. But just a few years ago this was unknown. Remember in the days of the revolution when the security agencies use to dish out severe ?whips? if one was seen wearing mini-skirt, goatee beard, toonaboo, Rolex wrist watch etc. So where have we come from and where are going? Or better still are we going or coming?

Recently Opanin Bob said something which was not only worth taking note of but also very troubling. Some might say he was poking his long nose into an area where he does not belong, but how can one stand aside and watch sane individuals commit brutal and unrelenting butchery on their own people and economies.

He said of the leader of one of the East African countries something to the effect that ?your time is up. Please go! You disgust me.? This was after the old man had initiated measures to alter the constitution and by extension prolong his stay on the throne, one day longer than it was necessary.

The old man or his advisers told Opanin to mind his own business. That they were practicing ?democracy?. The ?D? word has gained so much currency in our part of the world that its usage is just about losing it?s significance and shine. We have a situation where there is plenty of democratic talk but less democratic institutions and systems in operation. A cursory look at our governmental institutions reveals a pattern or system of ?perpetuation or non-surrender? of posts or positions. Managers manage forever even they become visibly inept. Crucially, many of our political leaders have this thing about them as well.

I do not know about you but for Opanin Geldof to tell an elderly head of state to go is not only an embarrassing proposition but an indication of the failures embedded within the political structures which lacks the mechanism to correct itself.

How on earth can Opanin say that, one may ask? Well folks as it turns out, a big chunk of the national budget are made up of foreign aid. I am no economist but I find it extraordinarily strange that one can prepare a budget, which better component is dependent on forecasted amounts that your neighbour, friend or relative abroad can or will be giving you. Is this good management or bad economics? When the foreign donations dries up, is threatened or some greedy individual loots the coffers, the whole budget falls into pieces and the citizenry suffers.

For instance your predicted expenditure this year is $20,000 of which $10,000 will be financed from lalasulala ? the technical term for begging. How far one succeeds with the begging bowl largely depends on your ?raps? and the belief that the donors have in you. Many of our countries have lived on borrowed funds year on year for the last two to three decades and this sickness sees no sign of disappearing. How our donors have not realised this or gotten bored of being told the same story and statistics year in year out is mind boggling.

Following on from Sir Bob?s remarks, the UK government, which is a major donor threatened or withheld some of its aid package. And already officials are beginning to show signs of discomfort as government officials are no longer be able to afford the resources to engage in useless trips abroad, or buy toys for their families this Christmas, pay foreign school fees abroad, gifts for their girlfriends etc. I applaud T. Blair / Gordon Brown for their efforts to secure debt relief etc for Africa, the only continent that has not seen any development in the last three to four decades. However I tend to agree with those who argue against propping regimes up with foreign aid. The more you give, the more they misuse and steal and the longer they stay. Money is the oxygen of political longetivity in our corner of the world. The pockets and thinking of many of our leaders is sadly deeper and bigger than that of papa Africa. And when the size of a person?s ankle begins to outweigh the human thigh, it signifies the presence of disease.

Many Africa countries are in turmoil because of what bad leadership and greed can do. However it is pleasing to note that in places like Ghana, we have for sometime now witnessed the passing of the political baton from one to another without any major hiccups. At the individual party level, many transitions have taken place after elections have been held, even though many have often alleged the changing of hands of billions of cedis and the physical assaults on others. Hopefully come 2008 we will have another go at electing a president in so far as the constitution remains unchanged, and this will be another success in the cup.

God bless Africa and Ghana the most peaceful place on earth were it not for the activities of the ?Armed Rob??????s?.

Did I hear someone say that the old man next door has plans to stay a day longer than is necessary? Papa don?t do that ooooooooooooh !!!!!!!!!!!!!.



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