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Opinions of Friday, 10 December 2010

Columnist: Adjei, Nsiah

The confused continent

It was in the late 70’s.And as kids, we were curiously searching for answers;
answers to the causes of: malaria, barrenness, toothache, poverty, road accidents,
madness, epilepsy, cancer etc. We also wanted to understand why almost
everything around us was created or indirectly controlled by whites. And so we
approached grandma for answers.
Grandma pointed to the pinnacle of the tallest building in town- the Presbyterian
Church.” This is the cause, it’s a playing place for owls (“patu”), she shouted.
According to grandma-the owl carries a bad spirit. And that is the cause of
Africa’s under-development. “The day the owl become extinct, the continent would
develop”, she concluded.
For several years and in town and villages across Africa-the owl knows no peace. I
remember seeing schools coming to a close because an owl has appeared in its
ceiling; I also remember police contingents coming out with woods and cutlasses to
chase out owls .The cliché then was: Kill the owl, kill poverty.
As the years sprinted by, grandma became weak and passed on. And the owl was
nowhere-yet the African continent was always in the” news”. We still needed
We therefore approach, a newfound friend –a very wealthy, politician for the
answers.”Slavery and colonisation created the mess”, he said
We have a joined confuse generation. Churches wanted witches burnt; Grandma wanted
the owl killed. The politician wanted reparation and loans- all in the name of
Three decades down the line, we are confused the more .Because majority of what most
Africans think are Development Plans and blue prints are just mere suggestions-not
solutions. And the only thing missing in these documents is the killing of owls,
albinos and witches.
Africa is now the breeding grounds of a new type of expertise called: The Suggestion
Expert. The continent can boast of Suggestion Experts in Law, Power
Generation, Oil, Development, Power Supply, Bee Keeping, Engineering, Economics, and
Medicine. In fact, majority of what most Africans think are “important suggestions”
from their educated brothers and sisters, to consolidate democracy and development
in the continent is just foolish talks and quarrels intended to raise the sugar
level of the continent and its citizenry.
Ghana, one of Africa’s exemplary democracies discovered oil some few years ago. The
country is expected to rake in an annual revenue of about $1 billion i.e. say $25
billion in 25 years. This $25b is what Mark Zukerberg, an unassuming Harvard-dropout
“made” when he and his colleagues used a few computers to design the social
network site: Facebook.
Yet the country and its citizens are confused as to how to disburse the money.
Recently chiefs from Ghana’s oil region –the western region, came to the seat of
government to suggest and appeal for 10% of the oil revenue. Elsewhere, they would
have come with a comprehensive budget and presentation in hand that shows the type,
cost, duration and benefits of the projects that the 10% money would be used for.
The chiefs came with nothing and left with nothing.
Ghana’s oil story is similar to the poor, cocoa farmer who found a $50 million
uncut-diamond under his ramshackle house. The man wanted to use the money to put up
a new house, educate his children. And donate a part to his local church and
charity; the wife wanted the diamond planted on her old wedding ring; the children
wanted the diamond sold and the money sink in kiddie account, cars and candies.
Grandma may be right that the cause of Africa’s under-development is a bird in the
bush. Because Economist, Sergeants, Chiefs, Journalist, Doctors, Pastors, Engineers,
lawyers, Bankers etc have failed to solve the continent’s problems.
The nation has to award her the highest award ever given to any African in living

Adjei, Nsiah (CCS)