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Opinions of Saturday, 4 March 2006

Columnist: Adomako, Appiah Kusi

Towards An Indigenous Capitalism

...The Future Perspective For Ghana

One of the reasons which caused disagreement between Kwame Nkrumah and J.B Danquah apart from the approach towards independence was the issue of socialism and capitalism. Nkrumah?s inclination to socialism or communism was quite obvious because at the time African nations were trying to break free from European hegemony it was the then Soviet Union which had compassion for Africa colonies. Personally I think if I had grown-up in the 60?s I would have been the field secretary of a communist party.

After nearly fifty years of self-governance we have experienced socialism and capitalism be it under Nkrumah, Afrifa, Busia, Acheampong, Rawlings or Kufour. We are all witnesses to Ghana asymptotically approaching a failed state as a result of polices and governance which did not recognise the indigenous people. The solution to our economic problems as a nation does not lie in the fountains of verbal oratories from the conservative socialist nor does it lie in the hands of the moderate capitalist but rather a higher synthesis of the two which reconciles the thesis and antithesis. This is what has been known as the Hegelian dialectics.

For an example it has been suggested that absolute democracy is the best political system(thesis) but in practice, it is also known to breed disagreements and chaos which threaten to destroy the idea. Then also, in democracy, authority and privilege must be given to a few(antithesis). But if this tends to create totalitarianism and a repressive state we may compromise on federalism, a balance of powers and representational democratic voices. This is the synthesis.

Having tasted and tested extensive socialism and capitalism we have seen the antithesis of the two and it important that we evolve a form of economic governance which respects the cultural and social orientation of the people and does not thrust people into abject poverty. This is what the Nana Akuffo Addo Honourable Minister for Foreign Affairs and the MP for Abuakwa South calls INDIGENOUS CAPITALISM. Perhaps the Honourable Minister should be given the trademark of INDIGENOUS CAPITALISM.

What is indigenous capitalism all about? It is a programme that one needs look nowhere beyond our own heritage and our recent progress in order to envision and understand. Indigenous capitalism is all about the kind of wealth accumulation that ensures no one has to go hungry: that ensures the greatest number in the population actively participate and benefit from economic growth. The kind of capitalism that is protective of the vulnerable, and generous in its calculation of the bottom line.

There is a dire need today for a brand of Capitalism which is truly liberal and indigenous. It is Capitalism which is neither leftist nor rightist, but indigenous to the people. This brand does not look at Washington or Kremlin but looks at the local people in Nima, Asawase and Keta-Krachi. Indigenous capitalism proposes that in the country we share a great potential to build a system that consciously expands the frontiers of equal opportunity. We have the cultural resources that make it possible to advance capitalism in a progressive direction.

An indigenous Capitalist believes in broadening the marketplace; trusts in our human resource and initiative and develops that initiative. We cheat ourselves if we buy the lie that we need outsiders to teach us regional cooperation and entrepreneurial initiative. Even under the disincentives of colonial administration, our farmers moved this nation from a country that never saw a cocoa pod to the world?s leading exporter of cocoa inside of 22 years. One hundred years ago, our cocoa farmers developed a post-harvest method for preventing mould which was immediately adopted in South East Asia, and has been relied upon ever since. When our agriculturalists are introduced to Integrated Pest Management techniques that minimize the farmer?s dependency on imported petroleum based inputs, they immediately adapt and embellish the programme with their own strategies of locally sound crop management.

Indigenous capitalism encourages more and more of our citizens to become active players in the formal economy. Indigenous capitalism believes in transforming the majority of our people into middle-income earners in the shortest possible time. It is the conviction that we can expand the middle-class of our society to include the mainstream. An indigenous capitalist does not believe in keeping a pliable, manipulable mass of discontented grass roots supporters, forever perceiving themselves as underdogs and marginalized, whose only integrity lies in the camaraderie of an underclass free to raise a wahala on the streets because it has nothing to lose. Ghana?s economic development can only survive if it is inclusive. That inclusiveness is an instinctive feature of our own political culture, it is a defining feature of our indigenous leaders. No one needs to show us how to make one yam go around to every plate in the compound. Nor does anyone need to teach us how indigenous capitalism should work for the people. We know how; our ancestors have taught us; they continue to teach us. And what they teach us, no one can take away.

For this to succeed, we need selfless leaders who are more interested in the welfare of the masses than in their own interest. Nkrumah for instance has been chided by those who opine that our illustrious son concentrated too much effort and our resources on the rest of Africa in pursuit of total African freedom. But today, he has been vindicated ? the entire continent is free and therein lies Dr. Nkrumah?s greatness. We need this kind of selflessness in today?s leaders who will be committed to the total well-being of the longsuffering masses, who throng campaign grounds on empty stomachs to listen to promises which are never honoured, who come out on the streets in support of demonstrations rain or shine. We must distribute the benefits of this brand of capitalism for all to enjoy for a hungry man is an angry man.

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