Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Impacts of the Knowledge Society on Economic and Social Growth in Africa (9781466658448): Lloyd G. Adu Amoah: Books | IGI Global

Kindly check out my latest work. A timely book on the information technology revolution and Africa. Just released.

Impacts of the Knowledge Society on Economic and Social Growth in Africa (9781466658448): Lloyd G. Adu Amoah: Books | IGI Global

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Ghana@57-A Patriot's Reflections

I have not been blogging for a while. But today I return to this undertaking on my country's 57th Independence(Chinweizu prefers the description "self rule"; and he is right for Ghana like all African countries have yet to be quite independent in the real sense of the word) anniversary.

I slept early yesterday. Part of my ritual so as a scholar I can work at dawn. But I had gone to bed with Accra's rather dry spell of waterlessness on my mind. I had heard that the taps were flowing during the day; the assurances of a contact at the GWCL gave some hope however dim. When I turned the taps on I was greeted by a farty flow of wind. My contact asked that I try again late at night. So I woke up at mid-night and the taps were flowing. That meant work. Storing water in receptacles lest the gods of the taps in their tyranny recede back to their plush redoubts to return a week hence. So here I was spending a good close to two hours on this chore; my books and laptop and articles relegated to waiting. And all this on Ghana's 57th anniversary. Water has became a luxury in a land awash with this liquid. In my parents house in Ashale-Botwe the taps have been dry for well close to two decades. I wonder why we fix taps in Ghana at all. Those who have run this country have conspired to author a perverted spatial calculus in which the greater one's distance from the official waterworks(Weija and Kpong) the greater one's water supply woes. Here in Accra people actually drink water not even fit for wild beasts. What happened to our country that has left my generation to reap the fiery whirlwinds of the failures of those who came before us?

In just three years two generations will have arisen in this Republic since independence. Countries in Asia have overcome their poverty and shame in less than a generation. It seems we wasted our generations. New China emerged in 1949. It bore the burdens good and bad of a 4000 year civilization. China had to confront the schemes of Western and Japanese imperialism. By 1990(51 years later) China had emerged from the ashes. I have been reading a fascinating book that traces the intellectual architecture of one of Singapore's leading statesmen Goh Keng Swee. He made profound statements. One is this view in a speech he gave in 1960 titled " This is how we spend your money": 

" a government is judged not so much by its expressions of good intentions but by its concrete achievements in the way of economic prosperity and public welfare." 

Changi Airport Street- the signs of the brilliant minds that built Singapore in evidence
On that score our lot in Ghana is one of misery except for those who gloat in comparing our existence with the most wretched of the earth. While those in government and access to power are fixated on expanding their girths and grabbing all the material goodies in the world they have left the rest of us to a hellish fate. The doctor-patient ratio is a harrowing 1: 15, 292. Beyond simple diseases we all sentenced to death unless one can find the means to approach the Northern hemisphere and now increasingly Asia. Ghana has no power literally. Today when the lights go off and return one does not hear that joyous uproar wafting from homes as it used to be in the past: the citizen harried and dribbled by fork and glib-tongued politicos has developed an understandable cynicism almost bordering on self resignation. Education has become the politician's electioneering play toy; to be toyed with to garner votes from an ostensibly hopelessly stupid voter. Even the internet age has passed us by it will seem. Our internet speeds are pathetic making work by scholars and other professionals(and the ordinary citizen) pure tedium; and they do not come cheap! In all this I remember when Ghana was 40. That was 17 years ago. As always we shot the breeze. I bet my last bottom pesewa  that short of a miracle we will blow the time by the time we 60-our record is clear. 

I return to Goh again. The strategic economic mind he reflects on Singapore's advantages as it begun the ardous task of nation building :

" our central geographical position, our banking services, our port, our stable currency,easy exchange rate control regulations, ample supplies of power and  water, cheap land, low building cost..." 

The port of Singapore yonder
I visited Singapore last year. For me it was a policy education trip to see the country I have studied very closely. Ghana had and still has  such advantages Goh referred to and more. We have begun to lose some(certainly for power and water we are goners). The cedi is chaffy; a very pale shadow of its former self some very long decades ago.Certainly our current forex regime is darn primitive. The banks are recording manually in those fat ugly books forex transactions over the counter. Our policymakers never heard of transaction costs of neo-classical economics(and even heterodox economics) and the need to reduce same as stringently as possible. Singapore has one port. We have two. We can create more(the Boankra inland port is a case in point). What have we done with all of the advantages we had some of which we are beginning to lose? And where do we go from here?

Singapore skyline: "it is glorious to be rich"
As it stands we are in many ways still a toddling colony content as we are with paltry handouts from others. Senior government officials have made this beggary central to their discourse. Not yet Uhuru it seems. One thing is positive though. By sweat, blood and toil we have forged for ourselves an intelligent framework for changing governments periodically. This process must justify itself or become a fetid ritual. This process must deliver for us patriotic leaders who will make not a difference but the difference.

I return to Goh finally:

"There are no benevolent foreigners knocking around the world anxious to discharge these duties and responsibilities which are rightly our own. Let us not face the economic problems in the era of freedom with the mental attitudes appropriate to colonial servitude. Let us never forget that self-government is not possible without self-reliance. This is true both in politics as well as economics."   
I will return to another anniversary reflection in 2017. Still I love this country warts and all for it bears my umbilical cord and the bones of my great ancestors! Happy Anniversary Mother Ghana! 


Friday, 26 July 2013

MULTILOGUE: mind and matter: OKoh and why Oko must go!

MULTILOGUE: mind and matter: OKoh and why Oko must go!: Let Freedom and Justice Reign in Ghana! I have not blogged in a long time. Recent events have however created enough psychic dissonan...

OKoh and why Oko must go!

Let Freedom and Justice Reign in Ghana!
I have not blogged in a long time. Recent events have however created enough psychic dissonance for me to write again especially the fiasco surrounding the renaming, unnaming and renaming(a very untidy process obviously) of the Madam Okoh rectangular hockey patch. I must indicate some disclaimers as I make my points on this matter. I am a scholar by profession and vocation.I am not a politician( in truth there is nothing necessarily ignoble about being one ) even though I am deeply interested in power and who(and which groups) wield it and to what ends. I am not a sleight of hand purveyor of public displays of righteous indignation on matters of state in order to endear myself to any group of politicos so tomorrow I will get a post and drive some humongous, pitch black four wheeler bought, fueled and maintained by taxpayers money.To be sure this has been the path plodded by some individuals in government today. I am perfectly satisfied and content with my hard earned resources derived from gritty, back breaking honest labor shorn of the exploitation of my fellow ordinary compatriots.

My interest in inspiring public support for the Accra Metropolitan Authority boss to leave office is born out of  my belief that civic Ghana must work again. Any close watcher of events in our Republic would have noticed since 1992 the emergence of the petulant, pompous, arrogant, show boating. swashbuckling politician who does not tolerate critique and is given to acting in a manner aimed at constantly insulting the intelligence of his or her fellow citizens. This breed of politician has fed off the poisonous substrate undergirding a national discourse in which shallow and narrow political interest is the only legal tender. Under these circumstances the supreme national interest has essentially been orphaned and with it the everyday questions of life and survival of ordinary folk.The Madam Okoh Affair is the latest most gruesome reflection of the banality of such a posture.Who then speaks or must speak for the future, welfare and progress of our Republic beyond the self serving confines of usually jaded partisanship? Civic Ghana of course. I draw a clear distinction between civil society(here focusing on NGOs and think-tanks) in Ghana and civic Ghana in this regard. The former has become too smug in its repetitive cycle of proposals- donor funding-research-dissemination-communiques-workshops to be counted upon to deal frontally and viscerally with the concrete conditions of Ghanaians( of course they have played a useful role thus far). Civic Ghana implies the exercise of active citizenship(all citizens rich and poor, educated or not) propped by vigilance and the national interest in ensuring that the public good is protected and pursued by especially officers of state. The point here is to give meaning to the I992 constitution when it asserts that the sovereignty of our Republic lies with her citizens and that public officials elected or otherwise serve at our sufferance.

Civic Ghana has a long tradition in our country. One recalls here the incomparable John Mensah Sarbah without whom Mr. Vanderpuye will not have had the land to stand on to dream let alone effect a name change.Mrs Okoh herself belongs to that tradition of selfless devotion to the Republic not for personal pecuniary gain.Public-spiritedness, decency and the common good has inspired such national heroes and heroines . These were the noble ideals upon which our Republic was founded and which animated the genius of some of her greatest minds some of whom walked the streets of Accra. Civic Ghana has made it self heard loud and clear over the Madam Okoh Affair. It is clear the AMA boss has pushed his shtick too far. His one man orchestra is sounding malevolently discordant. History offers the president of our Republic a rare opportunity to restore confidence, hope and trust in our public officers and institutions. Mr. Vanderpuye's continued presence will constitute an insult to Ghanaians and the failure of the chief of state to exercise presidential power in the interest of the public good. Accra needs a new leader who will be dreaming and building a new Accra and not raising the blood pressure of a senior citizen whose only crime was to have served her country with distinction in designing the national flag and promoting hockey as a sport.

I have lived in Accra since I was four years old. I learnt the Ga language at the feet of unforgettable Ga teachers as a toddler. I have lived in virtually every part of Accra on the compass. I have lived in some of its most exclusive neighbourhoods and played in some of its grimiest. The smell of Accra lives in my nostrils. The taste of her kelewele is locked on my palate. The sound of Wolomeii bangs in my ears and the magic of kpanglogo dancers always lifts my spirit. I feel Accra in my very bones.Today our number one city exposes our shame to the world. It does not bespeak the greatness, the rich history and the confounding possibilities that beckon. Accra must rise out of the ashes, proud and self confident and shine again as the heart beat of the great continent of Africa. Can we not build for ourselves an Accra of green, verdant parks, bicycle lanes,reliable, comfortable public transport, public libraries brimming with books, decent housing and hospitals for all; an Accra where all citizens of Ghana can play, live, work and die in peace? Is Mr. Vanderpuye the man who can inspire us to march towards this constructable Nirvana?? Over to you Mr. President. Civic Ghana and history is watching.                

Tuesday, 30 April 2013


Those were simply magical moments in Morning Star School nestled as it was in one of Ghana's prime-if not most prime- neighbourhoods in the capital Accra: Cantonments. The notable Ghanaian scholar Prof. Ato Quayson(my mentor and friend) informs us that that area stretching from the Osu,Oxford Street(of which he is the foremost chronicler and interpreter in contemporary times) right up to Cantonments was the pristine no-go area of imperial power in the Gold Coast(his latest book on this is a must read for those interested in Ghana’s urban history) . Ghana’s new elites spatially and symbolically took over that expanse of territory according to Quayson . In a sense then it is just as well that one of Ghana’s most premier elite private prep schools will find a home in that setting.

Those magical moments were popular in the sociological sense of the word. It was all about the so-called sport of the masses: football. The Morning Star of my era in the 1980s was simply mad about it. It was all about the intense competition, the magical talents, the fame(no fortune of course) and the feisty admiration of nubile ladies. Inter-class football competitions captured the attention of all. Our founder Mrs. Esme Siriboe(lie in peace always) was prescient enough to leave this fairly large, sandy field right in the middle of the school. Today’s prep schools seem all covered with concrete and I bristle at my son’s failure to taste some sand while at play. This field took on a unique make-up during these tourneys: improvised goal posts made of wood and strings popped up and the perimeters and soccer pitch markings traced out with some powdery substance. Ceremony attended the start of each match. The teams will troop onto the field led by their various captains(it was a privilege to captain a team; one was chosen democratically by one’s classmates; I was captain for the seven years I played in that competition) to the uproarious cheer of a raucous crowd; there was the tossing of the coin and the lucky side will choose their preferred side of the field and then the referee’s whistle will start proceedings.

It was in this unforgettable milieu of our childhood that Ebenezer Saka Amoako’s inimitable character will leave its stamp on us all. I was his classmate from class one to class seven. Once in a crucial inter-classes match he left the goal-post(in the heat of proceedings) he was tending because we were excoriating him for some bad judgments. He was always his own man very early. It probably was all in his genes. He was one of the sons of one of Ghana’s prominent entrepreneurs (until Rawlings’ inferno that left Ghana at the very best half cooked and scalded and all but incinerated the business sector) back in the day: Amoako Leather Works. He grew tall very early and cut a strapping, well built and handsome figure in our class. Uniquely his temper was not sharp and I hardly saw him in those childhood scrapes in the most obscure corners of the compound beyond the teachers’ gaze where Don King pretenders ruled.

Academic work seemed to be a formality to be endured. He seemed destined for business. He became a business man as usual doing his thing beyond the sometimes stultifying demands of routine and form. Here was a free spirit whose laughter raspy and throaty and full still fills my ears and staunches the pain as I write this eulogy to the first of the 1986 year group of Morning Star to have gone to sleep. We were very close and we had our moments. He will make those clandestine runs to the waakye(a very tasteful rice and beans West African dish)seller we had been forbidden to go near and for good reason. The kindly waakye seller's location was out of the school’s gates and heaved with cars and potential evils of all sorts. When electronic watches became all the rage Saka turned himself into the one to hire watches from. He always had some funny term or phrase on offer all stamped with his idiosyncracies. One was: "whatz happ’nin." He would say this with an exaggerated American twang and in rapid fire bursts. Saka was just simply fun loving. Once our teachers were having a meeting and asked us the seniors to keep some order in the classrooms. I was with him when we went to Mrs. Abdulai’s class. The class 2 pupils sat there at the mercy of our superintendence. Saka moved to the front of the class and straight to the blackboard. I knew there was going to be drama. He took a piece of chalk almost solemnly but what followed was just the opposite: he asked the poor pupils to find the square root of their posterior orifice! If it were today he might have found himself before the bar of child abuse. That was Saka at his mischievous best.

We left school. All of us in search of our dreams. I used to see him in East Legon, Accra. I was almost always in a moving vehicle. The last time we met was in a tro-tro some fifteen years ago. We barely caught up on each other’s lives when he jumped off. We re-connected on Facebook. We were just about re-connecting. Saka jumped off again. Eternally!!!!!! No one be like you Saka!!! You left us pain but just reliving the past brings joy. Thanks for your friendship. You are sorely missed.     

Thursday, 18 April 2013


Oil painting of John Mensah Sarbah, Esq
A changed and changing world has long been upon us. One is here forced to remember Heraclitus. He of the Ionian school it was who famously and almost incomprehensibly quipped that one cannot step in the same river twice. The Akans of Ghana will say that "mmre dani(to wit the times change)." And on this matter of change light has proved a peculiarly formidable and ubiquitous expression. It is at the lower spectrum of light (with wave lengths of 10 raised to the power -8 downwards) that this whole cyber reality becomes profound. At the visible and invisible levels light has made communication both instantaneous, real time and even irritating.

The Ghanaian Supreme Court in a historic case was attempting to shield itself from the glare of light both literal and metaphorical in the age of light(the cyberage). But really who can? The metaphorical case for letting in the cameras has been made already. The Supreme Court of Ghana is the people's court; owned by the citizens of this our Republic. Today it is not a complicated undertaking to beam sound and images  live to our tv, phone and pc screens. It is just as well the Supreme Court saw reason and seized that rare historical moment. It risked to my mind eternal historical opprobrium if it had been indelicately obstinate about this; a far more politically charged and even volatile Kenya had allowed the cameras in and not imploded. This shame would have been Ghana's shame as well; the lode star of this great continent would have lost its way.

 I had visited the Supreme Court once in my early twenties. There was no case in session. It was a visit driven by curiosity and a love of my country. I just wanted to see where all of those major cases which have tended to affect the very minutiae of our existence were heard and argued. Even in its quiet repose then shorn of any activity it had an overwhelming aura about it; a certain almost arrogant serenity that was at once infectious and repulsive. Here one remembers the intellectually razor sharp J.B. Danquah and his nephew Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo who is a very interested petitioner in the case at hand, And before them the pioneering role played by the incomparable John Mensah Sarbah(1854-1910)(the first Ghanaian barrister) for Ghanaian thought, independence, legal profession and jurisprudence. It must not be forgotten ever that it was the law in the hands of Sarbah and his enlightened logic which prevented the infamous Lands Bill of 1897 from becoming law. This invidious bill had sought by a clever artifice  to  vest under section 3 "all waste-land and all forest-land in the colony" " in the Crown for the use of the Government of the colony." Sarbah's response is worth quoting in full here:

I am specially instructed to say that this Lands Bill is an elaborate and expanded form of the Crown Lands Bill of 1894. That Bill refers only to what is termed waste land and forest land whereas this Bill refers to the whole land of this country, depriving the aborigines of their right in the soil of their land.(Azu-Crabbe,1971) 

Sarbah had saved the Gold Coast and Ghana that great land question that other African countries are still grappling with today.  

Again I cannot resist to quote the Gold Coast Leader on Sarbah in Azu-Crabbe(1971: 2)

As a lawyer of more than twenty years's standing, we know of no widows, or indigent and impotent folk whom he ever entrapped with ingenuity, cleverness and artfulness. He had no sordid commerce with the technicalities of the law or the sophisms of Pettifoggers. He has broken no hearts,wrecked no homes, nor raised himself upon the debris of lost reputations and crashed ambitions. He is no bland and subtle schemer, ready and eager to play upon the folly and ignorance of the unsophisticated bucolics and innocent clientele. He has forged his way ahead and built up a lucrative practice through honesty, sincerity and assiduity in the discharge of his responsibilities and obligations.(kindly note the delicacy of the diction in 1910 Gold Coast and cf with Ghana's papers today)

And so I saw like millions of my compatriots the innards of the Supreme Court. For most of our compatriots it was the first time on the historic 17th of April, 2013. At stake is the presidency and the legitimacy of the one holding today the instruments of ultimate state power. In times past in this our Republic bands of  power thieves will conspire at night and steal power in the morning. We all cowered because this stolen power was propped by the shiny, treacherous bayoneted tips of guns. Today "stolen" power could be challenged in a civilized, solemn, cerebral way shorn of the barbarity of weapons.

 The matte wooden panels reflected the lights in the court room on April the seventeenth. Some of the key lawyers in the full glare of these lights in this case had gone to the school that Sarbah had helped to found with his own money: Mfantsipim. Messrs Tsikata and Addison are products of Sarbah's selfless and exemplary patriotism to the country of his birth. The motto of the school Dwin Hwe Kan(Think and look ahead)  was the progeny of his mind. He might have been talking to the supreme court judges a century later who will decide the case and all of us bona fide citizens of this our most beloved Republic. We wait.