Book Review: A New Agenda for Ghana General News of Sunday, 18 March 2007

A New Agenda for Ghana: Building bridges for positive change by Okyere Bonna ISBN: 1-4257-4217-3 (Trade Paperback) ISBN: 1-4257-4218-1 (Hardback) Pages: 219 (Asomaning, February 28, 2007 UK). As a historical account of our past, at least post 1957, the book is a very credible and a brave attempt especially for the young to have some perspectives as to where we were and where we are now in 2007. The diagnosis of the ills of our government is second to none and I liked particularly the incisive observation of the ways of the establishment, while they are stealing and depositing abroad their loot, the Diaspora are eagerly liquidating and thinking of relocating to improve things in Ghana. That is class analysis. The case for a Diaspora president is excellently made, particularly the quote from Arthur Kennedy "the question is not whether I live in Ghana, but whether Ghana lives in me!" captures very well that position. This quote ought to be heard by every well meaning Ghanaian voter. The nonsense of the so called "Presidential Queue" is also dealt with thoroughly, and again Kennedy's quote captures this succinctly "waiting is not the same as preparation" Martin Luther King on Ghana. Thanks for this history lesson Okyere. I didn´t realise this great man had a lot to say about Ghana and using our Independence struggle as a template for his own and Black struggles in America. What emerged clearly for me was that “arm chair” struggle is no struggle. One must get his/her hands dirty. On Aid. Some of the sentiments expressed by Franklin are articulated, but with some compassion. Aid has been indeed used by our leaders for the wrong purposes. In a sense they have abdicated their roles as providers of basic human needs like water to NGO´s. What a shame and what a waste of political power! Developing local talent. This moved me the greatest. Ghana, it seems has become the land of neglected dreams, our government, instead of initiating development programmes has rather become a propaganda machinery, but with Okyere's refreshing brand of politics akin to Abe Lincoln's “government of the people, for the people and by the people” - there is hope for the motherland. Confronting leaders not coddling them: Okyere suggests a bold step for all. He argues that we must question authority and not just take whatever they say at face value “this is a culture / mindset issue in Ghana at the moment. Some critics do so well, others because of frustrations mess things up a bit, but it's all done with good intentions. However, whatever we do we must be bold in confronting inept leadership.” Political / Moral Philosophy: This is where the book really caught my imagination because I am personally very close if not identical to the author´s moral / political compass. What makes a true leader is discussed thoroughly, not just being educated or full of ideas, but whether one has the moral courage, conviction and ability to be self less rather than being self centred, to be concerned about the teeming suffering masses and using political power to transform real lives. Okyere's position is dynamic, challenging and very bold. Not many will be able to hack this but it surely is the only way I think, to deliver our teeming masses steeped in poverty and hopelessness. When the rubber hits the road - as they say, how many would ignore or reject $2m in cold cash and rather champion the cause of the poor? Please read John Perkin's book: The Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. Every third world leader would face this challenge; the question is how many would pass the test? The next step: Every civil servant, university graduate and students (and even serious sixth formers), must read this book. It is indeed A New Agenda for Ghana. The question now is how do we make the books affordable in Ghana? I look forward to Dr. Kwaku Danso's book but again, how do we get these books to the people? Recent discussions lately have demonstrated the need to fill this information gap. Folks, let's get our brain cells working to make access of such Ghanaian authored books to our compatriots at home else others would fill the gap with unwholesome stuff. A good book by Okyere, neither a typical history nor a political science textbook, not that the author is unable to do such but rather as the preface indicates it is, the beginning of a national conversation. He captures all that is good in the new Ghana, celebrating the good stuff, excellent ideas and positive visions and energies of Ghanaians across the social and political spectrum. The GNP gets a good review, besides the GLU forum is highly celebrated and many quotes from the distinguished forumers are captured in the book. As expected Arthur Kennedy is the author's preferred candidate and is a good PR book for Kennedy's candidature. It is a call for a new brave Ghana, a confident nation full of promise and IS ABLE to achieve greatness. A bold attempt by one of our own whose passion and love for the motherland is extraordinary and has managed the time to put his deep thoughts, hopes and dreams on paper. Not a small feat - because not many people, especially in contemporary Ghana has done such a thing. Many are afraid to speak or to write for numerous obvious or not so obvious reasons but not Okyere Bonna. He deserves our commendation. Okyere, in addition to his many gifts is also a fine preacher, one of the best. He is my kind of preacher, invited to my pulpit any day, because passion and truth run through his soul. Well done bro. Source : George Asomaning, UK

Re. A New Agenda for Ghana General News of Saturday, 2 December 2006

Fellow countrymen, kindly lend me your ears. I have always said that, the cockerel will never stop crowing until even the dead hear its voice. It is a voice that the righteous and concerned citizens of our country will like to hear. It is a voice that the evil will never like to hear. But that evil, in our country, ladies and gentlemen, will one-day be forced to hear that voice of the “New African”. I know that the more I talk, the more the enemy will like to come to see beaten. The enemy will enjoy seeing me crucified that day, as they danced and sang songs on the eve of Kwame Nkrumah´s crucifixion. But behold, no weapon that shall be raised against the voice of the New African shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against the freedom fighters in judgement, will be condemned. For it is said: the evil that men do, will forever be seared in the mind of that evil”. Fellow countrymen, as we all know, a poor and visionless country like our beloved Ghana, is about to celebrate her so-called Independence day on the 6th of March 2007. An independence that no clear minded citizen will be proud to celebrate if he/she is faithful and could remember our painful and uncompleted self-reliance attempt.Should such a celebration demonstrate the day the country stood still 50 years ago, without knowing what had happened to it, or it is going to be a day Ghanaians are going to jump to heavens and be proud of our economic, social and political achievements, or it is going to be a day of mourning when we remember how our hope for a developed Ghana was brought to a halt by our good wishers? Those our leaders sat in primary class one classroom have now completed their university education in politics and economy, whiles our wicked and selfish leaders are still languishing in the corners of the imperialist begging them for our daily bread. I hope you all know those countries we started our independence, and I need not to bourn your years again with. Perhaps some of my fellow Ghanaians for whatsoever reason, may not be interested to know whether we deserve to celebrate such an occasion or not. They will prefer celebrating it regardless what had happened to us 50 years ago. They will not care about such painful episode, and will not care about the 40 percent of our population still living in poverty and earning less than $ 1 a day. Our wicked politicians now smell a booty amount of 20 million Dollars, which its source has not yet been disclosed. This booty is set aside for this purpose, and ironically, a country that claimed to be independent cannot feed his own people, neither can we increase our industries, pay our workers, provide quality healthcare, good drinking water, affordable education, electricity, left alone thinking about doing away with stealing of national coffers, corruption, murder, lies and wickedness. And when such an amount is made available, they will prefer to spend it as a form of a prestige. They will like to show the whole world how our children our enjoying free education, good health care and having gainful employment. The British and American´s can celebrate their 500 or more years of independence at anytime whiles their people are sharing their blood and killing innocent civilians in Iraq for oil sake. They can jubilate and spend whatever money they need because they can print it themselves. I hope Ghanaians will also be dancing around the clock at the eve, with the hope that our disgruntle politicians will promise them of exploring oil in the coming years and Ghana will become one of the first class country at the west coast whose social and economic power will comparable to the Asian tiger we once sat in the same class room with. God have mercy on us. Today the same short-sighted politicians who thought they knew it all better, cannot tell us how many industries were left in their custody after they have taken over leadership on the 24th February 1966, neither can they list the number of industries and other infrastructures they have so-far added to what they inherited. How many government schools have they added to those they inherited? When we think about the many innocent blood sacrifices, we can record from history that about 1.600 (Thousand six hundred) men and women including faithful military personnel were massacred during the uprising of NLM era whiles the Americans, the British, the French and Germans congratulated them for this heinous crime. Someone can as well record those who lost their lives during the AFRC military juntas where the British, the Americans and the French again welcomed such unlawful atrocities wholeheartedly. One will ask if our colonial masters will ever wish the African anything better than dividing and ruling us? Will they be expecting us to avoid tribal wars that result in sharing innocent blood for our shrines? Will they teach the poor African how to develop and manage his own political, economic and social affair, and be able to dictate prices for his raw material and hard labour? How should they? They are the monsters that live and develop their countries with the flesh and blood of the weaker Africans as the lion lives and enjoys on the weaker animals. I don´t think they will be naive to see this happen in the million years to come. Ghanaians have paid a bitter price for their independence with the hope for a better future. But today after 50 years, can Ghanaians be awarded with such a ceremony? One may ask where our leaders got this money from, and how will it be spent and be monitored? Our colonial masters never wanted the African to develop for fear that the day the eyes of the African will be wide opened to see clearly, it might result to the end of their neo-colonialism on our continent. This I could recollect when I was cast in jail of justice. When I was in jail, I once asked the policeman how much could I pay for my freedom? In his response, he said son, your tears will not pay!, but it is education that shall set you free, --and unless the eyes of the African is wide opened through education, so long shall your continent remain a prey for the imperialist. His perception reminded me when the Americans, British, French and the Germans mounted a powerful coup with the help of our own military stooges to oust the regime of Kwame Nkuumah, claiming that he was becoming an enemy and a threat to the western powers by associating Ghana´s independence and developing efforts with the Soviet Union and the Chinese who were said to be enemies of the west. They accused him for hesitating to be a slave in tranquillity, but preferred to develop his country with whoever is ready to help him. They joined Ghanaians and chanted, “Crucify him!, Crucify him!, and he was crucified. That was how far he could go with his vision for Ghana and Africa. They thought they were harming him, but not knowing that they were harming their our country. Today after his crucifixion, the same people who some are alive today and serving in politics whose names are with held, were among those who condoned and connived with our enemies to derail our development policies. They are now trotting round the world, begging and dining with the same communist countries that were said to be then enemies to the west. One may now ask these wicked politicians whether they have their eyes now wide open to see the damage they did to their own country, and willing to apologise for the killing of Kwame Nkrumah who foresaw that Ghana should be free to manage his own affairs? Can they admit their failure? Will they remember Nkrumah in this celebration and respect his funeral celebration, which is long over due? These offspring´s will never do because of the shame they have brought to their own people. Let us see whether the Americans, British, French and the Germans will have any qualms about Ghana now dining and borrowing money from their so-called political enemies, (The communist). Will they again mount a coup with the help of the same Ghanaian soldiers to oust the present regime? We live to see, ladies and gentlemen. Fellow countrymen, less than a year ago, the Chinese President Hu Jintao was said to have toured most of the Africa countries aimed at building a stream of business deals and aid pledges, which will be part of a flood of Chinese largess towards the world´s poorest continent. African governments, which Ghana is also among, generally welcome the growth in Chinese economic ties, which thus far has centred on oil and other raw materials and are free of the political conditions often imposed by Western countries. It is said that at a landmark Sino-African summit in Beijing last year, Mr. Hu offered $5 billion in loans and credit to Africa along with a doubling of aid. Two-way trade, meanwhile, rose from about $3 billion in 1995 to $40 billion in 2005 and is expected to reach $100 billion by 2010. China already has pumped about $6 billion in investments into the continent. And for what purpose? For TEE-PARTY? Analysts increasingly warn that poor African countries may come out the losers unless they carefully examine the deals with China and protect their weak manufacturing sectors from a flood of cheaper Chinese imports. Will these shortsighted politicians ever have eyes to see the danger ahead? They will never remember what Kwame Nkrumah said about neo-colonialism when he said: “Neo colonialism is the most powerful threat for African development, and unless we meet this obvious and very powerful threat with a unified African front, based upon a common economic and defence policy, their strategy will be to pick us off and destroy us one by one” He added by saying: “As I am concerned, death cannot extinguish the flame that I have lit in Africa. Long after I am gone, the torch that I have lit will continue to burn to give hope and encouragement to many”. And this is rightly true that today, Ghana, and for that matter Africans, have grown to see the damage they have done to their own so-called independence and now yearning to have such a person with a vision to help them out of the political doldrums. Are Ghanaians not still being treated after 50 of so-called independence as slaves in tranquillity? Fellow countrymen, throughout the pages of history, great things have often had small beginnings, and this is where I have to commemorate our dear brother Okyere Bonna for coming out with his book entitled: “A New Agenda for Ghana”. (See Okyere Bonna has seen the light, and has remembered that it is education that shall help the poor African to open his eyes as the policeman told me in jail. His book is a testimony to the dream of many concern citizens who are yearning for a better future for Ghana and Africa. It is a recognition to the torch Nkrumah was talking about, that after he is gone, that torch (education), will continue to burn to give hope and encourage many like the likes of Prince Aidoo, Okyere Bonna, Auther Kennedy, Spio Gabrah, Ofori Ampofo and many more out there ready to bring a change to our political course. His two books with the same title are calling many more to rise and join to fight neo-colonialism on the soil of Ghana and Africa as a whole. It is about time for those who have experienced the wickedness of today´s politicians to wake-up and join us to liberate our people once again from the shackles of political and religious bondage. You should all help deliver our people from this mental this slavery. Our independence, ladies and gentlemen, will forever be meaningless if the young generation will stand and stir to see their country being ridiculed by wicked and short-sighted politicians who have nothing to offer their children rather than filling their pockets, selling our raw materials for peanuts, trading in cocaine, corruption, ruling our people with impunity, dividing and ruling our people through tribalism. They do this because they fear the imperialist. A country like ours will never develop if we stay unconcerned and expect visionless politicians to fool us. Fellow countrymen, I can assure you all with confidence, that many of us will never fold our arms, and expect the imperialist to develop our nation for us, but we will forever be prepared to pay the price it demands to redeem Ghana once again and set it free from oppression and from political bondage. Those who may have any qualms about what Okere Bonna wrote is his book, should use their critics to produce another book aimed at educating us on the way forward; for I say: “Blessed are those who survive with the rhythm of the universe, for their souls shall not envisage the iniquity of nature. Woe betides ye who seek for the natural talent, which is like a dangerous disease within the body that takes several decades to destroy the soul, for ye shall never be free from sorrow, oppression, moral, and the iniquity of nature“. Let us seek for wisdom, which is like that dangerous disease within our body to redeem our people from political bondage and it shall be well with us. Let us therefore stand up and use our talent to help the youth to know what they should be expecting from the imperialist if they are not informed about their hypocrisy. Kwame Nkrumah will be turning himself in his grave today, if he hears that a bunch of hypocrites are now celebrating something they themselves fought against, and now celebrating such an occasion as if it was their earnings. Fellow countrymen, one thing is certain, that these disgruntle ones, can run, but they can never hide from justice one-day. I will end by encouraging other critics to come out with alternative books that will enlighten us on the New Agenda for Ghana and for Africa as a whole. God bless you all. God bless Ghana. Source : Ghana Social Democrats Secretariat

Forward Co " A New Agenga for Ghana " - Kennedy General News of Saturday, 2 December 2006

Next March, Ghana will be fifty. In our half-century of existence, there have been achievements and failures. On the positive side; - We have transferred power from a President of one party to a President of another party peacefully. - We have avoided the destructive civil wars that have destroyed most of our neighbors. - We have qualified for the finals of the World Cup. On the other side; - Millions of our citizens still remain without gainful employment - There is too much partisanship, tribalism and corruption leading to too many insults and too much mistrust. - There too much of a spirit of dependency both on the part of individual citizens and our government. A NEW AGENDA FOR GHANA by Okyere Bonna is the collective cry of a generation for change. It reproduces and explores the opinions, reputations and attitudes of a wide range of Ghanaians. The views explored are varied and include those of established parties and candidates as well as new parties and candidates. What motivates my politics is the Ghanaian equivalent of what Americans felt when they heard, “And so my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do---- ask what you can do for your country” from President Kennedy. I believe as Nkrumah did that we could have done in a decade what it had taken others a century to achieve but alas--- Thus I am inpatient with where Ghana is at the moment and know that we can and must do better! While some have given up on our established traditional parties, I am running proudly on the ticket of the NPP. This is because, first, it has by far the most democratic and modernizing tendencies. Second, the NPP government has been far better than the NDC government that it replaced. It has stabilized the unstable nation that was inherited from the NDC. Thus while I concede that we can do better, President Kufuor’s administration has laid some foundations to build on for the future. I believe our priorities for the future must include the following; - Reforming our government to make it more effective and responsive to ordinary people. - Creating wealth through accelerated growth with the benefits of growth shared as widely as possible. I believe that governments cannot on their own create significant numbers of well-paying jobs; their best role is to create the enabling conditions for job creation by removing burdensome regulations emplacing tax incentives. - Creating a place at our national table for Ghanaians in the Diaspora because I am convinced that they are the vital force that will help transform our economy and our nation. -Making our people healthy by focusing on proactive healthcare rather than illness-care. - Aggressive and relentless application of appropriate technologies to transform our society. While pursuing these policy priorities, we must clean our national body-politic of the three evils of corruption, extreme partisanship and tribalism. Our national conversation is too often characterized by insults rather than respect. With these priorities, we can build a nation filled with pride and the conviction that the difficult work of rebuilding our great nation is the responsibility, primarily of Ghanaians. I have pledged to run a campaign based on ideas, vision and compassion. It is my hope that my lasting contribution will to help move our politics to one based on ideas, vision and temperament and away from the politics of insults, tribalism and longevity. Let all those who aspire to lead our nation think of the interests of the many who have not and how to prepare for the next generation rather than the next elections. That way our nation, as Nkrumah said would move “forward ever and backwards never” A New Agenda for Ghana is the beginning of a long conversation and we are indebted to Okyere Bonna for starting it. Let us all join it! Source : Arthur Kobina Kennedy