Opinion

Ghana: Aliu Mahama and the Youths

2 October 2006 at 08:45 | 2057 views

Kofi Akosah-Sarpong, in Ottawa, Canada, believes Ghanaian youth can best accelerate Ghana’s pace of development, as Vice President Aliu Mahama urges, if they are oriented heavily in Ghanaian/African values first, in a country where the younger generation appear directionless.

Ghana’s Vice President Alhaji Aliu Mahama(photo) is good at raising pressing development issues that are at the country’s soul. Since becoming Ghana’s number two man, he has tried to tackle developmental issues that appear insurmountable; from the terrible sanitation, to rough infrastructural construction, to indiscipline. While his ability to see clearly through the dense national developmental issues may reveal his training as a civil engineer, Mahama has not been able to use the diverse array of indigenous Ghanaian values and experiences, waiting to be tapped for national development, in the country’s progress.

Sometimes, in confronting Ghana’s developmental problems the VP reveals not only his ruling National Patriotic Party (NPP)’s lack of thorough grasp of why some of these obstacles stall Ghana’s progress but also the entire Ghanaian elite. Mahama’s youth-and-national-development talks reflect elites who are increasingly finding it difficult to raise the future national developers. And if the newly emerging controversial Canadian-driven science of epigenetic is anything to go by then the troubles Ghanaian youth are now facing in helping the future development of Ghana is a mirror image of what Mahama and his associates have passed on to the youth - a country in which the elite have weak grasp of the cultural forces expected to drive its progress.

From his “failed” much-hyped war against indiscipline to efforts to re-orientate the office of the Vice President as a platform for developmental ideas, Mahama has failed to consistently link his broad range national developmental conversations heavily and openly in Ghanaian/African values and experiences as have been the case with other ex-colonies such as South Korea, Botswana, Japan, and Malaysia.

This makes the VP’s conversation with Ghanaian youth as to how they are to carry out the mantle of Ghana’s progress not only confusing but shallow with respect to pinning his well-intentioned talks in the Ghanaian environment. In a country where the youth are directionless, a reflection of the weaknesses of the elite, Mahama’s urging of Ghanaian youth to “embrace measures that would develop their talents to accelerate Ghana’s pace of development” sound superficial at best, in practical terms, and irrelevant in the real Ghanaian development process. Ghanaian youth *( )handle skillfully the future progress of Ghana, as Mahama urges them to do, if the basic values and historical tools which they are to use are weak or unsuitable, at best, at the national level. How are Ghanaian youth to link, say, indigenous heroes and heroines such as the legendary Okomfo Anokye and Yaa Asantewaah as inspirational developmental role models in Ghana’s progress?

Mahama’s buzzword at the University of Ghana’s Newmont Ghana National Youth Achievers Awards forum, where he urged Ghanaian youth to **(either) die a bit for Ghana’s progress was “change.” Ever since Mahama surprisingly became Ghana’s Vice President, he has been grappling with “change” in his attempts to float the re-thinking of Ghana’s progress. However, Mahama, like many a Ghanaian elite, is yet to demonstrate consistently and openly at the national level a thorough understanding of the indigenous values and experiences that could be mixed with Ghana’s colonial legacies and the enabling aspects of the global development process to effect a Ghanaian change and drive many a youth who is confused to help accelerate Ghana’s progress.

With the seeming inability of Gahana’s elite to re-orientate their country’s developmental passage within their core values in the global competitive development game, Mahama’s soliciting of the youth to “eschew negative tendencies and work hard to create a society where the country’s cultural norms and practices would constitute the basis of moral judgment” will not have any impact on Ghana’s progress if not seen within the lens of Ghana’s values. From many a negative behaviour such as Pull Him Down (PHD) syndrome to poor sanitation practices, the view is that these negative attitudes emanate from Ghanaian elite’s inability to harness their well tried and tested values deeply to direct Ghana’s progress. In this sense, the youth crisis is a crisis of their elders’ inability to nurture their children to face future developmental challenges of Ghana.
Mahama’s talks of youth mentoring should start at the foundation of Ghana - traditional institutions, where the youth will be able to learn Ghanaian traditions and customs first hand in their attempts to re-orientate and equip themselves both culturally and morally. This is a necessary step as they prepare themselves for taking over Ghana’s developmental mantle from their elders. The idea here is that, a society’s progress, at any time, is measured by how its youth are grounded in the basic values which drive the society’s progress.

Mahama can take the lead by floating an annual development-driven Ghana Youth Festival where all forces of progress in the country would be marshalled to prepare the youth for the future progress of Ghana.

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