African News

The Need for an Institute of Ghanaian Values

21 September 2006 at 01:28 | 501 views

By Kofi Akosah-Sarpong, Ottawa

Observations by Dr Kwabena Adjei(photo), chair of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), that "juju-marabou" and other spiritualisms are dictating Ghana’s political machinery once again raise the role of Ghanaian values in her development process.

Why are Ghanaian/African values not informing national policy so as to open up the implications of the values in national development? The reason is that colonialism one of whose major pillars was to “civilise” the African, suppressed African values, thinking wrongly that they are “primitive,” and in the process did not open up African cultural values for critical scrutiny for national policy development.

Almost 50 years after independence Ghanaian/African elites, known more for their “booklong,” “laziness,” and their inability to think within their values first and any other second, have not been able, creatively, as the other ex-colonies such as Japan and South Korea have done, to come out with policies, informed by African values and experiences, that would have refined the inhibiting values such as juju-marabou in the development process.

For this inability to float new national policies informed by Ghanaian/African policies many positive national developmental strides are undermined by the inhibiting values such as Pull Him Down (PHD) and other negative cultural practices such as the interpretation of events by witchcraft. It is not surprising, therefore, that Dr. Adjei acknowledges and says in public that Ghana’s problems are due to juju and other inhibiting cultural values instead of the World Bank “in the matters of state as the source of the non-performance of state affairs.” The relevance of Dr. Adjei’s observations is that he equally castigates such negative cultural intrusion into state affairs even when his NDC was in power for almost 20 years.

The issues here are not the ruling National Patriotic Party or the NDC appropriating such inhibiting values in their thinking in relation to national development. The issue is that all the elites, as Ghanaians or Africans, were born into such inhibiting cultural values, and so are part of their psychology, psychiatry and sociology in their everyday life and, in that context, their world view of some of the elements that are to oil their progress.

But there are implications, especially in an increasingly rational world motored by science and technology. Excessive intrusion or excessive reliance on such inhibiting cultural values, as we saw in Liberia or Sierra Leone or Mobutu Sese Seko’s Zaire, not only weaken reasoning but also jam the mind from being objective. This may explain one of the reasons why Ghanaian/African elites are finding it difficult to think critically from within their values first and any other second in dealing with their societies’ progress.

From the Europeans, who have to battle “Darkness” in the 18th century and “Neo-Darkness” in the 20th century, to the Japanese, all societies who have progressed are informed by their core values first and any other borrowed ones second.

In doing this, they were able to refine the inhibiting values, such as spiritual mediums directing state affairs, and set the forces of progress on the march. Ghana/Africa cannot progress by employing only their colonial legacies and the global culture, and overlooking their own tried and tested core cultural values. Ghana/Africa can progress by mixing, or as the comparative political scientists Patrick Chabal and Jean-Pascal Daloz would say, hybridity or “cultural metissage” (mixture), their own indigenous values with their colonial values and as Carleton University political scientist Dr. Daniel Tetteh Osabu-Kle would say the “enabling aspects of the global culture.”

But how are Ghanaians/Africans to go about raising their values to the level of national policy-making so as study it, tout the good aspects, refine the inhibiting aspects, and mix them with their colonial legacies and the enabling aspects of the global culture for progress? One of the solutions is to float an Institute for Ghanaian Values, a ’think-tank’ that will promote Ghanaian/African values in policy development policies, and their intervention in Ghana’s development process.

Like Institute of Canadian Values,The Institute for Ghanaian Values would be a centre for news, research, and debate of the Ghanaian development process, demonstrating greater consistency between Ghanaian/African cultural perspectives and actual public policy, and in the process “seek a better understanding of how such perspectives can benefit policy and the public."