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Posts tagged ‘Ghanaians’

Lagos : Gleaming New City For The Wealthy Leaves Historic City In Dust.


Jan. 21 (GIN) – As developers rush to complete a dream city of soaring glass and steel high-rise buildings, luxury housing for 250,000 amidst a leafy boulevard with ritzy shops and tony restaurants, hopes for a better future are growing dim for the sister city of Lagos, the largest city in Africa with 21 million residents at last count.

Eko Atlantic, the new project, is rising on Victoria Island – now connected by an artificial land bridge to Lagos which sinks deeper into poverty as its neighbor’s income skyrockets.

Lagos, visited by the Portuguese in 1492, was the nation’s capital from 1914 to 1991. Today it struggles with aging infrastructure, unreliable electric power, fierce traffic jams and sprawling slums. Even in posh neighborhoods, sewage bubbles up from open ditches. Companies squeeze their headquarters into moldy midcentury ranch houses and turn off the lights at lunch to rest electric generators.

Two-thirds of the city’s residents live in “informal” neighborhoods, while more than one million of the city’s poor have been forcibly evicted from their homes over the last 15 years.

Eko Atlantic is a prime example of a trend towards walled-off cities for the very rich on a continent that is still home to the world’s poorest.

Writing in The Guardian newspaper, Martin Lukacs warned: “Eko Atlantic is where you can begin to see a possible future – privatized green enclaves for the ultra rich ringed by slums lacking water or electricity, in which a surplus population scramble for depleting resources and shelter to fend off the coming floods and storms.”

He continued: “Protected by guards, guns, and sky-high real estate prices, the rich will shield themselves from the rising tides of poverty and a sea that is literally rising… This is climate apartheid.”

Nigerian environmental activist Nnimmo Bassey added: “Building Eko Atlantic is contrary to anything one would want to do if one took seriously climate change and resource depletion.”

The developers, a pair of politically connected Lebanese brothers who run a financial empire called the Chagoury Group, received a 78 year-seal of ownership of Eko Atlantic to recoup their investment.

The Clinton Global Initiative, meanwhile, calls Eko Atlantic “one of the most inspiring and ambitious civil engineering projects in Africa,” according to the U.S. mission in Nigeria website.  Last year, former President Clinton participated in the ground breaking ceremony as did Ambassador Terence McCulley, and Consul General Jeff Hawkins, among others.

Woman To Lead Embattled Central African Republic As New President

Jan. 21 (GIN) – To the sound of cheers from the National Assembly building, the Transitional National Council of the Central African Republic on Monday tapped Catherine Samba-Panza, mayor of the capital city of Bangui, to be the country’s interim President and first woman to hold the post.

As the new leader of a country gripped by a ferocious sectarian war, Catherine Samba-Panza, 58, issued a call to the fighting groups, asking her “children, especially the anti-Balaka, to put down their arms and stop all the fighting. The same goes for the ex-Seleka. . . I don’t want to hear any more talk of murders and killings.

“Starting today, I am the president of all Central Africans, without exclusion.”

Born in Chad to a Cameroonian father and Central African mother, Ms. Samba-Panza is a former businesswoman, corporate lawyer, and insurance broker.  She also led a reconciliation effort during a previous civil war.

Paul Simon Handy, of the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) in South Africa, called her “a president who can unite both the country and the political elite” but warned: “I am afraid that this process will take longer than her period in office as interim president.”

The Central African Republic has been devastated by brutal fighting since a coup in March 2013 removed the unpopular president Francois Bozize. He was replaced by Michel Djotodia who suspended the constitution. Djotodia resigned this month under intense international pressure as the death toll mounted to over 1000 people and observers feared a genocide was in the works.

According to a New York Times report, “The state no longer exists in the CAR. Civil servants do not go to their offices, taxes are not collected, all the schools are closed. There is no budget, no army, no police force, no Parliament, no judges, no jails.”

Against these odds, Samba-Panza, no political novice, ran a successful campaign and beat seven other candidates for the post. Among them were two women and two sons of former presidents.

Now, her primary task will be to prepare the nation for elections in the coming year.  In addition she will need to temper the extreme animosity between the Christian and Muslim groups in the country.

Central African Republic has to hold a fresh election by February 2015 at the latest. France, however, wants the election to be held this year. Current law excludes the interim president from running.

“Everything we have been through has been the fault of men,” said Marie-Louise Yakemba, in a press interview. Yakemba, who heads a civil-society organization that brings together people of different faiths, added: “We think that with a woman, there is at least a ray of hope.”w/pix of Pres. Samba-Panza

Africa Was A Point Of Pride For Martin Luther King Jr.
By Rush Perez

Jan. 21 (GIN) – At a speaking engagement at Western Michigan University on Dec. 18, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. recalled his first trip to Africa with his wife Coretta to attend the independence day celebration of the new nation of Ghana. The couple was invited by the new President, Kwame Nkrumah.

“We were very happy about the fact there were now eight independent countries in Africa,” he said. “But since that night in March, 1957, some twenty-seven new independent nations have come into being in Africa. This reveals to us that the old order of colonialism is passing away, and the new order of freedom and human dignity is coming into being.”

Later, on Dec. 10, 1965 he gave a powerful speech at Hunter College in New York City, where he attacked the Apartheid regime of South Africa, as well as the governments of Rhodesia (today Zimbabwe) and the Portuguese control of Mozambique and Angola.

True to form, Dr King utilized powerful language to make his points, beginning first with a deconstruction of the popular narrative of Africa at the time.

“Africa has been depicted for more than a century as the home of black cannibals and ignorant primitives….Africa does have spectacular savages today, but they are not black. They are the sophisticated white rulers of South Africa… whose conduct and philosophy stamp them unmistakably as modern day barbarians.”

He went on to call for an international boycott of South Africa.

After the independence day ceremonies in Ghana, Dr King said in a radio interview that: “This event, the birth of this new nation, will give impetus to oppressed peoples all over the world. I think it will have worldwide implications and repercussions–not only for Asia and Africa, but also for America….It renews my conviction in the ultimate triumph of justice and that somehow the universe itself is on the side of freedom and justice. So that this gives new hope to me in the struggle for freedom.”

GHANAIAN JOURNALIST WHO INSPIRED YOUNGER WRITERS IS RECALLED  

Jan. 21 (GIN) – An accomplished and much-admired news writer from Ghana was recalled as “the face and voice of Africa – a new young, enterprising, international connected, ambitious Africa, with a can-do attitude.”

Komla Afeke Dumor passed unexpectedly this week at age 41 from cardiac arrest at his London home.

“He was not a praise-singer,” noted BBC Africa editor Solomon Mugera. “He was determined to present a balanced story, warts and all, and to show the human face behind the headlines.”

Dumor was a BBC World News presenter and the host of the Focus on Africa Program. He joined the BBC in 2006 after working for a decade as a journalist in Ghana. He was so popular in his home country that many Ghanaians changed their profiles on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to show a picture of him.

After moving to TV in 2009, he anchored live coverage of major events including the funeral of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il,  the wedding of Britain’s Prince William and Kate Middleton, and the death of Nelson Mandela in December.

Born in 1972 in Accra, Komla Dumor received graduate degrees from the University of Ghana and Harvard University.

Even as a number of African countries were being heralded as among the world’s fastest-growing economies, Dumor wanted to dig deeper, recalled Mugera.

“He knew that a select few were wining and dining in five-star hotels and driving the latest luxury cars, while in the same neighborhood there were families struggling to live on $1 a day.”

The Media Foundation for West Africa, a regional independent, non-governmental organisation based in Accra, shared their deep condolences for the loss of “one of Africa’s best journalists.”

“Komla raised the standard of journalism in Africa, and brought a lot of pride to many Ghanaians and Africans when he joined the BBC Africa Service and later, the World Service…  He was an an illustrious journalist and a trailblazer for many young journalists in Ghana and Africa as a whole. .. We have indeed lost a talented gem in journalism, Komla, damirifa due! Rest in peace!” the statement concluded.

In the words of Nigerian author Chimamanda Adichie:  “We have lost a star. Go well my discussant brother.”

Dumor leaves a wife, Kwansema Dumor, and three children. w/pix of K. Dumor

Ghanaian Diaspora And Agricultural Development In Ghana – The Way Forward By Kwesi Atta Sakyi.


By Kwesi Atta Sakyi

On the 17th August, I had the privilege of being interviewed by Asempa FM, who called me on the phone from Accra to seek my views on how Ghanaians in the Diaspora can contribute to the development of Agriculture in Ghana. I felt very much honoured and humbled by their decision to call me in Lusaka to share my views with them. Even though I am not an expert on agriculture, I think I have some nodding acquaintance with the subject as it is a practical field of study. It does not need rocket science for any Ghanaian, whether educated or not, to share views on improvement of our agriculture.

Recently in Ghana, there has been a lot of debate concerning goings-on in SADA (Savannah Accelerated Development Agency), a project which was initiated in the northern parts of Ghana by the NDC as part of the government poverty intervention programme, and also as a means of bridging the development divide between northern and southern Ghana. Personally, I have never been to Northern Ghana, yet I know about the abject poverty there and the severe living conditions there.

It is alleged that SADA has consumed a lot of taxpayers’ money but there is not much to show for it, because of alleged corruption and mismanagement. That said, we need to examine ways and means by which to improve agriculture in Ghana. During the 70s, the late General Ignitius Kutu Acheampong launched Operation Feed Yourself (OFY) as a nationwide programme to sensitise Ghanaians to grow their own food, spin their own clothes and become self-reliant. When are we in Ghana going to achieve self-sufficiency in food production?

Every year, Ghana imports about 1 billion dollars’ worth of food products, comprising items such as rice, flour, beef, pork, fish, fruits, among others. If we become self-sufficient, we can save the colossal foreign exchange spent and use it for infrastructural development and investment in human capital. Making agriculture the leading sector in Ghana requires national leadership, intervention and provision of incentives. We will need to diversify our agriculture from rain-fed agriculture to all-the-year-round agriculture based on irrigation and use of water stored in tanks during the rainy season. The CPP and PPP parties have vowed to make agriculture the centre-piece of their agenda if voted into power.

Currently, I have knowledge that the cocoa farmers in Ghana are smiling because of the Kuapa Kookoo project initiated under Kufour’s regime in partnership with Cadbury–Schweppes, to pay fair prices to peasant farmers. I have three friends here in Zambia who engage in farming in places such as Solwezi, Kasempa, Mazabuka and Kabwe. They grow maize and beans on a large scale. Another teacher friend who teaches agriculture, is planning to relocate to Ghana to establish a cocoa farm in Ghana. The two of us have plans to buy hybrid seeds in Zambia which we hope will do very well in Ghana.

Some of my Ghanaian friends here in Zambia are planning big to buy trucks to take home for farming. It is very interesting that these very people refused to do farming in Ghana, but now, they have seen the great potential in farming because of the rapid increase in population and the high demand for food items. It is hoped that when Ghanaians in the Diaspora relocate to Ghana, they will bring with them their expertise, capital, networks and experience to help improve the ailing agriculture sector. It is hoped that they will be able to acquire land to implement their plans. Land acquisition is currently a problem in certain parts of Ghana, because of corruption and litigation.

In the past, successive governments have tried to develop the Afife rice project with the support of the Chinese. I do not know how far the project has gone. Currently in Ghana, there is a big problem with marketing and distribution of farm produce, because of the huge obstacles posed by poor road infrastructure. The farmers often do not find market for their produce which are locked up in the food producing and food surplus areas. Transport fares are quite high and they do not have good storage facilities, as well as preservation methods. We need to build food silos, granaries and storage depots across the country.

We need to explore ways to process and preserve our food surplus. Our farmers can be organised into cooperatives so that they can access loans and farm inputs, and have effective marketing strategies. This is where Ghanaian Diasporeans can step in to fill the market gap of poor marketing and procurement systems, by organising the farmers and using the internet and mobile phones to link them up to global markets.

Diasporeans can go into ventures such as fish farming, to breed tilapia, prawns, catfish, among others. They can also set up agro-based industries such as food processing and canning to create markets for farmers, and create jobs for school leavers. Diasporeans can set up cocoa, coconut, palm oil, cashew nut, shea butter and banana plantations for export. Along the coastal areas of Ghana, the climate and soils are conducive for growing vegetables, water melons, pumpkins, pineapples, tomatoes, groundnuts, bambara beans, carrots, garden eggs and okra.

The same applies to Northern Ghana. They can adopt labour-intensive methods to create jobs, especially among women. Capital-intensive methods can be practised on large commercial farms, while the labour-intensive methods can be practised among small scale peasant farmers, who can be organised into cooperative societies. One area in which Ghana is lacking is livestock farming. Diasporeans can come in big with capital to set up livestock farms or ranches in Northern Ghana. They can also set up huge modern poultry farms near the densely-populated cities like Accra, Kumasi, Tema and Takoradi. In these areas, they can practice market gardening and truck farming.

They can also enter into wheat, rice and maize production in Northern Ghana, with capital support from IFAD and the ADB. ECOWAS provides a huge market for farm produce. Perhaps, our government should consider farm input subsidies for our farmers, on the scale such as the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) in the EU, and the practice in the USA. We do not have to wait and be reactive to encounter a repeat of the food crises which rocked the nation in 1977 and again in 1983, when we had critical shortages of food, leading to what was popularly dubbed, Rawlings Chain. Ghanaians suffered a lot in those exceptional years, so we have to be proactive because once bitten, twice shy.

To encourage returnee Diasporeans to take to farming, the Ghanaian government should provide incentives to them such as providing tax exempt or zero rating for all agricultural inputs brought into the country by the returnees. There could also be designated areas in each of the 10 regions of Ghana as Diaspora Returnee Farm Blocs (DRFB), where returnees can access land for farming, and pay some reduced rents. Some returnees can set up agricultural clubs to whip up the interest of the youth in farming.

Those who have acquired expertise outside the country in agriculture can share their knowledge at agricultural fairs, during school visits, and during radio and TV shows. Some of them can produce books on agriculture for our schools. I know of a Ghanaian horticulturist, who is British-trained, and came to Zambia in 1967, after his training in the UK. He has done a lot in Zambia, and has produced a book on horticulture in partnership with a Nigerian professor. I will like to call upon all the Ghanaians in the Diaspora to team up and network, by re-directing foreign investors and counterparts to consider investing heavily in both organic and non-organic farming in Ghana.

Our own son of the soil, Busubrum Dr Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary General, has been campaigning vigorously at several fora in Africa for African governments to pay serious attention to food security, by investing heavily in sustainable agriculture. This clarion call must also be heeded by Diasporeans, by stepping in and complementing government effort by directing some of their investment into agriculture. They can investigate into farming practices which help preserve our ecosystem.

They can, for example, research into organic farming by either cropping at landfill sites or digging up the compost soil in old and abandoned refuse dump sites, what is popularly known in Ghana as ‘boola’. I remember about 57 years ago, my late father harvested super maize and cassava from his farm behind where we stayed at ‘Quarters’ at WACRI (now CRIG) in New Tafo. The site was dug up in the 1940s when they were constructing landcrete houses for staff of the then West African Cocoa Research Institute (WACRI). The area became a landfill for rubbish from those residents there.

Diasporeans may engage in drip-irrigation methods to conserve water, using highly efficient methods of intensive farming. They may also engage in truck farming or market gardening to raise assortment of vegetables for city dwellers. They could use ground charcoal; saw dust, wood clippings, mulching, and droppings from chickens and cow dung, among others to enrich the soil for organic farming. They could plant hybrid seeds to increase crop yield per hectare. They could engage in aquaculture or hydroponics, whereby crops like tomatoes can be raised in water which is saturated with crop nutrients.

They could also engage in crop rotation, intercropping and other soil conservation methods, considering the soil catena or profile and the acidity, alkalinity and ph values of the soils. They could employ lime and top basal fertilizer to enrich farinaceous or sandy soils. Diasporeans can set up fertilizer plants in Ghana to produce urea and nitrogen compounds for agriculture. With cattle, they could engage in invitro fertilization or artificial insemination to increase yield.

Ghanaian agricultural science teachers who went to Nigeria learnt how Nigerian farmers can vegetate yams by using fresh yam cuttings to increase yield, by using some strange mechanism unknown in Ghana. What Tetteh Quarshie did in 1876 to bring cocoa seeds from Fernando Po (Equatorial Guinea) to plant at Akropong Akwapin, we in the Diaspora can also do. Marco Polo journeyed on foot for thousands of kilometres to China from Italy in 1271, and brought the knowledge of silk and spices to Italy. Among Ghanaian Diasporeans are lurking many Tetteh Quarshies, Marco Polos, Mungo Parks, David Livingstones, Mary Slessors, Sir Walter Raleighs, Francis Drakes, Jim Hawkins and Captain Thomas Cookes.

Contact: kwesiattasakyi449@gmail.com

The author is a Senior Lecturer at ZCAS, Lusaka.

 

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

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