Friday, January 24, 2014


In the wake of the tragic loss of the beloved Ghanaian journalist Komla Dumor, the emotions of the people that loved him are not unwarranted. It is well deserved and earned. It is a duty to honor his memory, so that those that aspire for personal accomplishment can find inspiration in his achievements. He did Ghana proud as a representative of our professional abilities and potential to excel in the modern world of Corporate competition. He showed that, given the right opportunities, Ghanaians and by extension Africans have an untapped potential to compete on the world stage. He did a very good job of representing himself and speaking on matters that dealt with the surface issues that also plague the African people. Kudos Komla, your example is worthy of all admiration. Rest In Perfect Peace. May the battles of your work to shed light on the African condition through journalism live on.

It is hard to quantify the true conditions and plight of the African continent and its people in one article. Not enough books have documented the overwhelming mass of what is wrong with the continent. The deeper issues of our stagnation when categorized on the National level, is still a subject that has not been fully deciphered in order to bring real tangible solutions to the forefront. Of course, it is not a complete dismissal of all that is positive and great about the continent. However, the continued application of failed policies and practices on the continent leaves very little room for any objective mind to consider hopeful. The facade of progress being entwined into our daily lives breeds a false sense of hope for the African continent. I dare say, it is more dangerous to our future than Slavery ever was. The falsehood of our independence is clear as day. I am conveniently living away from it, therefore, the criticism leveled here will rub the majority of those who are optimistic about our progress the wrong way. I believe that we have stagnated in our quest for true independence because we have the wrong motivations. The African will never be truly independent and dictate a future that aligns with the essence of the idea itself unless we re-calibrate our motivations. "The Why" of Independence from the Western world that many lives were sacrificed to gain.

I found it a bit of an overreach and exaggeration,  how we quickly anointed Komla as belonging in the same sentence and pedigree as the Nkrumahs and Mandelas of African decent. Granted, it is a lack of decorum to be brutally honest about a person's worth in the short wake of their untimely passing. However, I am burdened to say these things because I feel responsible. This is by no means an attempt to discredit or disparage Komla's memory or achievements, just my perspective on how things have gotten out of hand in our desperate need of a true leader, not only in our country Ghana but Africa at large. The youth are desperate, desolate even tormented for a lack of any real direction for our future. We claw and clinch on to any string of hope, one that reassures us that all is not lost. We have to. Here is some perspective. Most of Komla's work can be classified as personal achievement. There is nothing wrong or bad about it but let us not water down the meaning of great in our desperation for leadership. Kwame Nkrumah was great, Nelson Mandela was great, Chinua Achebe was great. Komla was good at his job. I say all this to keep punching at the air and the walls that hinder us. We can not just proclaim a person great based on sentiments and emotions -- it breeds mediocrity. There has to be a tangible and measurable set of standards to declare one of our own "great"! The work we do in our private lives even if it is in the public eye does not merit our greatness beyond the confines of "how well we performed on the job". Greatness in the context of the African echelon, should have much higher standards. To be assessed as "great" there is a need for more veritable proof, a quantifiable impact and real physical presence on the majority of the suffering masses in a nation even before the context of continent.

As a matter of opinion, most of our foreign-educated people, those of us living overseas in our many varying positions and accomplishments are saddled with this struggle to measure up. To prove to those that it matters the least to that, we are capable of rubbing shoulders with them. We are professionals, we speak eloquently, we all did not grow up trying to escape the wandering lion in the neighborhood, we had and have niceties and we were exposed to the finer things  that most Westerners assume we did not have. We fight that ghost all our lives and begrudgingly fight our way for this recognition; -- that we are just as human and deserving as the Westerners. That is what I mostly recover from any of the persons that currently occupy the space of "face of Africa". In my opinion, this is our biggest deficit in seeking the same things for our people as we so cherish about the developed Western world. Don't roll your eyes or get offended, this observation is mine, my perspective and it is my truth. A truth that I share with many young and ambitious Ghanaians trying to come up and be successful. We lack the temerity required to change things for the better -- for the good of our people. I have often said that Africans in general are the least charitable people. The wealth in the hands of Africans-- not to be racial-- but by Africans, I mean indigenous Africans, is in excess of what is needed to set the continent right and alleviate the majority of our societal issues. We have to be offended by our the idea that we are the world's charity case. That "African Pride" which we proudly tout should translate into real-time action of making life better for our own. The lack of clean drinking water is still a problem throughout the continent. The lack of good healthcare. I won't bore you with a list but in 2014, the most basic of human rights remain very elusive to the common African. So save your story of glory, the benevolence of making the West aware of your personal triumphs and accomplishments when you get the stage and constantly remember that, the majority of our people suffer and struggle with basic things like; water and electricity, schools and hospitals, roads and jobs, clothes and proper shelter. The list goes on. Rather, I encourage us to use this evidently large hole in our souls that yearns for a proper direction for our various African countries as fuel to march for real change. Forget about that appearance on, go to the far North and teach those deserving kids in Navrongo some life lessons, how to market their cattle and herd better. Reach to the deep South in Elmina and lift your own people from sickness and airborne diseases. Travel West and teach the locals in Elubo how to make the most of their natural resources i.e. the oil that has been discovered should improve their lives the most. Trot to the East and inspire a kid or a classroom in Koforidua with your eloquence. Gravitate to the center of the region and demand that the Gold mined from Obuasi should be used for the benefit of the locals if nothing at all. Stand up to your corrupt elders and government as harshly as has never been done before. Demand change daily for your own people. Elevate them, with your Harvard education, fight for their rights with your lawyering skills. Scream atop your lungs with your music and art, let the status quo know that we demand change. We can not allow our collective futures to be destroyed by the greedy few.

Komla is gone and if the typical Ghanaian faux sentiments prevail after his funeral, he will become a footnote in our collective memories. If you believe him great, then fight to make it so. That his memory will not be nuanced by the "oh that guy was a funny guy o, he had so much potential"-- to naught, typical of what happens to most of our people who pass on early. Rather, his memory will live in what he inspired in all of us young and ambitious Ghanaians and Africans at large. We want to achieve great things but if we achieve them for our person primarily, we will never be considered great. Let us achieve for our people, the helpless ones. Those that cannot fight the powers that be intellectually and resourcefully. Let us not lose our future to the foreigners that have descended on our lands as the next big thing, Africa, the next frontier of the global economy. You and I should ensure that, Ghanaians and Africans are the number one beneficiaries of all our resources and people. We can achieve this if the mindset and motivation behind our desires change and align for the sake of the betterment of our people. Let history tell the tale of those who were great but in our current time, let us fight for the sake of our people. This is the highest duty we have to ourselves, greatness be damned! As the Akan proverb goes in translation; "do what is necessary before doing what is decorative". Peace.

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