The truth is that ultimately Africa's future prosperity lies with the decisions of Africa's leaders. We need leadership that is democratic, accountable and transparent.
Categories: Uncategorized Tags: africa, Africa Aid, Africa Governance Initiative, Africa Government, Africa Leaders, Africa Leadership, african intellectuals, G8 Summit, good african leaders, International Community, world bank
Finally, the January referendum wheels seem to be turning irreversibly in Southern Sudan. There was a lot of excitement even with the registration that ended last Tuesday, by which time three million had registered.
The research team of researchers from the University Of Notre Dame, the J.C. Venter Institute, Washington University and the Broad Institute are reporting that two strains of mosquitoes responsible for malaria in Africa are evolving at an unexpected rate into genetically distinct species. This is not good news as it will further complicate the tedious fight against malaria by creating a situation where strategies and medicines developed against malaria may not be effective against both strains
The studies were reported in the magazine Science. The two issues (Science 22 October 2010:Vol. 330. no. 6003, pp. 512 – 514; Science 4 October 2002:Vol. 298. no. 5591, pp. 115 – 117) suggest that the evolution process is occurring faster than previously thought, and point to already substantial differences in the two strains. The two species already able to exploit different habitats.
Malaria kills one child every 30 seconds worldwide, according to World Health Organization. The incidence could be higher in sub-Saharan African.
The work focused on the Anopheles gambiae, the mosquito that is the most transmitter of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa. The study describes the two strains as “M” and “S” strains of the “Anopheles gambiae mosquito
What they found was that the mosquitoes are diverging into two different incipient species, which are called M and S forms. Physically, the two forms are cannot be distinguished, they are and able to interbreed, but their DNAs are diverging into different directions. Their behaviors are different under different conditions.
The ‘M’ form is usually found in around permanent bodies of water and spends most of its life in water environment. This means that it can thrive in dry areas that are normally not good habitats for malaria transmitting mosquitoes.
The S form is used to small, short-lived water bodies and breeds well during the rainy season. It is clear how these ‘tricks’ by the mosquito could undermine current efforts to combat the disease.
Work is ongoing to sequence the genome of the two forms of mosquitoes which could help us to decipher why they are different and how to devise ways to combat them more effectively.
If you believe in witchcraft, you probably think life is worse than your neighbour does, Gallup study in sub-Sahara African concludes
I present the results of a survey that was conducted from February 22, 2010 to March 21, 2010. The purpose of the survey was to collate the views of Ghanaians everywhere on the 4th Republican Constitution. Survey respondents participated voluntarily by accessing a link that was placed on www. Ghanaweb.com and other chat rooms known to and accessible to me (e.g., Okyeame@gogglegroups.com, glu-ghana-leadership-forum@googlegroups, email@example.com). In addition to accessibility, these sites were chosen because they are patronized by a good cross section of the population who frequently express views and debate on the Constitution. Therefore, survey respondents were not randomly chosen. However, given that the purpose of the survey was to collate views on the Constitution, I wanted respondents who had read the Constitution or were knowledgeable on the workings of the Constitution.
The survey consisted of 53 questions. Questions 1 to 5 asked some background questions about the respondents’ access to and knowledge of the Constitution while questions 51 to 53 asked demographic questions. Question 6 asked participants to rate the effectiveness of 20 Constitutional organs. Questions 7 to 15 asked questions about the executive; questions 16 to 26 asked questions pertaining to the legislature; and questions 27 to 34 addressed the judiciary. In addition, I asked questions about the district assemblies (question 34), death penalty (question 36), political parties (questions 37 to 40), CHRAJ (questions 41 to 45), transitional provisions (questions 46 and 47), chieftaincy (question 48), and general elections (questions 49 and 50). The appendix to this executive summary shows the questions asked, frequency distribution of the responses, and the number of participants who answered and skipped each question.
Demographic Profile of Respondents and Access to Constitution
One thousand two hundred and twenty six (1,226) participants responded to the survey. About 80% of the respondents were between the ages of 31 to 60 and most (95%) of the respondents were males. Approximately 37% of the respondents self-reported that they own a copy of the 1992 Constitution and only about 18.6% had read all chapters of the Constitution. Surprisingly, about 28.5% of the respondents had not read some of the chapters or parts of the 1992 Constitution and 18.1% indicated that they did not understand the contents of the Constitution. Only 7% felt they were extremely knowledgeable about the Constitution. About 25% of those who do not read their personal copies of the Constitution, access the Constitution through online sources such as Ghanaweb while about 17.1% borrow their friends’ copies. These responses suggest that the 4th republican Constitution is not available to, accessible to, read by and understood by many Ghanaians. Government should consider making it part of the curriculum at the secondary and tertiary levels.
Effectiveness of Constitutional Organs
The 4th Republican Constitution created several organs and charged them with specific responsibilities. How well have these organs discharged those responsibilities? To address this question, I asked the respondents to evaluate the effectiveness of 20 Constitutional organs on an 11 point scale where a score of 1 indicates “minimum effectiveness,” a score of 6 indicates “moderate effectiveness” while a score of 11 indicates maximum effectiveness. The mean (standard deviation) effectiveness rating for each of the 20 organs is tabulated in Table 1. Table also reports a raw ranking of the Constitutional organs as well as a statistical ranking. The statistical rankings are based on means that are statistically significant (i.e., I rank an organ as more effective than another only if the mean between the two organs cannot be satisfactory explained by chance. Technically, these are paired t-tests with significance level fixed at .05).
Respondents indicate that the Electoral Commission has been the most effective organ, with a mean effectiveness rating of 7.56. The Ghana Armed Force, Presidency and the Media are tied for second place, even though their mean effectiveness rating is less than 6 (moderate effectiveness). Parliament is considered least effective of the 3 branches of government at a mean score of 4.34. The Political Parties are ranked as third, ahead of CHRAJ and the National Security Council. The least effective organs are the Council of State, District Chief Executives, and the National Development and Planning Commission, who score below 4 on the effectiveness scale.
Overall, other than the Electoral Commission, it is clear that respondents think that these Constitutional organs have not been very effective in discharging their constitutional obligations.
Where Ghana Went Right: How one African country emerged intact from its post-colonial struggles, John Schram
John Schram, Senior fellow with the Queen’s Centre for International Relations, Former Canadian High Commissioner to Ghana, Sierra Leone, Togo, and Liberia from 1994 to 1998.
Early one December morning in 1965, a few months after my arrival in Ghana, I was jolted out of a tropical sleep by a pile of Daily Graphic newspapers whumping onto the concrete floor of my small room.
“What are those for, Atinga?” I called out groggily to Atinga Naga, the residence cleaner, as he stood at the door, several more such loads balanced in his arms.
And indeed I did. Within minutes came an eruption of shouts, rubber flip-flopped footsteps, and slamming screen doors — unusual noises amid the staid gentlemanliness of Legon Hall, my University of Ghana residence. I leaped up and joined the swarm now flying from bathroom to bathroom, where we found our worst fears realized: the country, in its ninth year of independence, had run out of toilet paper. The new Ghana on which I had staked my future was in crisis.
Not many weeks later, in the dark early morning of February 24, 1966, we heard the sound of distant guns and knew instantly there had been a coup d’état. The campus — and the capital, Accra — erupted as cheering crowds danced in euphoric and spontaneous celebration.
The sudden dearth of toilet paper was far from the only warning sign. Many of my new university friends had claimed for some time that Kwame Nkrumah, the nation’s first president, had lost his way. At the end of October, Nkrumah had hosted a summit of the Organization of African Unity, founded in 1963 in the wake of a continent-wide flood of successful independence movements. He saw the Accra meeting as his chance to win support for his vision of a united Africa, and to show what his brand of socialism had wrought in Ghana’s own eight years of freedom. To him, all Africa was embarked on an irreversible wave toward political and economic independence. And he and Ghana should lead the way.
As it turned out, he was disappointed. Armed with his engaging smile, Nkrumah took centre stage at the oau summit, but soon found that most of the continent’s new leaders shared the British and American suspicion of his obsession with a united continent, and distrusted his motives for and commitment to “scientific socialism.” Only thirteen of thirty-six African heads of state actually came to Accra, and the conference ended with neither continental commitment nor popular enthusiasm at home.
In the Legon Hall residence, the excitement of the event was quickly forgotten. International journalists billeted with us had eaten up our entire year’s allotment of rice and meat. As a result, we suffered an unpopular Yam Festival, consisting of two meals a day of yam: boiled, fried, roasted, and mashed. No rice, no meat. Just yam.
More seriously, disenchanted Legonites accused Nkrumah of fixating on grandiose infrastructure projects: the new seaport and planned city at Tema were a waste of hard-won cocoa earnings; likewise the vast hydroelectric dam, the man-made Volta Lake and its aluminum smelter, the new airport, and the four-lane highway connecting Accra to the port at Tema. Most vociferously, they condemned Job 600, the huge luxury-lodging project designed to impress upon visiting oau leaders the suitability of Accra as the future capital of the United States of Africa.
For a small-town boy from Ontario, this was confusing stuff. I was reminded daily that the African independence wave had moved with proud visibility and relative order to sever the colonial bonds with Britain or France. But I could sense that for new African countries like Ghana there was a hidden cost: Ghanaians, like so many other Africans, were becoming irreconcilably divided between the traditional elites who had expected to take over from the colonialists, and the popular “masses” who had in fact led the struggle, and whom Nkrumah represented. I was surrounded at the university by both the disaffected and the Nkrumah loyalists. Within days of my arrival, three hall mates, suspecting that I might be an American cia plant, had climbed over my balcony, intent on converting me into a solid Nkrumahist.
Their altruism was buttressed by a growing horde of professors from Eastern Europe, Fabian socialists from the London School of Economics, American communists, and hopeful African-American academics, all of whom wanted to help build in now-independent Africa the socialist utopia denied them at home. None of them seemed overly concerned by the increasing security presence, arrests (Ghana had some 1,200 political prisoners in 1965), or disingenuous propaganda issuing forth from the leader’s ubiquitous Convention People’s Party media. To the contrary, Nkrumah’s message sounded to them quite credible: if Ghana and its African neighbours were to be truly independent, they had to outwit the neo-colonialists, control the market, produce centralized five-year economic plans, and borrow however much it took to manufacture anything and everything then being imported from the former colonial powers. If this meant collectivized farming and tight bureaucratic control of prices, wages, imports, foreign travel, and currency — or a few years in James Fort Prison for members of the country’s traditional elite — so be it. The end, the Nkrumahists believed, really did justify the means.
I was all for this, too. Ghana had paid for my Commonwealth Scholarship. Now, here, I had found everything a young man could want: Oxbridge on a tropical hill just beyond Accra; luxurious residence halls, gardens, courtyards, and fountains; an Institute of African Studies with a roster of remarkable international experts; all the Star beer one could drink; good friends; and lively dances under the palms to Ghana’s infectious highlife music. I was impressed, too, with the country’s free health care, and with its free post-secondary education, which my hard-working Ghanaian colleagues seemed to regard as a serious responsibility (not for them the nightclubs of Accra). Though a law school graduate from Toronto, I was no match for their broad classical educations, their debating skills, and the sheer elegance of their written and spoken English.
These Ghanaians were confident, assured, and welcoming. They were in at the start of the new Africa then, and they are very much part of a new Africa now. Today their names are quite recognizable: John Atta Mills, then a field hockey star and law student, now president of Ghana; Nana Akufo-Addo, in 1965 a dedicated Nkrumahist, now the converted free market presidential candidate for the New Patriotic Party; Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, then a high-achieving student, now the internationally respected head of the Electoral Commission of Ghana; Kwesi Botchwey, then an undeniably smart man about campus, now a professor at Tufts, and, until he quit in frustration, the architect of Ghana’s eventual transition to liberal market policies.
They were a seemingly random group at the time, but their lives have come to reflect both the evolution of much of Africa over a half century of independence, and the changing relationship between Africa and Canada. They illustrate, too, what has happened to disappoint and then encourage in Ghana, neatly mirroring the good times and the bad across much of Africa. Their stories have been repeated in Botswana, Sierra Leone, Mali, Tanzania, Senegal, Nigeria. If they have now become the bedrock of Ghana, they are equally a portent of Africa’s future. Encouragingly, their lives prove the exception to the sense of drift and malevolent change that descended on all newly independent African countries in the decades following that initial burst of pride and hope.
The first frenzy of rejoicing at Nkrumah’s demise soon wore off. Ghana’s coffers were bare. Where Nkrumah was said to have wept upon hearing there was no money left to finish the Volta River project, we at the university cried as our hall residence tables were cleared of Milo, Ovaltine, and Maggi sauce. We were being forced to join the masses in losing the small luxuries most Ghanaians now saw as the stuff of life: Norwegian sardines, Argentine corned beef, American Uncle Ben’s rice.
I, too, found the new situation disconcerting. I had lost both the subject of my master’s thesis — the Convention People’s Party — and a good deal of my naïveté. I had come to Ghana expecting to be part of a new vision for an independent Africa. Then, overnight on February 24, 1966, the coup rendered Nkrumah and all that he stood for unmentionable.
I was far from the only Canadian who had arrived hoping to take part in Ghana’s bright future. During my first year there, a friend named John Bentum-Williams, recently returned with a degree from the University of Western Ontario, whisked me away for a holiday in a small northern town. Surrounded by Ghanaian friends and cooled by big, cheap bottles of beer, I thought myself a modern-day explorer. This happy delusion fell apart when I spotted, on the opposite side of the bar, another white face, a woman’s. For most of the night, we managed to avoid each other, but in the end pressure from Ghanaians baffled by such jealousy resulted in an introduction: she was Lynn Taylor and, like me, from London, Ontario. She was in Ghana for two years as part of an enthusiastic contingent of volunteer secondary school teachers fielded by Canadian University Students Overseas and the World University Service of Canada. Adventurous and committed young people like her were scattered in villages throughout Ghana and, for that matter, all over Africa.
The traffic between Africa and Canada during the 1960s — sponsored by governments, churches, service clubs, and universities — spoke of an infectious desire to be involved in the changes sweeping the continent. And it went both ways. Those bringing the best of African youth to Canada hoped to help train the next presidents, senior civil servants, doctors, lawyers, etymologists, and engineers of post-independence African nations. Some, like John Bentum-Williams, returned home to bolster the leadership pool. As the continent struggled, however, many other African elites began to stay abroad, the start of a problematic but ongoing bonanza for Canada. What persuaded growing numbers to leave their homes, friends, and families? How did Africa get from the heady days of independence to a continent that many in Canada perceive only as a place of despair? In the bad, as eventually in the good, Ghana showed the way.
After the coup, the military government initially set about putting the country on a democratic foundation, promoting the candidacy of Kofi Busia, a diminutive, scholarly sociology professor, representative of the right-of-centre elite, who had fled the country under Nkrumah’s rule. He was elected prime minister, and the Western world rejoiced. Canada quickly invited him to pay a state visit, which he did in November 1970. By this point, I had returned to Canada, and the first task of my first real job in what was then the Department of External Affairs was to hold Busia’s briefcase as he was rushed from Rideau Hall to the Office of the Prime Minister, from parliamentary question period to talks with top Canadian International Development Agency officials about more Canadian aid. Though continued Canadian funding for Ghana was certainly forthcoming, the trip was not entirely successful. Busia and his entourage looked askance at having to brave a cold winter rain to plant a commemorative tree in the gardens of Rideau Hall. They rushed away from Canada early to attend French president Charles de Gaulle’s funeral, as much impressed by the dreariness of Ottawa in November as by the generosity of Canadian hospitality and our support for African development.
Back home in Ghana, Busia didn’t last long. His promises of good government went unfulfilled, the economy continued to decline, and he acquired many of the habits that had been Nkrumah’s undoing. Ghanaians quickly grew disillusioned with his inability to put more money in their pockets, and suspicious of his apparent ties to the United States and Britain. They were incensed when he sharply devalued Ghana’s currency; they were irritated by his flashy motorcades and ostentatious security. For most Ghanaians, life in Busia’s “Western” democracy was no better than it had been during Nkrumah’s socialism.
Like so many other Africans, Ghanaians had become ensnared in the Cold War trap, pulled in opposite directions by the ideological proxy battles being waged across the continent by the Soviet Union and the United States. Newly independent nations like Ghana found themselves playing one side against the other to win more aid; imposing trade and business controls; and silencing opposition instead of developing a capacity for independent policy formulation and effective government. The heroes of freedom struggles across Africa eventually became all too proficient at this game, winning Soviet or Western military support and often-self-serving aid, but sacrificing much of the independence they had fought for. To maintain their hold on power, they exploited the pull of petty local nationalism and maintained an enveloping government media. And so Africa sank into an abyss of inflation, corruption, one-party states, dictatorships, conflict, and coups. When Busia was tossed out in another military putsch, in 1972, it was no surprise to my friends from the University of Ghana — or to me, in my new post as a junior officer with the Canadian High Commission in nearby Lagos, Nigeria.
As always with the military governments that drove out so many of Africa’s early leaders, the new Ghanaian regime only accelerated the state of decline. Much the same had happened in Nigeria. We had arrived in Lagos as a newly minted embassy family in 1971, with the country still reverberating from the bloody civil war that had pitted the central government and much of the country against a doughty but soon all-but-destroyed Biafra (Nigeria’s former Eastern Region). We drove frequently over the next few years from Lagos to Accra, relying on our two small children to win the hearts of the customs and police officers who manned the countless roadblocks and border crossings. Amid near-universal economic collapse, these petty officials were bent mainly on collecting a “dash” from defenceless travellers making their already unpleasant journey from Nigeria through Dahomey (now Benin), across Togo, and into Ghana. (press the button below for next page)
Names, photographs and addresses of the Ugandan gays were also made public . The paper’s editor, Giles Muhame, defended the list and said he published it to expose Ugandan gays and lesbians, so authorities could arrest them. Currently, a bill is being debated in the Ugandan parliament that is expected to pass within months.
If passed, the law will make homosexuality a capital offense that could result in a death penalty. The parliamentarian who sponsored the bill is known to have strong ties with some religious groups in the US. It is no secret that a significant number of African communities recoil from gay and lesbian life styles. This is rooted in both religious as well as a traditionally conservative society.
In fact, in Kenya someone caught in a homosexual relationship could face a good number of years in jail. But the radical approach being pursued in Uganda is surely extreme even to people who reject such lifestyle. What is disturbing is the involvement of some religious groups from the US in Ugandan politics, especially when these groups have managed (or been compelled by the constitution) to live peacefully with every lifestyle here in the US.
Homosexuality is not new on the African continent but the people have learnt do live with it for centuries. They deal with it by their own local institutions which work for them. It is surely not right for any external group to prey upon the ignorance and poverty of some Ugandan communities and the greediness of some politicians to move the country this way. What Ugandans deserve is affordable healthcare, education and war against malaria, which takes a child’s life every 30 seconds. More on this story here CNN Fox
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New Gallup Numbers, Uganda 66%, Burundi 64%: Too close to call