“Africa doesn’t need Strong Men, it needs Strong Institutions” is a statement passed by current President of America, Barrack Obama, to Ghana’s Parliament, when he visited Ghana on the 11th July, 2009.
Since the time Obama made those remarks, till date, every social commentator, politician, political analysts or lecturers, social feature columnists in some print media, Economists, and other people in academia, ALWAYS quote Obama and say the latter’s advice, is what Africa actually need.
I’ve pondered over what Obama said all these years and after doing so, I totally disagree with his avouchment. Indeed, what he said makes less sense to me because, I feel the converse of what he said, is rather true or should rather be the case.
Point is, human beings create systems and not the other way round – so if human beings, or men, are not strong, they can’t make strong institutions. This is common sense! I have not had any duologue with Obama to explain to me what he actually meant nor have I had the privilege to read the actual speech he read when he came to Ghana.
But, ‘strong’ as Obama used, was or is not about machismo, physiques, or brons, but brains! I strongly believe Obama actually meant, once we have strong institutions – as in, institutions that are: effective, efficient, transparent, corruption-free, accountable, and have general positive orientation, most of the social-economic problems in Ghana, Africa for that matter, can highly be overcome. That is 100% true!
Nonetheless, the truth too is that, without strong men, as in men who are – intelligent, honest, productive, dedicated, creative, and have a high sense of morale, there can never be anything like strong institution (s). Institutions – companies, roads, hospitals, schools, etc. don’t create themselves! I have never seen a road constructing another road before!
So by logical extension, if Obama implied that we need institutions that are STRONG: effective, efficient, transparent, corruption-free, accountable, and have general positive orientation, then we FIRST need STRONG MEN – intelligent, honest, productive, dedicated, creative, and have a high sense of morale.
Everything in this world – computers, cars, trains, aircrafts, atomic bombs, etc. no matter how complex or sophisticated they may be, require men to create them! That is why I once wrote and was published on this same medium that, “Until African leaders change the MINDSET of its people, they toil in vain, because, if you can control or manipulate the mind of a person, forget his/her actions.”
In a nutshell, Obama turned the whole argument upside down! He gave his advice from effect and not from cause – because, cause always come before an effect. Obama jumped the gun! He crossed the bridge before reaching it! He actually goofed! He made sense, but less sense!
It befuddles me why all our so called professors, social commentators, politicians, and other scholars, could not discern or have not been able to re-evaluate Obama’s comments to know that what Obama said, makes less sense! That is why I always opine that: “it’s not all the time that the experts are right.” Sometimes, common sense defeats scholarly dictums and doctrines.
Ghanaians, Africans, sometimes when foreigners come to the motherland and say or do something, sometimes let’s take time and evaluate critically before praise-singing or making them seem sacrosanct! If you also don’t agree with me, feel free and share – after all, we are all learning. Until then…MOTWUM!!
Submitted by: Osarfo Anthony