In the week in which the powerful have taken over the global media space thundering destruction and performing anarchy at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, those interested in empowerment or global justice must seek for the voice of the voiceless. After all, as Thomas Hobbes had said in his massively misinterpreted Leviathan long before the era of the ‘linguistic turn’, “the actions of men proceed from their opinions”. So, what people say is even more important than what people do. As such, creating space for the self-representation of the weaker world is, therefore, crucial to empowerment in this context. What President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana said at an earlier function also in New York fits into that process of empowerment.
The world might not have stood still while President Akufo-Addo read his address at this occasion. Whether the world took note and stood still or not, he has put the world on notice with what most observers would consider a very piercing narrative of the African condition by an African leader, complete with an overarching standpoint on how to get Africa out of its nightmare. The idea that ‘Africa must industrialise to fund, implement SDGs’ (Sustainable Development Goals) is the ‘Africa Has Come of Age’ or the ultimate home truth of this era.
It is the speech in which every word counts! The hope is that this is not a one hit performance and that the message of industrialisation is the song president of Ghana will be singing all through. If he could formally circulate his intervention among his his fellow African leaders and persuade them to adopt it as an official document of the African Union, (AU), he would have done his own bit for Africa. That would be important in itself. What follows is a quick translation of the speech as could be heard in the video which has been uploaded here too:
“My duty and that of all the members of the Advocacy group is to help mobilise political support for the realisation of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals which includes ending poverty and hunger, improving health and education, making cities more sustainable, combating climate change and protecting oceans and forests. All of these are aimed at promoting global development that leaves no one behind. Truth be told. The full implementation of the SDGs in Africa cannot be done with the mindset of dependents. This has to change and it begins with identifying our priorities and implementing them.
Our first priority must be to change the structures of the economies on the continent which are dependent largely on the production and export of raw materials. It is this reliance on raw materials that feeds our dependence on foreign aid and subjects us to the politics of the West. We cannot be doing the same thing over and over again and expect a different result. Africa needs to transform stagnant, jobless economy built on the export of raw materials and unrefined goods to value added economies that provide jobs, to build strong middle class societies and lift the masses of our people out of dire poverty. To guarantee an Africa beyond aid, Africa must breed a new generation of leaders.
Leaders who are committed to governing their people according to the rule of law, respect for individual liberties and human rights and the principles of democratic accountability. Leaders who are looking past commodities to position their countries in the global market place. Leaders who are determined to free their people from the mindset of dependents, aid, charities and handouts. Leaders who are bent on mobilising Africa’s immeasurable resources to resolve Africa’s problems. Leaders who recognise the connectedness of their peoples and economies to those of their nieghbours. This new generation of African leaders must help bring dignity and prosperity to our continent and its peoples. Once again, I thank you for making me part of this conversation.