It’s Tuesday the 19th of April 2016 and there was a program gnawing in my mind. It’s the first of its kind I’ve ever come across. It’s called AHA’ SPORA vs. DIASPORA DISCUSSIONS which was scheduled to take place at the British Council and the theme for the program was “From Perception to Reality”. I got to know about this program through “threesixtyGh”. For those of you who don’t know about threesixtyGh let me give you a brief bio on them. threesixtyGh is an online story-telling and information portal showcasing innovative ventures and the people behind them. They highlight people, places, startups, industries and events helping shape the country for the better. They do this via their website, social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) and YouTube Vlog Channel. For more info you can check out their website www.threesixtygh.com.
The event was organized by TedxAccra, threesixtyGh, and Ahaspora Young Professionals. It was an open forum steered by Miss Solace ‘The Siren’ Rose Quartey who is a News Anchor, Presenter, and Broadcast Journalist for TV3 Networks Ltd. and 3fm 92.7 in Accra-Ghana. The panelists included Mr. Kobina Aidoo, the brain behind “Red Means GO” a short documentary, and “ The Dumsor Report”, the first quantitative analysis of Ghana’s load-shedding patterns from the consumers perspective, Mr. Benjamin Anyan who is the visionary behind Goldinwords.com and Madam Freda Ampofo, a Global Public Policy Professional with a regional focus on Africa. She also runs a lifestyle blog www.fabfitfine.com.
Mrs. Maabena Asiedu founder of Fitvolution, a boot camp for women was also among the panelists. Then there was Yaa-Priscilla Birago co-founder of Hands of a Hero Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports less fortunate children in Ghana and Canada by empowering, mentoring, educating and providing resources to improving their lives. Lastly, was Edwina Momoh a Sierra Leonean who has lived in the UK and who is now in Ghana to spread the message of breaking out the box.
Notable amongst the issues discussed was MIGRATION. The moderator made an interesting revelation that 96% of Africans migrate out of necessity and not by choice which I think is true. The question that popped up in my mind was ‘Why is that the case?’ Some people would say it’s because people want to seek greener pastures in developed countries. I want to know; Is the grass really greener on the other side? What makes the grass greener on the other side? The other side being abroad of course.
I believe the reason why the grass looks greener on the other side is because there is an efficient system in place that runs the country and everybody makes it work. This is what we are lacking in Ghana and Africa as a whole.
I was glad when the panelists said they do their best to dispel the notion of people thinking that you can only be successful if you move outside Ghana but they rather encourage them to stay in Ghana and make their dreams become reality. The bitter truth is, it’s not that easy. How can one survive in a system where, if you don’t want to pay a bribe, you cannot virtually get anything done? How can one survive in a system that doesn’t value one’s talent? Kobina Aidoo stated that “you have three choices in every transaction”.
- You either leverage the system
- Go with the system
- Change the system
I was impressed when he revealed that he resolved not to pay a bribe to anyone to get things done which is a laudable move. The question is, how may Ghanaians would take this bold decision? How many of us are willing to change the system or not conform to what is already in place?
During the discussion, another topic that came up was ‘The Power of the Accent’. Basically, what the panelists touched on was how people with ex: British or American accents are given preferential treatment, especially when seeking jobs because they are seen as superior to people who have a Ghanaian accent. Edwina Momoh, was quick to make the audience aware that this was not always the case. “The moment people hear your accent, the price of everything changes”, she stated.
In my opinion, the only way to fight this stereotype is to show people what you’ve got whether you are from here or from abroad. One has to aggressively showcase his or her capabilities.
Other topics discussed were concerning new media and it’s role in changing mindsets and the ‘Identity Crisis‘ of Ghanaians living abroad, among others. Attendees were spotted enjoying some delicious drinks compliments of
After all is said and done, what is the way forward for Ghanaians? First, I believe that in order to make the grass greener here, we have to change the system. We have to stop embracing mediocrity and do the right thing. Systems are not just there, people create them and make it work. Secondly, there has to be some sort of mental liberation, especially amongst the younger generation. We have to break out of the box like Edwina Momoh stated. The box we have placed ourselves in. It’s time we drum the “Yes We Can” mantra by Barrack Obama in the younger generation. We have to incessantly let the younger generation know that, they are being brought up to make a positive impact in society.
Our educational system has to be restructured in a way that it would churn out problem solvers and not unemployed graduates. The younger generation should know that they are the ones to change the status quo, they are the panacea to the ills and injustices of society, they have to change the system, they are the hope of Ghana and Africa as a whole. If they fail to do this, they have failed God and our country.
Someone asked a question during the concluding part of the program, which I think every Ghanaian should be asking him or herself. Who is a Ghanaian? or What is Ghanaian?
I don’t have a direct answer to that but if you ask me who a Ghanaian is, I have four people to make reference to, the Late Komla Dumor, Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Mr. Ben Dotsei Malor and Bernard Koku Avle of City FM. I don’t see them as Ghanaians by nationality but rather what they stand for. They stand for excellence and positive impact. If you ask me what is Ghanaian, I would say Ahaspora Young Professionals is Ghanaian.
God Bless Our Homeland Ghana.
For more photos click HERE.
Writer: Desmond ‘Pappy’ and Akosua Akyere, threesixtyGh