This presentation is modeled upon an insightful speech given by the great Dr. Martin Luther King to a High School in Philadelphia in 1967, ten years after Ghana Independence and 53 years ago.
And the sentiments and guiding principles for the pursuit of success are as valid today as then. He titled his speech “What’s in your Life’s Blueprint”
I have titled mine “What’s in Ghana’s Blueprint” And before I delve further, let me say that I want my brothers and sisters of Ghana to give me a listening ear and with open hearts. I wish not to speak to you as a member of a Political Party, nor do I desire for you to listen to me as a member of a Political Party
For once I cherish your understanding and readiness to listen to me as a fellow citizen, a fellow Ghanaian, a child of Africa because I believe that it is only when we lower our guards and truthfully listen to each other, hear each other and make the effort to understand each other, shall we make head ways in finding solutions to some of our intractable problems that have succeeded in putting breaks on our long cherished desire to progress economically and socially.
My speech addresses what I think Ghana and African nations must have in trust, in purpose and in confidence to be able to wrestle themselves from the suffocating chains of mental slavery and colonization that are still with us today, the power of the mindset, focus and action.
A blueprint designed by an architect is for a builder to follow in constructing a house from foundation to the roof. If the blueprint, the pattern, the guide or the model if you will, is proper in structure and in the materials to be used, and if the builder follows the Blueprint, then a strong, sound and beautiful house will emerge and conform to the owner’s desires
On the other hand, if the blueprint itself is faulty, not properly designed with proper engineering structure or if the builder deviates from following the blueprint in the construction, the house that emerges will not be strong and beautiful and may one day collapse and fall apart.
It is therefore important to have a proper Blueprint and a qualified Builder to ensure the construction of a structurally sound and beautiful home
Individuals and nations can also benefit tremendously from Blueprints that can help guide them to succeed in crafting and building the individual they want to become or the nation the citizens of that nation aspire to create and develop And so I think it is important to spend some time this afternoon to discuss our nation’s Blueprint WHAT IS IN GHANA’S BLUEPRINT?
From the days of the Gold Coast to the present, a number of unsavory incidences have occurred such as collaborating with some foreigners in the slave trade as well as some of the traditional chiefs collaborating with foreigners that resulted in our nation being colonized through the signing of the Bond of 1844
These acts indicate some weaknesses and lapses in our Blueprint that need correction to help extinguish the sort of mindset that can cause a nation to go under the subjugation and total control of another nation for decades and centuries
I therefore ask you WHAT OUGHT TO BE IN GHANA’S BLUEPRINT the set of Principles to guide the nation to succeed in building a sound, dignified and secured society I suggest the following:
NUMBER 1: Confidence, belief, trust and unity among the people of Ghana
A nation whose citizens do not have confidence in themselves or in each other but instead repose a great deal of their confidence and trust in outsiders will struggle to succeed, simply because the natural energy that ensues from trust and confidence within a people to drive the success of whatever enterprise will inure to the outsiders and not to themselves
A practical example of this is when our nation borrows huge sums to finance infrastructure development such as roads, flyovers, hospitals and schools etc. There is nothing wrong in taking a loan so long as the loan amount is used properly to create ripples of sustainable benefits in our economy and society
A loan’s major benefit to Ghana is the chain of activities and services that must take place within the Ghanaian economy
A greater percentage of the loan amount must be spent inside Ghana by buying goods and services from Ghanaian companies and Consultants, which in turn will create positive impact of job creation for the Youth of our society.
This means that major contracts to undertake infrastructure and other projects in Ghana must be given to Ghanaian companies and consultants.
Any loan contracted by the state and not spent inside Ghana and sometimes this happens only because the level of trust and confidence in and among ourselves is low to non-existent, such loan becomes an albatross of debt around our necks instead of functioning as a catalyst for job and wealth creation for our people, especially the Youth.
And therefore there is a significant cost to us as a people who do not trust or have confidence in ourselves but constantly acting against our self-interest. Ghana presently owes over USD 40 billion in debt, and most of the loan funds just passed through our economy without much significant impact but with huge profits to the foreign contractors and their home nations from where most of the materials and consultants for the projects originated.
Not trusting each other, not having confidence in ourselves is very costly, detrimental for our development and frankly must not be sustained. And therefore, in Ghana’s Blueprint must be self-love, Dignity and Trust for and about ourselves to do business with each other and hence preserve the inherent advantages of our activities to ourselves. And so our slogan from today must be TRUST and CONFIDENCE in OURSELVES!
And with this slogan, let’s shoot for the star of selfhood and brotherhood, the sense that we are in this together and that no one should be left behind. We must march forward hand in hand and turn the darkness of yesterday into a bright future for our people
You have heard of the word dependence.
And you have heard of the word independence I believe in independence
The independence I believe in suggests a sense of self-reliance, the recognition that it is through the individual and collective efforts of a nation’s citizens that their own Liberty, Freedom and Happiness can be created and sustained.
The burdens of progress are lightened and the possibilities of success are heightened when the eyes and ears of a people are tuned into their surroundings, to see and appreciate God’s gift of abundant natural resources all around them.
Let’s relisten to the philosophical jab from our late brother, Bob Marley which says “In the sea of plenty, the fool is thirsty” We must become a serious people to able to connect to our great future which had always been but never became. But we must practice Independence with the approach that does not exclude dealing with other nations; we are part of the global community and we must be engaged therein; but our methods for doing so must strengthen us, must enrich us, not impoverish us; it must give us dignity and confidence, not make us poor borrowers and beggars; we must soar to the skies through the dignity of our hard work and diligence
Number 2 : Determination for Excellence
As a nation we must strive for excellence as individual citizens and uphold excellence as a national goal and character. Hence the pursuit of excellence must be part of Ghana’s Blueprint. I’m always elated when the issue of Ghana’s participation in the global cocoa industry is discussed.
In the domestic markets as well as in the international market, we must establish a reputation for high quality for our products and use this as a spring board to establish respectable brand for the nation.
The higher our brand equity, the more valuable your products become and hence the higher the wages you can pay your Ghanaian labour, very important in the building of a Middle-Class income for Ghana’s workers. Ghana’s cocoa beans, adjudged the best quality in the world, commands premium prize and hence the ability to pay our cocoa farmers better if they were not taxed so high. Our schools and apprenticeship training schools must pursue high excellence to equip our youth with the modern skills to be competitive in the domestic and international markets.
Our carpenters, wood workers, brick layers, steel benders, masons, painters and foreman must receive excellent training so that their handiwork and products will conform to the excellent Ghana brand we must cultivate and establish.
Several Ghanaians have, against all odds, climbed the rungs of their professions to the very top. In sports we have our Michael Essiens, Abedi Peles, Azuma Nelsons, Ike Quarteys.
In science Dr. Allotey climbed to higher reaches of Physics and Mathematics. In the Diplomatic sky, our own late Kofi Annan reached for the star and rose to be the Secretary General of the United Nations.
In music our versatile Osibisa climbed to the global height of recognition. And in business, we have our Kofi Amoahs who have criss-crossed the African continent and established mega remittance businesses with billions of dollars flowing into the continent. We have what it takes to be excellent in what we choose to do but we must expand it with zeal and massiveness for it to become embedded in our mindset, culture and everyday activities. And we must pay higher wages as the motivation and magnet that will continue to pull Ghanaian workforce towards EXCELLENCE and etc it as part of Ghana’s Blueprint.8
Number 3 : The Drive for Economic and Social Progress (JOBS)
In Ghana’s Blueprint, there must be the indispensable recognition of the need for society to be organized in such manner that individuals will have available to them the means to provide for themselves and for their families food, shelter, clothing, transportation, health care, education and avenues for happiness and many other human needs and desires And the method created and practiced by many successful countries is the creation and provision of JOBS as the credible means of livelihood for individuals.
The jobs are not just to provide means of livelihood, which is important, but JOBS are the avenues for the expression and practice of individuals dreams, adventurism, inquisitiveness and the drive to explore and excel.
Human beings need a pull towards something bigger than themselves, something to hold their imagination and help them explore further out of themselves and into the farther reaches of creativity and metaphysics.
This is the process that pulls humans to where they may be today consciously and subconsciously to where they will be tomorrow, towards the future world, the unknown and their connectivity to time and space. Ghana and Africa must participate in the human exploration and invention through JOBS and their structures. This will help us become a part of the process of man’s creativity and progress. We must participate in Science, Technology and their various fields such as Nanotechnology, Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things, Medical and Agricultural research and so many other fields that frankly Ghana and Africa are found missing. We must jettison the old ways of being spectators and consumers of what other nations produce; We must become a part of this critical and important journey of homo sapiens.
And participating in this journey of exploration and invention, this never ending quest of the Original Man from East Africa to the Modern Man of today, the success of the split of the atom to release mega energy, space exploration and the like, it is through this process that Ghana and Africa can satisfy the need for the provision of jobs, good paying jobs and challenging jobs that can excite and titillate the imagination of our Youth ( Boys and Girls) and help them live more fulfilling and purposeful lives.
The world is changing in all the important areas for the existence and advancement of the human race. Recognizing these changes, if not provoking and leading them, is significant for Ghana and Africa.
Ghana and Africa cannot be sidelined in the 21st century as we were in the 19th and 20th centuries and the methods and programs we adopt for preparing our Youth will be the make or break. But we must embrace this with all the seriousness it deserves! However, there are some low-hanging fruits of progress that we must pluck right away. We must have a mindset change and embrace hygiene and orderliness as part of the initial building blocks of constructing modern civilization for ourselves. And as we manifest the desirable changes and improvements in our Public and Living spaces, the energizing effects, the psychic benefits of orderliness and visible eye-candies will spur us on to make many more improvements in several other areas of life. We will then be on our way towards modernization since it is through society’s self-built locomotive that nations continuously improve instinctively and inadvertently. And Ghana must do this to bring sanitation and orderliness into our Market Places, Transport Yards, Pedestrian Sidewalks, Open Gutters, and inner-city Ghettos.
Number 4 : You are your neighbors keeper
As a nation we must exude a culture of Kindness, Love and Consideration for each other, and practice the Golden Rule of do unto others what you want done unto you.10 A happy nation is one that harbors happy people in which the sense of care for one another is embraced and practiced by all. Such an orientation will seep into Public Policy and produce programs designed to help lift everybody up. Public Policy on health care, education, housing and affordable utilities of water and electricity must be designed to provide the minimum threshold to everybody but in a manner that does not bankrupt the public purse or encourage laziness and dependency on social welfare.
And therefore we all as the citizens of our great nation must tune into the principles that must be in our nation’s Blueprint and in each of us to help guide us to the bright future What we each and together do will determine the kind of future we will have in the future And that is why we are passionate and focused on the Youth of our nation. Because if we lose the Youth of today, we have already lost our future. A nation’s strength, beauty and fortunes are nothing more than the strength, beauty and fortunes of the citizens. We have a lot to work with and we must for once get serious, unite ourselves, have trust and confidence in each other and build that great Ghana of Africa We have formed a movement to be the platform, the avenue and the process for galvanizing attention, programs and resources on the Youth of our Nation It is called The Movement For Progress (MFP)
Speech read at the launch of the Movement For Progress at Citizen Kofi House in Accra last year