Happy 50th Birthday Ghana!
On Monday, Ghana celebrated 50 years of independence with huge street parties. I shan’t get into rants about colonial rule, but suffice to say I’m glad they’re able to celebrate this feat, though not before time. But does Ghana really have independence, and is it’s current situation worth celebrating?
Like almost every other African country, and many more besides, Ghana currently suffers brain drain. While its great that its people can travel and that they are finding ways to better themselves, its a tragic fact that this tends to be one and the same activity. Their doctors know which side their bread is buttered, and its usually the side north of the Mediterranean. I support their right to come to Europe to seek work, but Ghanaians need doctors as much, if not more so, than we do.
I was told a year ago that one African country (sorry, can’t remember which) had found a solution to the problem: don’t train doctors to high enough standards that the NHS will want to employ them. Result: lower standards of medical care for Africans. The solution definitely isn’t to send more British doctors and nurses to fulfill their consciences, its to stop taking these people away from where their needed in the first place.
Like most developing countries, there’s a debt problem to deal with, to the order of $6,999,000,000. Try finding money for health and education with a burden like that. And you need to when a third of the population live on less than a dollar a day. The country relies on cash crops, despite having other, more lucrative, resources. Industry mostly involves recreating what would otherwise be brought into the country, rather than making anything worth selling outside.
Thankfully, FairTrade is allowing some farmers to lift themselves from poverty, but no where near enough. And there’s been some improvements on the debt, 5% in the last year, but the problem with debt relief is that what sounds good at the G8 rarely translates to substantial change on the ground. The relief allows some degree of budget increase for services, but current levels of relief are a long way from solving the problem. Want to do more? Join Jubilee Debt Campaign.
And unsurprisingly, the path of democracy continues to be a bumpy one. The first president was ousted in a coup, the second claimed presidency for life but did little to help the economy. Thankfully there’s been no major bloodshed on the scale of other African states like Rwanda or Uganda, but there’s still been a long line of coups and political executions. One president even declared his rule a “participatory democracy”, while attempting to ensure his eternal rule.
But perhaps what I’ve enjoyed the most while doing some sketchy research for this has been the determination of the first President, Kwame Nkrumah, who’s vision for pan-African solidarity might not yet have been realised, but which seems pretty admirable. However, Ghana might have been independent for 50 years, but in that time, Globalisation has taken hold, neo-colonial methods of control have developed, and Africa has remained at the mercy of Western governments and corporations.
I’d like to wish all Ghanaian’s well for the next 50 years of their country. Maybe next time we’ll have cancelled your debt and found FairTrade buyers for all your products.