The African elephant carries its pregnancy for as long as 22 months. For a mammal its size, you wouldn’t feel so sorry for it as compared to me suggesting a woman should carry her foetus for almost 2 years – now that’s a very painful proposition, you will agree. Some might even call me wicked, for making the suggestion. The point to drive home is this – for a country the size of Ghana, some ills will not be easy to bear beyond a certain threshold, because, like in the scenario of a woman carrying a baby for 22 months, that would just be overbearingly painful.
The world has moved in a new direction – a direction I pray every day, that we and especially our leaders see, understand and embrace:
A nation’s competitive advantage no more lies in its natural resources or specialized production units (which we don’t have a lot of anyway), but rather in the brainpower and critical thinking ability of its citizens. The real competitive advantage in our era is our ability to think ourselves into the future, before anyone else gets there. And let’s not for one minute think it is impossible. Here is a bold statement to make, but it is the truth: the Economic Philosophies of Adam Smith is partly dead, and so too are our old stock of economic thinkers who dwell on such philosophies and refuse to shift, because it’s the only one they know.
But wait, a minute – we are all in the boat and everybody has a role to play in the needed transformation process, no doubt.
· Parents need to treat our children differently when they ask “WHY”. We need to help them discover real answers and not shut them up every time they ask questions.
· As businesses and employees, we need to always be thinking about innovative products or services, and better, more efficient ways of delivering – it is no more the job for the Managing Director. Executives need to become lovers of change, seeing each change as an opportunity to move a step ahead.
· Students need to question and viciously challenge their lecturers and lecturers need to continually force their brains to be ahead of the game and abreast with global directions. In fact our lecturers really need to be going ahead to identify the new global playing fields, ushering their students into those new playing fields and encouraging them to run around with their thinking; instead of holding them bound with old lecture notes and pamphlets.
· Government needs to overhaul our educational system. Train teachers to be critical thinkers themselves and to teach students that historical answers don’t always hold and that they themselves hold the answers to tomorrows problems. In the new system, our teachers need to accept that they are NOT always right and it is OK for their students to be right, and them wrong – that should be their aim. Education should no more be about getting students to memorize “what has been” but getting them to conceptualize “what must become” and be encouraged to make mistakes along the way.
· Spiritual leaders must begin to inspire their congregations to know, that our brains are formed in the image of God. Not for resigned feebleness, but for creativity of the highest divine order
And if we don’t get this right, our focus is wrong, our energies will be channelled wrongly, and so too, our future!!
The real truth about our ailing economy and stupendous governance or demoncrazy (as I call it) is not that it cannot be done – it is because EVERY nation’s economy and every nation’s democracy will reflect one thing and one thing only – the quality of it’s citizens. For, now, the critical mass of Ghanaians, needed to consistently embrace change, fathom global complexity and creatively forge into new frontiers are made up of a staggering number of illiterate population and until that changes into a tilting mass of critical thinkers, we will continue to have a majority that votes the wrong (equally illiterate) people into power, that sanction the wrong economic policies, that applaud for the wrong laws in parliament and it goes on and on and on. We can have as many analysis as we wish to have, generate as many debates as we wish to generate, slam the government on radio and TV stations as much as we care……… the quality and quantity of critical and creative Ghanaians thinkers, still remains an issue to be dealt with and everything we do outside that is artificial and temporary.
Development is NOT only about building roads; in our era, development should be about cultivating value-added-brains, consciously, purposefully and with every last energy of aggressive intent.
Charles Kofi Fekpe is speaking at a symposium titled “When Ghana Collides with the World” on the 16th April 2014 at the Africa Regent Hotel from 5.30pm prompt. Attendance is free. RSVP : firstname.lastname@example.org