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IS THERE NOT A CAUSE... TO RANT?















Ace Anan Ankomah



























DAKPABLI & ASSOCIATES

ACCRA



IS THERE NOT A CAUSE... TO RANT?

Copyright © Ace Anan Ankomah 2017

All Rights Reserved



No part of this book may be reproduced in any form by photocopying or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage in a retrieval system, without the written permission of both the copyright owner and the publisher of this book.



ISBN for this Edition: 978 9988 2 6689 9



Editorial Team

Nana Awere Damoah

Kofi Akpabli

Mary-Chloe Bandoh

Aba Cato Andah

Joyce Ama Opare



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Reviews

Unquestionably, this unputdownable book is an intricate potpourri of blocks of knowledge, explanations of complex legal and constitutional issues, a pointing out of the obvious, a revelation of the not-so-obvious political and leadership matters we are confronted with, and also a persistent nudging not to allow ourselves to let what we’re blessed with as a nation decay.  This mélange of intelligent thoughts are delicately threaded together with humour as well as a clear desire to tease. Even if you do not agree with him, you are likely to appreciate Ace Anan Ankomah’s thoughts.

Mrs. Mary-Chloe Bandoh

Head of Missions Office

Lighthouse Chapel International

Ghana.



Ghanaians may “rant not, neither rave about how they feel” but they feel the pain of bad governance, corruption and mediocrity. In Is There Not A Cause…To Rant? Ace does it for them – without the nonsense or bombast… just passion. Lots of passion.

Ace’s passion is one foisted on him by virtue of his birth right as a Ghanaian. He takes that seriously. Like a journalist described him once, he is a passionate Ghanaian. That passion makes him want to see his dear nation do well and he’ll do everything in his power to make this happen. That dedication informs his work with OccupyGhana, his law practice and his writing. 

Dr Nana Dadzie Ghansah

Cardiothoracic Anesthesiologist

Partner: Anesthesia Associates of Lexington, Kentucky, USA

Staff Anesthesiologist: St. Joseph Hospital, Lexington

Photographer & Poet.



This book truly reflects Ace Ankomah: lawyer, leader, political activist, music hobbyist, songwriter, poet, family man. Ace rouses us from our inertia and teaches us that one man or woman can make a difference. His approach is direct, hard-hitting and no-holds-barred.  Does he do this on purpose? Absolutely! The arguments he puts forth are designed to make us as uncomfortable as he is with the complacency, corruption and unethical behaviour that have become a stronghold in our nation. The discomfort is meant to open our eyes to think differently about things; to challenge the status quo and thus to be in a better position to usher in the necessary paradigm shifts that will be vital to our progress as a nation. 

Ace’s writing is reminiscent of a modern day PAV Ansah. Except that Ace refuses to return to his “ivory tower of intellectual power.”  Nope. After he observes us, questions us and challenges our dysfunctions, Ace chooses to linger with us in the “gutter of our nonsense.” Ace makes us laugh with him, even as he makes us laugh at him. But most of all, Ace makes us laugh at ourselves. 

Love Ace or hate him, you cannot help but be deeply affected by him. 

Aba Cato Andah, MBA, MA, LMHC

Psychotherapist

Founder, Chrysalis Counselling & Coaching LLC; Florida, USA

Life Coach.









ABOUT THE AUTHOR



Ace Anan Ankomah is Managing Partner at the Accra-based law firm of Bentsi-Enchill, Letsa & Ankomah and the Head of the firm’s Litigation, Arbitration & Dispute Resolution Practice. He joined the firm as an Associate and proofreader of its Ghana law database in 1992. He has also worked as a Senior Lecturer (Civil Procedure) at the Ghana School of Law between 2005 and 2012, and as a Lecturer (Company Law) at the University of Ghana’s Business School from 1997 to 2003.

Born on 20 November 1967, Ace holds a Master of Laws degree (LL. M.) in International Taxation, earned in 1994 from the Queen’s University, Canada, and a Bachelor of Laws degree (LL. B.) from University of Ghana, Legon, earned in 1990. He was called to the Ghana Bar in 1992 after completing the Professional Law Course at the Ghana School of Law. He completed his Ordinary and Advanced Levels at the Mfantsipim School, Cape Coast, in 1984 and 1986, respectively. In 1986, he won Mfantsipim’s top academic awards, both the Senior Scholar Award (for the best overall graduating student) and the K. A. Busia Award (for the best graduating student in the humanities).

Although he claims to have ‘retired’ from teaching law, Ace is currently a Visiting Lecturer at the Ghana School of Law, where he conducts the Legal Writing & Editing Skills Seminar. He is also a member of the Panel of Arbitrators of the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) and he served on the Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) for three years. He currently serves on the University Council of the Central University and the Governing Board of the Ghana Law Reform Commission.

Ace is a founding member and director of the pressure group, OccupyGhana. He is a member of the Ghana Bar Association and a Fellow of both the Aspen Global Leadership Network (AGLN) and the Africa Leadership Initiative, West Africa (ALIWA). In 2015, the University of Ghana instituted the Ace Anan Ankomah Prize in Constitutional Law at the Faculty of Law in his honour.

Ace writes music and plays several instruments but calls himself “just a sporadic songwriter and music hobbyist.” He is an Associate of the pioneering, contemporary gospel music group, Joyful Way Inc. and served as its Director of Music & Productions for several years, having a hand in every album produced by the group since 1991. He has just released his very first music album titled Flavours of 50: My Yadah. He is married to Josephine and they have three children.

Ace has written several legal and law journal articles published in and outside Ghana. Is there Not A Cause…To Rant? is his first book.





DEDICATION





Dedicated to the memory of my parents James and Patience Ankomah who taught me to, first, think and then give voice and flesh to those thoughts.



Acknowledgements

My thanks to God for the gift of life, the liberty of thought and the luxury of impatience. Thanks to You, this ‘ugly duckling’ didn’t turn out too badly, methinks, maybe, hopefully...

Grateful to my family – Akosua-My-Wife, Niakoaa, Pappa and Ohemaa – for simply being there for me and allowing me to be just me. It can’t be easy, I know. 

Nana Awere Damoah and Kofi Akpabli of DAkpabli, I am grateful for the challenge that birthed this. 

Ginero (aka Dr. Nana Dadzie Ghansah), thanks for being a true and rare friend and for urging me on to write my thoughts. Wachichi (aka Dr. Nana Kofi Akyeampong), thanks for everything.

My triumvirate of private editors and beloved critics who have never met and yet say the same things, Maame Aba, Aba and Ama, meda mo ase.



Contents

Foreword

Prologue



Not A Few Rants

The Dearth and Death of the De-tribalised Ghanaian

Ahem...We Will Get There

The Pleasure of Self-Inflicted Poverty

My Story Or No Story

A Parrot Rant

I Speak of Envy

Of Instant Mob (In)Justice

Our Acts, Not Theirs Anymore...

Côte d'Ivoire Takes the Cocoa Lead

My Cocoa Lamentations

Time to Rethink Cocobod’s Statutory Monopoly?

Cocoa – The Natural Resource

Ken I Rant?’

Galamsey Is A Crime...or?

The Lost Irony

Heritage Branding

Free SHS vs. Scholarships

ABAKS

Of Needless Meetings

Building Permits

The Wicked, The Idiot And The Wicked Idiot – The ‘Danger’ of Social Media on Election Night

My Naughty Tax Rant

Why Ghana@59 Became Important

Saving [in] Venezuela

Baa-Baa [the] BLACK Sheep

Let’s Walk and Chew Gum

Bees and Flies

My Christmas Morning

Hypocritical Hyposcrisy

Leadership and a Book I Read

Dear God, Seriously?

Blame a Bail on the President?

Bring Back my Milo

Marriage or Slavery?



A Couple of Speeches

Brains Develop a Nation, Not [Natural] Resources

Times Change and Time Changes

The Transformed Mind

Six Things I Wish I Knew [More About] Before Turning 30

Theological Education: Making an Impact on Ghana’s Socio-Economic Development

Contributing to National Development, Global Influence and Competitiveness



A Sprinkling of Poetry

My Quiver Full of Sonnets: My Story of Patience

To My Dad...A First Happy Father's Day

An Ode to the Babies’ Life-Sized Teddy Bear

No Lessons Learned

The IMF Bail-Out



And Some Reflections & Debates

Anniversary of Occupy Flagstaff House

When a Woman Stands Tall

20 Years On, I Would Do the Same Thing All Over Again

Your Worship, Your Honour & Your Lordship...

The Day I Lost My…Innocence

Would I take a Bribe?

Gifts and Bribes – The Deliberate Obfuscation

Corruption Watch – Collision & Collusion of Mentalities

Corruption is a Crime – SimpleS!

Corrupting Canines

Why We Must Sue the Auditor-General Now

The Dumsor Must Stop Vigil

The Death of the ‘Isms’?

The New York Hotel Lift Encounter

Yᴐᴐ Kɛ Garri

Celebrating Empty Titles

Maybe Fauster Has The Last Laugh – At Our Expense?

Asamani: The First African Governor of the Christianburg Castle (1693-1694)

Playing Gutter-To-Gutter with Secondary/High School Education?

Marketing Ghana, Branding Cape Coast: Between Obama & Facebook Debates

To 4 June or Not – The Holiday Debate in Ghana



FOREWORD

I have known Ace for many years – from our days in Legon, through to adulthood. Unfortunately, and I know he still regrets, till this day, that he did not attend the Grey City on the Hill. I am happy to start that debate. I knew he was crazy – this is a man who can pick a fight in an empty room – but I did not know how bad it was, until he asked me to write this foreword! Initially, I wanted to call Dr. Ohene, the big psychiatrist, to check myself in; this honour is a huge one for me.

Ace (also known as ‘Naabu Commando’) needs no introduction to Ghana and the so-called learned fraternity – something he describes as an oxymoron. Those were his words – me, a mere parrot. When it comes to the law, he stands tall; but that is not what this is all about! This is all about his love for this great motherland – Ghana. This land of ours is blessed with so much: good weather, rich soil to grow just about everything we need, abundant natural resources and a huge potential for good quality human resource.

As an Orthopaedic surgeon, I am no writer. I am but a simple and humble carpenter. My working tools include saws, screws, nails and plates; do you understand now, why I have declared him crazy? Even so, as I started penning down a little English, this thought occurred to me:

A man must have an opinion, and this must be fair and just and grounded in fact, truth, evidence and logic.

This is where Ace’s strength lies: he speaks without fear, during times which people think are dangerous. He also speaks about things that politicians hate to hear, both privately and in public. He is a great teacher, and no wonder he has mentored (and continues to mentor) many junior lawyers. My niece called me to beg Uncle Ace; she wanted to intern in his office. When we were kids, we heard about legal chambers; but now, the shift is towards legal firms, and it is no secret that he and his colleagues have built a formidable firm in Ghana.

Now, let’s look at his rants. An initial and cursory glean may give the impression of chaos, but, upon a closer look, and with the benefit of history as well as current affairs, one will begin to see the beauty unfold.

He talks about tribalism. This is a very sensitive topic only in the approach to elections in Ghana, otherwise we tease each other freely and laugh at ourselves and at each other. I particularly find it offensive when the politicians try to divide us – shame on them! My mother is Ashanti and my father, Ewe but from my surname, no one can tell that I am a tribal mixture or ‘half caste.’ Does it matter? Should it matter?

Cocoa will remain controversial. We syndicate about 3 billion dollars a year, yet the cocoa farmers remain impoverished. This does not make sense! Do we have the moral right as a nation to ask the big buyers to pay us for more, when we have raped our own farmers from the colonial days till today? When our Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta spoke about the cocoa value chain philosophically, some simple minds did not even get it! I can understand why Ace rants. These are serious issues and require serious minds. The poor cocoa farmer has been simply over-taxed for generations and something needs to be done, and soon. Ace even dared to talk about the history of cocoa in Ghana. The truth hurts, but it must be told, and let us have a proper intellectual intercourse.

Mob actions will upset every right-thinking Ghanaian. The emerging interesting phenomenon is this: call yourselves as ‘youth’ of a ruling party, and you have a field day. This is because of a failure of the police. The police tend to be pro-ruling party in the way they discharge their duties and, since this has gone on for years, frankly, they are afraid to serve the country. I am sure you remember what happened a few weeks before the 2016 election, when a mob of NDC members assembled without permit in front of the then opposition leader’s residence, and started throwing stones into the compound. This house is about twenty steps from the Nima Police Station, and no action was taken until it nearly got out of hand.

When does a gift become a bribe? These are all interesting bits of the ranting, including mention of judicial corruption. I just love the way Ace Ankomah supported all the rantings with the appropriate evidence, history and parliamentary Hansards.

It is very clear that he values education very much, and wades into the possible use of the Heritage Fund to support free SHS. I think a quote from one of his many speeches sums it all, ‘Brains develop a nation, not [natural] resources’ – Singapore on my mind. We cannot over-emphasize the value of universal good quality education. Of what use is the Heritage Fund if bequeathed to idiots? In Ghana, it is difficult to do means-testing to determine those who really need it; but for every child who gets good education, the gains are enormous, and, in my opinion, this is worth all the hard work.

His sense of humour comes shining through when he discusses threat by the immediate past Inspector-General of Police (IGP) to shut down social media. That IGP should consult his conscience!

We get to see his personal side through the sonnets written for his late parents, and he did not fail to show his appreciation for music. The use of the Methodist Hymn by George Thomas Smart ‘Through all the changing scenes of life,’ is very apt for where we are as a nation. There are critical junctures that call for us to make positive choices if we are to progress. This also cements his faith in the Almighty and his love for music. He must be on some booster: he is a busy lawyer, a strong family man, a wannabe musician without ‘rasta’ hair, but he still finds time to do all these social stuff for the love of Ghana.

Perhaps, the funniest part of the book was the chapter on Fauster Atta Mensah, the Ghanaian who lied to the whole nation on national TV that he had won the Nobel Prize in Physics, and even been to space! This is because I was watching the show with my wife, when Fauster said he got his diploma from Adisadel College. That was the red flag, because that school does not award diplomas. The show was an indictment on the producers and the nation. Funny as it was, it showed our lack of ability to verify.

At the risk of sounding tribalistic, ‘touch not a Fante man’s milo!’ You will be forgiven for all other offences, but not this one, and I also disagree with his spelling of ‘gari,’ he used double ‘r’. As for this, I am willing to square off with him at the St. James’ Court. I am from Anyako, and we own it, period!

This is a must-read for all. There are many lessons laced with appropriate humour therein. I am hopeful that you will enjoy this read, as much as I have.

 

Michael Segbefia

Lecturer/Orthopaedic Surgeon

University of Ghana



Prologue – Is There Not A Cause?



1 Samuel 17:29 – And David said, “What have I now done? Is there not a cause?”

On 14 November 2014, I wrote on Facebook, “I have heard all you well-meaning people, friends, relatives and people I haven't met before, who have expressed concern about my safety and well-being after my last presentation at OccupyGhana. I appreciate your concern. Yes, I will be careful about my physical safety, as much as I can.”

Guess what? I am still alive and well, and not a single strand of hair on my head has been touched. I like to pretend that no one seeks to do me any harm. I know, I know...I am often wrong. 

I am certain that everything that I have said and done is soundly based and grounded in both facts and the law of the land. Yes, I could easily become “the unaffected,” sit quietly, enjoy life and its fruits, and benefit heavily from the system. That is the cheaper, easier and arguably safer course. 

But that would contradict a saying that is attributed to Benjamín Franklin, and which I identify with:

Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.

The fact is and remains that almost EVERY GOVERNMENT in the 4th Republic has tried its best to hit at, and hurt, what I do. Yet, the harder they hit, the bigger God blessed and still blesses. I am “affected,” not “unaffected.” And what they do not tell their supporters about are the quiet and late night free consultations.

I love my country and I am willing to work and have worked for it, if or when required. But, I can hold my head and hands up and say that I am NOT a beneficiary of any political largesse or patronage, and will never be. If I ever accept to work in an official capacity, it would be because I consider the time and circumstances to be right. Public service is and should always be a sacrifice and not a reward.

There is something in me that just won't sit quietly. Taking inspiration from the prophet Jeremiah, I say that if I decide not to mention Ghana anymore or not to be concerned about anything that happens to her, my love will become “in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones.” I would become “weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.”

I just can't. That’s why I am forced to identify with David and ask, “What have I now done? Is there not a cause?”

Dante Alighieri is credited with this saying:

The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.

If I end up in hell, let it be for WRONGs that I DID, and not for RIGHTs that I DID NOT DO!

Ghana needs the kind of men and women described by the hymnist William George Tarrant as “the wise and brave and strong,” because they “helped the right and fought the wrong.” It will be said of these that they “graced their generation” and are those who “made our folk a nation.”

It would be pretentious, false even, for me to think or pretend that I measure up or come close to that high standard. But as long as the Lord keeps me alive and gives me breath, with a heart that still beats and pumps blood, a brain in my head that can still think, a tongue in my mouth that can still speak and get stuck in my cheek, fingers with strength to type or write with and ink in my pen, and AS LONG AS THERE IS A CAUSE...















Not A Few Rants



The Dearth and Death of the De-tribalised Ghanaian

30 August 2017



Have we become more insulting of each other based on our tribes? Or have we become hypersensitive? Or is that who or what we have been all along? “Touch not our tribes and do our ethnicity no harm.”

The portions of what the deputy minister said, which sought to paint an entire people with the same brush, was wrong and hurtful. You can't speak about a people in such terms. But I would have thought that a good dressing down, public shame, eating crow and humble pie: and then we would be done. Lessons learned, hopefully. But I was wrong. He had to fall on his own ugly sword.

Two things happened. First, I heard whispers of an impending resignation. Around the same time, an Asante brother with whom I banter and swap jokes (clean) sent me a picture that I think had been photoshopped, of a minivan with an inscription where an R had been used instead of an L. The number plate started with "AS." You get the drift. We laughed at ourselves in private. Or so I thought. Me koraa I have that problem of mixing L and R sometimes. Plenty school and law and even exorcism cannot hide that or cast it out.

I decided to put a theory of mine to the test: that Asantes are the most tolerant people I know when it comes to jokes and laughing at each other. There are tolerated jokes about Asantes' L and R, which would not be tolerated if made of other tribes. Or so I thought.

So I decided to up the ante. I posted the minivan picture on Facebook, highlighting the misspelled word “reveration” and the "AS" number plate. I added a second picture that I had received from elsewhere: “Crap for Jesus.” The vast majority of the comments were funny, with some asking me to resign, just like the deputy minister. I dunno what I was to resign from. But some were bitter and angry and insulting. Now you know I can and do give as much as I take, if not more, right? I love a good fight and can pick one up in an empty room. So I enjoyed dishing it right back and banning people from the page.

In my excitement, I had missed one comment. So when someone drew my attention to a comment of a mutual friend, I said it wasn't possible. But I looked and there it was! Now I know it was more jokes but how could anyone but he and I know? Yes, the very Asante brother who sent me the picture in the first place had cussed on my wall: “Damn you, Ace.” Straight up. No smiley. I know, I know, I know, ok, I believe that the cussing was part of the joke. So I replied “Awesome compliment. Right back at you [smiley].” But people reading wouldn't know that he had sent the picture to me in the first place; and I thought he had laughed with me. All they will see is that he cussed. All they will see is that someone they know to be my buddy was so irked that he had cussed the picture when posted.

What was even more curious was that several of my non-Akan friends who had expressed righteous outrage and indignation at the deputy minister's comments and were busily demanding his political head on a platter, were at the same time ‘forwarding back’ to me, the same picture I had posted with my highlights, and having a good laugh. They didn't know it was ‘my’ picture.

Now, I am so ethnically impure that I laugh when people purport to tell me which tribe they think I belong to. And people do that quite a bit on social media. “Where are you from?” they ask. My response is to go through my ‘exotic’ lineage. The predominance of my mother's Akyem Abuakwa with names like Baawa and Sakyiwaa? But can I ignore the historic intermarriages with the nearby Agonas hence names like Nuakoaa that has evolved into my mother’s and daughter’s name, Niakoaa? Or my father's Fante (Nkusukum) of Biriwa and Akyemfo with names like Aduboaba, Adoma and Amoaa and with Biriwamanhen Nana Kwa Bonko V, chief celebrant of the Odambea as my paternal uncle? Or my maternal great grandfather, the Prince Boateng the Asante, the itinerant merchant, whom I am told was a son of Asantehene Prempeh I and whose mother was from Bampenase, pronounced “Mampenase”? For which reason my maternal grandmother, as a kid found herself in Kumasi at the start of the Yaa Asantewaa War and had to be smuggled away to Akyem where she spent the rest of her life? She told me stories about “those days when we used knives to chew sugarcane.” It will take only an Asante to understand that. Or the whispers that Boateng’s real father might have been from Dagbon? Just whispers. No proof. Or my maternal grandfather Darko Koranteng whose people migrated to Akyem from Larteh? Or the progenitor who came from Mali to serve but whose arrival brought such prosperity that he married into the family and had children? Genetically, either he or the Dagbon root is the source of the rare ‘C’ sickle cell (I read that that's the effect of the Savannah) that runs through the family and which I carry, and which I am told, explains why I hardly have malaria? In fact, is that even true? Or weirder still, the paternal great-great grandfather from Portugal, possibly the source of that strange, small patch of straight hair behind our heads? I am easily the ‘United Nations,’ a study in personal conflict of laws under the Courts Act. Ghana Legal Systems 101!

So here I was, thinking I that we were moving towards the ‘de-tribalised’ Ghanaian. I was wrong. We have become more tribalised than we were last year. Was it the election? I am not sure. But if the Scot, Welsh and Irish feel and identify with those respective identities before they feel British, and the Catalan feels Catalan before Spanish, and the Kurd, more Kurdish than Turkish, Iraqi or Syrian, then maybe we can also feel our tribal roots before we feel Ghanaian.

Yet today, I fear for next year. Because me too I am going to get very angry if anyone says anything about my tribe, ehei, but which of them? Then I have plenty ‘angrys’ coming up paaaah o! And if Ghana, Mali and Portugal are placed in the same group in a World Cup…

Did I say de-tribalised? Spell me re-tribalised!



Ahem...We Will Get There

Stockholm, 1 July 2017



Dear Adotei Pappoe of TV3,



Some might get offended at this, but ma tra ‘be careful.

Yesterday I went on a boat ride to some island near Stockholm and back. The boat had Wi-Fi. The boats in Ghana… never mind. What boats?

I can understand why hundreds (even thousands) of people want to become lawyers. I am one. It pays relatively well. In fact, it can pay VERY well. It also gives some gravitas in society even to the undeserving, like moi. Suddenly your own name will disappear. Your own mother will call you ‘Lawyer’. Mine never did, thankfully! You will gloat in such uselessly honorific synonyms to your name like ‘Counsel.’ And, oh, you will be called ‘Learned Friend’ even when you are the biggest oaf, buffoon and clown, rolled into one, in the room – an oxymoron, in this case. You get to write your name with the suffix ‘Esquire,’ even if you are as ignoble as they come. You get to wear a black gown over your dark suit and then sweat it out in our two-tone weather – hot and hotter.

The worst is that, at your decision, and if you handle criminal matters, you also get to wear a wig. A wig!!?? Yes, a wig!!! Made in England of horsehair for those in ‘first and business class’ or made in Nigeria from plastic for those in ‘economy (aka cattle) class.’ You, a 21st Century African, will show your status in African society by wearing a blond (not black) wig. With artificial curls. With pig tails that scratch the back of your neck. And over your coarse, hard, permed, gelled, kpenkpeshie or sakora hair. I have a wig too. Don't ask me what it is made from, but I use it to scare my grandchildren as the in-house bogeyman when they come visiting.

Ei, I have digressed koraa.

I read with some delight, the Supreme Court decision declaring the lack of legislative backing to entrance examinations written by law students to gain admission to my former employer (Ghana School of Law) as unconstitutional, although the claw back at the end of the decision left me at sea. Colour me mildly shocked.

I have also seen an e-petition. Brave, sustained effort to right an obvious wrong that somehow escaped even the most learned of the learned. Ghanaians, no longer content with being docile, pliant, passive and submissive spectators, are waking up to take their rightful place as CITIZENS.

We certainly need more lawyers.

But permit me to swim upstream and against the tide.

Where are the citizens who, having qualified, have also been denied access to the Schools of Medicine, Schools of Dentistry, Schools of Engineering, Schools of Physical and Applied Sciences, etc. for any reason? Where are the people who are dying to spread out through Ghana healing the sick and building roads, railways and bridges? Where are the people who want to devote their lives to scientific research and find the permanent cures for tropical diseases and strange ailments with scary names? Who is going to design the affordable housing that will solve Ghana's housing problems in one fell swoop? Where are the prospective engineers to design and build the planes and cars and trains and boats and ships that we so desperately need? Where is that one person who will redesign the stinking Odaw (please don't call it a river) and convert it into a tree-lined means of water transportation in Accra, with boats with Wi-Fi? You see why I started with the boat with Wi-Fi?

And so the next Georgina Wood, Sophia Akuffo, Joe Reindorf, ED Kom, Nana Akufo-Addo and Kojo Bentsi-Enchill (the man who taught me everything I know as a lawyer) are fighting tooth-and-nail to realise their dream. But where are the next Profs. Konotey-Ahulu, Easmon, Evans-Anfom, Allotey, etc.? Sitting at home, denied access to universities because we can only admit so few of the several who make the pass mark? Sitting at some beach twiddling their thumbs and rubbing their bellybuttons, throwing their hands up in between twiddles and rubbings in shocking despair, accepting the unacceptable? I haven't seen any court actions, petitions and planned demonstrations... yet (I hope). Nary a whisper nor a grunt.

Collectively, we have become the biblical infirm man at the pool of Siloam, waiting for someone to push us into the pool when an angel appears to stir it once in a very long while.

Let me say this: a nation that spends more time and energy debating and fighting over the training of lawyers than it spends on debating and fighting over the training of scientists, doctors and engineers is one tragic, huge and unfunny JOKE!!

But “there is yet hope in the flatulence of a bee,” according to the poet Nana Asaase. I see a cloud no larger than a fist: the biggest middle class debate in Ghana today, in-between ‘offspec’ and National Lottery Authority’s 100k ‘gift’ to MPs, has to do with the results of the National Science and Maths Quiz. Something might just be happening. Questions and answers in Math and Science are being asked and provided in our living rooms and on social media. We are seeing teenagers reel out scientific and mathematical concepts that make our heads spin from admiration. Through the National Science and Maths Quiz, we are beginning to consider Science and Mathematics as sufficiently sexy to merit our attention. The flatulence of a bee…

It will be hard, we know, and the road will be muddy and rough, but we'll get there... sang Osibisa.



Best regards,

Kojo Anan



The Pleasure of Self-Inflicted Poverty

Stockholm, 30 June 2017



Dear Hon Rodney Nkrumah-Boateng and Ben Dotsei Malor,

#SleepIsForTheWeak

May I do a long, painful and insulting ohia (poverty) rant? Gentlemen that I admire, please seat yourselves sure because today I will neither pull any punches nor take any prisoners.

As I wind up another visit to another foreign country, Sweden this time, as I meet and share ideas with colleague heads of litigation departments in law firms from several other countries (and I was the only African and black among thirty seven people), I admit, once again and reiterate that ohia asoma wo (when poverty is the reason for/cause of your errand…) is real.

Today, I believe once more in the Word of the Lord uttered through the Doyen of Wisdom, Solomon, the ancient and third King of Israel that:

I went past the field of a sluggard, past the vineyard of someone who has no sense; thorns had come up everywhere, the ground was covered with weeds, and the stone wall was in ruins. I applied my heart to what I observed and learned a lesson from what I saw: A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest – and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man.

#SleepIsForTheWeak

I make no apologies when I say that I live in the land that's the field of the sluggard and vineyard of the senseless.

We are blessed with fields and vineyards but they are filled with thorns. Why? Why can't we simply remove the thorns?

We are blessed with good ground but it has weeds everywhere. Why? Have we forgotten how to weed?

We might have built a stone wall in times past (or maybe someone built it for us, or maybe we inherited it); but today it is in ruins. Why? Because we have no maintenance culture.

Our gold industry is in ‘ruins’ – show me a place in Ghana that is evidence of 100 years of gold mining. Our cocoa is covered with ‘weeds’ – it is still rain-fed and a hoe-and-cutlass industry. Even our newly-found oil and gas industry is covered with ‘thorns’ – we are competing with the Dutch for a severer version of the ‘Dutch Disease.’ We make between precious little or next-to-nothing from our ‘natural resources.’ Countries with nothing close to what God has blessed us with make much more and far more than we do. Sweden is one such country.

Why? We are fast asleep. Loudly snoring and heavily drooling. Lazily slumbering. Our hands are perpetually in a folded position. We repeatedly fail to apply our hearts to simple wisdom. A wise man once said in Fante: ma odzi w'ekyir no nngyɛe a, awo se abrɛ? to wit, how can you complain of tiredness when that which pursues you is still in hot pursuit?

#SleepIsForTheWeak

Poverty and ruin pursue us all. It takes a man or woman who knows that there is nothing to fall back on but the hard ground, to keep fighting forward.

How I wish that this would be the truth of every Ghanaian, and that everyone would rise up, eschew all laziness and loafing around, and even traces of them, and work like our very lives depend on work...; actually our lives depend on work!

The Almighty Himself promised to bless the work of our hands. So if His blessings are a multiplier, and He comes to bless or multiply the work of our hands, and the sum of all our work is zero or negative, His blessing will yield no profit. That defines Ghana: our miraculous ability to be poor in the midst of plenty, the mystery of pulling penury and dry straw out of riches, the prodigious feat of being and remaining hungry in the abundance of food.

Ampa, ohia asoma yɛn, but yɛ daso te bɛɛbia yɛ te saa! We are on the errand from poverty, but we are still sitting at the same place, where we have always been. In fact, even ohia koraa has gotten tired of us, has overtaken us and is busily chasing other people.

My two Gentlemen that I hold dear, do you feel insulted? If yes, then I have succeeded in my mission today.

Gudnyte.

#SleepIsForTheWeak



My Story or No Story

17 June 2017



May I do an Anti-NOSTORIAN rant?

Clearly there are some people in “this Ghana in which we are inside of it,” and who want to impose one, and only one, version of history on everyone. It must be THEIR truth and nothing else.

Look at this: the ‘conventional wisdom’ has always had Tetteh Quarshie (TQ) credited with and extolled for introducing cocoa here.

Apparently and unbeknownst to us, that wasn't the full story. There appears to be evidence (with dates) of an earlier Brazilian émigré cocoa venture that predates TQ. And there is evidence (with dates) of Basel missionaries, for whom TQ is said to have worked even before emigrating to Fernando Po, and who also planted cocoa here.

That is why I love history. Different angles appear all the time, and it is breathtakingly fascinating.

Although this definitely throws a clanger in the works of ‘conventional wisdom,’ the fact remains that cocoa only started to be grown commercially after TQ's return; and we can give him great credit for that. Indeed, I have always doubted the legend or myth that he came with the beans in his belly, having swallowed them. Ah, how could he have ingested so much to commence commercial farming?

Now, instead of seeing this as an interesting side to the story, and then seeking to confirm or challenge it with further research and facts, some Ghanaians I call Nostorians, choose to attack the History Professor who spoke about this.

Recently, Paul Adom-Otchere (not a history professor) put together a version of, or an angle, to our independence story, which is true, but which some would prefer never to be told. Nostorians have attacked him and called him names. But no one has been able to challenge the evidence Paul presents and proven it as false. I may not agree with some of the inferences that he makes and conclusions that he arrives at; but a lot of the facts that he puts out are true.

I condemn the arrogance of this anti-intellectual, unintellectual, ignorant and untaught attitude that is completely lacking in depth. These are Neanderthals who want to control our thinking so that we remain foolish, ignorant, simple, stupid, dumbos, dumdums and simpletons, swallowing hook, line, sinker and even rod and possibly the boat and its occupants, just and only their version of events.

Well, I have news for them. The days when we read and considered just one version of history, imposed on us to cast us into herd mentality so that we eulogise only their selection of history's myriad facts and figures, are gone, never to return.

Professor Akosua Perbi, congratulations. You are presenting true history. Kindly ignore the Denisovans who want it to be either “mystory” or “NOSTORY”!

PS edit. In May 2017, a group of African Leadership Initiative, West Africa (ALIWA) fellows (of which I am a proud alum) from Ghana and Nigeria toured the teacher training college at Akropong-Akuapem, where the Akuapem state linguist took them to a cocoa farm which the missionaries begun before TQ brought his beans. The missionaries ate the beans as vegetables: they cooked them and ate them with carbs and fish/meat, they were told.

PPS edit. And there is history to back Professor Akosua Perbi. Prof. Adu Boahen, in his book Ghana: Evolution and Change in the 19th and 20th Centuries, page 82, paragraph 1, wrote: “The Basel Mission introduced cocoa into Ghana (Gold Coast) in 1857 and experimented with this crop on their farms at Akropon; seedlings were supplied to farmers in Aburi, Mampon and Odumase. However, their attempts were thwarted in the 1860s and 1870s as a result mainly of the Asante invasions, and the cocoa industry did not revive until late 1870s.”

That is history told by historians and not ‘nostory’ barked by nostorians!



A Parrot Rant

13 June 2017



In the title of and chorus to the 1980s revolutionary and trendsetting song Ɛkoo Tse Brɔfo, the songwriters and performers George Darko and Lee Duodu sing of and testify about the innate qualities of the human spirit that is able to survive adversity and spring back to recover its true but lost position. And so they assert that, verily, the parrot has known [understood and spoken] the English language since ancient times; presumably, even before the English themselves arrived at our shores with their language. Grasp that!

The verse contains some Fantse aphorisms that are striking in both meaning and depth:

  • Even if the leopard suffers the indignity of falling into water, it is only its fur that gets wet as a result – its spots [that define the leopard] do not wash away and remain untouched.

  • If I travel to seek my destiny or fortune and I fail or don't find it, I will return to where I first set off from, because if a trap snaps, it returns to its default position, whether or not it caught anything.

  • Once the head remains in its position and isn't torn or cut off or hasn't fallen off, it can always wear a hat.

  • And, some plants just take a little longer than usual or others, to bear fruit.



My Comment: Failure only defines you if you remain trapped and prostrate at where you fell. Rise and pick yourself up from where you have fallen and try again. Life is a journey without a fixed or set destination, because the journey itself is the destination. That journey only ends when you die.



But till then...





I Speak of Envy


9 June 2017



ENVY has to do with how you see what you see, and thinking you are better placed to be where or what someone else is. Shakespeare graphically called it the ‘green-eyed monster.’ Its two Akan equivalents are even more graphic – anibere, literally ‘eye-red, red-eyed,’ the evil eye. And, ahoɔyaa, literally ‘self-imposed hurt,’ or skin-pain.

I went to the dictionaries. “Envy” is the state you are in when you have or cultivate that feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else's possessions or qualities. It is envy to birth and nurture that evil desire to have a desirable thing belonging to someone else. In envy, you admit that the target is or has something that you lack and desire, but don't or can't have. It defines and shapes you as being inferior to the other person, at least in your eyes and mind.

You may mask it, disguise it or hide it. You might even be friends with or befriend your target. Some are even married to the target! But if you don't defeat your envy but keep feeding it, you are reduced to bad-mouthing the person in secret; and one day it will come out in the open. That's because out of the abundance of your envious heart, your envious mouth speaketh.

Often, you have no power to destroy the object or target of your envy, and the more the person advances in life, the bigger your demon grows by staying within you and painfully gnawing at your insides.

Defeat it. Start by admitting to yourself that you are envious. Then deal with yourself. Because, ultimately, your envy defines, destroys and decimates YOU, not the target of your envy.



Of Instant Mob (In)Justice

31 May 2017



The usual reason or excuse given for mob justice is the perceived lack of confidence in our ‘failed’ law enforcement institutions.

But does this really wash?

When a dozen or so men were murdered throughout the country over a time on account of 'disappearing penises,' did that have to do with any institutions ‘failing’?

At what time between when you heard “julor” and when you ran to the scene to deliver slaps to a man (and sometimes, painfully, a woman) who hadn't stolen anything from you and whom you didn't see stealing, did you have time to consider our ‘failed’ law enforcement bodies?

In which way does a man sticking his big toe into the vajayjay of a woman arrested on suspicion of stealing money, reflect our ‘failed’ law enforcement institutions? Sorry. I had to go there.

When, as teenagers, we caught persons accused of stealing in high school, our first and most basic reaction was to deliver a beating, even before sending the guy to the school authorities. Did that also have to do with the ‘failure’ of schools' disciplinary systems? In one not-so-funny-now story, a housemaster rescued a male student from being beaten up by his fellow students on suspicion of stealing from them. He planned to keep the ‘suspect’ in his house overnight. Legend has it that that night, the ‘suspect’ attempted to steal from the housemaster himself. And so he ‘arrested’ the ‘suspect,’ marched him down to the dormitories and announced, “Wake up, I have caught a ‘tief’.” The ‘suspect tief’ was then set upon and given a good beating at dawn by some of the other students. The ‘law enforcer’ was enforcing jungle law.

When the police and military themselves arrest persons and deliver talk true slaps and other beatings to them, does it mean they don't believe in themselves as law enforcement agencies?

How are the above beating instincts different from your urge to deliver a slap to your kid for lying, stealing or breaking your rules? How are they different from when parents would let the police arrest their own children and ‘discipline’ them for breaching house rules? Does doing this show YOUR ‘failed’ parenting?

Or is it Instinct?

Or is it Retribution above all?

Let's look a little closer and a little deeper. Maybe the reasons for mob justice lie deeply in our culture and very make up. Maybe that’s who we are!



Our Acts, Not Theirs Anymore...


3 May 2017



After 60 years of independence, I think that it is time (if for nothing else, but out of a sense of national pride) not to have any English Statutes of General Application in Ghana.

Let me explain. Upon attaining Independence, we also attained for ourselves the power to make our own laws. But there were certain English Acts of Parliament that we thought would need to “continue to apply in Ghana,” “until provision is made by law in Ghana” [see section 119 of the current Courts Act.] This is also the case in several commonwealth countries. In Ghana, there were quite a number of such statutes to start with, but over the years, as we have passed our own laws on the subjects covered by those English Acts, we have amended the list of English Statutes of General Application to whittle it down.

We still have sections of 9 very old English statutes that are still part of our laws, dating between 1539 and 1869!! Several of these statutes are no longer part of the laws of England and were written in quaint language. But being the incorrigible Anglophiles that we are, we still cling to them today. Just consider this provision in the Statute of Fraudulent Conveyances, 1571 (13 Eliz. 1, C.5), which was in force in Ghana until sometime in 1973:

For the avoiding of feigned, covinous and fraudulent feoffments, gifts, grants, alienations, bonds, suits, judgments and executions, as well of lands and in tenements, as of goods and chattels, more commonly used and practised in these days than hath been seen or heard of heretofore; which feoffments, gifts, grants etc. have been and are devised and contrived of malice, fraud, covin, collusion or guile to the end, purpose and intent to delay, hinder or defraud creditors and others of their just and lawful actions, suits, debts, etc.; not only to the let or hindrance of the due course and execution of law and justice, but also to the overthrow of all true and plain dealing, bargaining and chevisance between man and man, without the which no commonwealth or civil society can be maintained or continued.

Who writes or passes law like this today? And THIS was part of the laws of 20th Century Ghana? Methinks (lemme follow the trend) it is time to pass our own parallel statutes and no longer have any English Statutes of General Application in Ghana.

How about English decided cases? Another topic for another day. Suffice it to say that they are not binding on our courts in the manner that Statutes of General Application are. They are merely of ‘persuasive effect’ and even then, we are entitled to look at and consider decided cases from all countries that apply common law.

Ei, did I say “another topic for another day”?


Côte d'Ivoire takes the Cocoa Lead

22 May 2016



I look at Côte d'Ivoire and I must admit to feeling a tinge of envy. They just came through a war! While we are busy fraudulently branding buses with scarce oil resources, they are doing all the right things. World's leading exporter of cocoa…and now cashew.

In fact, why are Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire not one nation?

It's about leadership! SimpleS!!


My Cocoa Lamentations

24 May 2016



On cocoa, we may never know the actual difference between how much we produce and how much Côte d'Ivoire (CI) produces. This is because of the rampant unchecked (or uncheckable) ‘borderless’ smuggling that takes place between us. Anas showed it to us. It's a crude form of arbitrage: whichever country pays more to farmers “wins the day.” (Why are we not one country?)

But there is something else that should make us sad. Between ourselves and CI, we produce and export almost 70% of the world's raw cocoa. Yet I read that the entire African continent accounts for just 3% of the world's much more lucrative chocolate market. Countries with no cocoa trees, like Switzerland (Nestle), UK (Cadbury), US (Hersheys) and even Austria (Mozart) make all the real money, while we sit here and console ourselves that the often rock-hard culinary monstrosity we produce here is the best chocolate ever made. That's what I call ‘sitting at the beach and rubbing your belly-button.’

It's the Uber economy. You don't need to own taxis to make money from the taxi business. While the private sector elsewhere forges ahead with the speed of Usain Bolt, our Minister for no other ministry than Private Sector Development recommends, with all the seriousness he could muster, a new business paradigm: cutting grass and gathering stones for sale by the roadside.

Tetteh Quarshie planted the first commercial cocoa seedlings here in 1879. One hundred and thirty seven years later our cocoa farms are essentially still rely on the hoe, the cutlass and God’s rain. There is no to precious little industrial farming of cocoa. Not even irrigated cocoa farms. The same planting, harvesting and drying processes of the 1870s apply today. And as for serious processing of the beans to secondary and tertiary levels, forget it.

Yet I understand that cocoa planted and solar-dried in Ghana has a unique rich quality and taste that grants it a premium branding on the market. Some dispute this. Visit Hershey's Park in Pennsylvania, take the 'factory' train tour and see and hear how fondly the tour speaks about Ghana cocoathe beans, but that's all. They even mimic the heat in Ghana at some point. But that's all. When you do this tour, don't be impressed merely because Ghana is mentioned and depicted. Weep!

How we have conspired to do and achieve so little with so much, must amaze Almighty God Himself.

Last month, while in Berlin, a client asked for some chocolate with some alcohol, with a specific name. Of course, I promptly forgot. But on the last day, while going through a shop (KaDeWe), I remembered. So I asked to be shown where chocolates were sold in the shop. Awurade (OMG), it was a whole floor of confectionary!! I went to the chocolate section and it was rows and rows of different chocolates, too many to count (similar to my last chocolate experience at Migros in Geneva.)

As you can also guess, I had also forgotten the name of the chocolate, so I asked the store attendant for one of every chocolate with alcohol. I was presented with ‘only’ four of them – they said there were more but I was in a hurry. I was presented with Cognac chocolate (made in Switzerland with only 31% cocoa), Rum chocolate (made in Germany with only 30% cocoa), Jamaican Rum chocolate (made in Germany with 60% cocoa) and Whiskey chocolate (made in Switzerland with just 31% cocoa).

At first, I was tickled. Then I got sad all over again. Why?

First, and okay, I may not be fond of alcohol. But where is Ghana Palm Wine Chocolate and Ghana Akpeteshie Chocolate made and sold locally, and then in Tesco, Waitrose, Walmart, Food Lion, KaDeWe or Migros? Don't come and talk to me about the ‘Ghana’ chocolate produced in East Asia! And don’t talk to me about the hard and brittle culinary monstrosities that get sold at traffic lights here, and which even God’s sun cannot melt.

Second, note that the cocoa content in them range from 30% to 60% peh (only). Yet people buy and eat them – plenty, and make the manufacturers millionaires. It appears to me that many of the actual consumers of chocolates worldwide do not care about the so-called high cocoa content (though this seems to be changing as more people become health-conscious). So our boasting that our local chocolates have 80% or higher cocoa content might just mean that we really can't afford all the imported, additional ingredients that we need to convert the cocoa into chocolates, so we take cold comfort in the ‘health benefits’ of having plenty cocoa in chocolates.

Guys, except for health-watchers, people who pay good money to buy and eat chocolates don't appear to care. Why should we? Produce the healthy chocolate (for the likes of me), but by all means produce the 'unhealthy' chocolate too, with 30% cocoa and 10% ogogro/kill-me-quick/VC 10 from the blue kiosk!

The future started long before, and we are already late, sings John Legend.



Time to Rethink Cocobod’s Statutory Monopoly?

24 May 2016



By law, Ghana Cocoa Board (Cocobod) has a monopoly over the sale, purchase and export of cocoa in Ghana. Section 4 of the Ghana Cocoa Board Act, 1984 (PNDCL 81) prohibits the sale and purchase of cocoa to or from any person, unless the person purchasing is Cocobods buying subsidiary Produce Buying Company (PBC) or a person authorised by Cocobod to buy cocoa and then sell that cocoa only to Cocobod. There is also a prohibition against marketing or exporting cocoa unless that cocoa is owned by Cocobod or authorised by Cocobod for export. This export prohibition also applies to coffee, shea and shea-butter.

A person who contravenes this law risks going to jail for a term between five and ten years, without the option of a fine.

Essentially, Cocobod (ssshhh… the Government) determines the price that it will pay the farmers, who have precious little say, as it will be an offence for them to sell to any other person. The difference between what the farmers are paid and what the Government earns from the international market is actually a cocoa tax. But we lie to ourselves when we repeatedly provide in our Income Tax Acts that “the income from cocoa of a cocoa farmer” is tax exempt. Who are we kidding? What we have is a regressive tax that cannot be papered over by formally making cocoa income non-taxable under our tax laws.

Ironically, the Government itself sells cocoa on markets at prices that are determined on the relevant mercantile exchanges at which it sells. So we short-change the farmers, and then the international market short-changes us. Is that not the reason why farmers near the border sometimes simply sell their cocoa (after free extension services and spraying by the Government) to the Ivorians for more money?

Also, considering the tariff barriers in Europe, which allegedly forbid us from processing the beans and restrict us to exporting raw beans (at prices determined by them), should we not start planning to free ourselves to sell to the African and Asian markets?

But also, has the time come to review the law and remove this Cocobod monopoly? Or would a liberalised system simply expose the farmers to even lower prices? Should we have a system where Government only sets minimum prices to protect the farmers and then allows purchasers/exporters to offer more to farmers, based on market realities? Then we could introduce taxes for cocoa income? Would a liberalised market attract investment into the sector?

All I am saying is that it is time to think, un-think and re-think.


Cocoa – The Natural Resource

10 April 2017



When it comes to so-called “natural resourcesGod ‘cheated’ Switzerland paaah.

What they have in commercial quantities are lime, clay, salt, sand, marble and gravel. Then they have small deposits of iron and manganese. No coal. Then they have rocks and mountains and snow. As of 2014, only 11% of their land was farmed, according to an article I just read on the internet.

But what they lack in ‘natural resources’ they make up for with and in BRAINS. Let’s consider water, which Ghana has in abundance, yet cannot produce sustainable electricity from, and is allowing to be polluted through, illegal mining. Switzerland harnesses ice glaciers for energy in hydroelectric power facilities that supply 59% of the country’s electricity.

The Swiss rocky terrain and ice can now be considered a ‘natural resource’ because they help generate US$16B yearly revenue from tourism, I have read.

There is no cocoa tree in Switzerland. Yet between Nestlé, Lindt & Sprüngli, they earned a total of US$15.2 billion in 2015 from manufacturing and selling chocolate and confectionary. (Let’s ignore the small matter of the similarly cocoa-less United States earning US$33 billion from the same business in 2015 between Mars, Mondelēz and Hershey.)

By contrast, Africa produces 75% of the world’s cocoa beans, mostly through non-irrigated, non-mechanised farming, but gets only about 3% of the yearly US$100 billion world chocolate business.


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