No amount of loans can transform Africa – Prof Gordon

Gordon Jacob ProfProfessor Jacob U. Gordon, Occupant of the Kwame Nkrumah Chair in African Studies, has said no amount of loans, grants and natural resources could transform Africa, except quality transformational leadership.

He said Africa was the richest continent in the world, and endowed with rich natural resources such as gold, diamond, oil and gas, timber and abundant sun shine, yet its people were still wallowing in poverty due to the lack of visionary and transformational leadership.

Prof. Gordon was speaking at the African Presidential Papers and Libraries (APPL) Symposium and Youth Seminar in Accra on Friday under the auspices of Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA).

It was on the theme; “Reflections on African Leadership and Governance – The Way Forward”.

The Symposium was attended by about 150 participants mainly Pan Africanists, students from the University of Ghana, Tema SOS School, Roman Ridge School, Asamankese Senior High School, Action Senior High and Technical School, Saint Thomas Senior High and Technical School, and Atweaman SHS.

Citing the Late Burkinabe President Thomas Sankara as saying; “We must dare to invent our own future,” Prof Gordon explained that Africa needed transformational leaders who would dare to invent the future they dreamt of by allowing history to be their guide.

He said the APPL, which was being sponsored by OSIWA, sought to gather papers and library materials on 10 founding presidents of Africa, namely Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Nnamdi Azikiwe of Nigeria, Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya, Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, Nelson Mandela of South Africa, Patrice Lumumba of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Grégoire Kayibanda of Rwanda, and Haile Selassie of Ethiopia.

The rest are the founding presidents of Egypt and Algeria.

He said the project, which would cost $ 100,000, would be followed by the construction of presidential library complexes in each country in honour of the founding fathers, after which it would be extended to cover the rest of Africa.

He said so far, the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library in Nigeria was the only Presidential Library Complex in the whole of Africa, and that he hoped the John Agyekum Kufuor Library in Ghana would soon be completed to bring the number to two.

He said these presidential libraries were storehouses for preserving and making available the papers, records, collections and other historical materials of every president for the benefit of posterity.

Prof. Gordon observed that there were about 292 African Presidents, of which 268 were dead, 124 still alive, out of which 54 were still in office.

He said APPL which is sited at the Institute of African Studies (IAS), University of Ghana had commenced work, and that there were enough papers and books on leaders such as Presidents Kwame Nkrumah and Nelson Mandela.

Prof. Akosua Adomako Ampofo, IAS Director, said it took each of us to play our roles in nation building, stating that “we want leaders who can be remembered for something done positively”.

Prof. Kwame Arhin, former IAS Director, said Nkrumah believed in urbanization, which would also be the framework for industrialisation and production of goods for both local consumption and export.

He further urged the youth to emulate Nkrumah’s exemplary leadership

Prof. Esi Sutherland-Addy of the IAS, said Nkrumah was a Pan Africanist who projected the African at all levels.

She said Nkrumah believed in the Ghanaian arts and culture, and he promoted it by patronising local products such the rich kente cloth and the smock, setting up institutions such as the IAS, the Arts Council of Ghana, and the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Mr Ernesto Yeaboah, Deputy National Youth Organizer of the Convention People’s Party, said although Kwame Nkrumah was dead, “he is now an idea, which we must study”.

He said Nkrumah’s visionary leadership led him to set up the five-year and seven-year National Development Plans for the nation which accelerated the nation’s socio-economic development.

Ms Erica Nkrumah, a student of the Faculty of Law, University of Ghana, said; “Leadership demands excellence and second best is no option”.

Most participants the Ghana News Agency spoke with expressed worry over the lack of literature on Nkrumah in libraries and bookshops and the vilification of the President by serial callers on the airwaves, and urged Ghanaians to hold the Office of the President in esteem.

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