By Kofi Akosah-Sarpong

The supremely open and important statement by Ghana's Vice President,
lawyer Alhaji Aliu Mahama, that "Article 39 of the Constitution
enjoins the State to take the necessary steps to encourage the integration of appropriate
customary values into the fabric of national life through formal and
informal education as well as the conscious introduction of cultural
dimensions to relevant aspects of national planning" and that "the
State was also required to ensure that appropriate customary and cultural values are adapted and developed as an integral part of the growing needs of society, while traditional practices, which are injurious to the society are abolished" throw more light on the
Ghanaian culture and her development process as the on-going
culture-development debate rages on Africa-wide.

Mahama also opens up the deep relevance of both the Africanists of the
Internalist School (Africanist-Internalist) arguments and the African
Renaissance process advocates that the African culture should be
hugely factored in in the continent's development process in order to make the continent's
development holistic and closer to Africans because of the long-running damages and distortions done by colonialism.

Africa's development process should move around the continent's innate
cultural values and its mixture both with her colonial legacies and the
enabling as parts of the global culture. Since independence from
British colonial rule, Ghana, like the rest of other African states, has not integrated or
mixed her innate or customary (as the lawyers call African indigenous cultural values) values in her
development paradigms or policies. The reason for the supreme need to
let Ghanaian/African culture drive her development process is that armed with their so-called
"civilising mission," which generally saw African values erroneously as
"primitive" and need to be "civilised" and "developed," the European colonialists wrongly
imposed their values on Africa without considering the centuries old
well tried and tested African values in their so-called "civilising process."

In the process, African cultural institutions, which have been superbly
developed over centuries, were ignored, abused, bastardised and
alienated, and in the process made the African continent the most
dominated area in the world by foreign development values, as Ghana's Dr. Y.K. Amoako, the former chief executive secretary of the Addis Ababa-based UN Economic Commission for
Africa, has observed and the much enlightening cultural relativity,
which says everyone's culture is importance in their own development process
rights, has exposed. After independence African elites - lazy, weak, and
hooked on the diet of foreign development pradigms of the colonilists, mostly for their own
material gains against the overall development of their people -
continued with the imposed colonial development paradigms, and this is partly responsible for the
continent's agonies which have remarkably come in the forefront of the
global communities.

The leading Africanist-Internalist Dr. George Ayittey, of the American
University in Washington D.C., in a note to me stated that, "Elsewhere,
we, African ELITES, denigrated our own indigenous institutions and
even destroyed them. Free village MARKETS, for example, were in existence for centuries
before the white man set foot on the continent. In post colonial
Africa, we never build one single market for the people. We built super-markets in the
urban areas for ourselves. As for our indigenous markets, we denounced them as "Western capitalist institutions" and destroyed them. In the 1980s, Jerry Rawlings was blowing up and burning down these indigenous markets.
Economic stupidity ran amok."

Over the years, there have been heated arguments as to who should be
blamed for Africa's agonies as if Africa is a helpless baby: Is agonies
due to external factors or internal factors, or both, as African
Renaissance process advocates such as South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki say. Explained
Dr. Ayittey in a note to the Africanist-Internalist community, "There
are two schools of thought on the causes of Africa's ills. There are the externalists who
blame external factors (Western colonialism, the slave trade,
imperialism, unjust international economy system, the World Bank, IMF, etc). For more than 40 years, this orthodoxy held sway in Africa and is subscribed to by African leaders
(naturally, since it absolved them of any responsibility for the mess in Africa), the
African Union (AU) and African intellectuals, such as Professor Ali
Mazrui. This school of thought seeks external solutions -- more Western aid for Africa, debt
relief, incessant appeals to the international community to help
solve Africa's problems. Then there is the internal school of
thought, which maintains that, though external factors have had a role play, the internal factors are equally if not more important in causing the ruination of Africa. These internal factors include bad leadership, bad governance, corruption, capital flight, military vandalism, political repression, economic mismanagement, senseless civil wars, etc. As such, there is a need to search for

INTERNAL solutions. Africa must put its own house in order and must seek
African solutions for Africa's problems because the destiny of Africa
lies in its own hands."

Mahama's acceptance that certain Ghanaian values are "injurious" to her
development process gives credence to many an Africanist-Internalist and
the African Renaissance process observations that there some deadly inhibitions
within the African culture, just as there are many remarkable positive
values, that need to be refined or destroyed in order to smooth the
development process. Much of the inhibitions or "injurious" aspects
of the Ghanaian/African culture have not been addressed and grown over the years largely because the colonially-imposed values suppressed or dominated the Ghanaian/African
ones and so did not allow African values to grow or metamorphosis so
as to show both the good and the bad parts and the process weed out
the "injurious" or the destructive values in the course of the continent's development process.

Coming on the heels of Mahama's enlightening and historic
culture-development statements is Alhaji Saddique Boniface, Ghana's
Northern Regional Minister, observations of the growing phenomenon in his region and some Ghanaian schools where students consult the largely self-"injurious" juju-marabou
mediums and its subsequent disaster for Ghana since "such negative practices had the
tendency of moving the nation backward since it de-emphasizes hard work"
and reason. This reveals one aspects of the "injurious" parts of the culture stifling the
development process. Saddique may actually be talking from the knowledge
that the Northen is a region in Ghana that is perhaps the most backward and
developmentally weak because of certain "injurious" or deadly inhibiting
cultural practices, and which has made this area Ghana's most poverty-stricken despite long-running government assistance since inependence from colonial rule.

By accepting and openly discussing the inhibiting or "injurious" aspects
of the Ghanaian culture in her development process, Mahama, as part of
the Ghanaian elite, has opened the floodgates for credible acceptance of the African
Renaissance process and the Africanist-Internalist stance in Ghana's
development process. This would not have been discussed years ago for purely ethnocentric reasons and the reinforcement of the wrong-headed colonialists' rantings that
the African culture is "primitive."

Mahama's culture-development speech teaches that now both the Ghanaian
governance and development processes have to be grounded in her cultural
values like other ex-colonies such as Japan, Malaysia, Brazil and South Korea
have done, mixing where appropriate, with the colonial legacies in the
development process. It is in this exercise that in the process, Mahama's
"injurious" aspects of the culture would come to be either destroyed or
refined, the refined parts added to the good aspects, and fused with
the enabling aspects of the global culture in Ghana's development