At first I could not decipher the deepness in the following words, “Unless you transform the lives of ordinary people, you cannot hope to transform Africa” H.E. John Agyekum Kufuor, former President of Ghana. However, my brief experience in Asia revealed to me that such opulent words must have come from a sage. The Bai Xian Asia Institute and the John Agyekum Kufuor Foundation are path-breakers of the 21st century selling out the same idea of Leadership, Governance and Development.
After a 19-hour flight to Japan, I could not but further affirm to the role leadership plays in the growth of a nation along the development trajectory. I was welcomed by the most pleasant people of Japan, and by the immaculate streets of Tokyo. The order and pattern of day-to-day activities was prompt and result-oriented, so much so that I began to reminisce the appalling situation back home. All throughout my stay my fragile brain had to reconcile with cultural shocks that generated from interactions with the wide variety of participating cultures. I kept asking myself, is it possible to replicate such level of development in our dearest continent? Then I realised that “Good governance is the biggest challenge our continent faces for the foreseeable future” attributed to H. E John Agyekum Kufuor.
As per expectations, the academic sessions of the summer program were designed to cater for the needs of Asia. That means, as a participating African, tact and diplomacy had to be my guiding principles. Key topics such as, Science and sustainability, aging society and women’s role in Asia, globalisation and poverty were of keen concern to me. I find it enthralling how between Asia and Africa there exist similar social structures and values in terms of family systems, marriage proceedings, courtesy towards the elderly as well as forms of greetings. In my opinion, this foretells that Asia shares similar problems as we face today in Africa. However, the difference again lies in leadership. Malaysia is a case in point. Interacting with Mary Anne Choo, a managing director at Goldman Sachs in Hong Kong, she shared her thoughts on how import-driven Ghana is. The prospects for an economy overly dependent on the outside world cannot be strong and resilient. This may explain the recurrent downturns in the economies of developing countries. The need for leadership to turn things round cannot be over emphasised.
As a developing country, I realise that Ghana’s development would sail through a smooth path if we take cognizance to a great deal of lessons and experience from Asia. As pronounced earlier, just as we share common values, many of our problems are also alike. We may head into similar developmental challenges of contemporary Asia if we neglect the role of the youth in international education of this sort. The major reason is that the youth are promises of a better future. The way we groom them reflects a picture of our future.
“We must make sure our young people have hope. Our future is in their hands”H.E. John Agyekum Kufuor. I am inspired that the African is capable of defining his destiny. The unspeakable ages of exploitation would forever remain history. Indeed, the greatest legacy leaders can bequeath to their followers is to groom them to take up their place. Thank you!
*Salman Mohammed (guest writer)
Salman Mohammed is no stranger to the John Agyekum Kufour Foundation. He hails from Bawku, in the Upper East Region of Ghana. Having spent a year of his high school in the United States as a Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study Scholar, Salman returned home with a penchant to transform his continent.
Realising that education is the major force to drive his continent, Salman made a decision to dedicate his leisure time to teach in the fields of Economics, Government and Mathematics. In July 2016 Salman spent two weeks, together with 13 other scholars of the Kufour Scholars Program, in the Atebubu-Bantama region working closely with the African Plantations for Sustainable Development on several community initiatives. As it his dream to be a diplomat, Salman finds intercultural education crucial in achieving this. In the just ended 2016 BXAI Summer Program in Tokyo, Japan, Salman was one of the first to represent Africa, among two other African scholars – one a fellow John Agyekum Kufour Foundation scholar from Ghana and the other a Yenching Scholar from Swaziland. Currently, he is a junior at the University of Cape Coast, studying Economics and Sociology. Salman can be reached at +233245757001/ 0202292786 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.