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Between Faith and History

Between Faith and History - A Biography of J A Kufuor

Author Ivor Agyeman-Duah

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ISBN: 978-0-9547023-9-7 | 440 pages | Weight: 0.87kg | Hardback | Published 2006 | Rights: World

Categories: African | History | Memoirs | Biography |

Synopsis

The road to John Agyekum Kufuor's presidency was tortuous and reflects Ghana's political history, which has been dominated by military intervention since Kwame Nkrumah led Ghana, the first African country to achieve Independence in 1957.

This book chronicles how Kufuor, an Oxford educated lawyer, rose to become Ghana's Deputy Foreign Minister and his later emergence as leader of the opposition and his subsequent election as President for the conservative New Patriotic Party.

Between Faith and History examines how President Kufuor, the first to succeed in the transition to power from one government to another in Ghana's history, points the way to more democratic structures and accountability across Africa. This edition highlights Kufuor's contributions in achieving peace and stability in the war-torn ECOWAS region since early 2000. His legacy as he completes his second term as president centres on his gentle persona and huge attempts at poverty reduction and infrastructural development. The US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, describes his presidency as one of Africa's best for economic and democratic reconstruction.

Key Selling Points

  • One of the best biographies of an African leader in the 21st Century and a major contribution to Ghanaian, African and World History.
  • The book will be of interest to historians, academics and students studying political history and culture in the Developing World.
  • An essential addition to course reading lists on Ghanaian and African political history.
  • The book was launched in Ghana on 10th January 2007, the year of the 50th Anniversary of Ghana's Independence from colonial rule in 1957, by Professor Wole Soyinka, the Nigerian Nobel Laureate for Literature.

Recommendations

Perspectives on Leadership: An Interview with John Agyekum Kufuor, Former President of Ghana

David Owusu-Ansah
James Madison University

The following interview was conducted by David Owusu-Ansah, Ph.D., Professor of History and Africana Studies at James Madison University, on July 20, 2010 in Accra, Ghana. It has been edited for length

David Owusu-Ansah: The last time we met in London [summer 2009], you told me of the many charges you have taken on since the end of your Presidency of the Republic of Ghana. But before we talk about that topic, I would like to converse with you on a number of IBAVI issues, for which I have asked for this interview.

The International Beliefs and Values or IBAVI [www.ibavi.org] is an academic organization in the United States on which I serve as a member of the executive board. It is the position of the organization that human actions are determined by certain core values and belief systems that are local and yet international. While we may not think of these beliefs and values in all our actions, they remain central to human activities. IBAVI presently is exploring this central conviction through presentations and writings of scholars and activists on the subject of global leadership. Often, good and innovative leaders are identified in the Asian, American, and European private sectors or in their corresponding political circles. Africa then becomes the example of the “Other.” African politicians are therefore not counted among the world’s insightful leaders, but I am of the view that given the continent’s history and situations, there have been a number of very successful leaders whose contributions have contributed to transforming their national conditions. We can think of Mozambique, Namibia, and of course Ghana. This interview is intended to allow you to converse on the subject of leadership in the context of your position as former president of a successful democracy in Ghana.

So firstly, what is your definition of a leader and, in your case, how did you perceive your role as party leader and what were some of the challenges you anticipated coming to that role—ultimately, what are the qualities you see in a leader?

Ex-President John Agyekum Kufuor: A leader by necessity is a guide, a rallying focus for his or her community, who shares a common destiny with the people who are led. In a multi-party democracy, the leader must share a common purpose as demonstrated in the party manifesto that captures the aspirations of the Constitution. The leader is therefore the flag-bearer for the party, and his or her mandate is to lead the people in directions that the manifesto seeks to achieve. The person selected to lead must therefore have the attributes that allow him or her to convince the people that he or she shares in the vision or party objectives, and that he or she is capable of achieving the party mission under that leadership. In the field of politics, I see important attributes of the leader as one who has a vision, but most importantly, one who is able to convince the people of the goodness of the vision, and thus an ability to take the people in a direction for the realization of that vision and mission.

The leader is not necessarily a manager or micro-manager. The responsibility of the good leader is to have a broader vision. Using the analogy of government, the leader engages the government cabinet ministers to manage aspects of governance such as in the field of education, health care, or national security. These managers aid the leader, who acts as the CEO of the government, in articulating preferred targets and levels of performance toward the realization of the mission.

Owusu-Ansah: Let’s look at a more practical level of this conversation by referencing political developments of the 1990s. You were very involved in the deliberations of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), which was the party outside of the government throughout the first decade of the Fourth Republic. In your definition of the concept of leadership as stated earlier, you talked about how political parties construct a party vision in the context of a party manifesto. So, how did the NPP arrive at the content of its manifesto? To what extent did the history of the party inform the beliefs and values that shaped this document and how did the problems of the day and the party’s own ideas contribute to its development?

Kufuor: As you observed, parties have long histories and associated values. One therefore relies on traditions and history to build the proposals that take into consideration values such as the Rule of Law. The party knows that its founding fathers respected human rights, freedom of speech, and the justified role and place of the Constitution. We used these ancient traditions, with which our party also identifies, to fashion our policies on subjects such as education. We see education as a human rights subject and part of the history of our nation. So, we supported free and compulsory education rights for all the children of Ghana from nursery to junior secondary school, which would be paid for by the state irrespective of the social economic conditions of the child.

Also, because we believed in private sector engagement in the economy, we fashioned our manifesto, and later our policies, to usher in “The Golden Age of Business.” Under that policy, we planned to build and improve upon the infrastructure, the energy capacity, and the telecommunication facilities of the country. We believed this would help the country to establish a business-friendly environment. We also fashioned the Ghana Investment Code, under which we agreed that private sector investments would not be over-taxed and thus induce foreign and local entrepreneurs to do business in the country. We especially supported investments in rural areas and outside of Accra. Our intention was to encourage investments in the manufacturing sector in order to add value to materials that we hitherto exported in their raw state. Our goal was to provide a stable, credit-worthy economy that would permit the private sector to borrow and invest in order to reduce government spending across the board.

We also believed in keeping peace in the country and therefore wanted an orderly environment. Law enforcement personnel had to be well-equipped and well-trained. This was to make them know that they were there to serve the people and thus to follow due process of law and to protect the rights of the individual.

Another area of our value system is the belief that all persons should have health care. You can compare our beliefs and values in this area of policy to that of our political predecessors who followed the policy of “cash and carry,” which meant that if you did not have the money to pay for your health needs, you could not receive the total care needed. We saw the “cash and carry” policy as wrong, and so we introduced the National Health Care Scheme. All persons between the ages of 18 and 70 were required to purchase this affordable and government-subsidized health care premium, but those outside of the minimum and maximum ages were provided for by the government.

With these polices, we were expressing to the people that we believed in the long tradition of individual rights, which the government must protect and empower. So, when we eventually came to power, we were guided by these values and beliefs for which the people gave us their mandate. I can say that we were truthful to our manifesto and our promises when we came to power.

Owusu-Ansah: In a reflective mode, would you say that there are aspects of the manifesto or things that you really wanted to accomplish but were not able to successfully carry through?

Kufuor: We believe in the public-private partnership, and we talked about creating a property-owning democracy. I believe that we set off in the right direction but, given the constraints of the economy, and given the fact that we were subject to HIPIC [World Bank Highly Indebted Poor Country Policy] by admitting to the insolvency of the economy, we couldn’t tackle a lot of the promises of our manifesto right from the start. We had to accept the implementation of the Bank’s guidelines in order to receive debt forgiveness from both bilateral and multilateral loans amounting to about $8 billion, which later freed us to engage in our proposed private-state partnership. So some good time was lost. We engaged in infrastructural development, without which the private sector partnership would not have been attracted. Subsequently, we moved in the direction of developing our energy and telecommunications sectors. The result was the attraction of many foreign investors, including several private banks, from Nigeria and elsewhere, that set up shop in Ghana and thus made lending possible for individuals and for private sector development.

But when we started in office, the inflation rate was at about 42% and the lending rate was at 52%. So we brought inflation down to 12% over a 5- to 6-year period, and also the lending rate from 52% to around 22%. But by the time the benefits of these improvements were about to be realized, our time was up, and we were not able to accomplish all of our promises by the close of the first term. The electorate gave us a second term, during which time we followed through on several of these promises. In fact, several international rating agencies gave Ghana an A+ for our economic developments, and some referred to Ghana as the “beacon of the continent of Africa” because we pursued democratic values side-by-side with economic progress, which was a real achievement.

These accomplishments notwithstanding, our opponent party coined the slogan that our policies left the people with “empty pockets.” So we could say that we were building roads, investing in education, introducing health insurance for the people, and improving mass transportation, but where was the money in the pockets of the individual? It appeared that this slogan registered with the people. Unfortunately for us, the international financial crisis hit in 2007 and 2008, resulting in a cutback in international private sector investments. The anticipated jobs that could have been created by the private sector by the end of our second term were stalled. Even though we made great savings for the population in education, health care, in improving the roads, and in the provision of mass transportation, for the man on the street there was “no money in the pocket,” and therefore the opposition slogan registered well with them. Had we had a little more time, we would have met the terms of our manifesto and our promise to the people. I truly believe that the people appreciated our efforts, but time was not on our side.

Owusu-Ansah: It is certainly the case in democracies that people at times identify with the leader, but by the end of your constitutional term as president the people could not identify with the party or trust the new party flag-bearer to meet their expectations as before. Would you agree with such an assessment?

Kufuor: That might be so, but in a multi-party situation, a lot can also depend on the party organization and its ability to carry the concept of democracy to the people. If this is done to the satisfaction of most party members, there will be a situation where the new leadership can renew its commitment to the party manifesto as well as the values that they will ask the people to support. But there is no doubt that momentum might be lost in the transition.

Owusu-Ansah: One can see that both leading political parties (the NPP and the NDC) came so close to winning the presidency again after their party bearers completed the two four-year mandates that the Constitution allowed. Does this mean that both parties and their leaders did things right?

Kufuor: I do not think that our predecessor party had that record. Going into the election that brought us into power in 2000, the inflation rate was very high and the currency was in a free fall. That party was also high-handed, as it was a carryover from military rule. But the NDC party had the advantage of incumbency and therefore a certain level of patronage. Furthermore, our system is not totally democratic, because we still have a situation where parts of the country and certain ethnic groups still vote in blocs for identified political parties, not on the basis of performance but by prior association. For my political party, we had so much going for us by the end of my second term, but, as I talked about earlier, some in the party managed to disenchant others to the extent that they became frustrated and split our votes. So, some of our members defected in about 28 constituencies to support some of our former party members who entered the elections as independent candidates. This notwithstanding, our party’s candidate for the presidency was short by only a few thousand votes from the 50%required to win outright.

In the runoff elections, our candidate lost ground in the very last constituency election when the party chose to take the electoral commissioner to court instead of engaging in the final election. That did not work, and we lost the presidency. So there are lessons to be learned.

Owusu-Ansah: Let me turn to another aspect of policy that relates to leadership and vision. I found it interesting that your party, under your leadership, was the first in the history of the country to establish and make a cabinet appointment for a Ministry of Women and Children in 2000. Later, in 2006, you created the Ministry for Chieftaincy Affairs. Why did you think these two sectors were important and what were the beliefs and values that informed your decision?

Kufuor: The Constitution of Ghana recognizes the institution of chieftaincy as the custodian of our traditions. The Constitution also recognizes the establishment of Regional and National Houses of Chiefs. Every politician in this country knows that as we travel across the country, there is not a single village we visit where we do not make the first port of call at the house of the chief. The institution is a powerful one in addressing social conflicts. So, we thought that we needed a ministry to coordinate affairs in order to maximize the benefits of the institution to facilitate development and cooperation.

With regards to the Ministry of Women and Children, you see that Africa suffers from the image of imbalance among the genders. We have the image that we are a male-dominated society, that women are handicapped and maltreated, and that their rights are not recognized. The same goes for children. The issue of child labor negatively affects the image of Africa, so I thought the time had come for us to create a ministry to ensure that the rights of women and their children would be protected from pregnancy through childhood, and to advocate for their empowerment through education and health care. This would allow us to consider women and children in our policies, especially if we had a Minister of Women and Children at the cabinet level, and it was within the power of the president to create such a ministry.

Owusu-Ansah: But were there not other ministries such as education, health, and sports that could have been charged with improving the condition of women and children in the country?

Kufuor: Yes, but this can be done better with a specific ministry for Women and Children sitting at the table, and also in cooperation with the ministries that you have identified. Take, for example, the issue of a compulsory education policy, which requires that all children must be sent to school from primary through junior high school. Yet, traditionalists invariably sent the boys to school and kept the girls at home. Because of these issues, and because we have a problem with teenage pregnancy and maternal health, we believe these issues can be addressed better by a Ministry of Women and Children, hence the decision to establish that ministry.

Owusu-Ansah: Can we please return to the topic of chieftaincy? You talked about the recognition of the chief by the Constitution. But this is not new. We know that even in colonial times, the chief was recognized as an important link to the people. We also are aware of the prickly relationship between the chiefs and our first post-independent president, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. We knew of such enlightened chiefs as Sir Tiboe Darko in our history, but the constitution, though recognizing the power and influence of chiefs, indicated that chiefs should not be involved in politics. So wouldn’t the establishment of a Ministry of Chieftaincy Affairs politicize the institution?

Kufuor: Whether we like it or not, the institution of chieftaincy is very political. Once, a chief I consider to be very enlightened and powerful commented to me thus: “Mr. President, they say that a chief should not partake in politics, but all the issues that arise among my people are political by their very nature. The politicians invariably stop here to talk politics and all the conflicts among my people invariably end up at my house.” This means that there is a difference between being involved in politics and being involved in partisan politics. The latter is what the Constitution prevents, because, as head of the community, the chief is the father of his people, and he should see them united rather than divided through partisan politics. So immediately, a chief who becomes involved in partisan politics has lost the right to unite the people.

With regards to the establishment of the Ministry of Chieftaincy, we wanted not only recognition of the institution, but to seek greater cooperation between the government and the institution of chieftaincy in order to address our national agenda on education, health, and other non-partisan issues. Without such a relationship, we lose so much more than we gain. It was never our intention to politicize the individual chief. But through the Ministry of Chieftaincy Affairs, we seek to improve the involvement of chiefs in developing the country and alleviating poverty.

Owusu-Ansah: But there are many scholars and other observers who take the position that much of the conflict in our society can be traced to the institution of chieftaincy. Some have called for the abolishment of the institution. While our history tells us that the institution cannot be abolished, some will for sure want to see some “modernization” of the role of the chief in national affairs. Therefore, is it possible to “modernize” the institution and, also, what do we mean by the idea of modernization?

Kufuor: Well, chieftaincy does not owe its existence to the government, and therefore we cannot impose our will on this institution. The modernization that is necessary must come from within the institution itself. These days, the demand for change is coming from the people. They want a chief who is progressive. Certainly, there are traditional attributes that a chief must have, including the ability to lead fairly. But, in addition to these traditional attributes, the people are adding new ones that may include the desire that their chief must have a sound education and must have the ability to communicate, not only with the people, but to articulate their needs, aspirations, and expectations to government. So the call for modernization is emerging because the people are demanding aspects of modernity from their chiefs.

The Ministry of Chieftaincy does not make any of these suggestions of modernity to the people as the basis of selecting chiefs. In fact, I believe that such intrusion will be rejected by the people and undermine the institution. We believe that there are a number of important laws in the country, including our constitutional, civil, and criminal laws, but there are also customary laws which are defined by the beliefs and values inherent in our traditions. We do not want an overly zealous government that imposes its will on our customary laws. A politician may make a statement that touches on some of our traditional practices, but we should allow chieftaincy as an institution to modernize itself from within.

Owusu-Ansah: So, how did you select a Minister of Chieftaincy Affairs?

Kufuor: I wanted a very mature person who understood the blend of our national communities. Our nation is made up of various ethnic units, but also there are several things that bond us together as people of this country. The minister must be appreciative of these differences as well as the common bonds. We cannot afford missteps that will cause confusion.

Owusu-Ansah: Let me move on to the last section of our conversation to discuss your current position as ex-president of Ghana. Indeed, you are a very active ex-president. Can you tell me a little about your activities since you left office?

Kufuor: Since my term ended on January 7, 2009, I have found myself inundated with invitations to speak internationally. I have been called upon by several agencies of the United Nations to serve in some capacity. I have also received invitations to attend conferences and workshops in our neighboring countries, such as the Cote d’Ivoire, Togo, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Nigeria.

International NGOs, such as Inter-Peace, invited me in 2009 to become their chairperson. This organization was previously presided over by the former President of Finland, Martti Ahtisaari, who is a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and United Nations diplomat and mediator.

I became the first person from the South to chair the organization after President Ahtisaari’s nine-year term. Also, Milan, in collaboration with their World Expo 2015, established a foundation called the Alliance for Africa for the purpose of assisting the development of social services in Africa to the South of the Sahara. I was invited to chair the Alliance as well as the World Food Program (WFP), to become their global ambassador against hunger, and to advocate for food security in sub-Sahara Africa. I also served on the 10-member World Bank Reform Commission. I was the only person invited from Africa to serve on this commission, which has been charged with reviewing the Bank’s performance in its 60 years of lending.

I have been active in attending the United Nations Conference on Peace. Again, I was invited to address the United Nations General Assembly on the subject of International Peace, which I did last year. I attended the conference of the Department for International Development (DFID) on the subject of poverty reduction measures. I belong to the organization of former heads of governments that includes such members as [Mikhail] Gorbachev, [Bill] Clinton, and [Tony] Blair (about 75 persons in all, from all over the world), and have served on some of their delegations.

I just came back from South Korea at the invitation of the government to work on the agenda of the up-coming G-20 conference in Seoul. Earlier on, I went to Brazil at the invitation of the Alliance of Civilizations meeting, at which we discussed how we can mobilize to bring civilizations together.

At the G-20 meeting in Seoul, I served as a member of the sub-committee that deliberated on the programming for its coming conference. I have been invited by the Commonwealth of Nations to lead its election observer team to Malawi. Prior to that, the African Union (AU) sent me and former President Joaquin Chissano of Mozambique to Malawi to discuss ahead of time how best to ensure election peace in that country. This was preemptive diplomacy to ensure that incumbent governments and opposition groups agreed on the principle of democracy and also on the terms by which election results might be accepted. I was also recently sent by the AU to lead its 50 election observers to monitor the Sudan.

The Oppenheimer Foundation’s Brenthurst Foundation of South Africa made me their African Director to examine the way forward for Africa to fight poverty. The cooperative seminar that sought to bring together the United States, China, and Africa, which was held in Liberia, invited me as a guest of honor in their deliberations on cooperation and social responsibility in Africa, and on the big issue of China in Africa as well as about western interests in Africa and what Africa should do to ensure its own interests in the face of such strong forces.

These invitations have continued to come, and have even included an invitation to the Cote d’Ivoire to discuss their own plans for a peaceful election, which is still pending. I have talked to the President of the Cote d’Ivoire twice, and all of their parties. I also addressed the Ivoirian nation on television. So, all of these things have been going on and continue to take place since the end of my presidency.

Owusu-Ansah: But as you accept all of these invitations, I know that there is also something close to your heart at home that you want to do. Can you tell us something about that, and why you see this idea as important?

Kufuor: My objective is to set up a center for the study of leadership, governance, and development. I believe that for Africa to break the back of poverty and under-development there is a need for us to focus on how we come by our leaders. I believe that transformational and effective developments do not happen by chance, they are usually engendered by the right persons and leaders. It is therefore important that we have a center that will empower the people as future leaders. My idea for the center is that we will teach the people about leadership. Balanced leadership, as fruit on a tree, must mature before it falls to the ground, and low-hanging fruit that has not matured is useless. We can take the example of France’s President Charles De Gaulle. He was a transformational leader who came to the scene to stabilize their political traditions. By creating a prime minister who took the heat in Parliament and separating this role from the presidency, France was able to stabilize its government after World War II. Malaysia also has had transformational leadership to now become an Asian Tiger. President Mohammad believed that, given the resources of the country and its ethnic mix, it could become an economic force. Here we see the various adaptations of the word “Putra” to their planned research-directed economy to make that country develop effectively.

If you came to West Africa, the late President Houphouët-Boigny might not be credited as the best example of a democratic and effective leader for the Cote d’Ivoire. To me, however, he was an effective and innovative leader. Why do I select him for this list? It is because he created credible economic growth. Even now, with the civil war and internal crisis, the Cote d’Ivoire is still among Africa’s highest GDP countries. They are the world’s leader in cocoa production. Their plantation-based cocoa production has made it possible for them to overtake Ghana in cocoa production within a generation. They broke the million-ton level of annual cocoa production when Ghana still hovered around 500,000 tons, and have had been at the million-ton mark for years. They are either number two or three in world coffee production, number one in pineapple production, and self-sufficient in rice production. They have made really good use of agriculture, while diversifying the economy and building national infrastructure. He imbued the people with confidence and attracted financial institutions; you see that the African Development Bank was in the Cote d’Ivoire. These examples I have cited may not be ideal democracies, but I do cite them for aspects of leaders whose qualities, if improved upon, might serve struggling countries well.

My objective is to use the center to train and empower democratic leadership for economic development. Effective leaders can bring change. For example, when we took power it was our drive to enhance the democratic practices of the country as well as to provide economic development. When we came to power in 2000, Ghana’s GDP was at about three percent. Under the 8 years of our administration, the country’s GDP increased from 3.7% to 7.3% even in the face of the international financial crisis. During our administration, the government did not curb anybody’s right to speak. So I believe we can study what goes into such leadership so as to break the back of poverty, and at the same time ensure our rights as members of human society.

Owusu-Ansah: One or two more short questions before we conclude. I want to point out that President Houphouët-Boigny has been described in some circles as a leader who did not create an environment for successful political transition after his rule. He is described as a leader who made everybody around him feel that he or she was the right person to succeed him, but none was actually fully prepared for the transition. How would you comment upon this observation?

Kufuor: Yes, I stress our need for democratic leadership as the best option, and he was not necessarily that example, but we cannot deny his leadership skills. Also, very few leaders successfully pick their successors. But, in a way, he was able to get so many people together, and he did not discriminate among his citizens and those who were born of migrant parents. The issue of the crisis in the Cote d’Ivoire on the subject of who is a citizen is only emerging recently, but even the confusion that emerged shows how well Houphouët-Boigny held the people together under his administration as a leader.

Owusu-Ansah: Would your proposed Center on Governance be a foundation or an institute?

Kufuor: The foundation would be my personal thing, but the center will be a place that I hope will mature into something that my Foundation will support. It will be a center of excellence at a university, but it will not be part of normal university-administered structures. The idea is to have a private center, but I do hope that a university will provide me with the land on which to build the center.

Owusu-Ansah: Who do you see attending this center?

Kufuor: I hope that it will be a post-graduate center of excellence in leadership training and that the emphasis will be on nurturing leadership.

Owusu-Ansah: Would it be feasible for the Ministry of Chieftaincy, for example, to engage in workshops at such a center?

Kufuor: Certainly. Leadership should not just be political. I have talked about corporate leadership and other entities such as international NGOs that can attract people of exceptional abilities to engage in our seminars and colloquiums in order for the campus to be enriched. I have in mind as an example the Oxford Rhodes experiences, where international students and dignitaries exchange views and send students away enriched. In due course, as the center matures and we are able to engage intellectuals and people of great experience, there might be fellowships that we extend to intellectuals that will sustain the center.

Take Margaret Thatcher, who was trying to run for Parliament by the age of 26. The party scouts for potential leaders when they are undergraduates, working at the party offices and at the constituencies, so that, by her early 30s, Margaret Thatcher was a Member of Parliament. She was there for about 10 years, and came to understand the culture of the party. Through ups and downs, she rose to political leadership, and she had the experience necessary to make sound decisions.

We have cases in Ghana where people in leadership positions might not have any such party or governance experience at all. This does not work in our favor as a nation. When such persons are expected to run the economy, they slip. This usually takes place in the first term, but they learn to make their way by the second term. We hope that the center might contribute to preparing our future leaders by making them ready to tackle greater responsibilities; we want to ensure that they have seen and experienced how the world around us runs and are not complete novices coming into leadership positions. This is how leadership is prepared.

Owusu-Ansah: So will the Kufuor Foundation fund the center?

Kufuor: The Foundation is not rich, but we hope that with good work and a steady track record, we will be able to attract a network that will help Africa develop the right leadership.

Owusu-Ansah: As we finish, is there anything that I have missed that you would like to add?

Kufuor: We are thinking of a museum and a documentation center the will be supported by the foundation to house the records of the Kufuor presidency. It will be built in Kumasi, but the leadership center will be in Accra.

Owusu-Ansah: You know that I have different political ideas from you, but, frankly, I believe that our ex-presidents must be supported in activities of this nature. Now I see what you are thinking of doing, and I suspect that if you had known that this would be your vision as an ex-president, you might have rushed your term forward. What you propose is indeed a contribution to democracy.

Kufuor: Well, the Hesse Report proposed that the State provide $1 million toward the establishment of a foundation. This has not been done, so now the idea looks still-born. But I believe that in due time we will wake up to the necessity of and value associated with this concept.

Owusu-Ansah: I believe that each president is strong in his or her own way. To provide funding for the establishment of a foundation or a secretariat is the best way to enhance our democracy and to utilize benefits that ex-presidents bring to the table. In fact, doing things of this nature outside of politics may be easier than when one is in office.

Kufuor: Yes. We have seen some of this as we are now free agents to act as we see appropriate. But why wouldn’t I serve my country if the World Bank sees fit to use me, if the G-20 can use me, if international NGOs use me? Why shouldn’t Ghana? I am enjoying my new role, and look forward to the foundation and center becoming a permanent contribution to the country. It is my dream to contribute to building and enhancing our institutions. You see, as President Obama said when he visited us, “Africa needed strong institutions and not strong men.” By “strong men,” he was referencing those who reject constitutional rule and think that they can use force to get things done. I believe that what Africa needs is visionary, thinking leadership. Without that, the institutions will falter. We have not arrived there yet. That is why we need focused and dedicated individuals who barely come from politics. This is why we need a center that will nurture and inculcate necessary values and beliefs and bring up leaders who are able to network around the world in this emerging global village. Such efforts will make the values that are embedded in our institutions become stronger.

Owusu-Ansah: Thank you very much, Mr. President. We appreciate your time.

Kufuor: Don’t mention it. It was my pleasure.

"Title was published previously in Beliefs and Values: Understanding the Global Implications of Human Nature. Volume 3, Issue 1, 2012.  It is reprinted with permission of the International Beliefs and Values Institute.

 

Beliefs and Values, Volume 3, Number 1, 2012     International Beliefs and Values     www.ibavi.org

About the Author

Ivor Agyeman-Duah, a Ghanaian diplomat, is Minister Counsellor and Head of Information at the Ghana High Commission in London. He has been a media development consultant for many organisations including the World Bank and the Government of Ghana. He is also a documentary film producer and the author of six books on Ghanaian literature, culture and politics.

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