When a giant tree is cut down we feel the loss of the shade and protection the tree provided us – as with the loss of an elder.
— Traditional Ghanian Proverb
“Prof Mills” passing, and the fluid transition of power to President John Dramani Mahama, is proof that Ghana remains a shining example to countries across sub Saharan Africa. The peaceful change of government from NPP to NDC after the 2008 election further cemented the democratic principles that Ghanaians had worked so hard to attain after independence.
I am encouraged by the response of government and all Ghanaians in the wake of this tragedy. I believe that Ghana will continue to pursue equality for all and remain a strong, independent, sovereign State.”
— David Jeromin
“By the late 1940’s it was obvious that self-government would come one day to Africa , too – at least for the black African colonies directly controlled by Britain and France. But when …? The Powers were in no hurry to leave… Eager young Oxford and Cambridge graduates joined the British Colonial Services in Africa, expecting to find a good berth for a better life.
“The wind changed in Africa in February 1948, more than a decade before (Prime Minister of Great Britain) Harold Macmillan made the metaphor famous… It started in the Gold Coast (Ghana), a colony knocked together, like most of the colonies of the Scramble, from an incongruous ragbag of territories. There was the original coastal strip, there was King Prempeh’s aggressive kingdom of Ashanti endowed with limited gold reserves…”
The Scramble for Africa, Epilogue: Scrambling Out, by Thomas Pakenham
Ghana: My Country, My Home, My Hope
There are times when we wonder what our role or purpose in life is. We may have grand goals and ambitions, aim to amass significant wealth, win the Olympics, climb the highest mountain, and travel the world, among many other options we can think of. When it’s all said and done and we are asked what our contribution to mankind was, we ought to be at that confluence of life where we need not utter a word but rather listen to the murmurs of nature for answers.
The winds will hush in blissful harmony should we have lived a life in service of mankind and one worth emulating. The trees will sway in acknowledgement of a life well lived and mother earth will cradle and croon, with joy, in welcoming home an offspring who has tilled the land for the monsoons rains to help grow the corn.
This second article in the Unscramble for Africa series has been motivated by the recent passing of the former Ghanaian president, His Excellency John Evans Atta Mills. Former president Mills, a stalwart figure and a gentle soul, was a trailblazer in providing leadership to spur on the Unscramble for Africa.
As a Ghanaian, when I received that text message from home stating that Former President Atta Mills had passed, I reeled in shock. As this feeling ebbs, I stand in solidarity with all Ghanaians and well wishers in celebrating the life of this great leader.
A message of condolence from Karim, the Editor-in-Chief, who was born in Kenya, states:
“He was like Tom Mboya in my country – a beacon of hope in a politically ‘dark’ continent.”
These two gentle-minded leaders have a unique and rare trait not very common among African leaders. They both sought for a united front in governing and leadership; one which is without ethnic or tribal sectarianism but rather a common purpose stemming from humane considerations. As a true African leader, he was very cognizant of the fact that sovereign power belongs to the people and when this is recognized, peace prevails. This earned him the sobriquet “Asomdwi hene”, a Fante title which transliterates as “King of peace”.
In Series One, these important factors and definitions were provided.
In the 21st century, the continent is on the eve of an “unscramble” and Mezimbite Magazine is documenting this Unscramble for Africa.
The dictionary definitions of the word “unscramble”.
1. To separate (as from a tangle) into original components- to resolve and to clarify
2. To resolve to original form, to reinstate as new.
An important question that is posed in Series One is this:
What does the restoration and reinstatement look like? How is Africa being unscrambled?
A good example of this unscramble is the holistic approach former president John Evans Atta Mills set. By having a respect for the laws of the land and democracy he continued to position Ghana, the black star of Africa, as a bastion of hope for other countries on the continent- historically rife with strife- to emulate.
His humble and compassionate leadership style coupled with his pragmatic and open mined governing approach provided a light at the end of the tunnel for a continent steadily remerging from the doldrums of colonialism and its vestiges. A testament to his credibility is manifested in President Obama’s historic visit to Ghana on assuming the presidency of the United States of America. A key statement by President Obama during this visit is highlighted below.
“I do not see the countries and people of Africa as a world apart; I see Africa as a fundamental part of our interconnected world. That partnership must be grounded in mutual responsibility and mutual respect. We must start from the premise that Africa’s future is up to Africans.”
Former President Mills shared very similar values and this is evident in the continuing prosperity of Ghana under his leadership.
In the Unscramble of Africa series we aim to highlight trends and patterns which have played a role in the emergence of the continent. In this article, stalwarts such as Nkrumah, Kenyatta, Mboya, Mills and Obama are honored. The intricacy of their interconnection is as symbolic as the Kente cloth weave pattern; the Akyem shield. The Akyem shield is symbolic of bravery, heroic deeds, and glorious accomplishments. Its moral emphasizes that:
When a shield wears out, the framework still remains. The good deeds of people live after them.
Thomas Mboya a pan Africanist and close friend of Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana served as a minister under Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya. He was instrumental in the formation of the Airlift Africa project. This project enabled President Obama’s father, one of nearly 800 East African students, to travel to the USA to further his education. The US president, a love child born in tandem with a struggle to unscramble the promising continent, returned decades after to stand in solidarity with the elderly statesman, former president Mills in reaffirming the growing global consciousness of the need for the African continent to be unscrambled.
The strong institutions late President Mills built in Ghana and his deep respect for law and democracy, contributed to the laudable transition and ushering in of President John Mahama.
Golden Mean and the Gold Coast
As an African, I am aware that the European Scramble for Africa wounded my continent and my country. The Scramble stabbed our beloved continent and severely hemorrhaged the heart of Africa, making it bleed its cultural traditions and elder traditions. However, as much as the Scramble has wounded us, the Unscramble is now healing us.
Our African continent is being healed by the pragmatic actions of progressive people.
Progressive people like Dan Hartz who served in the Peace Corps in Ghana.
Progressive people like David Jeromin, who founded Golden Mean Capital Partners, LLC which has an office in Accra, Ghana. The good ethical, environmental and effective business practices of companies like Golden Mean are healing the Gold Coast from the wounds of the Scramble. Now the Unscramble is emerging: restoration, revitalization, rebirth – renaissance.
On behalf of the Mezimbite Magazine we celebrate the life of a true leader and wish the country more peace and prosperity as well as a smooth sailing election in December 2012.
Scramble In and Scramble Out
In my article of February 11, 2012 entitled Scrambled Africa on Toast, I ponder the commodities of “Three S’s” that caused the Portuguese to begin scrambling in to Africa: Sugar, Spices and Slaves.
By 1948, the first rumbling and tumbling of colonialism began in the Gold Coast (Ghana) as Thomas Pakenham describes below. It is ironic that it was yet another commodity (cocoa) that this time caused the scrambling out of the colonial powers.
By 2008, when Dan Hartz completed his tour of duty in the Peace Corps in Ghana, the dialogue in Ghana is not just about commodities but ethical social enterprises.
“In the late 1900s, no one had forecast a great future for the Gold Coast. But by the winter of 1947 cocoa was the new gold.
The whole world seemed to want to eat chocolate in that first grim winter of the Cold War. And the colonies skilled farmers supplied a third of the world’s demands. Then one morning in February, 1948 the British Governor awoke to find riots in Accra and his model colony tumbling about his ears… Cocoa had brought new hope – especially to the British in the throes of the sterling crisis – but not enough opportunities to satisfy Africans… The Governor’s response… was the first general election… and a gradual advance to self-government.”
The Scramble for Africa, Epilogue: Scrambling Out, by Thomas Pakenham
Understanding the value of living and consuming in a sustainable manner, and imparting this learning at a young age is only going to become more urgent as unethical businesses begin to take root across the African landscape. Schools such as the FrankEve Foundation in Ghana and ethical social enterprises such as the Mezimbite Forest Centre and its various brands and projects – a.d. schwarz, BoM Mozambique, R&B, and Reseed Africa – continue to lead by example. I believe that many more are ready to join the movement. Are you?
— Daniel Hartz
Daniel Hartz is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (Ghana ‘06-’08) and current Vice President at Golden Mean Capital Partners, LLC. Dan wrote an article for Mez Mag entitled Sustainability: Choice versus Necessity.