THE PROBLEM WITH PROF. KWAME ADDO’S PRESENTATION
Lang T.K.A. Nubuor
On Wednesday, December 7, 2011, Prof. Kwame Addo makes an architectural presentation of an infrastructural development plan for Ghana at the Freedom Centre in Accra. It has the expressed aim of constitutionally committing any elected governing party to its implementation. Using an impressive digital format, he runs through with the presentation in the manner of a CNN, VOA or BBC news presentation – that is, with the kind of speed that leaves the listener with little or no time to digest before absorbing strategic concepts used in the presentation though those concepts influence them.
In the process, the presentation has a propaganda effect only – just as CNN, VOA and BBC news do. This manifests in the quality of the follow-up discussion. With the exception of the contributions and interventions from Mr. Kwesi Pratt, Jnr., who has had a prior interaction with Prof. Addo and viewed the presentation then, none of the other contributions displays a deep appreciation of the issues raised by the presentation. Consequently, listeners leave with a largely uncritical approval of that presentation. That is what propaganda achieves.
The import of such propagandist presentations is that given that listeners fail to achieve a deep understanding of it they are left with a very weak commitment to it. Such an audience, even with the backing of the most gbeyecious (fearful) constitutional instruments, is consequently less disposed to holding a governing party – that is less disposed to the plan’s implementation – committed to it. That is why we need to appreciate the dangerous use of such propaganda in mobilising mass consent and mass desire for change and development.
For, the development of mass consent and mass desire for change is the foundation for setting in motion a mass movement out of which a genuine mass party can emerge to direct that movement which also directs it. Such a mass movement is development-focussed. It is not a mere electoral base of a party. Being the foundation of the entire edifice of People’s Power, mass consent and desire requires a very deep understanding of the tasks confronting the African Nation and who benefits from the execution of those tasks.
To this extent, Prof. Kwame Addo fails the Freedom Centre audience. He starts the presentation with a song intended to arouse the narrow spirit of Ghanaian nationalism rather than African nationalism. Taking the borders of Ghana as a sacrosanct given, the song and the undoubtedly impressive graphics flatter the audience into thinking of Ghana as the Star of Africa. This prepares the mind of that audience, which includes other Africans, into the acceptance of the unviable Ghanaian state as the starting point of an integrated regional plan.
The ideological significance of such conscious flattering is the endorsement of the regionalist agenda that Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah rejects as a precursor to the political unification of the continent. Osagyefo forcefully explains in Africa Must Unite the necessity for political unification of the continent as the condition upon which the development of the colonially-pigeon-holed people of Africa can be undertaken with the least assistance of foreign powers whose interest in Africa’s continued impoverishment is an article of faith for their survival.
This ideological significance is neatly underscored by Prof. Kwame Addo’s proposal that the implementation of his integrated infrastructural development plan is to be carried out in a mix of Western and Chinese investments. Osagyefo’s insistence that with a united Africa the bulk of the required funding could be internally generated is quietly ignored in the proposal. The supplementary role that the Nkrumaist agenda projects for foreign investors is thus jettisoned in favour of making those investors the main vehicle for our continued impoverishment.
And it is not as if Prof. Addo is not aware of the negative impact of Western so-called aid or investment on Africa. When the issue is raised, he concedes and illustrates with figures how such investment has not helped Africa. His prescription for averting a recurrence is based on his contention that the lack of an integrated plan like the one he presents is the cause of this naked exploitation of Africa. His plan, its endorsement and presentation to the imperialist and neo-colonialist powers, he tells us, is the medicine to our ailment. Sad ignorance this is.
It is in combat against such optimism that Mr. Kwesi Pratt explains in the spirit of Nkrumaism that imperialist and neo-colonialist powers operate with the prime objective of hauling profits and not with any motivation to enhance benefits for their victim-in-need. Indeed, if even Prof. Kwame Addo does not say it he is actually disappointed in the anti-imperialist, though gentle, opposition to his attempt to run down the throat of the African audience a Trojan horse – beautiful in appearance but gbeyeciously dangerous in essence.
And he does not only use flattery to massage the Ghanaian conscience into accepting a clearly-inspired neo-colonialist plan. He also creates a sense of expeditiousness about his presence by creating a false impression of time availability for his presentation. The week before his presentation when his forthcoming presentation is announced, he manages to have the impression created that he will be available for a few minutes only. This necessitates a brief debate as to whether to use the remaining time of the day for some other discussion.
Overwhelmingly, the Freedom Centre participants opt for Prof. Kwame Addo’s presentation – showing a microcosmic consent and desire for development-oriented discussion of “national” issues agitating the African conscience away from the ruling classes’ concerns with where the flag bearer of the opposition NPP passes water or not. In the event of his appearance for the presentation, Prof. Addo does not appear with hard copies of a summary of the eventual presentation. He clearly intends to dump his plan on the audience.
Surprisingly, after his rapid presentation Prof. Kwame Addo does not plead to leave the Centre after the imaginary time he has given his hosts expires. The expected limited time for discussion goes beyond the normal time for Freedom Centre Wednesday discussions. He is among the last to leave the Centre. The anxiety he had created about time is seen to be uncalled-for. In fact, he has been pressured into staying on by the kind of questions and comments made after the presentation and which expose the silent currents under his plan.
Several concepts he uses in the presentation. One person is concerned enough about the flood of concepts to ask what one of them means. It is doubtful if many of those concepts stick in the presentation avalanche. We remember just a few but not in their interconnectedness. Do not blame our memory wearing away thin and infirm. It is such that even the memory of the legendary Yaw Adu-Larbi of ‘What do you know?’ fame is destined to fail to perform in the enterprise. Doctorate holders are similarly bound to fail in any such memory exercises.
Certainly, Prof. Addo succeeds in using a combination of rapidity in presentation and anxiety about time to inflict a certain level of acceptance among the audience for his undoubtedly impressive plan. But the ideological baggage of that plan is definitely exposed and rejected, though in a gentle reception. The critical reflections that are consequent upon the presentation in the ensuing days or weeks will surely unload the ideological baggage that the less cautious swallows together with the acceptable architectural plan.
It is in this respect and for the ultimate acceptance of the architectural plan that this author asks Prof. Kwame Addo for a copy of the presentation intended for a critical evaluation outside the pressures that he exercises on the audience. The availability of such a copy in hardcopy format, as he assures will be made available, will be of great help in this critical evaluation to aid understanding, mastery and possible incorporation of the plan into the African conscience.
Such incorporation will require trimming the unnecessary “national” parochialism off the plan for its expansion over the continent entire. In this regard, we make haste to acknowledge that in spite of its “national” parochialism Prof. Kwame Addo situates the plan in a regional context. But we have also pointed out that the regionalism envisaged therein is constricted by the sacrosanct status accorded the neo-colonial states and their borders. It retains the competitive border claims of these states. Regionalism, therefore, cannot help.
We require and ask for an African continental infrastructural development plan within which the plan for so-called national infrastructure can be situate. We declare that while this continental plan develops on the drawing board a mass consent and desire for smashing down the artificial and restrictive boundaries be developed to enhance the evolution of the mass movement that, under the leadership of its mass party that it also controls, will forever put these neo-colonial and capitalist constraining heritage into the dustbin of African history.
We call on Prof. Kwame Addo to collaborate with other architects in the service of the African Revolution and the emerging African Nation. They have nothing to lose but the half-a-farthing that drops from the neo-colonial and imperialist table in exchange for an African continent they shall be proud of as the child of their creativity and the assurance of an honest living without the accusing fingers of our people and history pointing at them. Let this collaboration stretch its hands over the African continent to all patriotic African architects.
They owe us this duty. But we shall not wait for them. With or without them we wage this struggle to redeem our African heritage in our land and resources. Let them answer to our forebears – dead or alive and represented by Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Patrice Lumumba, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, Sékou Touré, Madiba Nelson Mandela, Gamal Nasser, Brother Muamar Gaddafi, Amilcar Cabral, Sam Njuma, Felix Moumie, Thomas Sankara, Pierre Mulele, Steve Biko, Robert Mugabe and other immortals of our African struggle – in their cry for vindication.
Yes, let all who hear this cry of our forebears stand up at this moment and pay their respects.
Amandla! Ngawethu! Forward Ever to Africa’s Victory!
December 8, 2011.