The Internet social medium of interaction, Facebook, was started by US university students, only six years ago ? I hear ? but each year it is already harvesting billions in dollars from around the world and pouring it into the US economy.?

Bill Gates dropped out of university to start Microsoft Corporation, which gave the world Windows that simplified in a revolutionary way the use of computers.? Before Windows arrived one had to learn and commit to memory a long list of coded instructions and procedures, each set for a specific operation one wishes to perform on the computer. Windows is mostly about clicking and following the promptings that come with doing so.

[Two years ago,] the President of Ashesi University, Maxwell Awuah, made an interesting disclosure, while speaking at a Citi FM public lecture.

He said, in 1985 Microsoft was worth the same amount as the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Ghana.? By the year 2000, however, Microsoft was making over a hundred times more than Ghana. His explanation: Microsoft values talent, innovation and invention; indeed, that was the whole point of his lecture.

Of course, in Japan, the US, the EU, China and India, it is always industry leaders and venture capitalists that come on board to help turn pet projects, such as the Ghanaian teenager?s robot, into successful, profitable businesses.? BUT in those countries, national administration builds the stable congenial economy, the atmosphere that makes it all possible for indigenous industries and indigenous venture capitalists to pick up pet projects by talented individuals and (over years) help turn these into profitable ventures.

And so, Dear Reader, do you now see why Ti-Kelenkelen is wondering where that talented teenage robot-builder is today and what he is doing?

Visionary Leadership

Here again, the qualities of Kwame Nkrumah as a leader and visionary comes to the fore.? I always say Nkrumah made some unpardonable mistakes, yet he contributed so much to even the personal development of so many people.? No, I am not referring to the practice where a head of state sends his colleagues, the children of his friends, his/her friends? friends or even his tribes to Cuba to get an education.? Ti-Kelenkelen is referring to recognising talent in individuals and then sending them to institutions of higher learning (within or) outside Ghana to gain craftsmanship and perfect their abilities and then return to help develop Ghana and Africa.

When Nkrumah was overthrown in 1966, most of the talents he had sent out (e.g., for the agricultural aspect of the Volta River Project,) stayed on in the Eastern bloc countries, say former Union of Soviet Socialists Republic (USSR).? It goes without saying that many of those talents have made awesome contributions to science/technology and industry in the USSR ? today?s Russia, Uzbekistan, etc.? (Since the USSR used to be a closed society, we hardly heard of their contributions. Even in the case of the US, the so-called epitome of openness, blacks have to shout out their contributions to make these known to the world.)

Learning From History

Even when God gives us the talent and product we cannot manage it. Just about two years into the Kufuor era, a gentleman, Onua Amoa, was shot into national-global prominence by his ability to distill bio-diesel from the seed of a plant, Nkran Dedua (Twi.)? The high factor about his technology is that it was already cost-effective making the product cheap, he said.? Manufacturing it in commercial quantities would exploit economies of scale, making his bio-diesel the (more) cheaper per unit quantity, he explained.

President Kufuor invited Onua Amoa to stage a demonstration, which he did, and Kufuor promised to help him. Many years later, when Onua Amoa was ill he disclosed that when he asked for a million acres to cultivate Nkran Dedua, national administration said it could not help him. Onua Amoa died without starting his plant.

Today, sitting at my computer and writing this article, I am wondering what happened to his invention and products, whether he was able to register them in his name and owned the patents before he died.? I am also wondering what happened to his ideas. I wonder not because I am indolent at going out to seek information, but because, today, almost ten years after he out-doored his invention, there should be somewhere in Ghana an Onua Amoa Farm and an Onua Amoa Bio-diesel Manufacturing Plant. If he had started his factory early enough, producing bio-diesel in commercial quantities, Ghana would not have been hit as hard as we were by the sky-rocketing crude oil prices, which started in August 2004.

Today, what should have been pioneered by Ghana, using Nkran Dedua seed to make bio-diesel, is a burgeoning industry in other countries, including Brazil and Kenya.

Is there a worse way for leadership to disappoint a people as Rawlings and Kufuor did?

A Sad Story

I cannot end this article without telling you, Dear Reader, about a sad case that came to my attention when I was editor of The Independent newspaper.

By then Parliament had passed the law on illegal chain-sawing of timber, and the Forest Products Inspectorate Division of the Forestry Department had set up district task forces to police forests, parks and reserves to deter and arrest illegal loggers.

A story came to my attention.

A task forces arrested illegal loggers somewhere in the Brong-Ahafo Region.? The young men had packed the logs onto a truck ready to cart these away.? According to the report, the loggers offered the two task force officials about GH?2,000.00 (?20 million,) but they refused the bribe. A struggle ensued and one of the officials sustained serious injury that eventually resulted in the amputation of his lower arm (I think.)

And can you believe it!? All the District Assembly and Forestry Department could do for him was to pay his hospital bills. I was livid!? I wrote a sharp editorial comment lambasting the Assembly and Department for insulting the young man who put his life on the line to defend the interest of Ghana. Apparently, my editorial hit them and they decided to do something for the young man.

But alas! Instead of rewarding the young man for his patriotism they handed him the ultimate in insults ? they gave him ?200.00 (GH?20.00).

When I heard the news, the Kinetic motion in my system dropped to zero! In fact, I remarked to my newsroom colleagues that I would not be surprised if his wife left him after that incident.

The young man was offered GH?1,000.00 in bribe, but turned it down; fought for his country, and sustained a cut that led to the amputation of his lower arm; as we say pejoratively ? he behaved as if ?Ghana belongs to his father,? only to be given GH?20.00 by his superiors. If he had a wife then, what do you think the wife will say or even do?? If she is average woman will she not leave him immediately, because of public humiliation?? Even where she does not leave him, won?t she call him berma kotobonku anytime they have a fight, especially over lack of money in the home?

?A philosopher has said: ?A nation that does not honour its heroes is not worth dying for.?? The problem therein falls at the doorstep of leadership.? But it gets worse if the leaders of a nation dishonor the heroes, and even go out of their way to insult the heroes?? In the case of Dr. Frimpong Boateng, he was handed a thankless dispatch; ultimately, an insult and dishonor for everything he has done for the Republic of Ghana.?


A philosopher has said: ?A nation that does not honour its heroes is not worth dying for.?? The problem therein falls at the doorstep of leadership. But it gets worse if the leaders of a nation dishonor the heroes, and even go out of their way to insult the heroes.? The young man who had his arm amputated suffered injury for Ghana, but his superiors threw him insult, and after my comment threw in pepper after the insults. All of that to a man who defended the interest of Ghana, as the Ghana Armed Forces say, ?at the peril of [his life??]? In the case of Dr. Frimpong Boateng, he was handed a thankless dispatch; ultimately, an insult and dishonor for everything he has done for the Republic of Ghana.

Ghana would have lost nothing if President Mills had invited Dr. Frimpong Boateng to the Office of the President, discussed the issue with him, and then in the full glare of the television cameras honoured him for selfless dedication to Ghana.? If he had done that anka ennye fe? (Twi)

Every sad instance of the poor way leadership handled inventiveness and patriotism discussed herein raises strong disincentive to patriotism in the psyche of the Ghanaian/African.? Little wonder the average Ghanaian/African is always asking himself or herself: Why should I risk my life or go out of my way to do anything for my country, my continent?

Leadership has lost its premium value when, for lack of vision, it fails to help citizens who come up with inventions/discoveries that hold in their seed the blossom of an industry, which ? with the right investment, nurturing and hard work ? could, few years down the line, become a huge indigenous industry to employ thousands and harvest from around the world billions of dollars and pour these into the country?s or continent?s economy.

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