Social / Feature




Poverty - Does it affect the mind?
A GNA feature by Hannah Asomaning

Accra, Sept. 12, Ghanadot/GNA - It is the poor man that goes to seek advice from a rich man and not vice versa, Kwame said when discussing the issue of development and international relations with the writer.

This statement is true in all aspects of our Ghanaian society and even beyond. It is even seen in our religious settings.

In the churches when there is a fund raising programme people forget that it is God that gives. The rich members of the church are selected as chairmen to preside over the programme.

This may imply that the poor man does not have the capacity to gain wisdom, not to talk of giving his opinion when there is a problem.

One might therefore ask: “Does poverty affect the mind or does it affect one's thinking level?” Is the development of the mind associated with wealth?

This scenario described above is reflective of the relationship between developing countries and the developed world.

When Leaders of developing countries travel abroad to negotiate with their European counterparts or with other leaders from the developed countries are they able to speak on behalf of their people?

Do the ideas they put across reflect what is happening in the Third World or they talk about what suits them?

Is the observation of Ms Maria Martens, a member of the European Parliament in Brussels, that African leaders had no capacity to negotiate with their European counterparts true?

Ms Martens made the remark when African members of The Third Chamber, a Netherlands-based NGO that advocates strengthened political support for international cooperation and sustainable development, visited the European Parliament to have first hand knowledge about the work of the European Commission.

It was not the first time that members were hearing that after 50 years of EU support to Africa there continued to be more poor people on the Continent.

It is very ironic that after meetings with the G8, IMF and the World Bank, services that were needed most by the developing countries were more expensive than in the developed world.

For instance, one does not need up to 1,000 dollars or even half of that sum to travel from Europe to America but when one is travelling from Africa to any European country or America one certainly needs more.

Certainly leaders of developing countries know that God knows what is being done about it. Internet services in Ghana are more expensive compared to Internet services in the developed world.

Telephone facilities are equally more expensive compared to telephone services abroad. For example with one 7.50 Ghana cedis (75,000 cedis) of Areeba (MTN) rechargeable card, one can only talk for about 25 minutes, while with 2.50 pounds (4.5 Ghana cedis) one could call Ghana from London and talk for well over an hour.

It is very fascinating when "white people" visit Ghana and one observes how people worship them. Some think that "whites" have all the answers to poverty and it is very common to hear people call out to the whites "Obroni (white person) give me money”.

It looks like when the white man talks no one else dares talk, so is white better than black?

Dr Kwesi Jonah, a political scientist at the University of Ghana, says there is not much difference between liberal and social democrats in the African political setting.

He said even though there were some cardinal differences between the two systems, developing countries were not entirely independent in deciding the approaches to their economies.

He maintained that these economic programmes were handed down from Bretton Woods institutions and thus eroded the impact of the political ideology of governments on their countries.

Dr Jonah said governance in Africa was not even determined by who was ruling, but was determined by where the money came from.

Does this imply that when a country has a bad economy, its Leaders become puppets?

Could it be compared to a person going to a money lender to borrow money where the person is compelled to go by the terms of the lender be it a Shylock or altruistic lender?

As it is, the hands of developing countries appeared to have been tied by the level of poverty in their countries. So does poverty affect the mind?







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