December 2010


Yes, Ghanaian citizenship – that is my resolution for 2011!!  After two and a half years, I believe that it is time for the country to decide – will it offer citizenship to me or not?

In the past, I have not taken the practise of New Year’s resolutions seriously. On the rare times that I have set my resolutions, I have done so in private, without disclosing them to anyone. That made it much easier to handle when my resolve faltered because then I was the only one who knew of my failure!

This year, I have decided to go public. I have set my resolve to make this the year that my application for Ghanaian naturalization (citizenship) moves forward to a successful conclusion. I started the process in May of 2007 and completed the various requirements that were requested. From time to time, I have inquired about the status of my application, and always with the same disappointing result. Most recently the people in Immigration say that they have done their work and that the matter now lies with the Minister of Interior. The office of the Minister of Interior says that they have not received the report from Immigration. In other words, a stand off.

Some friends have suggested that a brown envelope containing sufficient financial incentive might be required to get the process moving. Others strongly disagree, pointing out that I have met the requirements and that the Minister of Interior and the Ghana Immigration Service should do the right thing. Still other Ghanaian friends are surprised to learn that I am not already a Ghanaian citizen since my history with the country began almost 40 years ago.

39 years and 4 months – almost two thirds of my lifetime. That is how long it has been since I first stepped foot on Ghanaian soil to take a two year contract teaching in a remote village in the Western Region. During the period of that contract, the country experienced a military coup d’etat and I was here for it.

"Spontaneous" Celebration in Half Assini of Acheampong Coup

It was also at that time that Ghana’s first President, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah died and his body brought back and placed in a crypt in his hometown of Nkroful – I was present and took photos on that occasion also. The majority of Ghanaians today had not even been born yet!!!

Military funeral for Kwame Nkrumah at Nkroful

I was in Ghana for those historic occasions and I am still around. In the nine years since I made Ghana my permanent home, I have been here for more historic occasions, including two peaceful democratic elections; the celebration of 50 years of Ghana’s Independence; the first Africa Cup of Nations; the discovery of offshore oil and the recent First Oil event.

Each country has its history and each of us have our own personal history within that context. It is my hope that 2011 will be a historic year for me – the year that I officially become a citizen of Ghana!!




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Centred at the Centre

The annual holiday season is here once again and with it the closing days of another year. I am reminded that it is time to take stock of my life and to be grateful for all of the good that I have experienced in the past year. This is a time of year when it is easy for me to be distracted, whether by the stress or by celebration. It is time for me to remember to stay centred. And that is what I wish for all of my friends and family – that we are able to stay centred in the present as we move into the future of a new year.

(The photograph was taken as sun rose this past Sunday at Cape Three Points, the closest land location to the centre of the world at four degrees latitude and two degrees longitude)

 

Yes, more hotels for Busua!! Guess someone knows something about the future of tourism that I haven’t learned yet. If more people are investing money in the sector they must have heard that we are soon going to be deluged by tourists, something that we have not seen so far.  So that can only mean good things for all of us, right?

Well, aside from the question of economic viability, there are a few concerns that these new hotels raise. If you look at the photos above and below, you will see three hotels under construction. In the foreground is the latest entre into the search for tourism dollars, a partnership of two Italians and a Ghanaian that, according to the contractor, will offer between 13 and 15 rooms.

The roof in the background is for another two storey hotel which faces onto the ocean. Work on it was stopped several years ago by Town and Planning for a lack of building permit. The owner, a Ghanaian living abroad, has returned to Ghana recently and is currently in a tussle with the chief and with Town and Planning as she tries get access from her property to the roadside. Notice that her access, which was already blocked by the electrical pole now will be further limited to a narrow walkway by the new building that is underway.

The third hotel is to the right of the others. Work on it was also stopped several years ago for lack of a building permit. Access to that hotel was also being restricted by other buildings.

Access – something that common sense should instruct developers that is their responsibility to ensure long before a project is undertaken. Access – something that common sense should instruct Town and Planning officers that should be a requirement before any building permit is every issued.

And what about water and sewage? Busua is not serviced by piped water yet and thus relies on shallow wells. Busua village already experiences water shortages during the rainy season in the past and with an increasing population in the village and with added pressure from new hotels, the situation will most certainly become more critical. Water quality will also become a problem, not only from salinization which follows as the water table is depleted but more alarmingly from sewage contamination when septic tanks and their soak-aways are placed in closer and closer proximity to wells.

Does anyone see what I see? Who is taking responsibility for this situation that continues? Would it be so difficult for Town and Planning officers to tell developers that they are not allowed to build their dreams? Are they so strapped for development projects that they are willing to approve anything that comes across their desk? I don’t thing so. Do we feel sorry for developers who blind themselves to the most obvious requirements for such a project? I don’t think so.

There are many of us in the hospitality sector in this Region who have gone through the proper channels when constructing our businesses. We were guided by common sense and by building codes and we worked with authorities to ensure that our structures met requirements, and we should expect that newcomers be subjected to the same guidelines. We count on Town and Planning officers to carry out their duties with proper diligence to ensure that tourism in our communities continues to be a positive force for healthy economic development. We are watching.