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We Should Be Extremely Careful When Discussing Religion

When defending Islam (or any other religion for that matter), please make sure you do so with some serious scholarship. Don’t just write or say something just because others too are talking about it.

In this age of social media, it’s easy for people to just write anything without conducting any serious research. Worse than that is when you see students and graduates joining the bandwagon.

Social media is not only a social platform. It is also a platform for education. Matters of religion are very crucial. What we say or write can guide or misguide hundreds of unsuspecting members of the public. It is, therefore, very crucial that we research deeply into topics of especially religion, before we put them on platforms.

Please, we have to be very careful with our comments and views. When it comes to politics or sports or other topics, perhaps some amount of mischief or even ignorance can be allowed. However, religion is in a different class altogether. We should be extremely careful.

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“Seeking knowledge is obligatory upon every Muslim”

We must learn, and teach the Deen to one another. In this 21st Century, no Muslim has an excuse of not knowing (at least the fundamentals) of the Deen. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “Seeking knowledge is obligatory upon every muslim” [Sunan Ibn Majah]. So it is never a matter of choice.

We should start with ourselves first. And to our families, friends, and then to the world. We should encourage our spouses to live the Deen. And we should prioritize Islamic Education far above any other form of education.

And when we know something about the Deen, please let us share it for the benefit of those who might not know it. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said “Convey from me even if it is one verse” (Bukhari). That is more beneficial to the Ummah than the number of ‘beautiful’ pictures we post every day.

So guys, please let us use the power of social media to educate one another. The Ummah must rise again!

Beyond The Zongo Development Fund: What To Do About The Zongos

For the first time in the history of Ghana, the government has appointed a Minister of State responsible for the development of the various Zongo communities in Ghana. The New Patriotic Party (NPP) under the leadership of H.E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the President of Ghana, from all indications, is really serious about the development of Zongo communities. In their 2016 Election Manifesto, the NPP stated that when given the mandate (which they have now) to govern, they will establish what they call a Zongo Development Fund (ZDF). This fund, according to them, “is designed to develop Zongos.”

To quote directly from their manifesto, “the NPP Zongo policy is aimed at developing these communities in order to unleash their potentials to become centres of opportunity. In this direction, we (the NPP) will establish the Zongo Development Fund (ZDF) to invest in:

  1. education and training within the Zongos
  2. improved infrastructure in the Zongos targeting health and sanitation
  3. supporting local businesses and centres of culture and arts, and
  4. community policing and security.”

To be frank, I am impressed by the good intention to develop and to transform the Zongos by a political party that has not, over the years, received any substantial political support from the people of the Zongos. The people of the Zongos have been voting massively for the National Democratic Congress (NDC) since the advent of the Fourth Republic. And there are many reasons why this is the case. I am not ready to discuss the reasons here due to time and space. My focus in this piece is to go beyond the ZDF and to make some suggestions and recommendations for consideration by the government.

So, how do we develop the Zongos beyond the ZDF? Well, that is the $64,000 question.

First of all, it is important for the government to note that in improving and developing communities such as the Zongos, summary evictions and resettlements create more problems than they solve. When people are pushed out of their homes, sooner or later, they will return to the same place because they will still need the kind of incentive that drew them to the community in the first place. So evictions and resettlements should not be considered at all. And in fact because of the unpleasant history of the NPP in the Zongos, evictions and resettlements of the Zongos should not have any place on the Change Agenda.

Secondly, I would like to suggest that the ZDF should be turned into a Zongo Development Authority (ZDA) with a full legal backing. The ZDA should be moulded in the form and shape of the proposed Middle Belt Development Authority (MBA), Coastal Development Authority (CDA), and the Northern Development Authority (NDA). An Authority in the form of ZDA should serve as the pivot around which all developmental activities in the Zongos should rotate. This body should be a permanent body with an annual budgetary allocation for the effective and smooth implementation of its programs and projects.

Thirdly, and for me the most important point in developing the Zongos, is the idea of property rights in our Zongo communities. As I stated earlier, improving the Zongos rather than relocating or resettling the residents is a much better approach. However, resources to build new housing units within the current spaces may not be readily available. So a more realistic approach is for the government to partner with private investors to offer support in the form of home improvements and investments in infrastructures. But the main challenge with most Zongo dwellers is the fact that most do not have the formal rights to remain on the land they occupy. This means that they will have no incentive to develop the land for future use. So what should we do about this?

Under the Zongo Development Authority, the government should as a matter of urgency, begin a nationwide program to assist Zongo dwellers to have formal title deeds to their properties. Possessing the formal title to their properties will go a long way to benefit the people of the Zongos. This will mean that title owners will have the means to raise finance to improve their dwellings as well as to raise finance to start a business. When people have legal proof that they own the land beneath their homes, it can help them attract investors for the development of their dwellings.

So, in conclusion, beyond the Zongo Development Fund, we need a Zongo Development Authority that will develop a long term plan for the development of the Zongos. Politicians are short term thinkers. They always think about the next election. We need an institution that will think beyond the next election. We need a Zongo Development Authority!

Don’t Live A Boring Life! 

If you continue to live a boring life, never blame anybody but yourself! Go out today….read as much as you can; work as hard as you can; ask as much questions as you can; travel as wide as you can; make as many friends as you can…there are a whole lot out there you can do to live a happy and a successful life. 

Don’t waste even a second living a boring life. Our life here is too short a life to be wasted, even for a second! This is the only one we have, and it’s not a rehearsal…it is the life we have. 

Never be afraid to fail or make a mistake. In life we grow by making and learning from our failures. You really fail when you don’t try at all….go out today and be the best you can! 

Be Smart and Take Advantage of New Opportunities presented by the New Government

As a young person, especially when you’re unemployed, please don’t just sit there to criticize and oppose almost everything that the new government will do.

Study their manifesto. And know where you will fit in. And do everything possible to get a job under this new government. Remember that the new government will still be the Government of Ghana, and not the Government of the NPP.

Since we lost power, I took the pain to study the 2016 NPP Manifesto. On paper, its an ambitious document. There are some ideas for young people. Start putting your ideas together and see how best you can take advantage of what the new Nana-led administration is proposing.

To sit and criticize for four years will be the dumbest thing you will ever do. Criticize when you have to. But it shouldn’t be your new profession. Be smart. Ghana belongs to all of us.

Leaving that Which Does Not Concern Us 

You’ll find most of us tempted to discuss issues and matters which does not concern us. And sad enough, we can waste valuable time on such matters.
Perhaps part of some of the lessons we can pick from Ramadan as it comes to an end, is to resist the temptation to discuss issues that do not concern us. Rasullullah (pbuh) said in one narration “Part of the perfection of ones Islam is his leaving that which does not concern him.”
We should seriously reflect on how we spend our time. Time management is crucial. We should engage ourselves in things that will help us move forward in life. 
Al-Hasan al-Basri once said, “You are nothing but a compilation of breaths.” Every time we exhale, a piece of our life, a part of us, is lost. 
How many of our interactions are worthwhile and how many are useless? Allah says, “Most of their discussions do not contain any good, except of the one who enjoins charity or goodness or peace-making among people.” (Quran 4:114)
Please let us make the time to reflect on our life and how we lead it. 
#ThoughtsOfAZongoBoy

Brexit…the end of the UK!

Brexit means;

1. The beginning of the collapse of the UK, both politically and economically

2. Scotland & Northern Ireland will, in the near future, vote to leave the UK

3. In the near future, the UK will no longer be a member of the G7/8

4. Voters are not always rational, even in advance and matured democracies

5. David Cameron will forever regret putting this to a referendum. It was needless!

Be The Last Guy Standing

If you pursue your dreams long enough, opportunities will come your way. So be persistent. Do not give up. Do what it takes to stay in the game. No one becomes successful overnight.

As Bob Parsons, founder of GoDaddy, advises: Hang in there.

35 Books to Read Before You Turn 35

Reading of books offer wisdom and life-lessons that we ourselves might need years and decades to figure out. Books will open your mind, and offer you the exposure and the insight very few people will ever come across. Sadly, in our part of the world, we stop reading the very day we finish our exams. That should not be the case. In fact active reading should commence after school. That is where life is played out to the fullest.

As a young voracious reader, I like to inspire and encourage young people to read wide. And below, I offer the 35 books that have personally shaped my world view. Make sure you read these books, and more, before you turn 35. And you will be glad you did!

Good Luck!

  1. Rich Dad Poor Dad – Rober Kiyosaki:
    It advocates the importance of financial independence and building wealth through investing, real estate investing, starting and owning businesses, as well as increasing one’s financial intelligence to improve one’s business and financial aptitude. Rich Dad Poor Dad is written in the style of a set of parables, ostensibly based on Kiyosaki’s life.
  2. The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari: A Fable About Fulfilling  Your Dreams & Reaching Your Destiny – Robin Sharma
    Wisdom to Create a Life of Passion, Purpose, and Peace
    This inspiring tale provides a step-by-step approach to living with greater courage, balance, abundance, and joy. A wonderfully crafted fable, The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari tells the extraordinary story of Julian Mantle, a lawyer forced to confront the spiritual crisis of his out-of-balance life. On a life-changing odyssey to an ancient culture, he discovers powerful, wise, and practical lessons that teach us to:
    Develop Joyful Thoughts, Follow Our Life’s Mission and Calling, Cultivate Self-Discipline and Act Courageously, Value Time as Our Most Important Commodity, Nourish Our Relationships, and Live Fully, One Day at a Time.
  3. The Magic of Thinking Big – David SchwartzOne of the best self-help books of all time, selling over 4 million copies, instructs people to set their goals high and think positively to achieve them. The author gives a step-by-step guide on how to achieve what one wants by changing their thought patterns and thought habits.
  4. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Steven Covey
    Covey presents an approach to being effective in attaining goals by aligning oneself to what he calls “true north” principles of a character ethic that he presents as universal and timeless.
  5. The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership – John Maxwell
    Maxwell has combined insights learned from his thirty-plus years of leadership successes and mistakes with observations from the worlds of business, politics, sports, religion, and military conflict in this classic. The result is a revealing study of leadership delivered as only a communicator like Maxwell can
  6. How To Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie
    Since its release in 1936, How to Win Friends and Influence People has sold more than 15 million copies. Dale Carnegie’s first book is a timeless bestseller, packed with rock-solid advice that has carried thousands of now famous people up the ladder of success in their business and personal lives. As relevant as ever before, Dale Carnegie’s principles endure, and will help you achieve your maximum potential in the complex and competitive modern age. Learn the six ways to make people like you, the twelve ways to win people to your way of thinking, and the nine ways to change people without arousing resentment.
  7. Think and Grow Rich – Napoleon Hill
    This book has been called the “Granddaddy of All Motivational Literature.” It was the first book to boldly ask, “What makes a winner?” The man who asked and listened for the answer, Napoleon Hill, is now counted in the top ranks of the world’s winners himself.The most famous of all teachers of success spent “a fortune and the better part of a lifetime of effort” to produce the “Law of Success” philosophy that forms the basis of his books and that is so powerfully summarized in this one book.
  8. Goals! How to Get Everything You Want Faster Thank You Ever Thought Possible – Brian Tracy
    Author Brian Tracy explains the seven key elements of goal setting and the 12 steps necessary to set and accomplish goals of any size. Using simple language and real-life examples, Tracy shows how to do the crucial work of determining one’s strengths, values, and true goals. He explains how to build the self-esteem and confidence necessary for achievement; how to overpower every problem or obstacle; how to overcome difficulties; how to respond to challenges; and how to continue moving forward no matter what happens. The book’s “Mental Fitness” program of character development shows readers how to become the kind of person on the inside who can achieve any goal on the outside.
  9. The Power of Focus – Canfield & Hansen 
    The No 1 reason that stops people from getting what they want is lack of focus. People who focus on what they want, prosper. Those who don’t, struggle. In The Power of Focus you’ll discover the specific focusing strategies used by the world’s most successful men and women. Find out how to:
    -Focus on your strengths and eliminate everything that is holding you back.
    -Change bad habits into habits that will make you debt-free and wealthy.
    -Create an excellent balance between work and family life – without guilt!
  10. The Autobiography of Malcolm X – Malcolm X, Alex Haley
    The Autobiography of Malcolm X defines American culture and the African American struggle for social and economic equality that has now become a battle for survival. Malcolm’s fascinating perspective on the lies and limitations of the American Dream, and the inherent racism in a society that denies its nonwhite citizens the opportunity to dream, gives extraordinary insight into the most urgent issues of our own time.
    The Autobiography of Malcolm X stands as the definitive statement of a movement and a man whose work was never completed but whose message is timeless. It is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand America.
  11. The Art of War – Sun Tzu 
    Conflict is an inevitable part of life, according to this ancient Chinese classic of strategy, but everything necessary to deal with conflict wisely, honorably, victoriously, is already present within us. Compiled more than two thousand years ago by a mysterious warrior-philosopher, The Art of War is still perhaps the most prestigious and influential book of strategy in the world, as eagerly studied in Asia by modern politicians and executives as it has been by military leaders since ancient times. As a study of the anatomy of organizations in conflict, The Art of War applies to competition and conflict in general, on every level from the interpersonal to the international. Its aim is invincibility, victory without battle, and unassailable strength through understanding the physics, politics, and psychology of conflict.
  12. The Prince – Niccolo Machiavelli 
    The Prince is a classic book that explores the attainment, maintenance, and utilization of political power in the western world. Machiavelli wrote The Prince to demonstrate his skill in the art of the state, presenting advice on how a prince might acquire and hold power. Machiavelli defended the notion of rule by force rather than by law. Accordingly, The Prince seems to rationalize a number of actions done solely to perpetuate power. It is an examination of power-its attainment, development, and successful use
  13. Trump: The Art of the Deal – Donald Trump
    Forget his Politics! Here is Trump in action—how he runs his business and how he runs his life—as he meets the people he needs to meet, chats with family and friends, clashes with enemies, and changes the face of the New York City skyline. But even a maverick plays by rules, and Trump has formulated eleven guidelines for success. He isolates the common elements in his greatest deals; he shatters myths; he names names, spells out the zeros, and fully reveals the deal-maker’s art. And throughout, Trump talks—really talks—about how he does it. Trump: The Art of the Deal is an unguarded look at the mind of a brilliant entrepreneur and an unprecedented education in the practice of deal-making. It’s the most streetwise business book there is—and the ultimate read for anyone interested in achieving money and success, and knowing the man behind the spotlight.
  14. The 48 Laws of Power – Robert Greene
    This amoral, cunning, ruthless, and instructive book synthesizes the philosophies of Machiavelli, Sun Tzu, and Carl Von Clausewitz with the historical legacies of statesmen, warriors, seducers, and con men throughout the ages.
  15. The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream – Barack Obama
    The Audacity of Hope is Barack Obama’s call for a new kind of politics—a politics that builds upon those shared understandings that pull us together as Americans. Lucid in his vision of America’s place in the world, refreshingly candid about his family life and his time in the Senate, Obama here sets out his political convictions and inspires us to trust in the dogged optimism that has long defined us and that is our best hope going forward.
  16. An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917 – 1963 – Robert Dallek 
    The #1 bestseller that forever changed how we thought about JFK, published with a new epilogue in time for the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination.
    When it was originally published in 2003, AN UNFINISHED LIFE brought to light new revelations about JFK’s health, his love affairs, his brothers and father, and the path JFK would have taken in the Vietnam entanglement if he had survived. A blockbuster bestseller, the book was embraced by critics and readers as a landmark assessment of our 35th president. Now, in time for what promises to be remarkable media attention on Kennedy’s death and legacy, AN UNFINISHED LIFE returns with a new, strikingly incisive examination by Robert Dallek in which he further assesses JFK’s impact and hold on American culture.
  17. Long Walk to Freedom – Nelson Mandela 
    Nelson Mandela is one of the great moral and political leaders of our time: an international hero whose lifelong dedication to the fight against racial oppression in South Africa won him the Nobel Peace Prize and the presidency of his country. Since his triumphant release in 1990 from more than a quarter-century of imprisonment, Mandela has been at the center of the most compelling and inspiring political drama in the world. As president of the African National Congress and head of South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement, he was instrumental in moving the nation toward multiracial government and majority rule. He is revered everywhere as a vital force in the fight for human rights and racial equality. LONG WALK TO FREEDOM is his moving and exhilarating autobiography, destined to take its place among the finest memoirs of history’s greatest figures. Here for the first time, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela tells the extraordinary story of his life–an epic of struggle, setback, renewed hope, and ultimate triumph.
  18. The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon – Brad Stone 
    The definitive story of Amazon.com, one of the most successful companies in the world, and of its driven, brilliant founder, Jeff Bezos. Amazon.com started off delivering books through the mail. But its visionary founder, Jeff Bezos, wasn’t content with being a bookseller. He wanted Amazon to become the everything store, offering limitless selection and seductive convenience at disruptively low prices. To do so, he developed a corporate culture of relentless ambition and secrecy that’s never been cracked. Until now. Brad Stone enjoyed unprecedented access to current and former Amazon employees and Bezos family members, giving readers the first in-depth, fly-on-the-wall account of life at Amazon. Compared to tech’s other elite innovators–Jobs, Gates, Zuckerberg–Bezos is a private man. But he stands out for his restless pursuit of new markets, leading Amazon into risky new ventures like the Kindle and cloud computing, and transforming retail in the same way Henry Ford revolutionized manufacturing. THE EVERYTHING STORE will be the revealing, definitive biography of the company that placed one of the first and largest bets on the Internet and forever changed the way we shop and read.
  19. Losing My Virginity: How I’ve Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way – Richard Branson
    Losing My Virginity is the unusual, frequently outrageous autobiography of one of the great business geniuses of our time. When Richard Branson started his first business, he and his friends decided that “since we’re complete virgins at business, let’s call it just that: Virgin.” Since then, Branson has written his own “rules” for success, creating a group of companies with a global presence, but no central headquarters, no management hierarchy, and minimal bureaucracy.
  20. The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life – Alice Schroeder 
    Here is THE book recounting the life and times of one of the most respected men in the world, Warren Buffett. The legendary Omaha investor has never written a memoir, but now he has allowed one writer, Alice Schroeder, unprecedented access to explore directly with him and with those closest to him his work, opinions, struggles, triumphs, follies, and wisdom. The result is the personally revealing and complete biography of the man known everywhere as “The Oracle of Omaha.”
  21. The Story of My Experiments With Truth – Mahatma Gandhi 
    Mohandas K. Gandhi is one of the most inspiring figures of our time. In his classic autobiography he recounts the story of his life and how he developed his concept of active nonviolent resistance, which propelled the Indian struggle for independence and countless other nonviolent struggles of the twentieth century.
  22. Kwame Nkrumah, a Biography – June Milne
    This is an authentic moving account of the life and work of KWAME NKRUMAH, “The Greatest African” (the words inscribed on his coffin in Guinea), by an author well qualified to write about him. In this biography, June Milne traces the life and work of Kwame Nkrumah from his birth in Nkroful in the western province of the Gold Coast (Ghana) to his death in Bucharest, Romania on 27 April, 1972. The book contains much new material, notably relating to years Nkrumah spent in Conakry, Guinea after the military coup in Accra on 24 February, 1966 which ended his government in Ghana. It adds to information in the author’s book Kwame Nkrumah, The Conakry Years, published in 1990. For the first time in a biography of Nkrumah, information is provided about all the books written by him. The circumstances in which they were written are explained, their contents examined, appraisal made of their significance and continuing impact on political developments in Africa and the Diaspora. Very few statesmen have attempted or achieved so much as Kwame Nkrumah, a leading activist and theoretician of PanAfricanism. His work lives on and continues to inspire Africans, people of African descent and progressive movements worldwide.
  23. Hard Choices – Hillary Radham Clinton 
    Hillary Rodham Clinton’s inside account of the crises, choices, and challenges she faced during her four years as America’s 67th Secretary of State, and how those experiences drive her view of the future.
  24. My Life – Bill Clinton
    President Bill Clinton’s My Life is the strikingly candid portrait of a global leader who decided early in life to devote his intellectual and political gifts, and his extraordinary capacity for hard work, to serving the public. It shows us the progress of a remarkable American, who, through his own enormous energies and efforts, made the unlikely journey from Hope, Arkansas, to the White House—a journey fueled by an impassioned interest in the political process which manifested itself at every stage of his life: in college, working as an intern for Senator William Fulbright; at Oxford, becoming part of the Vietnam War protest movement; at Yale Law School, campaigning on the grassroots level for Democratic candidates; back in Arkansas, running for Congress, attorney general, and governor.
  25. The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference – Malcolm Gladwell
    The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire. Just as a single sick person can start an epidemic of the flu, so too can a small but precisely targeted push cause a fashion trend, the popularity of a new product, or a drop in the crime rate. This widely acclaimed bestseller, in which Malcolm Gladwell explores and brilliantly illuminates the tipping point phenomenon, is already changing the way people throughout the world think about selling products and disseminating ideas.
    Gladwell introduces us to the particular personality types who are natural pollinators of new ideas and trends, the people who create the phenomenon of word of mouth. He analyzes fashion trends, smoking, children’s television, direct mail, and the early days of the American Revolution for clues about making ideas infectious, and visits a religious commune, a successful high-tech company, and one of the world’s greatest salesmen to show how to start and sustain social epidemics.
  26. Bloomberg by Bloomberg – Michael Bloomberg 
    Brash, aggressive, and supremely self-confident, former Mayor of NYC Michael Bloomberg, the visionary leader of the world’s fastest-growing media empire, has been hailed as the new standard for what it takes to win in the Information Age. Dismissed from Salomon Brothers in 1981, Bloomberg immediately took his money and acerbic personality and started Bloomberg L.P. Bolstered by a $30 million investment from Merrill Lynch, the company and the man have been sprinting ahead of the pack ever since. Only twenty years after founding, he’s at the top of his industry. And on June 5, 2001, he added mayoral candidate for New York City to his list of accomplishments and aspirations. If elected, powerhouse Michael Bloomberg will bring his own brand of leadership-and personal style-to the city that never sleeps.
  27. Call Me Ted – Ted Turner
    “Early to bed, early to rise, work like hell and advertise!” These words of fatherly advice helped shape Ted Turner’s remarkable life, but they only begin to explain the colorful, energetic, and unique style that has made Ted into one of the most amazing personalities of our time. Along the way – among his numerous accomplishments — Ted became one of the richest men in the world, the largest land owner in the United States, revolutionized the television business with the creation of TBS and CNN, became a champion sailor and winner of the America’s Cup, and took home a World Series championship trophy in 1995 as owner of the Atlanta Braves.
    An innovative entrepreneur, outspoken nonconformist, and groundbreaking philanthropist, Ted Turner is truly a living legend, and now, for the first time, he reveals his personal story. From his difficult childhood to the successful launch of his media empire to the catastrophic AOL/Time Warner deal, Turner spares no details or feelings and takes the reader along on a wild and sometimes bumpy ride.
  28. 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism – Ha-Joon Chang
    Thing 1: There is no such thing as free market. Thing 4: The washing machine has changed the world more than the Internet. Thing 5: Assume the worst about people, and you get the worst. Thing 13: Making rich people richer doesn’t make the rest of us richer. If you’ve wondered how we did not see the economic collapse coming, Ha-Joon Chang knows the answer: We didn’t ask what they didn’t tell us about capitalism. This is a lighthearted book with a serious purpose: to question the assumptions behind the dogma and sheer hype that the dominant school of neoliberal economists-the apostles of the freemarket-have spun since the Age of Reagan. Chang, the author of the international bestseller Bad Samaritans, is one of the world’s most respected economists, a voice of sanity-and wit-in the tradition of John Kenneth Galbraith and Joseph Stiglitz. 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalismequips readers with an understanding of how global capitalism works-and doesn’t. In his final chapter, “How to Rebuild the World,” Chang offers a vision of how we can shape capitalism to humane ends, instead of becoming slaves of the market. Ha-Joon Chang teaches in the Faculty of Economics at the University of Cambridge. His books include the bestselling Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism. His Kicking Away the Ladder received the 2003 Myrdal Prize, and, in 2005, Chang was awarded the Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought.
  29. Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity & Poverty – Acemolgu & Robinson
    Is it culture, the weather, geography? Perhaps ignorance of what the right policies are?  Simply, no. None of these factors is either definitive or destiny. Otherwise, how to explain why Botswana has become one of the fastest growing countries in the world, while other African nations, such as Zimbabwe, the Congo, and Sierra Leone, are mired in poverty and violence?  Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson conclusively show that it is man-made political and economic institutions that underlie economic success (or lack of it). Korea, to take just one of their fascinating examples, is a remarkably homogeneous nation, yet the people of North Korea are among the poorest on earth while their brothers and sisters in South Korea are among the richest. The south forged a society that created incentives, rewarded innovation, and allowed everyone to participate in economic opportunities. The economic success thus spurred was sustained because the government became accountable and responsive to citizens and the great mass of people. Sadly, the people of the north have endured decades of famine, political repression, and very different economic institutions—with no end in sight. The differences between the Koreas is due to the politics that created these completely different institutional trajectories.
  30. The Price of Inequality: How Today’s Divided Society Endangers Our Future – Joseph Stiglitiz
    America currently has the most inequality, and the least equality of opportunity, among the advanced countries. While market forces play a role in this stark picture, politics has shaped those market forces. In this best-selling book, Nobel Prize–winning economist Joseph E. Stiglitz exposes the efforts of well-heeled interests to compound their wealth in ways that have stifled true, dynamic capitalism. Along the way he examines the effect of inequality on our economy, our democracy, and our system of justice. Stiglitz explains how inequality affects and is affected by every aspect of national policy, and with characteristic insight he offers a vision for a more just and prosperous future, supported by a concrete program to achieve that vision.
  31. The Lexus and the Olive Tree – Thomas Friedman 
    In The Lexus and the Olive Tree, Thomas L. Friedman, the Pulitzer Prize-winning foreign affairs columnist for The New York Times, offers an engrossing look at the new international system that is transforming world affairs today. Globalization has replaced the Cold War system with the integration of capital, technology, and information across national borders—uniting Brazilian peasants, Indonesian entrepreneurs, Chinese villagers, and Silicon Valley technocrats in a single global village. You cannot understand the morning news, know where to invest your money, or think about the future unless you understand this new system, which is profoundly influencing virtually every country in the world today. Friedman tells you what this electronic global economy is all about and what it will take to live within it.
  32. Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working And How There Is A Better Way For Africa – Dambisa Moyo 
    In the past fifty years, more than $1 trillion in development-related aid has been transferred from rich countries to Africa. Has this assistance improved the lives of Africans? No. In fact, across the continent, the recipients of this aid are not better off as a result of it, but worse—much worse. In Dead Aid, Dambisa Moyo describes the state of postwar development policy in Africa today and unflinchingly confronts one of the greatest myths of our time: that billions of dollars in aid sent from wealthy countries to developing African nations has helped to reduce poverty and increase growth. In fact, poverty levels continue to escalate and growth rates have steadily declined—and millions continue to suffer. Provocatively drawing a sharp contrast between African countries that have rejected the aid route and prospered and others that have become aid-dependent and seen poverty increase, Moyo illuminates the way in which overreliance on aid has trapped developing nations in a vicious circle of aid dependency, corruption, market distortion, and further poverty, leaving them with nothing but the “need” for more aid. Debunking the current model of international aid promoted by both Hollywood celebrities and policy makers, Moyo offers a bold new road map for financing development of the world’s poorest countries that guarantees economic growth and a significant decline in poverty—without reliance on foreign aid or aid-related assistance. Dead Aid is an unsettling yet optimistic work, a powerful challenge to the assumptions and arguments that support a profoundly misguided development policy in Africa. And it is a clarion call to a new, more hopeful vision of how to address the desperate poverty that plagues millions.
  33. The Bottom Billion: Why The Poorest Countries Are Failing and What Can Be Done About It – Paul Collier 
    In the universally acclaimed and award-winning The Bottom Billion, Paul Collier reveals that fifty failed states–home to the poorest one billion people on Earth–pose the central challenge of the developing world in the twenty-first century. The book shines much-needed light on this group of small nations, largely unnoticed by the industrialized West, that are dropping further and further behind the majority of the world’s people, often falling into an absolute decline in living standards. A struggle rages within each of these nations between reformers and corrupt leaders–and the corrupt are winning. Collier analyzes the causes of failure, pointing to a set of traps that ensnare these countries, including civil war, a dependence on the extraction and export of natural resources, and bad governance. Standard solutions do not work, he writes; aid is often ineffective, and globalization can actually make matters worse, driving development to more stable nations. What the bottom billion need, Collier argues, is a bold new plan supported by the Group of Eight industrialized nations. If failed states are ever to be helped, the G8 will have to adopt preferential trade policies, new laws against corruption, new international charters, and even conduct carefully calibrated military interventions. Collier has spent a lifetime working to end global poverty. In The Bottom Billion, he offers real hope for solving one of the great humanitarian crises facing the world today.
  34. The State of Africa: A History of Fifty Years of Independence – Martin Meredith 
    Providing a sweeping history of post-colonial Africa, Martin Meredith explores why the continent is in such a mess and what, if anything, can be done about it.
  35. The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money & Power – Daniel Yergin 
    The Prize recounts the panoramic history of oil — and the struggle for wealth and power that has always surrounded oil. This struggle has shaken the world economy, dictated the outcome of wars, and transformed the destiny of men and nations.
    The Prize is as much a history of the twentieth century as of the oil industry itself. The canvas of history is enormous — from the drilling of the first well in Pennsylvania through two great world wars to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and Operation Desert Storm.

Why Pastor Otabil is Wrong; And Why the State is not an Agent of Suffocation 

Pastor (Dr) Mensah Otabil is arguably the most respected voice of reason in Ghana today. As a leading pastor in the country with a large following, Pastor Otabil has established himself not only as a respected cleric, but also as an influential businessman and entrepreneur. As a young man, I’ve benefitted tremendously from not only listening to his talks, and the reading of his books, I also received my Bachelors degree from a university he founded, the Central University.
At Central University, we were taught to think outside the box and to critically analyze issues before we accept or reject them. And that is exactly what I intend to do in this piece on what Pastor Otabil said concerning the role of the State in our lives.

First of all, the notion that Ghanaians should not be content with basic goods and services provided by government is absolutely wrong. What then is the role of government, if not to provide ‘basic goods and services’? For someone who believes in private enterprise as the main panacea for our economic challenges, one would expect that Pastor Otabil will rather encourage the government to only stick to the provision of basic goods and services such as the provision of good roads, water, electricity, and security. If we don’t demand and expect these basic goods and services from the government, what then should we expect the government to provide?

Secondly, it is absolutely wrong for Pastor Otabil to suggest that the State has hijacked and monopolized almost everything in the country. Let’s analyze the details. We live in a free enterprise society where the private individual is free to establish whatever institution or organization he/she wishes to organize within the confines of our laws. And I believe it is within that framework that Pastor Otabil was able to put up his university, the Central University. Any Ghanaian who is ready and willing to put up an enterprise is allowed to do so. With the exception of some few natural monopolies such as the water and railway sectors, Ghanaians have absolutely unbridled freedom to establish whatever enterprise they’re willing, ready and able to establish. So for the good pastor to suggest that the government has monopolized and hijacked everything from the citizens cannot be factual.

Thirdly, the State should not and cannot ‘get out of hospitals, schools, and everything.’ And to be frank, it is surprising and shocking to hear such a statement from no less a person than from a ‘man of God.’ A statement like that coming from Pastor Otabil is disturbing and unfortunate. Why must the State get out of everything? Apart from the fact that it is the responsibility of the State to provide basic goods and services, it is equally the responsibility of the State (or the government) to provide health, education, and other essential services to its citizens, especially for those who cannot afford what the private sector is providing. The State has not stopped any private person from going into hospitals. The State has not stopped any private person from going into schools. And the state has not stopped any private person from going into the other sectors of national strategic importance in this country. If anything at all, it is rather the private sector that is failing this country. And let me explain that.

When Ghana was plunged into a serious energy crisis for almost four years, what stopped the private sector in this country from taking advantage of the inefficiency and the incompetence of the government, to help solve the crisis? What stopped the entrepreneurs and the businessmen that Pastor Otabil is talking about, from putting together consortia and other deals to put up power plants and other energy infrastructures to help address the power crisis? Is it not the same “inefficient” and “incompetent” government that has to put deals together to resolve the crisis? And today Pastor Otabil is telling us that “we can’t just be happy that we didn’t have electricity now we have electricity”? Of course we should be happy we have electricity! Of course we should be happy we have tarred roads! These are the basics we expect from any functioning government. And these are the fundamentals of any economic development. We should be happy that our government is providing these basic essentials. No where in the world the private sector is providing road infrastructure. That is the work of the government. And if the government does that, of course we should be happy that our government is functioning. These are the “minimals” we should be happy with.

To develop this nation, we need both the private sector and the public sector to play their respective roles effectively and efficiently. The government has not stopped any private person from putting up a hospital that can compete with Korle Bu or the Ridge Hospital or the Okomfo Anokye Hospital. Our entrepreneurs and private business people either do not currently have the capacity to put up such structures, or are also guilty of lacking the vision and the foresight to put up those structures. No one should put that blame on the government. And until our entrepreneurs and business community puts up some of these basic infrastructures in place, we should never asked the government to “get out of hospitals, schools, and everything.” We still need the government to run these facilities.

Sorry Pastor, you’re absolutely wrong on this matter.
Mahmoud Jajah