Exploring the Concept of Local Again: Why It Means Next To Nothing Most of the Time – National State Local

Buy local, support local, go local, shop locally… these campaigns have all the potential in the world, but they are normally thin and lack much thought. They sound encouraging and many people see the “local” aspect and believe that just going to a farmer’s market will be enough, that just shopping at an independent bookstore will be enough. Where does the bookstore stock their books? Where does the flower shop get their flowers?An even better scenario in my mind is news. We all know about national news, USA TODAY, ABC, CNN, MSNBC, PBS. Then there are specific yet national news sources, Wall Street Journal, Christian Science Monitor, entertainment news such as People, or cooking such as Bon Appetit. There are really national and then even state sources for news.In Iowa we frequently consider the Des Moines Register, or Iowa Public Radio to report on state-wide issues. Then we reach the local television, radio, newspaper sources. This is where we discover many ideas of the local. Local can embrace themselves as such, or strive to be what they are not.What do I mean?I constantly tell authors that have a new book out that they should practically demand that their local radio and newspaper do a story on them. After all, some author are natives of their hometown, have lived and shared their life with those around them if the so-called local paper is not the one to do a piece on them then they have truly failed their calling. There are lines to be drawn of course involving quality and perhaps repetition of actions. Too many activities can go one of two ways, the same thing over and over thus the newsworthiness maybe gone.Or, a local region and can embrace the commitment that a local citizen has shown for where they live that rather than ignoring them we should exalt in what they do. There are a variety of excuses the local news goes through to avoid doing what they are intended for, often I think they don’t even notice they are behaving inappropriately.In the end I guess I praise the local news as a way to discover how “local” your community is. Does your local paper include mostly national events, try and behave in a “national” ways, or do they embrace the unique details that make the local the most important details of our everyday lives. Do they celebrate the heroic lives of those we live beside?

How Will the National Debt Crisis Affect Your State Pension Fund? – National State Local

Do you think that you or your spouse’s state pension fund for retirement will be affected by the national debt crisis? The United States Office of Management and Budget is forecasting fiscal year 2012 to have a gross national debt of 16.2 trillion dollars. Similarly striking statistics reveal that our nation’s state pension funds owe workers up to 3 trillion dollars. Many states will not be able to pay its government workers their earned retirement pensions and the Federal Government is not in any position to assist these states with their obligations. One can only hope that these nearly 15 million local and state government employees throughout the country have a backup plan when their state advises them that they will not be receiving their state pensions.There are many hard working government employees within our nation including those who protect our safety and well being, respond to emergencies, and educate our children. In exchange for their service the employee receives a salary and benefits package which often includes a pension. Most government employees contribute a portion of their salary to the pension fund and the state or local government is required to also contribute to the fund in order for the employee to receive an income once retired. Although there may be far too many state government employees in our nation not once has it been reported that a government employee has not paid their contribution into their pension fund. Unfortunately, some states have not made their required contributions to these pension funds and many of them are underfunded in the tens of billions of dollars.It is hard to believe that almost all of our nation’s states have debt levels in the billions of dollars and yet the accounting practices of these states are so inaccurate that the discrepancy between how much they claim to owe the pension funds and the actual amount owed to these funds is over two trillion dollars. The public sector accounting methods fail to take into consideration that when a state invests the pension money in stocks, bonds, and other investments that it will not always receive forecasted rates of return. Fortunately, there is a push for government agencies to begin utilizing more accurate accounting practices but these changes cannot happen soon enough.Unfortunately most people do not begin to realize how important it is for them to have a backup plan. They probably think the federal government will bail out their state pension fund if the pensions cannot be fully paid. It is not wise to make this assumption. The United States is already in debt approximately 15 trillion dollars and the Federal Reserve does not plan to assist states with their pension funds. Many people will not be able to understand why the United States can send billions of dollars to other nations year after year yet not assist their own working citizens who have worked for the government for decades.When millions of people are told they will not be receiving their pension incomes they will wish they had not put all of their eggs in one basket. More people need to realize that state pensions are a thing of the past and begin educating themselves on how to make a living without promised government pensions. Our nation will see their government employees lose their pensions as they exist today but it is not too late for state and national government to begin more accurate and transparent accounting practices which will benefit everyone. It is also not too late for existing and retired state workers to begin adding additional sources of income in order to protect themselves from massive layoffs, devalued pensions, and the national debt crisisGovernment employees should strongly consider educating themselves on the stability of their current pensions and seek more modern sources of passive income which does not rely solely on government agencies to protect their livelihoods. American state government employees can cast blame and point fingers at government agencies regarding their lost pensions but that will not help matters. Waiting until the pension is totally gone and then saying “This isn’t fair” will not make things any better. All states should adopt more transparency regarding pension liabilities and other budgeting processes. Likewise, more state employees should embrace change even if their devalued state pension fund is not their fault.

Sierra Leone’s National Heritage – National State Local

INTRODUCTIONThe term museum is from Ancient Greek, Mouseoin, which means “the place sacred to the muses.” According to Greek Mythology Mouseoin was the temple of muses, the nine goddesses that presided over poetry, songs, the arts, sciences and learning. In Greek Mythology the nine goddesses were the daughters of Zeus, the King of the gods and Mnemosyne, the goddess of memory. The Greeks believed that the muses lived on Mount Olympus with their leader, the god Apollo (American Association of Museums, 2000). In the 3rd century B.C. during the rule of the Ptolemy Dynasty, when the Greeks ruled over Ancient Egypt, Ptolemy 1 Soter founded an institution for literary and scientific study in Alexandria and called it a museum. With the revival of learning during the Renaissance in the 15th century A.D. Italian scholars kept their collections of historical materials in rooms called museums. The Renaissance nobles also had adorned their palaces with art, sculpture and collections of curiosities. It was much later that private collections passed to public ownership and were put on display. For example Pope Sixtus IV opened the Capitoline Museum to the public in 1447 and this was followed by Cesarini also in Rome. The first museum to be operated as a national institution was the British Museum in 1753 followed by the Palace of Louvre in Paris in 1793.Other famous museums are the Art Gallery in which the Mona Lisa is portrayed, the Metropolitan in New York, the Prado in Madrid, the Hermitage in Petersburg (Leningrad), and the Smithsonian in Washington (Sears, 2006).ORIGINS AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE SIERRA LEONE NATIONAL MUSEUM’There is always something new from Africa’ stated Pliny who lived from 23-79 A.D. This vast continent of Africa has some many firsts. The north of Africa is believed to be the cradle of civilization that is Ancient Egypt. It was in Ancient Egypt that the first museum came into existence. Further south are almost impassible barriers of desert and tropical forests, and beyond these, lies the greater part of Africa known to the Arabs as Bilad-as-Sudan, the land of the Black people. It was in this part of Africa in the Rift Valley in East Africa also known as Eastern Sudan that the oldest form of human life was discovered. The Western Sudan (West Africa) can boast of powerful ancient empires like Ghana, Songhai, Mali and Kanem Bornu.Sierra Leone too has a very rich and diverse heritage. She has an abundant natural life; her archaeological sites date back to the Old Stone Age in Africa. Oral traditions date back to the time when the ancestors of current inhabitants settled in their respective areas. There is a great diversity of numerous secret societies with their associated cultural materials such as the Poro, Bondo, Gbagbani, Kofo, Regbainlay and Mathoma Secret Societies. There are also the old traditional arts and crafts monuments and relics which commemorate people and events long ago. This heritage has been built upon over the years by the works of sculptors, architects, painters, musicians, blacksmiths, goldsmiths and other creators of form and beauty. Up to 1957 Sierra Leone had no museum. The Monument and Relics Commission of 1st June 1947 provided the basis for the protection and preservation of ancient, historical and natural monuments, relics and other objects of archaeological, ethnographical (traditional Art ) and historical or other scientific interest as laid down by the Act. These historical relics were scattered all over the country collecting dust and mould in government ware houses, while her ethnographical treasures were being destroyed by weather wood-boring insects. In 1954, Sir Robert de Zouche Hall, a former Governor General challenged the Sierra Leone Society to create a National Museum for the country. This museum, according to the Governor, can contribute to the growth of national pride by collecting and preserving objects and making them available for contemplation and study. This challenge was taken up by M.C.F. Easmon and others with the formation of a Museum Sub-Committee (Cummings, 1996). The Old Cotton Tree Railway Station was acquired and rehabilitated, with the help of government, and was opened on the 10th December, 1957. The National Museum, according to Sir Maurice Dorman, was intended to collect, put in order and preserve the work of man’s hands that was fast disappearing from the lives of Sierra Leoneans. The National Museum, he added, ‘should be a place where the illiterate man can be inspired by the display of what is best in his culture, both in the past and present, there-by keeping a record of Sierra Leone for posterity.’MUSEUM COVERAGEThe Sierra Leone National Museum covers three areas: Archaeology, History and Ethnography. In the area of Archaeology there are large steatite (soapstone) heads, the Maye Yafe or Chiefs’ devils. These are believed to bring good luck to Chiefs and bad luck to the common man. There are figures called Nomoli, which are an enigma and are of unknown antiquity. The curator believes that these figures date back to the Middle Stone Age. There is a large collection of poetry and potsherds and it is believed that some of the pots on display in the museum date back to B.C. days. There is also an abundance of Old Stone Age tools such as choppers, hand axes, and polished New Stone Age tools together with many steatite bored stones which were once used as currency and as digging stick weights. In the History area the most prominent item is the original Charter of Sierra Leone signed in 1799 by King George III by which the settlement became a British Colony. There are also models of the de Reuter Stone on which the Admiral engraved his name after sacking Bunce and Tasso Islands in 1664. Bunce Island was a depot from where slaves were transported across the Atlantic Ocean. There are effigies of the late Sir Milton Margai, the first Prime Minister of Sierra Leone and Bai Bureh, the last warrior chief who fought the British from 1898-1902. There is also a host of materials drawn from the colonial period such as canon, staffs of chiefs, swords, medals, coins, photographs, paintings and documents. In the area of Ethnography (Traditional Art) there are fully dressed masquerading dancers e.g. Sowei of the Bondo Society, Goboi, the regalia of Chiefs, Secret Society paraphernalia, exquisite carved masks, carvings in human and animal form, indigenous musical instruments like the drums which are integral in African rituals in birth, initiation and death, textile, basketry and other crafts. The Sierra Leone National Museum has a magnificent collection of artifacts and is truly a store house of the nation’s cultural treasures (Sierra Leone National Museum Prospectus, 2013).ROLE OF THE MUSEUMThe Sierra Leone National Museum preserves the national heritage; it is a complex institution for research, education and culture. It is an instrument of mass education, which caters for the needs of literates and illiterates, both young and old. Children of school going age make up the largest public served by the National Museum through guided tours. Apart from school groups individual children visit the museum every day. The museum exhibits are relevant to the school syllabi more so in disciplines like History, Social Studies, Agricultural Science and Civics. Thus essay and poster competitions are run by the museum for children. Since Art is the most natural means of expression of people who can’t read and write the exhibits in the National Museum are so arranged that they can speak for themselves. The museum is an important research center. It is research that brings the museum to life and makes it much more than a repository of dead objects. As research center the National Museum is the only place in the country where someone can find such historical documents like the Sierra Leone Charter. Thus students from both higher and tertiary institutions as well as researchers (locally and internationally) make extensive use of museum material in writing their projects. Some of the topics widely researched on in the museum are the origins of St John’s Maroon Church, tourism as instrument of socioeconomic development, traditional schools in Sierra Leone during pre-colonial, colonial and contemporary times, interment rites of paramount chiefs among different ethnic groups in the country, and mining in pre-colonial Sierra Leone.The Sierra Leone National Museum is not only established for elites and the scholarly community but also to provide a service for the general public. The basic purpose of the museum is to enable the public to know and appreciate under conditions of display the artifacts which the institution collects, preserves and protects. Entrance to the museum is free because it is not only a national museum but also part of an international agreement (International Council of Museum) to which the Sierra Leone National Museum is a signatory should. Sierra Leoneans are aware of the fact that the National Museum forms an integral part of the local culture. The specimens of the cultures represented in the museum are currently in use and people are conscious of their existence and functions. The museum though national also interests non-national public composed mostly of European, American and Asian nationals, most of these are ignorant of African culture in general and Sierra Leonean culture in particular. Paradoxically the museum has touched both an informed and quite largely illiterate as well as educated and totally uninitiated publics. The following are a few remarks from the Museum’s Visitors Book:• It is spectacular, keep it up! (A Nigerian).• We entered into African mysteries (An Italian).• Very interesting! Very painful especially the slaves (An American).• Most and the best experience in Local History).• It goes a long way in preserving our cultural heritage (A Sierra Leonean).The Sierra Leone National Museum is an exhibition and communication center. It provides contact with real objects. It disseminates information about Sierra Leonean Art. Art pieces are themselves documents which are eloquent. From naturalistic figures held in the museum people can learn about the dress of the time. A sculptured piece reveals a little more than the person portrayed. For instance a carved warrior or hunter in the museum shows the type of weapon used at the time. The museum steers clear of ethnic distribution in the country of its objects. It aims at representing rather than pointing out local peculiarities. For example Rhythmic Arts (musical instruments), Occupations (fishing gear, basketry and pottery), cultural objects (insignia of Chiefs and bride money), and Women’s Activities (ornaments, combs and cooking utensils)) are portrayed in the museum. The reason being that both urban and rural visitors are anxious to see their ways of life reflected in the “Ancestral Home,” which is the museum. As local visitors go round the museum they search attentively for utensils, tools, weapons or familiar faces and are usually delighted or sometimes complaint to staff when these are absent. In brief the Museum plays a very important part at national and international levels. It helps the public to appreciate articles illustrating history. As repository of the national heritage it helps people to find the elements of their past and to acquire new spiritual wealth. The Museum renews in Sierra Leoneans a sense of belonging to a particularly civilization and stimulates in them the spirit of national pride and cohesion which are essential ingredients in nation building.MEMBERSHIP OF PROFESSIONAL ORGANISATIONSThe Sierra Leone National Museum is a member of several professional bodies both at home and overseas. It has been a member of the International Council of Museums (ICOM) since 1964. The Museum is also a member of the Organization for Museums, Monuments and Sites in Africa (OMMSA), the cultural arm of the then Organization of African Unity (OAU), currently African Union(AU ). The Museum is represented in the Arts Education Association of Sierra Leone, which in the past organized Art Festivals in schools and colleges; it is also represented in the Public Archives Commission and the Sierra Leone Association of Librarians, Archivists and Information Professionals(SLAALIP).The Sierra Leone National Museum continues to enjoy cordial relationship with UNESCO which has assisted in staff training and supply of equipment; the West African Museums Program in Dakar(WAMP),which has conducted several workshops on conservation and preservation of artifacts. Foreign Missions too have contributed immensely to the development of the museum. For example the Federal Republic of Germany in Sierra Leone erected an extension of the museum as a bicentenary gift. The French Embassy in Sierra Leone through the French Cooperation Technical Department rehabilitated the Old Cotton Tree Museum Building. The United States of America, through the Department of the United States Information Services has on several occasions invited the curator to visit the USA which has resulted to close links with the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, the Museum of African Art in Washington, Metropolitan Museum in New York and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. The U S Embassy was also instrumental in the twinning relationship with the Museum of Coastal History, St. Simons Island, Georgia. Through these links the Museum was supplied with the results of Indiana-American research projects, pamphlets, calendars of coming events, posters and future exhibitions. The twinning with the Museum of Coastal History, St Simons Island, Georgia, USA has led to the investigation of the “Trans-Atlantic Linkage-the Sierra Leone and the Gullah/Geechee Connection.” There has been a series of exchange visits between curators and the Great Spring Lecture was delivered at Fort Frederica, St Simon Island in 1995. In the same year a joint exhibition and a symposium was held on the “Trans-Atlantic Linkage” in Georgia.CHALLENGESOne of the primary concerns of the Sierra Leone National Museum is how to combat the theft and illicit exportation of cultural artifacts. The Government of Sierra Leone has formulated a comprehensive national policy with statutes as contained in the Monuments and Relics Ordinance of 1947. The Ordinance provides for the preservation of ancient, historical and natural monuments, relics and other objects of historical, ethnographical and scientific interest. Any person who desires to export from the country any ethnographical item must submit it to the National Museum; a license will be issued which should be shown to customs officers at the point of departure. If an intended item for exportation has cultural, historical or archaeological value it will be retained in the country as part of the national heritage. Anyone found violating any of the regulations is liable to criminal prosecution under the provision of the Ordinance. If found guilty the person concerned will have to pay a fine of two hundred pounds sterling. In default of payment, the person will serve a prison sentence not exceeding six months. However, in spite of the efforts made by the Museum to protect cultural property smuggling of artifacts continues. It is disturbing to note that in Sierra Leone educated and intelligent persons purchase, sell and export protected cultural materials just for the sake of business promotion. What is more Sierra Leone has porous borders which people use to advantage in smuggling cultural materials out of the country with impunity.Further the public service that the National Museum plays warrants public expenditure, especially if standards are to be maintained. Sadly government grants to the museum are meagre and this poses another challenge for the running of the museum. Often salaries paid to staff are not only discouraging often but delayed in payment. In 2014 for instance so much salary backlog was owed staff that staff struck and the museum ceased to operate for a while. Besides the National Museum does not have branches in the provinces but only centered in the capital city, Freetown. Staff are limited in number and ill-motivated. Hardly are they engaged in capacity building due to lack of funds. This has led to massive staff turn-over. More over working in the museum is not well regarded nation-wide. Most people view it as a job for school drop outs. Thus young people do not like pursuing museology as a career. Also staff do not embark on massive public education on the importance of the museum in society. Little wonder why school going children form the largest number of visitors to the museum as opposed to government functionaries and key stake holders in the country. Even the line ministry, the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, the Museum is under does not seem to understand its importance in nation building. The Ministry priorities its activities and supporting the museum is not a priority. Thus in time of economic stringency the museum is a prone area to swindle funds (Sierra Leone National Museum Prospectus, 2013). If therefore government wants the National Museum to continue playing an ever increasing role in national development there is every need for government functionaries to give second thought on how best they can support it to meet this goal. Where the challenges faced by management are addressed the museum too can help generate the much needed foreign exchange in addition to its preservation of the national heritage.

Galvanizing the Philippines’ Cordilleran Curricula Via a State University’s Birth – National State Local

“The goal of education is the advancement of knowledge and the dissemination of truth.”
John F. KennedyEducational evolution is an emblem of constantly-flowing wisdom for every member of the populace in the Northern Philippines’ Cordilleran Region. The associated support of the community and involved educational institution officials with the Congress as well, former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Speaker of the House of Representative Feliciano Belmonte Jr. enabled this didactic transformation project through the executive approval of the previous President Benigno C. Aquino Jr.. Today, the Mountain Province Polytechnic College (MPPC) is called Mountain Province State University (MPSU) as stipulated in the country’s Republic Act No. 10583.The endorsement of this deed is a dazzling breakthrough in the academe worth- disseminating through the said Republic Act 10583. It is a mandate that gave birth to another Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR)’s state university earlier proposed in 2013 with its key trance of converting the former MPPC situated in the Municipality of Bontoc, Mountain Province into a state university. Today the MPSU, opened its campuses in the boroughs of Tadian, Bauko, Paracelis and Barlig to envision higher literacy rate in the mountain provinces.Unknown to other populace of the region, the birth of a new state university is another defining truth; an influential factor that critically outlines the transcending face of the Cordillera in pursuit for academic and technical excellence. It further maneuvers its usual reputation as a region in the country identified with high rate of literacy since its people learned the value of instruction acquired by residents from far-flung areas due to their perseverance in achieving academics despite tiresomely traveling to cities just for the attainment of education which they firmly believed as a great weapon against poverty. It is indeed, a way of enduring sacrifices in quests of education’s relevance when higher educational institutions offering their academic courses did not exist in the locality. The presence of higher education institutions nowadays push the chances of the unprivileged but deserving students to take part of the educative processes to be professionally functional citizens of the country. Having a university in the heart of the region produces numerous advantages to its residents and to other neighboring populace.Here are some plausible points which may probably frame sturdy components in transforming this academia an educational abode in molding the future of every deserving cordilleran youth.This higher education institution in order to serve the interests of its willing populace strives to raise its academic standards through university accreditation with the significant intervention of the country’s Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to escalate its level through the emergence of additional relevant courses catering to varied specializations pertinent for the locality, country and for global competitiveness.It also paves the recruitment of top caliber faculty and personnel with qualifications that are at par with their formulated standards for the accomplishments of the organization’s vision, missions and objectives.It will also broaden its affiliations with other educational organizations here and abroad for synergetic learning where curricula adaptation and implementation take place. It dreams for the expansion of its institutes of disciplines for others’ convenient access to avail of the course offerings aligned with their potentials and interests. Aside from its baccalaureate courses, graduate studies of varied specialization will be offered to cater to professionals’ continuing education.The possibility of hosting future national and international academic and technical conferences is conceivable. When a university firmly exercises its policy and standards, quality education will be acquired and with visions assembled as one, it is probable to continuously promote modern viewpoint of liberal education to fascinate more youths from the region, from any part of the country or from other nations as signs of academic interplay.The opening of the university benefits cordilleran students on equal education rights to advance their academic exposures and engagement to their chosen specializations.It too builds better perspectives for the residents to local, national and international job markets. It is a fact that state university graduates who display knowledge and skills or excel in their studies are prioritized by educational companies here and abroad. International employers are aware of state university standards that they themselves employ in the recruitment of qualified workers for the educational organizations’ growth they lead.Republic Act 10583 opens its unselfish doors to national and international opportunities through students’ earned knowledge and skills out of the courses successfully availed. Courses such as forestry, agriculture, health and occupational safety, public governance, teacher education, engineering, mass communication, business management, tourism, development communication among other courses that produce competent graduate attributes for national and international competitiveness.The continuous escalation of literacy rate in the cordilleras will permanently reinforce the image that the Cordillerans can evidently perform at par with other college and university graduates in the Philippines and from other countries not to mention that this region has gained a continuous reputation on high literacy rate in the country. Depending upon the initiatives of the university administrators as curriculum developers in catering to the needs of higher education learners, we expect uninterrupted breakthroughs in few years’ time to acceptably take part in the ASEAN vision 2020.Furthermore, parents will be eased from financial burdens in sending their children to study in far areas due to the absence of courses in the former college located in their municipality especially if a family sends more than two college students.To add, close monitoring of children’s academic performance, attendance and behavior by parents are going to be transparently possible due to its proximity to the community.This republic act is a legacy which the former Aquino regime has offered under the transitory history of Cordilleran education in the Philippines.Here are some remarkable sections that contain provisions of this mandate’s plans to be accomplished.Section (1) one states the legal conversion of the state university specifying its main campus in the municipality of Bontoc and its external campuses in Tadian,Bauko, Paracelis and Barlig.Section (2) two emphasizes on the general mandate for the university’s advanced education, higher technological, professional instruction in forestry and agriculture, teacher education, engineering and technology, arts, humanities, science and other relevant fields of study.Section (3) three stipulates the university’s academic freedom and institutional autonomy as a university pursuant to paragraph (2) two under Section (5) five of article XIV cited in the country’s constitution. Section (4) four states curricular offerings emphasizing that the university shall offer graduate school and undergraduate school studies in the fields of forestry and agriculture, teacher education, engineering and technology, arts and humanities.Section (15) establishes the recruitment of qualified faculty to serve the university without discrimination on basis of beliefs, gender preference, cultural and community affiliation or ethnic origin and religious opinion or affiliation provided that no member of the faculty shall teach for or against any particular church or religious sector.Section (16) sixteen articulates on scholarship programs and admission guidelines for the provision of scholarship programs and other related programs in assisting the poor but deserving students who qualify for admission in the university. It states too, that no students shall be denied admission in the university due to sex religion, cultural or community affiliation or ethnic origin.Section (24) twenty four declares the university’s accreditation in the acquisition of level III or even higher status under the (CHED) which yields the approval and proliferation of more courses in the next few years.Conceivably, it may open local tourism to those who arrive from other neighboring places. It can provide measures for the operations of more business establishments in the vicinity where taxes and revenues contribute to the municipalities’ funds for public welfare projects.Additionally, creation of possible local employment to commendable applicants is most likely to occur and with the help of the higher learning institution’s branches in its neighboring areas in the mountain state, it will incessantly encourage and influence community’s transformation through continued sanitation and green environment- consciousness of which will attract visitors from outside regions or beyond.Finally, with this educational development recently bestowed to the Cordilleran region, the continued fruition of professionally functional graduates is expected. If this will surface, it will reinforce the fact that Cordilleran’s as one of the Philippines’ cultural minorities will never be enthralled by ignorance under a thriving 21st century civilization.

The Global Crisis – Promoting Local Development and Employment – National State Local

I am not an economist, but I understand the realities of the challenges that face Africa today due to the negative impact of the global economic crises and will give you an overview on the topic The Global Crises, An African Perspective. There is no doubt that Africa has been worst hit by the impact of the global financial crises and this summit is about brainstorming to find solutions to the unfortunate predicament. If we are looking for solutions, let me share my experiences with you.Globalisation by every stretch of imagination has some great advantages. Unfortunately it is clear Africa has not benefitted from its noted positives and has instead become rather over-dependent on the developed world, much to detriment of the suffering masses. Africa has been vulnerable for a number of reasons. The first is the lack of national tenacity, accountability and a spirit of patriotic fervour. Africa has been unable to stay united and assertive because a good number of us in leadership positions, rather than uphold ideals that protect the sovereignty of our countries, have fallen to the dictates of our colonial and development partners and of late through their multi-national organisations who come in with promises of employment, capital and infrastructural development.Sadly these investment opportunities fail to benefit the mass of our people because of the political and economic parasites who find themselves at the helm of affairs in our countries. Corruption is real and if we do not factor this key failure of Africa into our deliberations these next few days and saddle ourselves only with a scientific approach to resolving the effect of the global crises on Africa, we will be doing a great disservice to the continent.Corruption is a major drawback to any developmental process that our continent embraces. Some of us have created a culture of impunity that allows us a right to employ all manner of methods to fleece our countries of its resources. If we cannot improve on the corruption index each year, on what basis do we cry about the negative effect of the global economic crisis? The soul of some parts of the continent has literally been sold over the 30 to 50 year period that most African countries have been supposedly independent from colonial rule. Ironically most facets of our sovereignty seem to have gone back to our colonial and development partners and some of their corporate entities.Some of these foreign influences even dictate what political directions we need to take and sadly we have also embraced their cultures with patronizing arrogance. I very much appreciate the fact that we do not live in a vacuum and thus cannot expect to produce everything we require locally but we have become so obsessed with foreign cultures and regard their adoption as a sign of good quality lifestyle. Globalisation has its own dictates. It preaches the free movement of goods and services and decries the imposition of any forms of economic barriers. The assumption is that by so doing all economies will benefit in equal stead.We know this has turned out to be a nightmare especially for those of us in Africa. And how can we expect there to be an even playing field when there were clear disparities right from the onset. Most of our continent lacks infrastructural development, lacks the ability to transform natural resources into finished products and has never had strong bargaining power in trade. Though we produce cocoa, timber, minerals of all kinds and a considerable amount of oil, we sell ourselves short because sadly foreign interests control even the tapping of these natural resources on their own terms.Are the changes brought about by globalization taking place on our terms? Have we been able to stem the tide of the brain drain? Are we not accepting globalization to the detriment of our own development and survival? We know most of us have inherent weaknesses in terms of our political relationship with our people. This is what makes us so vulnerable.When globalization became a catch phrase China, for instance, quickly tapped on her major resource – skilled labour – and proceeded to work hard at manufacturing everything conceivable on the globe. While we suffered the brain drain they ensured that majority of Chinese who trained in the West and other advanced economies returned home to impart that knowledge. Today China is a major economic and military power and is respected across the globe. Within the scope of disadvantages and advantages of globalization we seem to have suffered the most deprivation and this summit tasks you to identify ways of stemming this tide.One of the major roads to recovery is the institution of mechanisms that will protect the national sovereignty of our countries in terms of economic development. Without clearly laid down mechanisms that outline the scope of operations of investors and the lack of structures that monitor their operations, a lot of these investors who abuse our national interests go unchecked. Most of these investors repatriate the majority of their profits to their indigenous countries leaving us with little capital for re-investment into other viable projects. The developing world needs bold and assertive political, traditional, judicial and corporate leadership that is dedicated to the upliftment of its people.Fourteen years ago, at the Social Development Summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, I challenged the western banks and financial institutions to open their vaults and their books to expose leaders and personalities who had looted the wealth of their countries but were protected by so-called western banking rules of secrecy and confidentiality. At that time, my colleague world leaders gathered there met my challenge with stunned silence. Fidel Castro was the only figure who applauded the challenge.The negative effect of globalization was a wake-up call. Governments and people across the globe, having felt the crippling effect of the siphoning of their nations’ wealth into foreign and other offshore accounts, the accumulation of wealth in the drugs trade, the financing of terrorism and the buying of political power have now gone after these banks to expose their criminal clients and their loot. If we are able to contain this kind of economic savagery then decentralization and regionalization will provide the way forward in our quest for development.Decentralisation is a system of power devolution that garners respect and confidence from the people who choose us as leaders. Decentralization allows for governments to share their burden with the ordinary people. This is what has been structured and elevated into what we call local government. Everything possible should be done to encourage local government. It shares the central government’s burden with the people, demystifies what governance is about and brings people in touch with the problems that central government faces. Ample examples are strewn across the continent of governments imposing so-called developmental projects on their people when the priorities of the localities are totally different. During the mid 70s, a government in Ghana spent hard earned resources building a stadium wall when a modern medical facility was the priority project required by the people of the area.The current global economic and financial crisis, which is the worst crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s, has confirmed what we in Africa have known for a long time – that markets are fickle and that they favour the strongest players. It is now more than ever clear that the International Financial Institutions were wrong to tell African states to adopt a hands-off approach and that this poor advice weakened African economies and put us in a poor position to withstand the current shocks. It is clear now that even in the strongest economies, the efficacy of timely state intervention has been demonstrated. We have seen that the state is not the enemy of development. In Africa more than anywhere else, arguably, we need a strong developmental state that can protect Africa’s right to contribute to the global economy, and not just as suppliers of raw materials or as hewers of wood.But to do this, we must come together as Africans north and south of the Sahara and build one viable and beautiful political and economic space that can support the creativity and ingenuity and initiative of our diverse and talented peoples. And let us not be afraid of empowering our people. When we apply decentralization appropriately it creates a healthy development climate because the ordinary people claim ownership of policies, projects and programmes and are ready to stomach failures together with government. How many governments are not grappling with expensive public relations exercises to convince people with all sorts of excuses about failed projects? If the decision to implement those projects were not done in a top-down approach but in discourse with the people in a decentralized environment, there would have been no need to waste scarce resources protecting government’s reputation.In Ghana, we achieved decentralisation by establishing democratically elected District Assemblies and their sub-structures. And through a system of elections and consultative appointments with Chiefs and other opinion leaders 70 per cent of membership was elected while 30 per cent was reserved for appointees who were mainly economically minded intellectuals and professionals whose areas of expertise provided more informed decisions.Decentralisation and empowering of people puts us as leaders in a position of owing accountability to the people as opposed to demanding accountability from them. Local government today has the potential to deliver on development that satisfies the basic needs and human rights of the people of the developing world, thereby helping to confront the globalization crisis. It has the potential to contribute to the prevention of conflicts related to the demands for good and participatory governance.Decentralisation also encourages the practice of a higher social sense of responsibility towards hygienic and sanitary conditions thereby preventing serious infectious and contagious diseases. It also allows for a more responsible exploitation of the local natural resources while preventing environmental degradation. Local governments also have the potential to contribute to population management and the reduction of extreme poverty and degradation. Decentralisation, if well implemented serves as a foundation for regionalization. Regionalization as we are all aware allows us benefits of economies of scale, stronger bargaining power and the tapping of resources of member states for the benefit of the entire grouping.Today the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is one of the strongest regional groups on the continent. It took us ages to get to where we are today but we still do not have the kind of economic integration required to ensure the benefits of economies of scale that will allow us to have one common currency, build factories and tap on each other’s natural resources for a concerted development.But as stated earlier these steps require courageous leadership and an effective decentralization structure that ensures grassroots participation and ownership of national policies. This is crucial because for integration to succeed the major protagonists must be the people who will participate in the process. Socio-cultural differences on our continent can only be managed if grassroots participants do not feel that their national sovereignty is being given away by central government.While the world ponders how we must modify this model of development called capitalism, we might consider that now is a good time to emphasise a return to African values and to seriously question the emphasis on the self-interested individual, which is at the heart of the capitalist model and which has brought us to this parlous state of affairs globally. We need a return to community values and a move away from the values of the selfish individual. This is a time to insist that there is still a great deal that Africa can teach the world if we believe in ourselves and value our cultural and spiritual heritage.Africa has a steep hill to climb in softening the blow of the global financial crises. However if the continent is ready to take the bull by the horns and adopt brave policies that will lift Africa up from the gloom then it will be one part of the battle won.Thank you.