In Accra on Saturday, US President Barack Obama spoke to the need for African nations to increase the strength of their institutions and promote good governance as an essential component to successful development programs. Obama also had some kind words to our lead Ghana reporter, “Anas Aremeyaw Anas, who risked his life to report the truth.”
Obama’s speech given before the Ghanaian Parliament focused mainly on the need for stronger institutions in Africa, but he also acknowledged individuals entrenched in the anti-corruption fight. Included on the short-list of revered activists was Anas Aremeyaw Anas, author of Global Integrity’s most recent Reporter’s Notebook: Ghana. Anas is best known for his amazing work busting human trafficking rings for his paper, The Crusading Guide.
“Now, time and again, Ghanaians have chosen constitutional rule over autocracy, and shown a democratic spirit that allows the energy of your people to break through… We see that spirit in courageous journalists like Anas Aremeyaw Anas, who risked his life to report the truth. We see it in police like Patience Quaye, who helped prosecute the first human trafficker in Ghana. We see it in the young people who are speaking up against patronage, and participating in the political process.”
Anas sent his initial reaction this weekend, after Nathaniel sent our congratulations: “Yes Nat, I was shocked, poor journalist like myself, ooh obama”
Later, via email:
“I was shocked, had no idea at all until I was called by the BBC world service that Obama has acknowledged my work. I nearly fought with the caller for peddling lies. It soon dawned on me that the man had actually done so, I was humbled and happy.
I think is a wake up call for the young and vibrant in Africa to start believing in themselves, that no matter the tiny corner you are, you can make a difference in peoples lives.
We write thinking nobody is watching but if we do thorough and well investigated work, the sky would be our limits. Its about time we start believing in our selves in what ever area we operate. That is the only way we can shape our mushrooming democracy for a better tomorrow.”
President Obama called on African nations to take equal responsibility in their national development efforts. “Now, to realize that promise, we must first recognize the fundamental truth that you have given life to in Ghana: Development depends on good governance. That is the ingredient which has been missing in far too many places, for far too long. That’s the change that can unlock Africa’s potential. And that is a responsibility that can only be met by Africans.”
Perhaps it will be obvious to regular readers of this blog, but that sounds pretty good to us. If you haven’t already, put the speech on your reading list for the week.
— Norah Mallaney and Global Integrity