Monday, September 30, 2019

The SDGS and the African Narrative

The SDGS and the African Narrative
by Elizabeth Ofori - GM of TLBBH Foundation Ghana

Over the past few months, I have been asked many questions about my work as a manager of a start-up nonprofit, a development and sustainability consultant and an SDGs advocate. But three of the most outstanding questions have been; “How do these SDGs relate to the story of Ghana and Africa”, “Aren’t the SDGs an attempt by the western world to once again control and manipulate the affairs of the black people” and “Can Africa attain these development goals at all, talk less of in the next ten years”?.Over the past few months, I have desisted from attempting to give an absolute answer to any of these questions because truth be told, there is no absolute answer to any of them. I am not even going to pretend as if these are not genuine questions to ask. Neither am I going to forge an answer or pretend to even have answers to any of these questions. I honestly don’t. But what I know I have and can confidently lay it bare before everyone, is my understanding, passion, vision and drive concerning these same issues and what I am willing to do to effect change in the ginormous capacity that God has so graciously lavished on me.

I am not by any means saying that I have it all figured out, or I can do it all by myself. Neither am I disproving the fact that the current state of affairs in Ghana and most part of Africa with regards to development and social change is at best, hugely disparate. But I need you to walk with me through my thoughts on these issues and see how best we can all work together, directly or indirectly, to build the kind of Africa, we want to have.

How does the SDGs relate to the story of Ghana and Africa?

The sustainable development goals are a set of 17 goals to help our planet (for a full lecture on the details of the SDGs, sign up for my SDGs classes). The goals are further broken down into 169 targets and 230 plus indicators to help specify actions suitable for different localities that feed into the achievement of the goals. One very unique thing about the goals is how they are all interconnected in such a way that actions adopted for the achievement of one goal will directly or indirectly feed into the achievement of another. 

All 17 goals are of utmost importance, however, different localities and countries may have a different set of goals that are of immediate importance to them based on the unique set of challenges that face them. Hence, my answer to this question is, the SDGs provide a good vehicle on which the development of Ghana and Africa can ride.

Aren’t the SDGs an attempt by the western world to once again control and manipulate the affairs of black people?

One of the understandings I live by is “no one can come into your space and control your affairs or manipulate you unless you allow that person to”. We are always quick to blame the western world for all the woes of the black people and I will be honest, we are very much justified to. The blatant truth is that the western world has no love for any other people but it's own (and there is no crime or foul play in that). The only problem is that black people have a love for all other people but it's own. And that is the actual, real issue we need to address and vehemently annihilate from our midst. 

We have allowed ourselves to be bamboozled into thinking that the black people are helpless and that the western world is an enemy, friend or frenemy (whichever category you have chosen to place them). The truth is, we are our own enemies and the day we accept that and begin to consciously rise from it will be the day that our true mental emancipation and development begins.

Is there a hidden agenda behind the SDGs? I don’t know. Is the SDGs a good development vehicle for all people irrespective of race, color, and nationality? Yes. Will I continue to advocate the SDGs especially it's fit into Ghana’s development? Yes.

My conclusion on this matter is, if you feel like you have been played long enough, get up and stop being played and play the game yourself.

Can Africa attain these development goals at all, talk less of in the next ten years”?

Hmmmmm! This question, I sincerely do not know how to answer. What I know is that we may not have reached our desired destination by the next ten years, but we definitely would have made tremendous progress along the path of progress if we are able to consolidate all the pockets of efforts and actions taking place right now.

Goal 17 of the SDGs is by far my favorite goal because it specifies how we can work together to achieve what we all desire to have and enjoy in our various countries and continents.
In my next article, I will speak specifically to Goal 17 – Partnerships for the goals, the challenges we face as Ghanaians and Africans when it comes to partnerships and collaborations and some solutions I have designed to help us work coherently towards our vision.

Stay tuned and thanks for reading, sharing and supporting.

Monday, September 9, 2019


By Elizabeth Ofori, GM @TLBBHFoundation

This week, I've been thinking about so many things.... And one of them is the issue of Gender Equality and Balance....

I am proud of how far we've come as a people towards ending some of the harsh discrimination that hitherto existed or in some forms still exist against women and girls worldwide. I am particularly proud of the progress we're making in ensuring that women and girls everywhere have the same privileges and opportunities as men and boys.

But I have some few perspectives I want to share on the issue.

In recent engagements, I observed among some colleagues, two huge school of thoughts on the issue and I have soon realized that these two divergent views actually do exist on a much larger scale.

1. The first school of thought believe that there's too much "noise" been made about women and girls and discrimination against them and all that. They asset to the view that women and girls are receiving so much attention that men and boys are being driven into the background so women and girls take centre stage.

2. The second school of thought hold the view that it is a justifiable cause to be putting so much emphasis on women and girls if there's any chance to right the wrong that has been done against women for years now. They believe that the playing field stands a chance of being leveled for both groups (women and girls and men and boys) if only they keep on with the female empowerment cause that is being embarked on now.

My perspective on the matter

First, femininity and feminism are 2 different concepts which are not mutually exclusive. I don't need to lose my femininity just because I am a feminist.

Second, I do not accept that balance only means 50/50. A tonne of cotton will weigh the same as a tonne of gold but there will be obvious and significant difference in the volume of the two. A bag of cotton will most likely not necessarily weigh the same as a bag of gold. My point is, it matters what measuring unit, or medium you use to judge a particular thing or person... So to achieve balance, you don't try to fix the nature of the thing, you provide the same unit of measurement and allow whatever you are measuring live up to that unit in whatever way it presents itself. So I don't ask the cotton to come in a bar shape for it's tonne measurement just because the gold comes in a bar shape or vice versa. If the cotton has to present itself in 10 bags just to meet its tonne measurements doesn't mean the gold has to come in 10 bars. The equality here is that both gold and cotton must weigh a tonne without prejudice to their individual nature. That is balance. So like I said, it's not the nature, it's the yardstick we need to check.

Third, If hitherto, gold has been discriminated against due to its metallic nature and cotton has been favored, deciding to reverse or correct the situation by favoring gold over cotton does not actually achieve that goal. What you have only succeeded in doing is flipping the odds against cotton and hence beginning or should I say repeating the same vicious cycle of inequality, but this time in the opposite direction. What you actually want to do is to set a new and better precedent where both can equally express their unique nature and measure up to set standards in whatever form that comes naturally and unique to them.

I will conclude with a quote from one of my favorite authors, Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie " If you criticize X in women, but do not criticize X in men, then you do not have a problem with X, you have a problem with women".

And I say; the same is true in vice versa: If you criticize X in men but do not criticize X in women, then you do not have a problem with X, you have a problem with men.

This sums up what true equality is.

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section. Let the dialogue begin.