A week ago today (3rd august 2013), I attended a meeting summoned by Nana Sarku Brempong V, the Nifahene of Santrokofi traditional area to discuss strategic issues on the development of Santrokofi Benua. The discussions centered predominantly on how to raise funds for ongoing and planned projects (within the time period I was present at the meeting). The core issue was how to collect levies from the citizens of the town. Levy collection is the oldest and obvious way to raise funds for the development of a community or nation. The problem is how to collect the levies and to ensure that all concerned pay their fair share. Someone suggested punitive measures based on past experiences where people do not contribute. The idea seemed to have received consensus acceptance but I was sceptical and raised a few questions at the meeting. My scepticism on punitive measures is based on the principle of fairness and justice. How do you introduce punitive measures when there is no system in place to administer, control and follow up. Is there a register of all citizens of Santrokofi Benua? Is there a clear definition of who a citizen of Santrokofi is? Is there a clear definition of who is liable to be levied? Are there any exemptions of the rule? If yes which are they? Until all these parameters are made clear, punitive measures from my point of view will only create confusion and a sense of alienation at worse.
The leaders requested the meeting to come up with innovative ideas of raising funds; the area I think we should spend more time and energy. What was clear at the meeting was that the youth have lately been instrumental in organizing themselves and coming up with development initiatives. I was saddened to hear that efforts are being made to merge the youth association with the less functional all inclusive association led by adults. That to my view is a mistake and would be a destructive and backward step. What the leaders of the town need to do is to encourage the youth and give them room to be dynamic and critical of the established leadership as they continue to generate radical ideas as only youth can. Let these two groups be part of the checks and balances we need to ensure positive development. Merging the two organizations would kill the enthusiasm and zeal of the youth and that would be tragic.
Encourage the participation of girls and women in the discussions. I have at least on two instances when I have had the opportunity of attending a town meeting questioned the absence of women at the meetings. The handfuls who do attend sit as back benchers and observers. Let us not forget the words of Dr. Kwegyir Aggrey who said that “if you educate a man you educate an individual, if you educate a woman you educate a nation”. We cannot develop by leaving our women behind. Leaving them behind is equal to leaving behind 50% of our development potential.
What we need to look into and discuss more should be centered on how to create jobs in Santrokofi. From my observation, there are two forms of employment in Santrokofi today – the traditional farming and the sales of groceries and alcoholic beaverages. The questions our leaders should be putting across are two: 1. What potentials exist in the town for job creation? and 2. How can we attract external investment into the town? Interestingly, the town is developing with modern homes being constructed there are international investments ongoing in the town albeit non-governmental and purely voluntary. In spite of the development efforts by individuals there is no comprehensive plan to enhance the infrastructure of the town. My suggestion is channel all efforts into building infrastructure, attract potential businesses from Hohoe to establish or reside in Sanco, identify and develop tourism attractions. Levy the businesses and other stakeholders and through special fundraising activities use the income for social development projects like the community centre, library and the improvement of schools.
I also raised the issue of finding ways to include Sancoits in the diaspora in the discussions and the development of Sanco by using modern technology. I have created a website for Santtrokofi www.santrokofi.com and we have two major facebook groups – I love santkrokofi and Santrkofi Oleebi. I requested the meeting and especially so the youth group to help with the administration of the website. So if you are resourceful in web development and especially so in database administration and interested in giving a hand send a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
My special appreciation to Nana Sarku Brempong and his elders and lieutenants for all their positive and tireless efforts and also to Quarcoo Agbebianu who has led the youth movement. More grease to your elbows and let’s continue working as a people to enhance and develop Kaffa ( Oleekpoo ) for all Baleebi!