Wolfgang´s Social Sabbatical in Ghana, Part 8 (final)
We are on our way out. What an experience. My head is full of pictures, in no order at all. Women selling food at junctions when lights are red, carrying all on their heads. People sleeping in odd places. People singing and dancing. Slums, but people emerging from them wearing proper and clean clothes, women in magnificent colors. Wealthy neighborhoods with luxury houses. Traffic scenes of all kind. A lot of green nature. Wonderful beaches. It is an endless stream. Ghana truly is a beautiful country with so many great people. They are warm and relaxed. I listened to more laughing in two weeks than in two months in Germany (in two years?).
After only two weeks I can´t dare to have a fair judgment on how things go here. But I nonetheless want to share some thoughts: If I want to point to something which could be improved, then to me there is a lack of “connecting the dots” in Ghana. To think pro-actively, to think beyond the immediate task which someone is assigned to, this all seems to be restricted to a very small elite. Maybe it is because the broader population does not learn this in any way. In school it is all about facts and figures, it is all about repeating what the teacher has said – in exact words. Not helpful. Creativity is not asked for, it is restricted to some pockets of excellence in private school system which can only be paid for by a small minority.
I share just one example: After our field trip and 9 hours in the mini-van we arrived back in the hotel. I just wanted to go to my hotel room and take a shower. When I tried to open the door I realized my key was not working any more. Ok, could happen after being not in 2 nights. So I went to the reception and the guy there in a friendly way helped me getting a new access card. Back to the room I tried to have my shower. Then I realized that there is not water coming. So me heading back to the reception. The very same guy then told me that there is currently no water available at all. I asked him why he did let me find out on my own and did not inform me about the water outage 5 minutes back. He said: Oh sorry, the manager is just now calling to all rooms and informs the clients. So the task was given to someone else, he was off and not connecting any dots. He did not even understand my question. This is just one example, but here you encounter it every single day. Sometimes difficult for Europeans.
Hierarchical thinking is another fact which hinders development. It hinders young talents when they need to obey to old men at all costs, regardless to what extent it makes sense what these old men decide. I do not want to say that we don´t need respect for experience and for age. But it must be possible to criticize and change things in a fair manner.
Cooperation between organizations needs to be pushed to a higher level. There seems to be a tendency to hold on to own assets, to work in silos. If I observed it correctly then everything is here, it just needs to be brought together, there are ample opportunities for connecting the dots. No need for money from outside, maybe the need for some knowledge sharing here and there.
The country is so rich, by all kinds of natural resources – agriculture, fishing, gold, oil etc. But still more than half of the population lives in poverty. I spare to talk about politics, this seems not be safe when travelling home. Freedom of speech apparently is a higher value here in Ghana, I am sad to say.
Back to me. I am so grateful for having been exposed to this great learning opportunity. Thank you SAP for providing this Social Sabbatical program.
Thanks so much to you for following my blogs. I am honored by all the positive reactions I received!
Thanks so much to Francis, Keren and Mina. They are wonderful people I will never, ever forget in my entire life.
Let´s take a minute for an individual, silent closing prayer.