Book Launch: Between Faith and History-A Biography of J.A. Kufuor
Ivor Agyeman-Duah, the author of President Kufuor's biography, discussed this book in light of recent changes in Ghana's politics. When he became President in January 2001, Ghana marked a major transition from years of military rule and semi-competitive politics. Mr. Agyeman-Duah situated President's Kufuor's life in the momentous political events that have characterized Ghana's history. Throughout his life, Mr. Kufuor found inspiration in the Pan-African ideals of Ghana's first President, Kwame Nkrumah.
Mr. Agyeman-Duah further noted that three years after being elected, Mr. Kufour has reinvigorated the economy and restored Ghana's post-independence influence in the geo-politics of West Africa. Nonetheless, as Ghana seeks to consolidate its democracy, it finds itself in a turbulent geographical region. Ghana's stability may be a false one since the sub-region is currently engulfed in civil wars in Sierra Leone, Liberia, the Ivory Coast, and religious and ethnic clashes in Nigeria. As the current chairman of ECOWAS, Mr. Kufuor has tried to use Ghana's successful transition to forge peaceful approaches to conflicts in West Africa.
Reviewing Mr. Agyeman-Duah's book, Prof. Ben-Fred Mensah recommended it to anyone who wants to find out how tenacity, faith, wealth and humility contributed to making an African president in the twenty-first century. But by assuming that some readers will be conversant with some issues, he said, it falls short of providing a larger picture of the man and his politics. On current politics, Prof. Mensah said that Ghana may not sustain its democracy until it gets rid of the prevailing traditions of militarism and ethnicity that have been significant undercurrents of the post-independence era.
Most of the discussion lamented the dearth of Africa presidential biographies and wondered where the culture of writing had gone. Previously African leaders such Nkrumah, Jomo Kenyatta, and Leopold Senghor had been at the forefront of the tradition of Philosopher-Kings, enlightening future generations about their ideas on politics and society. With the exception of Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni who has written his memoirs, few African leaders have put pen to paper, a missing link in the development of African intellectual knowledge.
Gilbert Khadiagala, Consultant