By Amber Coleman
During a recent talk at the University of California, Riverside (UCR), Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama packed the University Theater, filling an overflow room. An event made possible by the efforts of UCR’s African Student Programs, President Mahama’s talk was entitled “The African Diaspora: Possibilities and Privileges of Empowerment in this Technological Age”.
Of the 54 African countries on the continent, the Republic of Ghana is one of the more economically stable. President Mahama attributed this to continually enhancing the accessibility of education to its citizens and to the empowerment of women.
Students are educated to “…be able to adapt to different cultures, speak different languages, and able to use technology effectively,” he said. “We are enabling our students, our graduates, to have a competitive edge as they graduate and go out in search of employment or graduate school,” he continued.
In addition, the Republic of Ghana is creating incentives specifically for younger girls, to deter them from early marriage and impel them into higher education.
During his speech, President Mahama highlighted the constructive role that social media and technology has played in transmitting international news to Africa, notably about the state of Blacks in America.
President Mahama has a history of advocacy and support in the public sphere. Before he was the fourth president of the Republic of Ghana, he was an accomplished writer and journalist, Member of Parliament, minister of state and the vice president of Ghana.
During the question and answer portion of the event, one UCR political science student asked the president what advice he’d give to aspiring politicians. The president revealed that he was an “accidental politician”, so he had no advice to give someone with the distinct intention of becoming one. After this he offered a story that captured the sentiment of why he does what he does: women in Ghana typically make 5-6 trips and walk around 4 miles each trip, in order to get water for their household. Because of the distance, sometimes children will have to miss school in order to help their mother carry water so that the family can take a shower, brush their teeth, cook, etc. The president recently improved the conditions, and was thanked with the smiles of the women and children who were previously burdened. He ended his story by assuring the crowd that the smiles of women and children who have been served are what fuels his presidency.