A former Ghanaian presidential candidate criticized African leadership for contributing to the problems ravaging the continent at an intimate talk on African political change and its challenges at the Kennedy School.

Dr Papa Kwesi Nduom, the 2008 presidential candidate for Ghana’s Convention People’s Party and the closest challenger to the representatives from Ghana’s two entrenched political parties, sent a series of pointed messages about political reform to an audience of about 20 that included many African students.

“It is appropriate that we recognize that we Africans have been made poor by bad leadership, across the continent,” Nduom said.

“And not because we have not known what needs to be done,” he added. “Africa has no good reason to be the poorest of continents in this world.”

Nduom is the latest in a series of guest speakers invited to the Harvard Kennedy School as part of the University’s “Africa Week”—seven days of events jointly coordinated by African students associations at the College, Law School, Kennedy School, Business School, and the School of Education.

Nduom’s experience in Ghanaian politics was “very relevant” to many African students studying away from their home countries, said Julia M. Mensah, who identified herself as a Kennedy School student serving as co-chair of the Africa Caucus there.

“A lot of people want to go back and create some kind of change,” said Mensah, a Ghanaian native, adding that she was curious how Nduom’s message could be adapted to garner as much popularity with Ghanaian citizens at home as abroad.

After a brief history of Ghana’s political system following the country’s liberation from Britain in 1951, Nduom discussed the difficulties of campaigning in Ghana’s latest elections.

Challenges ranged from lack of funding, to the questionable tactics of opposing parties, to the poverty endemic in many Ghanaian regions, he said.

“It is difficult to pay attention to a [political] message when you’re hungry,” Nduom said.

He proceeded to detail how the poverty in certain areas changed the way he campaigned there, forcing him to put campaign money towards feeding supporters, transporting them to and from rallies, and producing and giving away T-shirts.

Audience members were enthusiastic about Nduom’s appraisal of Ghanaian leadership and the country’s need for political reform.

“I had not followed Ghanaian politics, [but] I found it refreshing,” said Kennedy School alum Serah Makka. “I’m so excited by him. He seems crisp and clear in his thinking.”

Source: thecrimson.com