Opinion

IMANI @ 16: Some foundational stories

Today March 9 is IMANI’s birthday. Created 16 years ago today, the original name was IMANI Centre for Humane Education. I changed it to IMANI Centre for Policy & Education for two reasons: First, the abbreviation for the first name was CHE, phonetically synonymous with the celebrated communist, Che Guevera( I and IMANI aren’t communist!).

The second and perhaps the more pressing reason was after I received many enquiries from Americans, especially on whether IMANI was a branch of the Humane Society, an animal welfare body in the USA. IMANI is a Swahili word for faith, from the Arabic word, IMAM ( remember 70% of Swahili emanates from Arabic).

I chose IMANI because I needed an African name that resonated with my aspirations and faith in Africa. By the way, do remember that by end 2005, IMANI had had so much global media footprint, thanks to Linda Whetstone, Julian Morris Kendra Okonski Jo Kwong Brad Lips and Colleen Dyble Nick Slepko. Alejandro Antonio Chafuen. Tom Palmer!

So on the 16th anniversary of IMANI, I’d walk you through some of the exciting moments in the formative years, 2004-2007. Later I will feature the contributions of Bright Simons, Kofi Bentil and Selorm Branttie..

Here are two….

  1. 2005 saw Imani’s profile on world centre stage with respectable presentations, campaigns and research work on four continents. A head of the G8 summit Imani’s director, Franklin Cudjoe spoke at the Global Development Summit in the UK and challenged the flawed and dangerous premises of debt cancellation, doubling aid and protectionist policies.

Imani Director Franklin Cudjoe spoke on how the West should help Africa during two services at St. Dunstan´s Anglican Church in Staplehurst, UK. Incidentally, Franklin met with the daughter of Sir Charles Noble Arden Clarke, the last governor of Ghana. She still has fond memories of how Ghana’s first president, Kwame Nkrumah used to pay them visits and how they were amazed at his about turn in ideas.

Franklin also made a presentation on trade, debt and aid to MBA students at Writtle University in the UK

Imani carried this campaign throughout Europe, in Italy at the Instituto Bruno Leoni in July and with fellow Kenyan academic June Akinyi Arunga discussing African development issues at the 2005 World Freedom Summit in Germany. Imani later took part in a think tank panel discussion on practical ways to spread free ideas around the world.

In September 2005, Imani Director spoke on drug patents and access to essential drugs in Africa at the Nigerian think tank, Institute for Public Policy.

Imani took the campaign to the United States of America in October through November. Numerous presentations were made at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Washington Policy Center, the Discovery Institute, The Emerald City Rotary Club and the Garfield High School, all in Seattle.
Bill Gates Sr hosted Franklin Cudjoe who spoke on the foundation’s global health initiatives and the need for to pay attention to the DDT debate in Malaria prevention in Africa.

Franklin Cudjoe gave the keynote speech at the 2005 Bastiat Prize for Journalism in New York. The other speaker was Bill Emmot, Editor of the Economist Magazine.

Franklin’s speech generated a debate over globalization with the President of Tanzania after the former’s adapted speech was published by the Independent Institute. President Benjamin Mkapa personally wrote a rejoinder and Franklin rebutted. The debate can be read at www.independent.org.

Franklin spoke on Human Rights and Property Rights at the Atlas Economic Research Foundation in New York as well as gave a toast to freedom at Atlas’ 25th Anniversary Celebrations in New York. The other speakers were Anwar Ibrahim, former Prime Minister of Malaysia and Maat Laar, former Prime Minister of Estonia.

Franklin also spoke at the Americans for Tax Reform, a meeting of movers and shakers in Washington.

Finally, Imani teamed with the Freedom to Trade Coalition (IPN, Liberty Institute in India, The Evian Group, The Lion Rock Institute, Cato, the Fredriech Ebert Foundation,) at the WTO meeting in Hong Kong to campaign against trade barriers. Imani interacted with African government delegates and the media which included, the BBC, Daily Telegraph (Hong Kong), The Standard (Hong Kong), Bloomberg News, (HK) Apple Daily, Reuters, Caijing Magazine, (China), Le Figaro, Sing Tao Newspaper, Fortune Newspaper (Addis Ababa) and Tanzanian Standard.

  1. Subject: U.K House of Commons cites Imani Ghana in debate on corruption, aid and debt relief
    June 16, 2006, House of Commons Debate Aid & Corruption, United Kingdom

Imani Director, Franklin Cudjoe cited in United Kingdom’s House of Commons Parliamentary Debate on Corruption- “A member of the House, Mr. Chope, asked, “Does my hon. Friend accept that it cannot be that difficult to get hard data on the extent of corruption when Franklin Cudjoe, the Ghanaian director of the Imani think tank, has asserted that $4,700 is stolen by African Governments from their people every second?”

Read the entire Hansard (verbatim report) debate
http://www.parliament.the-stationery-office.co.uk/pa/cm200506/cmhansrd/cm060616/debtext/60616-0533.htm