Our host in Sawla, Moses, leads the Ghanaian portion of International Assistance Partners (IAP). This afternoon, Moses took us to meet with two village chiefs. We sat down and talked with the first in his meeting room.
He believes that some of the problems in Ghana are due to the continued use of colonial practices: English, for example. He thinks the country would be better off abandoning teaching English. Admittedly, I’m an Anglophile with little understanding of Ghanaian issues, but I disagree. In fact, I suspect Ghana is doing as well as it is, compared to its neighbors, because English is the primary language.
While we were there, a visitor came to meet with the chief. Only, he wasn’t allowed to speak directly to the chief. Rather, he spoke to an interpreter, in English, and the interpreter repeated what he said, to the chief, still in English, and back and forth the conversation proceeded. What? What is the value in this? How can any effective business happen if an interpreter, speaking the exact same language as the source language, is required.
Not just that, the visitor was asking the chief whether he could interview a woman in the village who applied for a job in a different town. The woman applied for the job, and now the interviewee has to request permission from the chief to interview the woman. I’m an ignorant American, but this is crazy.
Next we visited another village chief in his home, a mud hut. It was a totally different interaction.
This second chief lives in abject poverty and is grateful for the well that IAP has dug for his village. We sat outside his house with his wife and had a conversation, albeit limited since he didn’t speak English.