By Yemi Ibiyemi
Last week, I traveled with the Political Science Junior Fellows to Houston, where we were privileged to attend a presentation by John Mahama, the Vice President of the Republic of Ghana. The event was hosted by the Houston World Affairs Council, and we were able to meet with His Excellency (his formal title), listen to a discussion of politics in Ghana, and even have him autograph a copy of his book.
Vice President Mahama provided interesting information about Ghana’s history, his personal rise to power, and what his vision is for the future of Ghana. He began by discussing Ghana’s 1957 revolution, when he was just a child, and the country’s subsequent unrest and ultimate transition to a republic.
Ghana has numerous challenges, and the country has struggled in some respects to provide the foundations of democracy. While primary education is free in Ghana, only 50% of secondary education costs are paid for by the government. He did note, however, that Ghana has reversed its “brain drain” that afflicted the country in prior decades and is now enjoying a “brain gain,” as many defectors to England and America have begun to return.
The most interesting aspect of the evening came when Vice President Mahama read chapters of his book, particularly the passages about his childhood and his gradual understanding of his—and Ghana’s—place in the world.
Following the event, we were able to get our books signed, and then I led the group to Finger Lickin’ Bukateria, a Nigerian restaurant in Houston. I am Nigerian, and the border of Nigeria is fewer than 200 miles from the border of Ghana, and the food—which included spiced goat’s head, tripe, cow foot, and pounded yam—helped complete the evening’s cultural experiences.
It was a wonderful evening, full of food, friends, and fun.