In the course of more than ten years, through his writings and varied forms of contacts, I have come to know Dr. George B N Ayittey as the preeminent pan-Africanist who has got a finger on the pulse of what ails Africa today.

 Dr. Ayittey is not “an ultra-right wing economist”, nor has he advocated that “Africa should be re-colonized”. To foster these notions; and to argumentum ad hominem, attack the impeccable person of such a distinguished African, even if buttressed by perhaps a bogus erstwhile so-called “friend of Africa”, is as very despicable as it is devoid of enlightened culture.

 Dr. George B N Ayittey is a Distinguished Economist in Residence in the Department of Economics at American University. In 2009, Dr. Ayittey was named a “Top Global Thinker” by Foreign Policy – the global magazine of economics, politics, and ideas. He is President Obama’s Advisor on Africa. He “was one of the architects of the nonviolent democratic change in Ghana in 2000 and takes pride in the fact that Ghana was the first sub-Saharan African country visited by President Barack Obama in July 2009.” He has authored many books on Africa including, Africa Unchained, Africa in Chaos, and Africa Betrayed, for which he received the H L Mencken Best Book Award.

 In his recent book, Defeating Dictators: Fighting Tyrants in Africa and Around the World (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2011), this “leading voice in the African political debate looks at why the continent is so prone to dictatorships and what Africans need to do to establish democracy”. “In this timely and urgent narrative” in which he takes “a hard look at the fight against dictatorships around the world, from Eastern Europe in the twentieth century to the present turmoil in the Middle East”, Dr. Ayittey can hardly be construed as “an ultra-right wing economist” or political ideologue.

 Dr. Ayittey is a world renowned scholar, internationally regarded as the foremost authority on Africa. His ideas, expertise, and advice are sought after by world leaders and governments. He has participated on many panel discussions and debates all over the world on Africa affairs. He has appeared as a panelist on a Senate of Canada Committee on CIDA, vis-à-vis, Africa.

Yes, Dr. Ayittey has written extensively, articles for The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and The Times of London, to name but a few. He has routinely made appearances on various news media magazines like, ABC’s Nightline, PBS News Hour, and CNN. In these, no sane person would conceptualize his views and opinions as espousal of “an ultra-right wing” agenda.

 Unabashedly, I own to the fact as to the large extent Dr. Ayittey’s views, opinions, and writings instruct and affirm the trajectory of my views about what is wrong with Africa – the most richly endowed continent on the face of the earth, yet inexorably mired in steaming squalor, misery, deprivation, chaos, and in the throes of a seemingly incurable crisis.

 The problem of Africa is very well articulated in his book, Africa in Chaos, from which this quotation spoke loudly to me:

“’Government’ as it is known in the West, does not exist in much of Africa. Leaving aside the democratic requirement that a government must be by the people and for the people, one expects at a minimum a ‘government’ to be responsive to the needs of the people or, at least, to perform some services for its people. But even this most basic requirement for ‘government’ is lacking in Africa. ‘Government’ as an entity is totally divorced from the people, perceived by those running it as a vehicle not to serve but to fleece the people.”

Unless one is an ostrich that buries its head in the sand, stating this fact that is very well known to every African in the Diaspora can hardly be construed as “ultra-right wing” ideology.

 In his newest book, Defeating Dictator … , Dr. Ayittey refuted French President Jacques Chirac’s assertion that “Africa is not yet mature enough for Western style democracy”, and held “such misconceptions, resulting from mythology and false assumptions” as the principal reason why “Western policies and foreign aid programs have failed miserably after costing hundreds of billions of dollars” to their tax payers. He, Dr. Ayittey, grants that “the intentions of the policies and programs might have been laudable, but it is absurd to seek to help a people one doesn’t understand.” Now, does this stance depict the belief system of one who comes from “the conservative / right wing school of thought” that espouses a neo-colonial agenda that “Africa should be re-colonized”?

 Dr. Chukwuemeka Chukwuma-Eze Obiajunwa                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

  (At issue below)


Dr. George Ayittey is an ultra right wing economist and most of writings, be they on economics, politics, leadership, governance, foreign affairs, etc. of any African country are tilted to please the minds of the right wings in the western democracies who seldom, see anything good from or about African countries.

We were both on the same floor of the building (Fletcher Argue Building) that housed our Departments in the early eighties at the University of Manitoba. He, a Ph.D. student and me, doing my first Master⒠s Degree. Dr. Ayittey is a very bright fellow. But his ultra right wings views did not seat well with his doctoral thesis supervisor in the University of Manitoba. The supervisor himself being of the liberal economics school of thought and a sympathiser for Africa who sees its economic and political woes as originated from western colonialism and imperialism. George came close to not successfully finishing his Ph.D. Degree in economics because of that lack in the meeting of minds between him and his supervisor, Dr. Loxley, a friend of Africa. But George being the tough minded man he is, he weathered the odds and problems and got his Ph.D.

Each time I have read him lambast African leaders and or African socio-political and economic systems, I feel not surprised. If you look at most of the Foundations he has worked for in the USA, all are of the conservative/right wing school of thoughts; some that believe perhaps, African should be re-colonized. But in most of his writings on lack of effective political and economic leadership and mismanagement of resources in Africa, if you read him very objectively, he does make sense most of the time.

Don⒠t see his ⒠Get Rid of Jonathan Now⒠ as an act of a meddlesome Ghanaian interloper who should mind his business or that of Ghana. He is not in the good books of past and present political and business leaders in Ghana, either. There was a time visiting Ghana was not in his best interest, safety wise because of his writings that embarrassed the political leadership in his country. He sees other African countries and leaders from the same purview. Left alone and empowered, he will use his ⒠Machete aka Cutlass⒠ and chase away all former and present crop of political leaders in Africa.

In my view Dr. George Ayittey is an ultra right wing scholar; albeit, a brilliant one. You don⒠t have to agree with his views to respect him.


Mazi KC Prince Asagwara