My name is Foster J. Billah. A change-maker and a positivist of development with the ambition of reshaping the face of Africa. I hold a bachelor’s degree in geography with key focus in transportation geography and rural resource development and policies from the University of Ghana. I am a Co-founder and the Public Relations Officer of a non-profit group (GoldCoast Network) which tackles child poverty through medical screening and sensitization, donation and supply of basic educational materials as a form of empowerment to deprived kids. I am also experienced in field data collection, research and exploration. Being a contract field agent for Lands Commission on Property Valuation Exercise got me closer to listen to the narratives of diaspora and returnees.
The stories we share really reshape the mindsets of younger generation or the youth we are investing in to captain the future. Growing up from a small mining town (Akwatia) I heard a lot great stories about the Western World. Being the curious boy that I was,
I asked a couple of visiting diaspora whether they would like to finally moved to their country of origin but boldly told me “NO”.
Their stories gave us the impression that, everything we knew about our great country and continent was wrong. It left us feeling as though there is nothing good in Africa. Over the years these false narratives have been accepted by many youth. These narratives have dominated public sentiments so much so that many of Africa's youth want to flee their homes for a better life abroad.
However, pursuing higher education and taking a couple of development courses made me understood that all these stories are not true. Some of these narratives come out of spite and bitterness. There are some members of the diaspora who have trouble accepting the fact that, after all these years away, their colleagues who stayed are just like them or have made it bigger than them. So they share untrue stories making it seem that a western experience is the best experience. This made me re-evaluate the thoughts and actions of those leaving this country and not coming back. I began to see the need to truly explore new ideas of those that do come back home. We ought to take time to see how best we can also use some of the ideas gained from the Western world.
In order to do that seriously, we need diaspora returnees to begin to share stories that will empower and give hope to the younger generation rather than brainwashing them to be immigrants in the Western world. It’s time we commit to rebuilding our continent, not only with energy, ideas and money but also recommitting to sharing the blooming stories of Africa.
We must recognize that we the locals cannot do it alone all the time, but that does not mean we want the involvement of any diaspora who comes to look down on us. Diaspora might have ideas, but we the locals understand and lives within the systems. We are the ones who can tell how best we can re-module their ideas to suit our local setting. Therefore, our dependency theory of development will only work if there is an effective cooperation between the diaspora and the locals that is founded on the principles of respect and true cooperation.