By Prince Kurupati
The Rainbow PUSH Coalition founded and led by revered US human rights activist Rev. Jesse Jackson recently honoured the Hon Okwasi Opong Fosu. The honour bestowed on Hon Okwasi Opong Fosu is in recognition of the positive work he has been doing in the fight for social justice. The honour also paves the way for him to spread his message to a larger global audience.
Hon Okwasi Opong Fosu received the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition International Service Award at the Wall Street Economic Summit held at the Sheraton Hotel in New York. In his acceptance speech, Hon Okwasi Opong Fosu touched on many issues some of which explained below.
Hon Okwasi Opong Fosu firstly expressed his gratitude to the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and Rev Jesse Jackson for recognising his work. He said he was encouraged by the gesture taken by the Rainbow PUSH Coalition but did acknowledge that a lot of work still needs to be done when it comes to issues of social justice and equal rights. He said he is saddened by the fact that some decade-long challenges are still contributing to the differences and division of humanity.
The problems of race and xenophobia which have been in existence since time immemorial are still a thorn in the flesh as many are subjected to xenophobic and racial discrimination. While drawing some lessons from Barack Obama’s inauguration as President of the US, Hon Okwasi Opong Fosu said that the occasion did proclaim a positive step in the nation’s cultural heritage. However, he was quick to point out that man’s social contract of selfishness is still evident and is causing a rift in the society.
He gave examples of the citizens’ vs foreigners, the nationals’ vs migrants and the believers of one faith vs the believers of another faith. To Hon Okwasi Opong Fosu, the selfishness on man as he tries to cling to one construct while ignoring or being tolerant to the other is the root of today, societal challenges.
While acknowledging that age-old problems are causing distress and threatening to break up the social rubric of the society, Hon Okwasi Opong Fosu did warn that there are other emerging factors equally threatening to destroy society. To this end, he gave examples of scarce resources, limited opportunities, and lack of access, inequality, and isolation.
These emerging challenges though present in virtually all societies are much more pronounced in the developing nations were the gap between the haves and the have not’s is increasing year on year. Africa, for instance, is one prime example where these challenges are already destroying society. Sudan and South Sudan are at conflict over scarce resources, the same situation prevails in DRC over minerals and in South Africa, the water shortage challenge which has resulted in ‘Day Zero’ will probably lead to another resource upheaval if not curtailed quickly.
Corruption and nepotism which lead to limited opportunities for those without the requisite networking links are also taking centre stage from Cape to Cairo. The recent ouster of South Africa President, Jacob Zuma is one example of this as he was accused of being a puppet of the Gupta Family under the now infamous ‘State Capture’ banner in which government appointments were done in line with parallel lines. Zimbabwe, Zambia, Kenya, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria are also some of the countries that are bedevilled by corruption and nepotism issues.
To Africa in particular and the world as a whole, Hon Okwasi Opong Fosu encourages the people to be guided by the African doctrine of Ubuntu. He says the spirit of Ubuntu can help the world to defeat the politics of difference and division. Ubuntu is guided by two principles which are, (1) I am what I am because of what we all are, and (2) My humanness is reflected back at me through you. By reverting back to Ubuntu, we are guided to do good not just because it the right thing to do but because we receive goodness back from our fellow countrymen if we do good.
In ending his acceptance speech, Hon Okwasi Opong Fosu gave three recommendations he thinks will bring sanity and an end to politics of difference and division.
Firstly, he implored the world to stand on the word of God. He says if we stand by the word of God, we are able to see God’s purpose for humanity and we are able to see each other as brothers and sisters regardless of race.
Hon Okwasi Opong Fosu also said that the world has to reject the philosophy of difference. He said that the first step is to acknowledge that we are one, there is no ‘us’ and ‘them’.
Last but not least, Hon Okwasi Opong Fosu said the world needs active citizens, citizens who are willing to play their role in the society.