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READ: Prof. George Ayittey on "Advancing The Cause of Liberty"

George AyitteyRenowned Ghanaian economist and author Prof. George Ayittey has once again  argued out his stance that “Africa is poor because she is not free” and that the primary cause of African poverty is less a result of the oppression and mismanagement by colonial powers, but rather a result of modern oppressive native autocrats.

In a speech delivered on Wednesday at the Koch Institute in Arlington, Virginia, USA, the Foreign Policy Research Institute associate scholar said Africa has more dictators per capita than any other continent and has proven to be an obstacle to progress towards attaining liberty.


 Liberty is a very simple concept and you would think that it is universally acknowledged but think again. Advancing the cause of liberty has been beset with problems and difficulty. According to Freedom House’s Freedom in the World 2014 Report, “The state of freedom declined for the eighth consecutive year in 2013.” Dictators are thriving and having a field day. There is Bashar al-Assad of Syria, Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela and then there is Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe.They are all doing the “coconut boogie.” Chei! You wait. We will rain on their parade.

I would hate to concede that we are losing the cause for liberty. As someone who has campaigned and championed this cause, let me share with you my own experience: I will focus on Africa because Africa has more dictators per capita than any other continent. The obstacles encountered and the progress on the ground. First the obstacles;


There are six prominent obstacles that I have encountered:

1. Cultural Resonance

We need to be aware of how the term “liberty” resonates culturally. It is derived from the French word “liberte” but I would never get myself embroiled with a Frenchman over its meaning  It is true both the American and French Revolutions (1775-83 and 1789) were about liberty but the two have different conceptions of the state.

America’s Founding Fathers regarded the state as an evil monster, from which the citizens have to be protected. Thus, the American Constitution limits the powers of the state and serves as a shield between the state and the people and defines “inalienable rights” of the people the state cannot infringe upon. In that context, the more power the state has


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