“We cannot speak of the ‘Common Good’ if we turn our backs to our neighbour in their time of dire need. We cannot turn our backs to oppression in any form; to genocide or ethnic cleansing. We must fight and defeat racism, bigotry and xenophobia,” said the former Ghanaian leader.
“We must,” he continued “intercede for humanity no matter the cost” noting: “The fate of the Rohingya Muslims is a scar on the conscience of the world.”
Mr. Mahama made the remarks Monday March 12, 2018 in his speech at the opening ceremony of the 5th Annual Commonwealth Africa Summit.
Unlocking Africa’s economic potential by increasing trade, collaboration and philanthropy within the commonwealth will be at the forefront of the summit as it aims to spark new thinking on how to promote collective action, achieve shared prosperity and common good for Africans leveraging on their relationship with the commonwealth family of nations.
Through a series of discussions, the event will encourage dialogue on how to strategise and mobilise valuable African resources that are critical to shaping the continent’s emerging economies.
Expressing his delight to be part of the Summit, which has over the last five years become a part of the celebration of The Commonwealth Week, and brings together over 300 Africans and friends of Africa every year to deliberate on the challenges facing the continent and the way forward in creating a common prosperity for all people, Mr. Mahama observed that the theme for the Summit—‘Common Good—is a quite apt “considering that we are called the “Commonwealth”.”
He said: “Notwithstanding the progress we have made collectively, the most powerful countries have often voted their country’s interest above all else, and less powerful communities of people and countries of the world have often been left behind.
“‘America First’, the Trumpian mantra, is a clear sign that in spite of our desire for a fairer and just world, there is ideological posturing that threatens the ethos of achieving a common good. America’s withdrawal from the Climate Change Agreement, the Mexican border wall, looming tariff wars are all threatening to unravel the world order we have become used to.“”An invisible yet palpable wall of obstruction acts as barricade, separating and neatly placing each country at the extreme ends of binary opposition: north versus south; east versus west; rich versus poor; developed versus developing.
“In the end, instead of the Common Good, we are separated by Common Distance. And there is a price to pay.”
Appalled by the Trumpian mantra of protectionism, the former Ghanaian leader bemoaned that instead of the peace dividend and a renewed commitment to work for the common good, new walls are coming up, including President Donald Trump’s estimated $33 billion, 900-mile-long, 30 feet high Mexico Wall.
But the more dangerous walls, he stated are the walls we build in our minds as the recent rise in populism and xenophobia around the world has erected mental barriers or walls that are inimical to the common good.
He said, “It is factual that the spectre painted in the minds of many Britons, of hordes of Muslim refugees pouring into Britain convinced them to vote BREXIT. Fear is a basic human instinct and motivates us to act in ways that may not be conducive to the common good. It makes us erect barriers or walls to keep out what we fear. But can these walls truly keep anything out or in?”
Narrating how as president he had a first-hand experience of the nature of fear and walls and their effect during the outbreak of the deadly Ebola Virus Disease in some countries in West Africa, Mr. Mahama called for review of “our entire relationship and create opportunities for our Commonwealth Members in the areas of trade, education, science and technology, cultural exchange, infrastructure, food and agriculture, security, energy, sports and entertainment among others.”
“In furtherance to the Common Good, Europe should not set, sometimes, impossible limits intended solely to prevent African and other least development countries from accessing their markets. It happens sometimes.
“But when we pass certain laws and bring in some regulations like the local content law we promulgated in Ghana, then the Western Countries become uncomfortable and position even your laudable economic efforts as nothing but a failure,” he added.