Pastor Mensah Otabil is prodding Ghanaians and Africans in general to empower the individual to be able to break from the self-imposed mental siege that inhibits the desire to dare to do anything beyond the ordinary.
Acknowledging that the growth of Africa will not be dependent on governments or state institutions but the liberated individual bold enough to live his dreams and create opportunities for other people, Otabil points out that the power of the siege mentality is so confining that for everybody under it, it appears a fatal expedition to venture into doing anything extraordinary.
“There has to be audacity”, he says, adding that “there has to be a breaking of the siege” that sees us as “very brilliant with nice ideas but shy of bold ideas”.
Pastor Otabil was speaking at the 2018 edition of the Festival of Ideas organized by Legacy and Legacy on the theme: “Leveraging Strategy, Technology and Best Practices.”
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Otabil, theologian and Head Pastor of the International Central Gospel Church as well as Founder and Chancellor of Central University College, said the mindset remains the continent’s major development challenge.
He told the story of the two women in the Bible (2 Kings 6/7) who under siege, conspired to feed on their own children thinking they were preserving themselves while in fact, they were endangering their own future.
Homing in on Ghana, he said it should not be too much of a task for the country with a population of about 29 million people to create “one idea that grows at 50% per annum” “if one young 25-year-old boy can create a company that grows at 50% every year.”
Other lead speakers at the ideas forum included Ms. Yolanda Zoleka Cuba, Chief Executive Officer of Vodafone Ghana, and the Managing Director of Tullow Ghana, Kweku Awotwi.
“It’s a mindset. I think one of the challenges we have is we are very brilliant with nice ideas but very shy of bold ideas. For things to be different, there has to be audacity”, implored Otabil.
He was also unenthused that every example of great development like the Amazons, Apples, come from without the continent, and desired that Africa should own some of the greatest development stories too.
“The interesting thing about all of them is that most of these companies they are recent, and we can point to a person or a group of people who made the difference. So when are we going to have our own Apple? When are we going to have a lecture like this and it will not be Apple, it will not be Amazon, and it will not be Airbnb, it will not be Netflix but it will be something we created and the person who is talking about it is the person who created it and can talk about it?
“We must transition from managing people’s stories to creating our own stories. It’s great to be part of a global economy created by others…that’s what I like about the Chinese, you Whatsapp here, they will Weechat there; you Amazon here, they will Alibaba there, because they understood in spite of the siege they had been under of totalitarian state control, that the greatest way to break the siege is to empower the lepers to go out to the Syrian camp, that you have to empower individuals.”
Pastor Otabil said empowering individuals can be risky but that is what has made the difference.