Building Capacity and Empowering Communities in Ghana
Abu Karim, CEO of ASI Civil Society Member Settle Ghana, reflects on his experiences with ASI and the Indigenous Peoples Advisory Forum for over half a decade.
25 April 2023
In this news post, we feature a personal reflection by the CEO of Settle Ghana, Abu Karim, on his experiences working in partnership with ASI and the Indigenous Peoples Advisory Forum for over half a decade, and expressing his gratitude towards ASI for building his and his organisation’s capacity and helping it to positively impact the lives of thousands of indigenous people in Ghana.
In an exclusive Ghanaian Culture, the elders will say, during storytelling in a moonlight that, if someone genuinely does good to you, if you can’t readily reciprocate same, you shouldn’t mince words in saying “Thank you.” And this would be the greatest of gratitude for the good done you. So, if you are reading this, it is nothing but a show of gratitude to ASI for contributing to making a huge impact through me and Settle Ghana on the lives of indigenous people in Ghana. I have always believed that the show of gratitude will turn what we have into enough.
After I reached out to Dr. Fiona Solomon, CEO of ASI, a perfect stranger I met remotely followed by some preliminary meetings which culminated into my invite to the IPAF meeting scheduled for February to March 2019, in India. This marked the beginning of the turning point of this beautiful story.
I don’t know if I should call it a sudden heartbeat, anxiety or just a dream. If it were a dream, I was going to say I wanted to continue the sleep. What was it? Officially, I was invited to the IPAF meeting
and on February 27th, 2019, a memorable day in the life of Settle Ghana and in my own life because, this was the day I left the shores of Ghana in search of a voice for the indigenous people. Indeed, this was the day I made my first ever trip by air out of the shores of Ghana.
The next two days saw IPAF having meetings in Ranchi, people came from different countries, different continents, and different culture backgrounds with different professional backgrounds. From Ghana was Abu Karim with a journalistic background, and with particular expertise in TV and radio presentations. Given this background, I was tasked by ASI to do a documentary that will showcase and tell a Ghana story within the context of ASI operations. This, I accepted wholeheartedly, because that was a dream come true.
Something interesting happened all through my stay in India. Anytime I was introduced as a Ghanaian, three things stood out:
- The Ghana Black Stars and the unfortunate memories of the Asamoah Gyan’s failed penalty during the World Cup in South Africa.
- The great Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first President and the first black man to have won independence for his country in Sub Saharan Africa.
- Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary General. Another celebrated Ghanaian in the world.
In all these occasions, I felt proud as a Ghanaian.
I made friends and we had fun. In the midst of the serious work, I made time to get teasing my friend from Guinea, Dr Penda. I couldn’t stop telling her how Ghana’s plantain was better than that of Guinea. Well, she had their mangoes to tease me with.
How can I forget my good friend, Louis from Suriname? We did virtually everything together while in India. He will often remind me of how my brother from Ghana didn’t know how to summarize. Those were on the sidelines but formed part of the bonding and learning about ourselves and our respective countries and cultures.
I put the documentary together over 6 months ASI published it on their website. Then Settle Ghana was given an opportunity as the first Civil Society Organization in Africa to join ASI. I was subsequently elected into the standing committee of ASI—also, the first African to have been given such an opportunity.
Settle Ghana submitted a proposal for Alcoa Foundation for sponsorship. This won Settle Ghana its first sponsorship from Alcoa Foundation. The Walking Together Initiative was birthed which enabled Settle Ghana to engage in capacity building of indigenous people on FPIC. Through this, more than 4000 indigenous people were trained on FPIC to support how to negotiate on fair deals in their respective jurisdictions.
Today, courtesy this renewed project, aside capacity building on FPIC, in the communities of Adukrom in the Eastern Region and Kamenga in the Upper East Region of Ghana, over 10,000 school children have seen and touched a computer for the first time in their lives. Yet again, more than 500 school children have access to exercise and text books. Another 100 students in Soma in the Sawla-Tuna-Kalba District of the Savannah Region of Ghana have furniture to eradicate the unfortunate practice of children having to learn on their bellies and on their self-acquired stools. Equally, more than 1000 people have their streets lightened in Awaso in the Western North Region of Ghana.
In all these times, ASI did not discriminate against me as a person and not against Settle Ghana as an organization, but rather helped build my capacity and that of Settle Ghana so that if today you were to surf the internet on Settle Ghana, you were going to be overwhelmed by the positive impacts the organization has made on the lives of indigenous people in Ghana over this relatively short period.
How much can I say thank you to ASI and to those who did and still support indigenous people of Ghana to have a voice and to have lives. From myself as the CEO of Settle Ghana, my colleagues with Settle Ghana and the indigenous people of Ghana, we wish ASI well as they expand. Like the Ghanaian storyteller will say, when you (ASI) hears the proverbial cock crows at dawn that is Settle Ghana and the indigenous people of Ghana saying THANK YOU.
By Abu Karim,
- CEO Settle Ghana
- Member, Standard Committee, ASI
- Member, IPAF
- Member, Human Rights working group, ASI
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