“What Is Your Country’s Largest Export?”

Recently, an academic bemoaned the lack of quotes/quotations attributable to Ghanaians in academic discourses.

Feedback has been that, granted he was right, apart from Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah who can be quoted extensively from his books in libraries all over the world, where are the Ghanaian quotes? Which books are they in, and how easy are they to find?

Unfortunately, Ghanaians joke that, if you want to hide something from a Ghanaian, put it in a book. Reason?

As a student of mine in Graduate School recently stated, “Ghanaians don’t read, we only criticize.”

Brothers’ Quotes

I find quotes by the two Kennedy Brothers interesting. At the foot of President JF Kennedy’s (JFK) grave at the Arlington National Cemetery, Washington DC, USA, is the inscription below.

“Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

His younger brother and his Attorney-General RF Kennedy (RFK) who in 1968 was also assassinated like President Kennedy in 1963, has the quote below.

“Some people see things as they are, and ask why? I dream things that never were and ask, why not?”

While JFK asked Americans to serve their country, RFK asked Americans to dream to improve America, and not concentrate on criticising what their predecessors did.


In May 2021, the Daily Graphic/TV reported the departure for an African country of a powerful delegation to “understudy (that country’s) Waste Management System and good environmental and sanitation practices.”

Earlier, Assin-Kushea in the Central Region had been described and praised as the “cleanest town in Ghana.” Video clips on You Tube provide evidence. This has been achieved under the leadership of its chief Nana Prah Agyensaim VI. The town has demonstrated “good environmental and sanitation practices.”

Granted that country’s system is more sophisticated, could charity not begin from home with a visit to Assin-Kushea?  Other countries belong to a different cultural milieu of respect and discipline where law is enforced. Again, attitudes to cleanliness and maintenance are different from ours.

Cannot the Assin-Kushea model be improved as a prototype for sanitation and cleanliness for Ghana factoring in our attitude, discipline/indiscipline and lack of maintenance culture?


During my basic training abroad in the early 1970s, foreign cadets sat by Generals at special Officers Mess functions. On this occasion, the General I sat by, asked

“Dan, what’s your country’s largest export?”

My answer was, cocoa! To my surprise he shook his head and asked me to try again. After the same answer, he asked me to try the third time. I replied, given a hundred chances, I would give the same answer. Smiling, he pointed his index finger at his head.

When I asked what that meant, he answered “brains!”

He stated that, “per capita, your little country produces more brains than many of us in the advanced world!” He educated me there were Ghanaians in US medical field, in the arts/ humanities, in engineering, industry and probably above all, at the National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA).

While there is nothing wrong with going outside to study to improve our country, we have a lot home to solve our problems, provided we do so honestly and sincerely.

The question is, do Ghanaians appreciate and support Ghanaians?


Questions I have been asked include: Where will a delegation go to.

1. Learn how Ghanaians can be patriotic/respectful, and not insult fellow Ghanaians, and love fellow Ghanaians more than foreigners, and not the other way round?

2. Understudy how not to do “galamsey” to destroy our water-bodies/vegetation?

3. Learn how not to be corrupt?

4. Understudy how not to aid foreigners cut down and export our rosewood?

“Home-grown” is a term used for local initiatives, by thinking outside the box. Certainly, we do not have to travel outside to get answers to the questions above. We have them here!


No number of delegations to understudy others will work, if we do not change our negative attitude of indiscipline, disrespect for authority/elders, lack of maintenance culture, and loving foreigners more than Ghanaians.

The Kennedy Brothers said it in their quotes, and Assin-Kushea has demonstrated locally that, “we can!”

As a cadet I was taught that, Leadership gets things done leading, and not explain why things have not been done. The General in 1974 stated Ghana has the brain-power for achievement! So, like RFK, why don’t we “dream things that never were, and ask, why not?”

To the academic who complained about us not using Ghanaian quotes/quotations, once Ghanaians write books stating the truth, we shall quote them.

Leadership, lead!

Fellow Ghanaians, WAKE UP!


Brig Gen Dan Frimpong (Rtd)

Former CEO, African Peace Support Trainers Association

Nairobi, Kenya

Council Chairman

Family Health University College


[email protected]