From the Archives: Ghana-A-Report

We recently inspected a 16mm film at ISD called Ghana-A-Report (1969). This film, in remarkable condition, was produced in England for the multinational corporation, Unilever, a month before the creation of a new Bill of Rights. This Bill of Rights legalized political parties in Ghana after they had been banished three years earlier by the Nkrumah administration. It clearly addresses international audiences in order to demonstrate that 3 years of post-Nkrumah privatization and re-development policies of the National Liberation Council (NLC) made Ghana an attractive investment opportunity. For example, the introductory text of the film reads,

“The course of economic development in Ghana has been troubled. Today, with a new realism within Ghana itself, an equal realism is the only helpful response from her friends outside. This film is a tribute to an economic re-assessment which can only have been as difficult as it was radical.”

The “helpful response from her friends outside” to the “new realism within Ghana itself”—an allusion to the separation of Ghana and the Eastern Bloc in the post-Nkrumah years—reads as plea for American and European capital investment in the economic development of Ghana’s industries. Take, for instance, the description of the film from the online BFI catalog:

“Riches of Ghana to offer the foreign investor—timber, bauxite, manganese, industrial diamonds etc. The collapse of Ghana’s economy in the ten years since independence and the steps now being taken to restore national stability through investment from overseas. Intended primarily for informed audiences in Ghana and others interested in the sponsor’s [Unilever] overseas investments and Ghanaian economy.”

Twelve years after Ghana’s independence, Ghana’s “riches” are still being offered up like imperial bounty, this time in the name of capital.

Ghana-A-Report reminds me of a recent ad that several Ghanaian public and private agencies took out in Fortune Magazine highlighting the international investment possibilities in Ghanaian development projects, including suburban housing developments in Tema, the new African Regent “Simply Afropolitan” Hotel and a newly proposed dam project. This 4-page ad was disguised as a special report on Ghana, perhaps in hopes that Ghanaian investments would look more appealing to foreign investors if they thought Fortune Magazine had given them legitimacy. What is interesting about this ad in relation to the film Ghana-A-Report is their similar appeal to global capital. Ironically what the ad proposes as signs of Ghana’s attractiveness to investors, a new dam and housing development in Tema are both related to projects originally started under the very administration that the National Liberation Council and Ghana-A-Report were in opposition to, the socialist leaning Nkrumah administration’s Volta River Dam Project and the creation of Ghana’s first modern planned city, Tema.

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