How to change the perception of African countries

This week I had the opportunity to visit Madam Mavis Esi Kusorgbor the Minister in charge of economical and politic affairs at the Ghana Embassy in Madrid. We touched on topics such as her background in international relations and economic, political or cultural aspect of her task in representing and promoting her country.

Her daily tasks consist in looking after Ghana’s political interest in Madrid, promoting economic relations between Ghana and Spain and as a deputy to the Ambassador in administrative issues of the Embassy. Madam Kusorgbor envisaged working in a similar position from an early stage of her education. Before starting university, she studied Governments as major which prepared her for her studies in political science and later international affairs.

After her degree, she managed to find a role in the Foreign Ministry in 1995 which marks the beginning of her employment with the Government of Ghana. The different roles she has taken in the past 20 years were all related to handling Ghana’s foreign affairs and relations either from inside the country or in different departments and countries of the world.

Her first posting outside of Ghana was with the Ghana permanent mission at the United Nations in New York. She served on the Third Committee of the General Assembly which is responsible for social and human right issues and treating questions related to the advancement of women, the protection of children and the promotion of fundamental freedoms .”Everybody is basically pursuing their own interest and not thinking about what is really happening globally.” she said and questioned some countries disregarding events on security issues and humanitarian consensus and sticking to their political stands. After being sent out to Egypt from 2008 to 2012 which represented a momentous time for the country , she then served in Dubai for a brief period before taking her current position at the Ghana Embassy in Spain last year.

During those years she learned about different cultures of the world and how they perceive Ghana. That plays an important aspect in understanding how to present the interest to the different audiences. It is important to take the different aspects of the international relations of Ghana with the countries in consideration. The different strategies focus on knowledge of culture, development, social cultural aspects and most importantly the history of the relations with Ghana. Egypt for example as bilateral partner has a strong relationship, what ensures a lot of support to initiatives. People to people relations are also very important as Ghana is not very know for example in Dubai, but has seen increased activity. In Spain or Europe in general it is more difficult as you must first find out what people think about Ghana and what might be attractive in terms of “business, investment or cultural relations”.

The Embassy tries to promote Ghana as politically stable country with many economic prospects. Western countries look for certain factors such as “good governance”, “committed leaders”, “efforts to improve the well-being of the people” and “democracy” in their potential partners. Ghana fulfills all those factors and the duty of its representatives is now to showcase that potential. In her current role, she tries to attract investments to Ghana from chambers of commerce and companies. Arguments like the low cost of labor and the logistic aspects allowing short distances of production speak for those investments. The readiness of investor due to security and financial concerns are obstacles that she has to face. For that to change the Embassy also tries to showcase the culture of Ghana to attract tourism and subsequently the awareness about the country.

“As small individual countries if we do not come together as a bloc we will not have a voice strong enough to be able to engage with other regional groups like the European Union or even a bigger country like the United States, because after all it is just one small Ghana or one small Gambia.” With this statement, she shows the importance of unity between African countries. Ghana can serve as a leader for West Africa in such negotiations. Most countries of Africa have gone through difficulties. It is important to understand the different dynamics and to help development. It is for that reason that the Economic Community of West African States(ECOWAS) exists. One important aspect in trade negotiations will be the possibility to sell processed goods rather than raw materials in order to be able to have more say in the prices negotiations. With a more unified stand these issues will be easier to solve.

In conclusion, it can be said that more countries have discovered or are discovering the economic potential in Ghana and what it has to offer culturally. With this development, the country can serve as a great role model for neighboring countries and as voice for international negotiations. To achieve that goal different parties and individuals have to come together and work on that common goal.

Rudiger Atchon

“It could become the most expensive waste of money in history”

Marina Barberá Matías

All the actions done by the president Donald J. Trump have been done to “make America great again” but despite of what people may say the intention is not what matters. Those political moves may produce different outcomes of those sought by Mr. Trump.

One of the f086c412irst decisions when he arrived to his actual position and one of the well-known promises done during the presidential campaign of Mr. Trump was the withdrawal of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Charles Kushner program director of the Bachelor in International Relations at IE University in Madrid Spain, sees it like the perfect opportunity for Canada to step into America’s leadership role in order to facilitate better trade, as Canada largely avoided the 2008 financial crisis by avoiding the risky banking practices that were responsible for the collapse, thus they are well poised to step into this leadership role.

Mr. Trump said “now American workers will be protected against competition from low-wage countries like Vietnam and Malaysia.” but the reasons established by experts for the manufacturing jobs decline differ from his. The central cause is the automation, which has developed into the decline of human labour. It is a fact that despite the decline in manufacturing jobs, the productivity in American factories has been increased. We are producing more while employing fewer. “This is exactly why Donald Trump’s plan to pull out of trade deals won’t only not bring back jobs to the American economy, it will actually hurt the economy further, as products exported by America would undoubtedly suffer with less trading partners.” Mr. Kushner said. The economic position of the U.S. as the world leader can be at risk by the isolationist strategy followed by Mr. Trump as affects their international image in the free market. Mr. Kushner said that in order to maintain its status as the beacon of the free world, America in fact needs to be a part of the world. It cannot afford to shut itself in behind pointless and costly walls.

Also, the acts done by the new president will without discussion cause changes on the relation between the U.S. and the countries from all around the world. The TPP was a pact in which the United States, the world’s largest economy and Japan, the third world largest economy, were together in a free-trade pact. The end of this agreement could cause some differences in the relation between Japan and the U.S., but the reality is that their relation despite the event from the past is better than the one that Japan has with its neighbours. “The dismantling of the TPP doesn’t affect current trade deals the U.S. and Japan share. Currently Japan is the United States 4th largest trading partner”. The relation among them will remain as usual but it is a fact that the withdrawal of the U.S. from the TPP will cause an economic vacuum that China will look forward to fill. It will be matter of time see if the relation between other members and the U.S. is enough to prevent China of fulfilling that position.

The relation with Mexico is the most affected by the actions of Mr. Trump as one of the most polemic orders is the construction of the wall in the frontier between Mexico and the United States. The main cause of its controversy is the dispute about who is going to pay for it, as the president of the United States has affirmed from the campaign that his country will not pay and the president of Mexico also declared that no Mexican money will be used for the construction of that wall, Mexico is face to face against the multimillionaire Donald Trump who has promised to find the way to make them pay and one of the ideas is through taxes. This will not be a good option as Mr. Kushner says that Mexican exporters would likely just raise taxes on American products as well as the prices of their own exports, resulting in price increases in the U.S. and ultimately the cost of the wall would be paid by Americans, not Mexico. Moreover, the construction of the wall will be unproductive as there are another ways through which the immigrants arrive to the U.S. so “it could become the most expensive waste of money in history as most undocumented immigrants in America fly into the country and overstay a valid visa.”

LAST NZ TRIBE (THE MAORI)

Date: March 9th, 2012
By: Ananda Cerdan,Ibón Joung, Sara Setién, Eduardo Márquez and Virginia Mazón

 LAST NZ TRIBE (THE MAORI)

   Maori are the only tribe indigenous that exists in New Zealand nowadays which arrived there 800 years ago from Cook Islands. With the course of time they

have lost lot of their traditions due to their integration in the New Zealand society but they are still maintaining their principal ones.

   This tribe’s origin is the Easter Polynesia, from the Cook, Tahiti and Tasman Islands. It is thought that the name of the tribe comes between the years 800 and 1.300; the descendants of early settlers were named as the Maoris, to differ from what they call “Pakeka” or Europeans.

    According to the Maori legend, the founder of the tribe was Kupe who discovered the “Aotearoa”(Land of the big white cloud), settled in the north side of New Zeeland from the island Hawaiki (the legendary territory of the tropical area of the Polynesia), after discovering that the territory was inhabited. The Maoris already populated new Zeeland before the Europeans arrived, it is estimated that this Maoris occupation ended by the 18th century. But on 1772 took place the first conflict between the Maoris and the Europeans, by the end of the century the war ended causing more than 300 Maoris deaths.

   For the last 20 years after the conflict, no more European activity was noticed, but on the end of the 18th century and the early 19th century the first European missionaries and British whale-men, installing a new colony and economical markets. Finally on the 19th century, New Zealand became an English colony.

   From those 800 years ago to the present Maori´s tribe has change two of their principal manners due to their integration in the New Zealand society. Formerly, they practiced cannibalism, Maori enclosed their victims in small cages and they fattened them to eat that people later. Another feature they have changed is that they lived in big clans, which gave rise to many disputes among families; It´s was a very garrison town.

   Nowadays, although they live in small clans they usually gather for parties and celebrations in a collective land called “Marae” where there are a meeting-house, a dining room and a courtyard. At present, they survived on fishing and hunting of wild animals which lived in their same environment and of course they have left the cannibalism aside.

   One of their traditions which continue having today is their religious belief. They are polytheists. According to their religion the parents in the world are Rangi (Heaven) and Papa (earth). Both were united in an embrace from which they were separated from their children, leading to the entrance of light in the world. The rain is the tears of this couple for their separation. The children of the creator gods hold various powers.  Tane is the god of flora, Rongo of agriculture and peace, Tangaroa of the sea… According to them tane was the first one who created the first woman. They got married and of the marriage was born a daughter who became the mother of the Maori people.

“Ring means Heaven”                RANGI AND PAPA (a Pollynesian creation myth)                                                                                                                                                          “Papa means Earth”

   About their typical dance called “Haka”, a war dance for men in which the warriors make strong movements and rough that are accompanied by jumps whit a really aggressive expression of their faces, multiples tattoos and weapons, has been utilized as a identity mark of New Zealand to be more striking for tourist.This dance has created lots of polemics; due to its rough movements it is considered to be aggressive therefore many other countries have imitated a similar dance.

The New Zealand rugby team called “All Black´s” also has copied this typical dance to intimidate his opponents.

Some typical Maori tattoos are very common to see in young people skins around the world as a way of modernity and identity.

Some links for everyone:

What Maori treaty is really about

New Zealand history online