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Letters Readers’ views

School children in South Africa. The home is the foremost influence on students

The poor General Ankrah The Ghanaian General, J. A. Ankrah’s behaviour, as described by Cameron Duodu (NA Jan), did not befit a head of state. But, we shouldn’t forget that he wasn’t a genuine politician. He was a military man and should be judged in that light. To me, his remarks about Vietnam, when he proposed to the US to drop an atomic bomb on Vietnam to end the war there, weren’t shocking coming out of the mouth of a soldier. There were quite a few US soldiers (even in the ranks) who subscribed to this thinking. The scandal is that such people could become heads of state in Africa, as Ankrah became in Ghana!

Three years before his death in 1992, I wanted to involve Ankrah in a political discussion. But he refused. He reiterated time and again that he was not a politician, but a soldier. He even confessed his indifference to politics. Unfortunately, I was too polite to ask what the hell he had been doing at the helm of the Ghanaian state then.

F. Stenner Cuxhaven, Germany

Is education failing Africa? Firstly may I thank you for a consistently superb publication. I’m an Englishman living in Tunisia, and I want to respond to the “Is Education Failing Africa?” article in your December issue.

I think there is a misnomer that education is a teachers’ responsibility? I don’t think this is true. Parents may best be advised to adopt an obligation to their child’s education and to recognise that a huge percentage of the child’s education is their responsibility – this is a UK

problem as well. Some parents opt out of this responsibility – by saying “Oh, the teachers are no good, etc”. Surely teachers can only do so much.

I would like to quote a sentence from the International Herald Tribune (13 Jan 2012). “One of the paradoxes of the [American] school reform debate is that teachers’ unions have resisted a focus on teacher qualifications; instead, they emphasise that the home is the foremost influence (on students) and that teachers can only do so much.”

I am a very practical person and my wife is an academic. We have two daughters, who are now in their late 30s. From personal experience – when they were growing up and wanting help from me with their schoolwork at the age of 10, I ran out of academic ability and my wife took over. I feel without my wife’s input, our daughters would not have fared as well as they have.

Whatever is written about England, it is a multi-racial society living in peace with its people. Some of the hardest-working people in England are Indians and Pakistanis. To a Pakistani parent, education for their children is paramount. The children get 101% support from their parents and a tremendous amount of encouragement. The child’s character becomes strong and generally speaking, they have great selfesteem. To be truthful, they become clever.

As you may know, there are good and bad teachers all over the world – what makes the difference is the parent. This ought to be emphasised in any future articles – the parents cannot opt out.

J (Bob) Cooper

Tunis, Tunisia

In defence of gay rights It is one thing to say that a leader from the West is wrong to tie his aid policy to gay rights. But it is equally naive to pretend that aid has never been tied to all sorts of conditionalities that recipient governments have accepted time and time again.

“Baffour’s Beefs” (Dec & Jan) gives the impression that human rights defenders fighting for LGBT rights in Africa don’t exist on the continent. The reality is that your magazine does not give them a voice. It is therefore easy to pretend that voices against homophobia are only coming from the West!

There is no doubt that all over the world societies despise homosexuals and other sexual minorities who don’t fit into local gender or sexual norms. The social disapproval and outright hate that we face as same-gender-loving people is clear. Nonetheless, we learn to live with the hate as we grow up, and it does not stop us from being proud Africans or being avid readers of New African. The lack of acceptance from our opinion leaders or even our own families does not stop us from working hard.

Off course, we will need more freedoms and more allies. But you cannot deny the human rights challenges that sexual minorities experience. The evidence about police abuses, punitive laws (inherited from Britain), intimidation or blackmail of same-gender-loving people is evident all over our continent. As a journalist, you should encourage New African to report on some of those abuses and invite openly gay Africans to express themselves. Maybe this will convince some people that after all, we don’t need anyone’s permission to be the children of Africa.

It is easy to pick on Cameron or Obama, but Africa has no shortage of human rights defenders working on LGBT issues – perhaps you should feature them in at least one of your editions. By ignoring those courageous individuals who are within our communities, you are only encouraging the growth of a new false ideology which equate homophobia with true nationalism and Africanness.

r Cheikh Traore

New York, USA

4 | Februar y 2012 | New African