From Africa to the Caribbean: A Case for South South Cooperation

Posted from Island Vignettes: Guest Feature

The population of Ghana is approximately 25 million.  The population of Jamaica is 2.8 million. Ghana – a country in Western Africa – the word itself means “Warrior King”. Jamaica – an island in the Caribbean Sea known as “the land of wood and water”. The ties between these two countries span the centuries and within the pages of the history books are characterized by the story of slavery.

Several months ago, I had the distinct pleasure of working with a young man from Ghana on several initiatives promoting access to justice for women and children in Jamaica. This was the opportunity I needed to further explore the linkages between the two territories. In this Guest post I ask Mr. Jacob Soung a few questions on his time in Jamaica and probe a bit for his perspective of life in these two great lands.

From Africa to the Caribbean: A Case for South South Cooperation

1.    What brought you to the Caribbean?

I was inspired by the decision of the Judiciary of Jamaica in their effort to establishing National Judicial Training Institute under the newly formed Agency, (Court Management Services). Intrigued by the possibilities through volunteering and with the broad aim of the Access to Justice Program of CUSO-VSO*, I took time off my schedule to join CUSO-VSO* as a South-South Cooperant.

2.    How did your work in Jamaica contribute to an improvement in delivery of social justice?

I believe that my work as Judicial Education Programme Development Advisor had significant impact on social

Contributed Photo
Contributed Photo (2013)

justice delivery. During my time I delivered several strategic documents which over the next five years will be a critical road map. Some of these included: a Training Needs Assessment to guide the training of judiciary and staff, a proposal for an Annual Chief Justice’s Forum, over twelve (12) training modules designed for the CMS and two (2) induction modules developed for Newly Appointed Superior and Lower Courts members respectively.

3.    What about the Caribbean struck you as remarkably similar to your home?

Life in Accra is not any much different from Kingston. The hospitality of the Caribbean, culture (belief in Christian faith and marriage), the peaceful/societal solidarity and politics are so similar to Ghana.  Some words in Patois are so similar to some Ghanaian dialects. Of course, like Ghana, the place abounds with beautiful ladies and a youthful population!

4.    What seemed really different for you?

I observed that in the Caribbean, people seem to be able to create huge benefits out of literally nothing while Africans, in my opinion, make very little out of the abundance around us! While Ghana is fighting for empowerment of ‘Girl-Child’ education, Jamaica is focused on ‘Boy-Child’ education. Police are friendlier in Ghana; In Jamaica, the public seems skeptical about Police Officers and Police Officer suspicious of persons. In Kingston, Police and other security officers hold their guns in readiness, you hardly see such in Accra. In that regard I feel that Accra is safer.

On the other hand, there are so many beautiful beaches with lots of places for ice cream. My experience of carnival – it was so colourful! In the banking halls, I noticed many persons receiving phone calls, this does not happen in Ghana. I find that there are many more strategically placed super markets in Kingston than in Ghana, where food can be found on many roadsides, gas stations and fast food ventures.  Interestingly, many young people I met thought that Africa is in the ‘bush’ and not as developed as it actually is.

 5.    What are your thoughts on the future of the Caribbean and perhaps for relations with continental Africa.

Based on the similarities I noticed, Africa and the Caribbean would be better off if we initiate CARIB-AFRICA Games to share experiences. International collaboration should also strengthen the link.

 *CUSO-VSO is now known as Cuso International

Mr. Jacob Zurobire Soung is Ghanaian born and raised. He has worked with various NGOs, Private & Public sector Institutions on projects in Ghana, Canada, Kenya, Tanzania, Jamaica and Liberia. His areas of interest include Judicial Education, Social justice, Project Management, Effective Court Communication and Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanism. Mr. Soung is currently the Deputy Director of the Judicial Training Institute Accra-Ghana.

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