The George Ayittey Memorial Awards is an ACEYE (Africa Centre for Entrepreneurship and Youth Empowerment) initiative, co-founder Richmond Kwesi Ansah has explained.
He addressed an audience at the awards ceremony in Accra, Saturday, November 25, 2023, at Airport View Hotel, on the purpose of the awards scheme, amply eulogising Prof George Ayittey.
He lightheartedly pointed out how ACEYE, pronounced, sounds, to some people, like ‘Asey’ which means ‘my friend’ in colloquial Akan, especially in Takoradi, and again sounds like the word for ‘praises’ in Ewe.
“Although he was not young, he loved the youth,” Ansah noted about Prof Ayittey.
| Richmond Kwesi Ansah
He said after learning about the demise of Prof Ayittey, he and ACEYE co-founder Emmanuel Acquah rewatched the videos and reread the books of the beloved Ghanaian international economist, lecturer and author.
Thereafter, according to him, they came away with the impression the late economist “had said so much that he didn’t have to say anymore”.
When Prof Ayittey passed last year, Ansah explained, he and Acquah resolved to keep “our beloved economist’s” memory and legacy alive.
Throwing light on the George Ayittey Memorial Awards, alias GAMA, he underlined there is an honourary award for “those who have made an impact” in various fields and then a recognition of those who competitively wrote essays on a variety of issues.
| Emmanuel Acquah
When ACEYE co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Emmanuel Acquah, addressed the audience, he said he is a “firm believer of George Ayittey’s ideas”.
Prof Ayittey, was a man whose “birth” marked “economic salvation for Africa,” he proclaimed.
He challenged “young Africans,” the continent’s biggest asset, in Prof Ayittey’s view, to “wake up from our slumber” and “try in the face of adversity”.
Acquah made a call for support for “budding entrepreneurs,” consistent with Prof Ayittey’s views, rebuking the penchant for salvific foreign aid.
“In our quest to fly, Ayittey reminds us to be grounded,” he further exhorted.
In conclusion, he strongly called on Africa’s youth, the Cheetah Generation, per Prof Ayittey’s vision, to “be strong, be bold, and inspire possibility”.
Prof Ayittey made a distinction between two generations in Africa: Hippos and Cheetahs.
The Hippos, he argued in a 2010 CNN Special, are the “many African leaders, intellectuals, or elites… stuck in their muddy colonialist pedagogical patch. They can see with eagle-eyed clarity the injustices perpetrated by whites against blacks, but they are hopelessly blind to the more heinous injustices they perpetrate against their own black people”.
In sharp contrast, “the Cheetah Generation refers to the new and angry generation of young African graduates and professionals… [who] are dynamic, intellectually agile, and pragmatic. The Cheetahs do not look for excuses for government failure by wailing over the legacies of the slave trade, Western colonialism, imperialism, the World Bank or an unjust international economic system”.
| Amprofi Agyemang
During the three-hour GAMA 2023 ceremony, an executive assistant at IMANI Centre for Policy and Education, Amprofi Agyemang, was the announcer for the honorary awards.
First, on behalf of IMANI President Franklin Cudjoe, he noted how Prof George Ayittey “espoused a lot of libertarian views”. By this, he explained IMANI’s partnership with ACEYE for the GAMAs, which is to spotlight individuals who exemplify the values of the late professor and economist.
George Ayittey Memorial Awards 2023, Honourary awards, presented by Prof Enoch Opoku Antwi:
Outstanding efforts in combating corruption: Manasseh Azure Awuni
Entrepreneurial innovation and impact: Sulley Amin Abubakar
Distinguished legal achievements: Martin Luther Kpebu
Exemplary governance and leadership: Farida Bedwei
Excellence in media and journalism: Seth Kwame Boateng
Promising entrepreneur: Senyegbe Agbemabiese
| Associate Dean of Business Administration and Communication Arts, Academic City, Prof Enoch Opoku Antwi presenting an award to Senyegbe Agbemabiese, an 18-year-old tech entrepreneur
As part of the George Ayittey Memorial Awards 2023, the GAMA for Cheetah Leadership Essay Contest was introduced. The contest was open to Africans between the ages of 18 and 35, who were tasked to choose and write on one out of eight topics key to Prof Ayittey’s philosophy.
33 essays were received in total, and after careful review, three writers came tops:
3rd: Elvis Ampoh wrote on Food Insecurity and Waste: The Paradox in Ghana
He received an award plaque, a certificate, and a cash prize of GHS500.
2nd: Emmanuel Suma wrote on The Importance of Economic Freedom to Development in Sierra Leone.
He received an award plaque, a certificate, and a cash prize of GHS700.
1st: Francisca Afedo-Hevi wrote on Cheetah Generation: Catalysts of African Progress
She received an award plaque, a certificate, and a cash prize of GHS1000.
| Victoria Kuzorli
| Francisca Afedo-Hevi receiving a cheque prize from Dr Joseph Darmoe
While Ms Victoria Kuzorli was the announcer, Dr Joseph Darmoe, the keynote speaker for the occasion, made the award presentation.
| Francisca Afedo-Hevi
Read, below, Ms Francisca Afedo-Hevi’s ultimate award-winning essay:
B.A, University of Ghana.
Tuesday,12th September 2023.
The Cheetah Generation: Catalysts of African Progress.
The term “Cheetah Generation” refers to the young and dynamic African population, particularly those born after 1980, who have embraced technology, entrepreneurship and innovation as the key drivers and proponents of change and progress in their respective countries and the continent as a whole. This generation stands in sharp contrast to their predecessors, often referred to as the “Hippo Generation”, who are seen as slower to adapt and resistant to change.
In this essay, we will explore the characteristics of the Cheetah Generation and why they’re critically important for Africa’s development.
The term “Cheetah” in Cheetah Generation was chosen to symbolize the characteristics and aspirations of this generation because:
They possess speed and agility: Cheetahs are known for their speed, hence the title of “fastest land animals” in the world. The “Cheetah Generation” term signifies the speed with which this young African demographic is adapting to and embracing change, particularly in the digital era.
They’re very ambitious: Cheetahs are very relentless and determined when hunting for their preys. Similarly, the “Cheetah Generation” is characterized by its ambitious and determined attitude towards conquering obstacles and achieving success, both individually and for their communities and countries.
They have youthful energies: Cheetahs are at their peak in terms of physical fitness and energy when they’re young. Likewise, the “Cheetah Generation” represents the youths of Africa, a demographic group that holds enormous potential and energy to drive positive change on the continent.
They’re very independent: Cheetahs are solitary animals that do not rely on large social groups for hunting. This independence highlights itself in the self-reliance and entrepreneurial spirit often seen in the “Cheetah Generation”. They’re all about risk taking and pursuing goals independently.
This generation, although emerged in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, is essential to Africa’s economic prosperity for several compelling reasons.
First and foremost, the “Cheetah Generation” embodies the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship. They’re driven by a desire to harness the opportunities presented by the digital age, with a deep understanding of technology and it’s informative potential. In a world where technology is the driving force behind economic growth, their adaptability and wellness to embrace change are invaluable assets.
Moreover, the “Cheetah Generation” is well educated and globally connected. Many have received world-class education both within Africa and abroad, equipping them with the skills and knowledge needed to compete in the global economy. Their global exposure also fosters cross-cultural understanding and the ability to leverage international networks for economic partnerships and collaborations.
In addition, the “Cheetah Generation” is increasingly engaging in politics, advocating for transparent and accountable governance. Their involvement in the political landscape has the potential to reshape African politics, making it more responsive to the needs of the people.
Furthermore, the “Cheetah Generation” is passionate about addressing societal issues and injustices such as corruption, inequality, lack of access to education, healthcare and violence. They’re active proponents for positive change, often leveraging social media and grassroots movements to muster support and raise awareness concerning these issues.
However, it is important to recognize that, the “Cheetah Generation” faces significant challenges such as unemployment, access to quality education and healthcare. Addressing these issues is very necessary to harnessing their full potential and challenging them to do more. Moreover, governments, businesses, and the civil society must take into consideration and actively support and invest in the “Cheetah Generation” to ensure their continued growth and impact in their countries and continent.
In conclusion, the “Cheetah Generation” is pivotal to Africa’s economic prosperity. Their innovative spirit and global perspective, social consciousness and demographic advantage positions them as catalysts for positive change and development. As Africa continues to grow as far as economic development is concerned, nurturing and empowering this generation is not just an option but a necessity for a brighter future for the continent. By supporting this generation, seeing to where help is needed, weeding out wrongs and watering them with every necessity there is, Africa can build a whole new meaning for itself and the world at large.
ACEYE’s mission, per their website, is to promote entrepreneurship and free markets by influencing policies on the back of research, professional analysis, nurturing tutoring, advocacy and advisory services.
Earlier this year, ACEYE organised the maiden edition of the Professor George Ayittey Memorial Lectures, a three-day event that took place on four university campuses: University of Mines and Technology (UMaT), University of Professional Studies-Accra (UPSA), Academic City University College and University of Ghana (UG).
| GAMAs 2023 MC: Alex Sarpong, professionally The Cobby Lexyz the Spider, performed a poem entitled ‘Free or Freed’.
| The Salters, an a cappella group, opened the event with the Alabaster Box classic Akwaaba (Welcome), segueing into a medley of other classics from Tagoe Sisters, Daughters of Glorious Jesus and Ben E. King.
Themed 'Inspiring minds, transforming nations: The Ayittey legacy', ACEYE's 2023 George Ayittey Memorial Awards was sponsored by Atlas Network, in partnership with IMANI.