A country where natural resources and landscapes are as diverse as the customs and mores that people practice, “Ghana is the place where I want to be”, says Monash PhD student Sefa.
Sefa is happy to belong to the Ewe ethnic group, but he is a very proud Ghanaian. He has already travelled to 24 countries, studied in the UK and a year ago he was accepted into a PhD in Economics. Passionate about discovering new horizons and finding answers to deep questions on international microfinance, Sefa heartily takes us on the exploration of his native country.
In Ewe language, Sefa means ‘God is Peace’ and he takes much pride in his African name. He hails from a narrow strip of land of the Volta region between Keta Lagoon and the Gulf of Guinea. In his native town, Woe, is found the largest and oldest lighthouse of Ghana called Cape St. Paul Lighthouse that guides ships away from a mythical massive underwater mountain. In the Volta region, he describes that most people work in farming or fishing. Taking over your family work activity is an inter-generational heritage. However, Sefa explains that recent migration to urban centers has led traditions to fade away. Realising the power and importance of education, many young people have moved to the main cities.
While the country offers great diversity, Ghanaians remain united around soccer, national celebrations, and above all Christianity. Ghanaians are very religious people and more than 70% of them are Christians. “Religion gives common ground for all Ghanians despite their divergent political opinions. It creates an alliance among Ghanaians”, explains the faithful Sefa. Another 17% of the population is Muslim and 5% follow traditional beliefs. This latter polytheist religious group considers the spirit world as real as the living world in which thoughts and actions have consequences. The role of elders is crucial as they represent the most intermediate link to the spirit world. There is a general religious acceptance; “most Ghanaians are driven by religion. My religion is my identity and therefore my way of life”, he adds.
By nature, Sefa finds Ghanaians are very entrepreneurial, “they find amazing ways to make it happen and make sure they aren’t outsmarted”. He carries on about Ghanaians’ welcoming hearts, “wherever you find yourself in Ghana, you feel embraced by the people”. Ghana is a culturally-rich place where people are proud and committed to their culture.
Since the country’s independence in 1957 from Great Britain, Sefa states “Ghanaian politics is driven by ethnicity” and himself is very curious to find answers on how politics and ethnicity work together. To provide further context, he tells “there are traditional local leaders (known as chiefs or kings) in political roles who are powerful at a national level.
Ghanaians are an example of self-control, understanding and flexibility when approaching political matters. Sefa takes much pride in the political stability of his country and the maturity of Ghanaians at times when political decisions aren’t necessarily reaching the general public expectations.
With the recent discovery of petroleum resources in 2007, Sefa is concerned about its benefits to the Ghanaians. “Ghana’s economy is not at its best at the moment and inequalities are very high”, he states. There is no doubt that the bright Sefa will further research this matter to assist his country’s sustainable development. For now all his attention is centered on microfinance; its challenging and positive outcomes. He says “Australia is the best country and economy I have ever seen. Academic jobs allow you to be creative and Monash gives me the opportunity to be around great minds”.
Sefa will use his international experience and research work at Monash to one day enhance the quality of research record in Ghana. With his ambition to be published in the most highly-ranked academic journals, Sefa doesn’t dream of a high level position at university but to challenge and influence Ghana’s intellectual spheres.