“Brother as Cash: Memo to Ghana & The United Nations on The ‘Monetization’ of Brotherliness for Development”

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Dear Brethren,

In the name of the Most High God,

Brother as Cash: Memo to Ghana & The United Nations on The ‘Monetization’ of Brotherliness for Development”

The wealth of a nation is often measured by its gross domestic product (gdp). The gdp is a monetary measure of the productivity of the nation in terms of her goods and services delivered within a particular period: say within a year. In general, the gdp reflect industrial capacity so that nations with higher gdps are said to be more developed and richer than those with lesser gdps. As every nation seeks to be developed, the global competition amongst nations has focused on increasing the capacity of each nation to produce more and more goods and services for sale. Development has come to stand for possessions and cash-powerment. Not surprisingly, the itching drive of developing countries to hurriedly industrialize or to acquire favorable access to “infinite” liquidity a.k.a., plenty of cash through borrowing or investments, results from this equation of money with development. Many leaders in developing nations can think of development in terms of money only. What is clear however is that even at its best, cash-power is only half of development.  The other half is culture; a culture of brotherliness of one man towards another. This culture cannot be bought or sold. It is not a part of the gdp and it is not the product of investments, of loans or grants.


No one can justifiably dispute the positive impact of money on development. Money makes life better. Roads, bridges, hospitals and schools are all founded on money. Money gives us access to needed and desired goods and services. To say that money is development is therefore true, but only in part. To say that development demands greater capacity for manufacturing and for commercial services is true, but only in part. To say that the gdp measures the wealth of nations is true but only in part. The reason simply is that development must lead to a better quality of life. The quality of life is based largely on the relationships between persons and of their conduct towards one another. Infrastructure and technologies don’t make communities. People are the community. People are life. People are development. Assuming equal access to all that money can offer, the quality of life would differ based on the types of people making up the community. The unending chaos and misery flowing from a society of the wicked and of the ignorant would undo the thousand and one joys flowing from all those shiny toys and fat bank balances. Thus those who define development and wealth in terms of infrastructure; in terms of possessions or in terms of cash only, miss out the true function of development namely, a higher quality of life for people. A large part of that quality of life is based upon the quality of the relationships that exist between people at any given time. Thus as nations seek finances in order to acquire the material aspects of development, they cannot afford to ignore the human elements of development for one without the other would spell failure for the project.

What is wealth? Wealth includes money, valuable services and possessions that are in demand. Wealth also includes anything whose absence triggers an expenditure. I repeat. If the absence of something will cause you to spend money in order to restore the identity or the functions of the status quo ante or you would have to spend money in order to minimize the effect of the loss of the thing, that thing is wealth. It is “negative” but ‘printable” money. By the word negative I am only referring to an unmeasured and ‘un-priced’ quantity or quality. Negative wealth can be counted and given value. However not everything valuable can be sold or purchased. This is because some negative wealth, as I will show momentarily are not based on commercial relationships but on culture, on identities, on loyalties, on duties and on ethics that transcend commerce and bankables.


Brotherliness is a relationship defined by care, by trust, by loyalty, fairness and cooperation. Brotherliness is characterized by sharing, supporting and securing. A nation of brothers is a place where the duty of care is widespread and entrenched. It is a social environment in which security, peace and neighborliness prevail. It is a place where creativity is appreciated and supported in cooperative networks across sectors. It is a community in which cheating; faking, sabotage and pain and suffering are frowned upon. A community of brother is an environment in which fairness and justice are promoted and practiced everywhere. Such brotherliness is not only good for nurturing intellectual, artistic and commercial freedoms and supporting creative spaces, they create an enjoyable quality of life whose absence can only lead to shrinking creativity and to violence, to corruption, to alienation, to injustices and to the treatment of every man as an enemy, as an obstacle and as the object of fear and loathing. Clearly, brotherliness is very important both in creating a critical supporting environment for economic development and also as an enjoyable condition on its own. Brotherly love is enjoyable in and of itself. If you don’t know how it feels like to be at a place where people truly care for you, you haven’t been human. The absence of brotherly love is distance, suspicion, greed, wickedness, slavery, betrayal, war, torture, authoritarianism, deception, destruction and endless pain and suffering. Think of brotherliness as health and its absence as an illness. People normally underestimate the wealth of their health until they get sick. That is when they see the value of a heart or an eye and so on. The cost to a nation without brotherliness in terms of lost artistic, scientific and commercial opportunities; in terms of the amount of money it takes to police communities, to secure persons, to assist victims of crimes, to repair destroyed properties; to prevent sabotage and sell-outs and so on and in terms of general lawlessness and disorder across board, can be calculated. Such costs can undo most if not all the gains following from having the right infrastructures and finances for development.

It is important to remember the qualities that flow from brotherliness and to note that a nation without brotherliness cannot be said to be developed. Whether we are talking about human rights, rule of law or a culture of the duty of care, their fundamental root must be brotherliness. For when we do not care for one another, what is a right or a duty? Nations that neglect the human components of development would in time, create monsters who would undermine and destroy the very things that modernity, technology and money have sought to build namely, a better life for all. In this vein, it is necessary to keep in mind that the amount of money it takes to fix disasters caused by the absence of brotherliness can be huge. This is money that can be said to have been wasted. For if you can prevent an illness and you don’t, the money spent on a cure is wasted. What is worse is that for poorer or smaller nations, such costs arising from care-less communities are unaffordable. This would further cause more injuries and less development. Therefore, where there is widespread brotherliness within a nation, such brotherliness is wealth and it should serve as a good measure of development. I am proposing a national brotherliness index that should add to the gdp as the measure of development for any nation. The national brotherliness index should be measured as an annual survey of every nation as per the table below. The wealth of nation should no longer be measured by money alone. Development shall also be measured by the care of people for one another. Those who score higher on the brotherliness index are better off than those who score the least. DEVELOPMENT = High GDP + High.


Willingness to advance and to protect the commons ?
Willingness to protect the rights of others ?
Willingness to produce or to distribute dangerous or fake products ?
Willingness to undermine, to destroy or to sabotage the public interest for personal interests ?
Willingness to respond positively in support of strangers in an emergency ?
Willingness to speak and to support the truth for the greater good ?
Willingness to resolve disputes peacefully and without resort to violence ?


The remarkable thing about brotherly wealth is that it does not require money to acquire it. Brotherliness is a product of leadership, of education and of culture. Poor countries in particular have a duty to develop these brotherly attitudes and cultures. For not only is development dependent upon these, the poor nations cannot afford the costs associated with the absence of brotherliness as a living spirit within the nation. It is good to live in place where people care about you and would not hurt you at every opportunity that arises. It is good to live in a community where people would rush to your assistance when you are in need. It is good to live in a community where the common good is cherished, protected and shared with all. Besides, since it costs a little to nothing to nurture loving or caring relationships as compared to the alternative, a great deal of effort must be spent to determine the words, the narratives, the rules, the rhythms, the images, practices, relationships, taboos and incentives that create, nurture and grow brotherliness amongst men. As we pursue money for development, we must pursue care, compassion: love amongst us for development. For without brotherliness, there would be chaos, wickedness and war. Ghana, Africa and the entire world would be a better place only when the capacity and the willingness to care for one another becomes the measure of our wealth and of our development. It is not how many properties we have but how many brothers we have that should tell us how rich we are. A wealthy tycoon in a war zone is not a rich man. He is a dead man. Peace!!!


Nana Oppong
President of the Distinguished Scholars of Africa

November 3, 2018

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