I am an avid fan of Lord of the Rings, so whenever I hear “the Fellowship” I cannot help but jumping to conclusions. In reality (never as cool as Middle Earth?), the Fellowship here in Ghana refers to the DDA Fellowship: a group of self-nominated District Directors of Agriculture in the Northern Region, who form a coalition of those wanting to improve their leadership skills in order to better perform for their districts. Facilitated by EWB, they come together approximately once per month to discuss various leadership and management topics, brainstorm around common problems, network with each other, and develop change projects around an issue in their district that they can take initiative to address.
I have had the pleasure of attending 3/5 DDA Fellowship sessions this year, and I must say I have been very impressed by the mental acuity of these people. My first idea of the Fellowship was that these were people with relatively low capacity, in leadership positions in districts and that EWB had a lot to teach them. EWB, in my mind, was clearly in the “helping” role. This vision could not be more misplaced. The DDAs we work with are definitely here to learn from EWB, but by no means are they low capacity, or in need of any particular “help” to do their jobs well. They are at the Fellowship in the first place so that they can go above and beyond what they are technically required to do, foster strong teams and incentives for performing well, and be proactive about identifying and addressing issues in their district. One example of this is the soya bean consumption project, which I talked about in this post. These are no ordinary guys. Besides already being at the top of their class in performance among their peers in the Northern Region, they have the humility, as well as the passion, to admit that they don’t know everything, and that they want to improve in order to further their impact on district livelihoods.
Now, to be sure, these guys are fallible, and we’ve had plenty excuses surrounding lateness, some pretty obvious distraction during the sessions, and a lack of openness and honesty at times. But it’s hard to be perfect. And that’s what I wasn’t recognizing at the beginning, I think. That these men are human too. Capable of being as multifaceted as I know my own Director, Dr. Saviour, to be, and as capable and quirky as my best role models in Canada. And did I mention, incredibly, incredibly smart?
This here is the leadership of Ghana, the ones that should be recognized above the politicians for attempting to forward a better future for their country. I feel very honoured to have spent a few short days with them during my 4 months here in Ghana, and I look forward to a time when, as my Pro-F colleague Dominique put it, “we are sending leaders from Canada here to learn from you.”
From my feelings, it won’t be long.