TAMALE — On Saturday September 17, 2016, a dear friend M. Kwadwo Nyamba came to the defense of the “good” work of IMANI Africa, a political think tank, in Ghana. Why? The “think tank” had come under heavy criticism after it waded buttocks first, into Ghana’s political discourse, with some [uncritical] economic analyses of party’s manifestos, especially at a blustery time in which the two main parties vying for the presidency in the December elections are virtually tied in the polls. Not that any polls in Ghana are to be relied upon, but to M. Nyamba’s point, every Koklo, Buulu and Djimito must be allowed an opinion. And I agree. Ghana is after all a republic and we practice here some level of democracy, an Elitist Democracy. The worst I can do is prevent the people from taking up their meager rights, the right to err.
So IMANI Africa has had its fair share of policy quarrels and applause depending on what interest it has served. For this reason alone it had my curiosity. But so torrid has the history and trajectory of this think tank become that it begs my attention. Not that I begrudge the personalities that man it, nor do I care which political party wins the presidency as a result of their political meddling, rather I have come to suspect a general overarching theme. A manifesto with a clandestine globalist underpinning in its policy appraisals—policies detrimental for nation building—that has rather become difficult for unsuspecting folks in our dear country to unveil.
On this blessed Saturday, Franklin Cudjoe, the head of the think tank came to the defense of the works of his privately run IMANI Africa. In one statement alone he was succinctly clear about the sources of funding for their manifesto, even going as far as chiding me for questioning how he acquired funding to operate in Ghana. He wrote:
“Our manifesto work is funded by the Ford Foundation, Open Society Foundation, UNICEF and Oxfam IBIS” This was followed by his chastisement: “When was the last time you donated to a cause in Ghana? Have you ever?”
Cudjoe’s “opening-up” moment also came at the back of a report earlier this year, on June 29, by Transparify—an organization that provides global rating of the financial transparency of over 200 major think tanks in some 47 different countries—which revealed that IMANI Africa in Ghana had a one star rating out of a possible five. IMANI Africa was found to be a highly opaque think tank. That is, its financial transparency ranked at rock bottom.
Indeed, I had linked IMANI Africa to the CIA on a prior posting by Audu Salisu, to which Franklin’s answer bears a striking transmission, although at that moment I lost the engine we needed to drive the discussion further. I had misplaced my sources (evidence) for the assertion that IMANI was in part funded by the CIA. As a gentleman, as a man who underscores the need for evidence and data, I respectfully rescinded my claim in the absence of the evidence and apologized for making an “unfounded” comment about the “fine” operations of an African think tank in Ghana.
One has to appreciate my subliminal caution. A part of me was torn between criticizing a Ghanaian-led think tank while at the same time making sure that I was espousing astute patriotism. The dilemma here is not new to Ghanaian politics. Every criticism of the sources and intentions of particular institutions, even individuals, with foreign funding always raises concerns about “hating” and a “pull-him-down” trope.
Franklin himself ejaculated, “Can we realistically say that all the aid poured into the continent really were made to hurt us? …All haters of aid eventually agree that it is needed somehow when you have good managers in place.”
In fact, one Selorm Brantie also rose against my earlier comments describing how I and other “people always try to ascribe a higher “power”[the CIA] to any endeavor someone or a group of people [IMANI Africa] do? Is it that we have absolutely no respect in the fact that we can be self-starters?”
Taken together, Franklin’s supply of the list of his funders from abroad and Selorm’s misunderstanding of our collective history especially that our first democratically elected president of the Republic of Ghana, Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah, was actually overthrown with the help of the CIA, would have sufficed. But Selorm indicted my “low patriotism:” that of my alleged inability “to think independently,” and Franklin Cudjoe himself decided to punch below the belt: “When was the last time you donated to a cause in Ghana? Have you ever?”
Disregarding the sheer pharisaism of language and the ad hominens heavy laden in Franklin’s statement, I sought to unearth Franklin Cudjoe’s real, not imagined, funding sources at all costs. Two days after the apology I found the evidence, the engine that I needed to drive real discourse—not blind vituperation—about the sources of funding at IMANI Africa. I must confess that the whole affair with these two troglodytes has had me humbled. Nonetheless, I have decided I would give my fellow Ghanaians the chance to judge for themselves.
Data is data. Evidence is evidence. Here they are.
The Facts of the Ford Foundation and Open Society Foundation.
What has IMANI Africa led by a self-portrayed intellectual in Franklin Cudjoe and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which is based right in the belly of Washington D.C., have in common? Before I supply a ready answer, I will brash over some quick points necessary for grasping the import of the answers I will give.
The ICIJ is an offshoot of the Center for Public Integrity (CPI). In an interesting note, the ultra-propagandist CNN has journalists like Christiane Amanpour who are [former] board members of the organization. The CPI has been cited by several journalists and WikiLeaks to be actually funded by the CIA-connected Ford Foundation, George Soros’s Open Society Foundation, The Rockefeller Family Fund and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund of the international banking cartel, the Rockefeller family.
In short, IMANI Africa, like the ICIJ, is supported by the George Soros’ Open Society Foundation and the CIA-connected Ford Foundation.
If you doubt the CIA-connection to the Ford Foundation, I have cold news for you. The Ford Foundation’s connection to the CIA is a well-documented fact since the 1940’s. Frances Stonor Saunders, the author of ‘Who Paid the Piper? The CIA and the Cultural Cold War’ wrote, “the CIA considers foundations such as Ford, “The best and most plausible kind of funding cover.”
Open Society Foundation on the other hand collaborates with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which is another regime change organization. Period. The Hungarian-American financier George Soros founded the Open Society Institute in 1993 and he was convicted of insider trading in 2002 regarding French bank Société Générale and was ironically denied an appeal by the “European Court of Human Rights.” George Soros is a criminal. His work in various countries from Egypt to Malaysia to Russia are too many to enumerate. I will sketch a brief example for insight.
For instance, in Myanmar (still referred to by its British imperial nomenclature “Burma” by the Western press), George Soros’ Open Society funds the 88 Generation group, led by Ko Ko Gyi, a racist opposition leader who has promised to wipe out the Rohingyas in a form that resonates well with his ideological counterparts in the Ku Klux Klan in the United States who are often fond of stating how African-Americans aren’t truly Americans and should be “shipped back to Africa.”
In fact, Open Society continues to fund Ko Ko Gyi in light of his racists comments and hails him as a democracy activist. As a US-funded agitator Gyi has been working hard to reinstate Western hegemony in Myanmar since at least the late 1980’s. Myanmar’s opposition, composed of Suu Kyi’s NLD, her “saffron” supporters, student groups like 88 Generation, and a myriad of NGOs and think tanks around the world are all funded, directed, and supported by the US State Department through extensive backing via the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and other corporate-financier organizations including George Soros’ Open Society Foundation.
These are the facts!
So I ask the question once again: What does IMANI Africa, 88 Generation of Myanmar and the ICIJ have in common? The Ford Foundation (FF) and the Open Society Foundation (OSF). And perhaps more!
But funding, like all “free” money, has a strange ability to blind, or make naïve, those who refuse to question and know. The Americans themselves have a saying: There’s no such thing as a free lunch. Instead of seeking to understand deeper, Franklin Cudjoe rather boasts of how this kind of funding has enabled him and “six of IMANI Africa staff [to visit] the U.S., Spain, Denmark, India, Uganda, Sudan, South Africa, the UK, Togo and Benin in the last year and half.” He, himself, plans to be in “Australia, the UK and will be the first Ghanaian in recent times to be an official visitor to the European Union.”
Is Franklin Cudjoe and his team of “thinkers,” together with the myriad think tanks in Africa, who receive funding from such institutions, really so naive as to believe that all the congresses abroad, conferences abroad, at luxury villas and five star hotels in Lake Como, Paris and Rome, all the expensive art exhibits and glossy magazines, and all the funding to launch manifestos, were simple acts of voluntary philanthropy?
The Ford Foundation and the CIA.
After one has appreciated the imperialist motivations of Open Society and the Ford Foundation, one needs to ask why IMANI Africa and Franklin Cudjoe continue in their naivety in receiving their well-controlled funding. Part of this has to do with the machinations and the complexity with which such empire builders’ function. It is not difficult to understand that Franklin Cudjoe is in over his head.
To this point an acclimatization with more of the facts is in order. When one examines the historical links between the Ford Foundation and the CIA during the Cold War, by examining the Presidents of the Foundation, their joint projects and goals as well as their common efforts in various cultural areas, one would come out with a single conclusion: the Ford Foundation is the CIA. Period. And IMANI Africa is linked to it.
From the early 1950s to the present the CIA’s intrusion into the Ford Foundation was and continues to be huge. The CIA uses philanthropic foundations as the most effective conduit to channel large sums of money to Agency projects, such as IMANI Africa. A U.S. Congressional investigation in 1976 revealed that nearly 50 percent of the 700 grants in the field of international activities by the principal foundations were funded by the CIA (Who Paid the Piper? The CIA and the Cultural Cold War, Frances Stonor Saunders, Granta Books, 1999, pp. 134-135).
More, the CIA does not only consider foundations such as Ford, one of IMANI Africa’s sources of funding “The best and most plausible kind of funding cover” only. In fact, it sees it as the tool for exerting U.S. influence (Ibid, p. 135). The collaboration of respectable and prestigious foundations, according to one former CIA operative, allowed the Agency to fund “a seemingly limitless range of covert action programs affecting youth groups, labor unions, think tanks, universities, publishing houses and other private institutions” (Ibid, p. 135). The latter even included “human rights” groups beginning in the 1950s to the present.
Hence it is important to recognize that IMANI Africa receives funding from one of the most important “private foundations” that has collaborated with the CIA over a significant span of time in major projects in the cultural Cold War era. This is what Franklin Cudjoe and his IMANI Africa have now been inextricably linked.
Why is this relationship and funding of think tanks like IMANI Africa and others operating in Africa still relevant?
In order to shape the current period of a major U.S. military-political offensive, Washington has posed the issue as “terrorism or democracy,” just as during the Cold War it posed the question as “Communism or Democracy.” In both instances the Empire recruited and funded “front organizations, intellectuals and journalists to do its dirty work, often times unknowingly.”
Some of this work continue to include attacking anti-imperialist adversaries and neutralizing its democratic critics in the same way that Franklin Cudjoe has already risen against Grandmother Africa (especially the author Narmer Amenuti calling him names without an explanation).
The Ford Foundation can do that to an organization. The Ford Foundation and the Open Society Foundation can do that to Franklin Cudjoe, often times unbeknownst to him! And with IMANI Africa funded by such institutions, the U.S. Empire’s CIA is well situated to continue to play its role as collaborator to cover for the New Cultural Cold War.
The Nuanced Cultural Hegemony.
Is it easy to decipher whether such relationships fostered in name only of nation building are actually detrimental? Of course not. Part of empire building is the penchant and knack for deception. Even by Franklin Cudjoes’s own assertions he seems oblivious to this overarching theme. He said: “I may come across as harsh but trust me I have not done anything out of malice nor has IMANI Africa. I don’t run around in the corridors of western powers begging for money to do their bidding. While I lead our fundraising campaign, I must be frank no one will give you a dime unless what you propose to do with the money has some impact for building sound institutions.”
It is rather interesting that Franklin Cudjoe expects to run around in western corridors begging for their funding but is naive as to believe that the funding from all corridors abroad, at luxury villas and five star hotels in Lake Como, Paris, New York and Rome, are all simple acts of charity.
The attitude to run around in western corridors begging for money is not new. Instead of building our own corridors of power, right here in Ghana, most of our so-called intellectuals run around car parks, hotels, conference halls in the west to ask for aid to do what they could easily do with their widows might here at home. Such false consciousness in independent thinking remains pervasive. Franklin Cudjoe is not its first, or its last, or its only culprit.
This is also because the builders of empire, so astute in their machinations (you have to give them that), are constantly looking for tools like Franklin Cudjoe to do their bidding. History and contemporary experience tells the story.
At a time when government over-funding of cultural activities by Washington is suspect, the FF, which funds IMANI Africa, fulfills a very important role in projecting U.S. cultural policies as an apparently “private” non-political philanthropic organization. The ties between the top officials of the FF and the U.S. government are explicit and continuing. A review of recently funded projects reveals that the FF has never funded any major project that contravenes U.S. policy.
Unlike Franklin Cudjoe, and his illusion of dissent in not doing as he is told, one prominent journalist, Andrew Kopkind, wrote of his deep sense of moral disappointment with the private foundation-funded CIA cultural fronts around the world and now in Africa. Kopkind wrote:
“The illusion of dissent was maintained: the CIA supported socialist cold warriors, fascist cold warriors, Black and white cold warriors. The catholicity and flexibility of the CIA operations were major advantages. But it was a sham pluralism and it was utterly corrupting” (Ibid, pp. 408-409).”
Therefore any “indignation” and claims of “innocence” or in not “doing their bidding,” by any intellectual or pseudo-intellectual in Ghana, the likes of Franklin Cudjoe, in Africa and around the world, who support the level of infiltration by the CIA/FF into their so-called think tanks, which is evidence of their collusion and membership in CIA cultural fronts, must be taken with a large amount of cynical skepticism.
The Ford Foundation for example in some ways may have refined its style of collaboration with Washington’s attempt to produce world cultural domination but the foundation’s CIA-connection remain intact. It continues to be very selective in the funding of educational institutions and think tanks. Like the IMF, the FF imposes conditions such as the “professionalization” of academic personnel and “raising standards.” In effect this translates into the promotion of social scientific work based on the assumptions, values and orientations of the U.S. Empire.
Another effective way that both the Open Society by the criminal George Soros and the Ford Foundation entrench power is to have professionals de-linked from the class struggle and connected with pro-imperial U.S. academics and foundation functionaries supporting the neo-liberal model. This is the reason behind the incessant supply of travel for their journalists, think tanks, educators to conferences around the world.
And in Franklin Cudjoe’s own words he plans to be in “Australia, the UK and will be the first Ghanaian in recent times to be an official visitor to the European Union.” All fall squarely in line with the dictates of the CIA-connected Ford Foundation and the criminal Soros’ Open Society Foundation to which IMANI Africa is inextricably linked.
For those of us who may feel disillusioned by the import of this essay, I must appeal to your conscience. Solving the crises we face—in our independence struggles that still continues today; in our struggle against imperialism, neo-imperialism, neoliberalism and crony capitalism—isn’t simply a matter of having the right facts, graphs, policy analyses, or even the “correct” funding. And I no longer believe we can “win” our complete sovereignty simply by filing lawsuits at The Hague, flexing our political-military muscles or boosting voter turnout. Yes, we absolutely must do that work, but none of it — not even working for some form of political renaissance in Africa — will ever be enough on its own.
Without a moral or spiritual grounding, in how we go about doing the business of informing the populace; and in how we go about liberation and enlightenment, we will remain forever trapped in political games funded and fueled by fear, greed and the hunger for power.
This essay has been edited on Tuesday September 20, 2016 at 6:08 PM. The last two paragraphs have been added.