NTOABOMA — Before I expose the chicanery and duplicity that is the Triffin dilemma, I would like to recount an encounter my grandmother had with one of her trading partners while I was yet, just still a small boy.

Back then, Ntoaboma had an expansive Akpeteshie production boom. Literally, we produced about four barrels of Akpeteshie a day – Saturdays and Sundays included. My grandmother would import sugarcane from around the Volta River region and send the load to the mechanical plant at the end of town – where all the machines for extracting sugar juice from the cane were churning at their very best. We would ferment the juice with yeast in Earthenware pots for about three days and distill some of the finest Akpeteshie any man could find within the Ntoaboma radius.

Our Akpeteshie travelled far. Even beyond Tamale, Ho, Kumasi and Accra. Our Akpeteshie reached the shores of Lagos. And this is where the story begins, really.

My grandmother’s trading partner, Ms Ngozi, who imported our fine spirits into Lagos also sold her shares in ‘far away towns’ like Golokuati in the Volta Region and Kpalime in Togo enroute to Lagos.  She decided to tease us with an interesting proposal. We could actually use our fine Akpeteshie to import Yams from Lagos to Accra by sea! While even en route to Accra, the parts of the Yam cargo could be offloaded in Porto-Novo and Cotonou (Benin) and Lome (Togo).

Why was this a brilliant idea? Much of the best Yams one would find in Accra back in the day came from the Afram Plains, including Ntoaboma. But because bad roads, the Volta River and the Kwahu Escarpment posed some difficult transportation barriers for taking Yams to Accra, by the time say Forifori Yams reached the shores of Ga Mashie, they went putrid. This was a difficult challenge even for my entrepreneurial grandmother.

So, the Ngozi idea became a talk of the house. Over some of the finest Akpeteshie, my uncles toiled with the idea, the costs and the revenue. It came down to one issue. Is Ntoaboma Akpeteshie really the best Akpeteshie one could find in Lagos and everywhere in between Ntoaboma and Lagos? What would prevent another Akpeteshie producer from undercutting the price of our fine Ntoaboma Akpeteshie in Lagos?

For a brilliant business plan, it was fascinating that my grandmother toiled with this issue. Ms Ngozi insisted that she could guarantee that no producer in the region could produce a finer brand of Akpeteshie than Ntoaboma up to and including Lagos. But this was not enough. My grandmother insisted that the business needed a plan that included what to do about another producer of Akpeteshie who threatened to undercut the price of our fine Ntoaboma Akpeteshie in Lagos.

What to do? “Unless I become the Queen of the Gbeto [Amazon Warriors of Dahomey], I am not ready to use my Akpeteshie to import Yams from Lagos to Accra,” my grandmother insisted.

“What for?” Ms Ngozi retorted.

“That is the only way I can ensure that the price of my fine Ntoaboma Akpeteshie remains pegged fully to the price of Yams in Lagos, and even in Accra. Barring that, such a lucrative business will increase a demand for Akpeteshie in Lagos to unstable levels; it will drive up our production of Akpeteshie in Ntoaboma to meet that demand; it will drive up Ntoaboma Akpeteshie reserves in Lagos in tow, and will inevitably drive in [crony] competitors and unwarranted speculation.”

“And then what?” quipped Ms Ngozi.

“Our own fine Ntoaboma Akpeteshie will become useless. There’ll be too much of it.” My grandmother imposed her will on shutting down the idea.

Years later, after I had given up my childish ways, I would learn that my grandmother was confronted with a dilemma attributed to an Obroni, Robert Triffin. Her ideas about how such a transnational business in Akpeteshie and Yams would work in West Africa will remain hidden from the sight of her own grandchildren who are heavily interested in regurgitating what a Triffin dilemma is from western journals, articles and books more than they are willing to expose its underlying ambidexterity.

But since I have been schooled myself, though not in the traditional schools of old, like my grandmother, I will heretofore rehearse what the Triffin dilemma is from western books and then proceed to show you how the Federal Reserve [the Privately owned Central Bank of the USA] uses the US Military Industrial Complex (it would have been the Amazons if my grandmother had that chance) to ensure the continued and sustained production of US Dollars and its value.

Belgian born Robert Triffin highlighted this fundamental incompatibility between the attainment of global economic stability and having a single international currency [our fine Ntoaboma Akpeteshie] to perform the role of the world’s [West Africa’s] reserve currency. As you can see this is hardly a new revelation. My grandmother knew about this. Only she thought it was a backward idea.

Triffin also observed that having the US dollar perform the role of the world’s reserve currency created fundamental conflicts of interest between domestic [Ntoaboma] and international [Lagos] economic objectives. On the one hand, the international economy [Lagos] would need US dollars [Ntoaboma Akpeteshie] for liquidity purposes [to buy Yams] and to satisfy demand for reserve assets [to have Ntoaboma Akpeteshie at home so that whenever I need to buy Yams, I can]. But this forced, or at least made it easy, for the US [Ntoaboma] to run consistently large current account deficits [to produce too much of the fine Ntoaboma Akpeteshie].

Triffin argued that such persistent deficits would eventually put pressure on the dollar and lead to the demise of the Bretton Woods system of international exchange. The Triffin Dilemma, therefore, argued that the demands on an international currency meant that excess supply would undermine its value.

Which is all what my grandmother said to Ms Ngozi: “Our own fine Ntoaboma Akpeteshie will become useless. There’ll be too much of it.” The only way to ensure that it doesn’t become useless is if “I became the Queen of the Gbeto [Amazon Warriors of Dahomey]” and imposed my will on everyone in Ntoaboma, Lagos and everywhere in between.

My grandmother understood that a ‘reserve currency status’ of our fine Ntoaboma Akpeteshie would allow producers in Ntoaboma to run large deficits. The deficits could only be ‘paid’ for by producing more of our fine Ntoaboma Akpeteshie. When this excess Ntoaboma Akpeteshie began showing up in Akpeteshie Central Banks in Tamale, Yendi, Golokuati, Ho, Kumasi, Kpalime, and Lagos they would begin converting our fine Akpeteshie into Yams. This would eventually lower the value of our fine Ntoaboma Akpeteshie in relation to Yam.

My grandmother directed her candid opinion to Ms Ngozi, her best friend: “If you want to sell Yams, sell Yams. Or sell our fine Ntoaboma Akpeteshie. Let the people decide how much each is worth to them.”

But, of course, if my grandmother was a short term entrepreneur, she could have made a killing in the Ntoaboam-Lagos-Accra Akpeteshie-Yam market. As a traditionalist, that was not to be. Money was not her goal. Never.

Fairness, which she derived from the deep principles of Ma’at still underscored the business principles of her African past.

In turns out, as she had mocked before, that the idea of a reserve currency could only be attractive to a people who suffer from Histrionic Community Disorder. These people only want to control the world with their military. The goal is certainly unnatural and as such must be enforced with a mighty military. No one anywhere in the world should ever allow it.

Hence, the Triffin dilemma is only a dilemma for those who espouse fairness. It is in fact the tool for those who eschew justice and plot dubious means to control and impose their will on others.

To live and let live, or to oppress others? This is the true meaning, the implication of the Triffin dilemma and the choices available. The choice to oppress the rest of the world is not a dilemma and anything else in awe of the US’s Holy Cause in the Triffin dilemma as its Dollar serves as world reserve currency, is a dangerous excuse while all the more this same US and its allies gallivant the planet controlling every resource in every corner of the world with its Military Industrial Might.

The mummery ends with knowing that the US Dollar as reserve currency only goes to benefit the US. It gives the US Government and the Federal Reserve [the privately owned US Central Bank] the power, and even the right, to control the rest of the world and wreak havoc where it deems necessary. Triffin is an excuse, not a dilemma.

My grandfather had a description for this dissemblance. “Such ideas of a ‘world reserve currency’ are only symptomatic of a culture suffering from Histrionic Community Disorder. Communities that suffer from this disease engage in destructive Economic behaviors in an attempt to feel in control over their environment or control over their relationships with other communities. This behaviors may appear random or illogical to outsiders but such communities derive pleasure out of inflicting hurt or struggle on other people or animals or the environment.”

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My name is Narmer Amenuti (Dances With Lions). I am first a Cultural Theorist and second an Educationalist. Both of which require that I remain an Investigative Historian. All of which lead me to my preferred profession: a Culture Critic, from the Sankoré School (of Critical Theory). I am East African by birth; South African by training; West African by choice – all of which make me, African by nature. I am also a student of Ancient African Rhythms and a passionate dilettante of Science.

~ Success Corrupts; Usefulness Exalts! ~ Narmer!

17 COMMENTS

  1. Very facinating; ability to capture the global politico-economic structure into an African parable stylish.

    My brother that is what I wish my fellow socialist or the left will understand this economic truth.
    You can not practice sound socialist or scientific socialism whereby “Fed” exist and your central bank is owned by them. Definitely your economic system will be mortgage to them.

    The quality of an innovative and brilliant leader is to only fight for the reduce in level of your state economic mortgage.

    But unfortunately most of our leaders whether ignorant or not, their actions rather increase the degree of mortgage of their state to the Fed and the US-DOLLAR. Hence making the state involving all their citizens, a slave to debt by law.

    That is the axiom that has break the trade mechanism within the continental trade-transaction of Africa.

    This formula Narmer you seek to simplify is what we term Economic Philosophy constructed my Kynes &Co. Under Bretton Woods charter to have total control throughout the globe with majority working hard but little to spend for a few that never work at all but spend excessively.

    A new era of psychological slavery was created with no more gun but money replacing the gun.

    This gave birth to two kind of people on this earth….. those who create money and those who chase money.

    So ask yourself where do you belong.

    I rest my case

    —E. Tweneboah Senzu——-

  2. Narmer Amenuti, you are an educationalist. No doubt. Sometimes you make it look too easy. Your story is profound. For those who think American is doing us a favor can dream on. We asked for no such favor and require the US to continue with no such favor. For now, you are telling those who believe in empty theories – like the triffin dilemma – to shove it up. Great stuff!

  3. In the land of so-called freedom and free speech there is private censorship behind the very scenes that toot these values, and this is another topic I am interested in since mass media drives trends and trends drive money (and elections as well, but this is in another “TOMOS” or in English,TOME)….

    Why is that that GOVERNMENT CENSORSHIP is DEVILISH BUT, alas, PRIVATE CENSORSHIP is OK?

    This idea that the private sector should regulate our money or that the market should regulate and control our supply of money seems devious to me, to say the least.

  4. I would reiterate this point:

    “Banking was conceived in iniquity and was born in sin. The Bankers own the Earth. Take it away from them, but leave them the power to create deposits, and with the flick of a pen they will create enough deposits to buy it back again. However, take it away from them, and all the fortunes like mine will disappear, and they ought to disappear, for this world would be a happier and better world to live in. But if you wish to remain slaves of the Bankers and pay for the cost of your own slavery, let them continue to create deposits.” Sir Josiah Stamp, President of the Bank of England in the 1920s, the second richest man in Britain.

  5. Dade Afre Akufu I might add too:

    “The bank hath benefit of interest on all moneys which it creates out of nothing.”

    William Paterson, founder of the Bank of England in 1694, then a privately owned bank.

  6. I tell people someone benefits from all transactions we make, these so called well read intellectuals will argue that its not true

  7. Those intellectuals are like ostriches – they bury their heads in the sand and cannot seem to believe what is right before them. I have talked to many such intellectuals. It seems to me that we use the word intellectual too broadly. I have concluded that such people are no intellectuals at all. You cannot cease to be objective and still be an intellectual.

  8. What I like about the article is its beginning with local understanding of commerce, put in perspective according to our own regional trade facilitation and then invasion of europeanisation. it really refreshing. It showed me what school has done wrong with me in terms of understanding economics

  9. My brother Audu Salisu, School (western mission schools) changed everything in Africa. We must reverse the damage! Simple things are made complex and complicated some more with needless theories. In Africa, ideas like the griffin dilemma remain simple, straightforward and easy to grasp without chicanery, trickery and cunning.

  10. Solomon Azumah-Gomez beside complicating them, they are made to connect to eurocentric cultural apropriateness; hence any form of cultural context of the explantion of these theories become automatically wrong, hanging as undeserved alternatives to the eurocentric ones. as soon as you try to look at it differently, u are made to look like you are a trouble maker.

  11. My friend Audu Salisu. I am learning to stop listening to those who reside outside the continent and pretend the know Ghana! Some of these guys have been living in London for 40 years yet confront you on FB about what you think important to Children in Bukom. I have stopped listening.

    We can surely begin a thorough contextual interpretation of concepts of value to our economic advancement without being apologetic to the western world and without being sorry for any mistakes we might be making as we trudge along the path to bringing real education back from the African past.

    If we are truly free, we must decouple our own minds from the colonial trash. But some, you know, will say that there’s truth value to white knowledge. That’s BS! Truth Value is another chain on the necks and legs of those who use it like it means anything.

    Our truth is our truth whatever we say it is!

  12. The REALITY is, ALAS, that the vast majority of NATIONS do NOT like a GLOBAL ORDER and a pseudo TV CULTURE imposed by a Big Brother you like it or not…

    This is the KEY of the ISSUE at hand.

    In Afghanistan they do not like young girls attending schools and they do not admit a Satanic cult worshipping legally in THEIR OWN COUNTRY, what is wrong with that ?

    You can worship the Devil at home and send girls to school very young IN YOUR OWN COUNTRY. Besides, allow me a digression, none TALKS about BUT there is a serious problem of PROSTITUTION and EXPLOITATION of girls at UNIVERSITY level in “first world nations” (see porno sites or visit the neighbourhoods around the lighthouses of “western” knowledge…).

    And this is NOT a digression, this is they key of the GLOBAL FINANCIAL PROBLEMS, in some countries people make money (merely SYMBOLS) just playing a GAME WITH ARBITRARY RULES like in Las Vegas… And in some other NATIONS that is considered IMMORAL.

    What is wrong with that ?

    You GAMBLE in the stock market and derivatives and so forth in the US and we do other things in Africa for instance, what is wrong with that ?

    Well, here comes the bone of contention, the US et al GAMBLERS WANT TO HAVE A SHARE of Ghana (or Iraq and Libya and so forth…) wealth, BUT PLAYING THEIR OWN RULES…

    This is what is at stake in this GLOBAL KERFUFFLE.

    Thus, it is better telling the US PUBLIC strait away, we are fighting to impose OUR OWN set of VALUES to the REST of the WORLD. would you like to JOIN in this CRUSADE ?

    So people (in a truly DEMOCRATIC nation) would be able to DECIDE if this “project” worth a nuclear World War, or not….

  13. Telling the truth, and put in such an alloquent manner opens a brain. Allow me to quote this so that more people can read it. Here it goes: “We can surely begin a thorough contextual interpretation of concepts of value to our economic advancement without being apologetic to the western world and without being sorry for any mistakes we might be making as we trudge along the path to bringing real education back from the African past.” Thank you Solomon Azumah-Gomez

  14. Dade Afre Akufu, Well, that is why instead of telling the US public straight away that the US is fighting to impose its OWN set of VALUES on the REST of the WORLD, they make up doctrines like the Triffin Dilemma. When in fact it is a choice like Narmer Amenuti enumerated.

    The greedy and the gluttonous know that if they put it to their own people they will be STOPPED from this CRUSADE.

    The worse happens when African intellectuals swallow down the doctrine as if it’s any truth at all and then mislead their own masses into the bottomless pit.

  15. I found Narmer Amenuti’s analyses extremely exciting and interesting and you guys are obviously increasing the level of CLARITY in your analysis and that is awesome.

    Euro-Africans, like one Agaliba I knew, engage in ABSTRACTIONS that mar pure wisdom. The problem is that they haven’t raised their ideas high enough to get the IDEA.

    Fundamentally, and what Narmer Amenuti is saying, is that what is at stake is not finance and/or economics. It is about the DILEMMA of having (1) A GLOBAL ORDER or (2) A federation of NATIONS with equal rights but different CULTURES, namely religion, language, ART and POLITICAL SYSTEM (as fundamental part of the culture and values of the people).

    The SECOND ONE WAS the IDEA of the founders of the US, Franklin and Jefferson and so forth, they all DESPISED the REAL POLITIK exerted by European powers around the world.

    The PROBLEM, my friends, is that the USA has been TAKEN OVER by a MINORITY coming from ORIENT like the Three Wise Men, the Middle East, precisely, which carries the old Semitic trait of a GLOBAL EMPIRE and UNIVERSAL JURISDICTION invented by Sargon I after taking over from legitimate Sumerian Kings (as they did in the US) through a silent slow pacific but relentless invasion.

    USA claims, like the late Chaldean after taking over Babylon, universal jurisdiction and the “right” to intervene in every nation to “restore order”…

    What order?

    Well, none knows for sure…. perhaps simply what we see on TV.

    History TEACHES US that these sort of “projects” have very SHORT LIVING and the US is certainly trifling.

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