View Full Version : What It Takes To Brand A Nation

Pope Bitterz D'Alomo
7th September 2012, 02:56 PM
Mention the name Jamaica and immediately the image of a legendary musician begins to form in your mind. Robert Nesta Marley died more than three decades ago (May 11, 1981), but his image continues to hang huge on the Reggae landscape, never fading.

Reggae is a music form played all over the Caribbean, where it takes its roots; and Africa, where most of the blacks inhabiting the Caribbean originally hailed from.

Other musicians of the American and European stock drifted along the reggae craze and released their version of what has established the black identity on the international musical scene.

The role played by Bob Marley in popularising reggae music effectively makes him the Godfather of Reggae Music and this image has reflected on Jamaica which is seen as the home of reggae.

Beyond reggae music, Jamaica has also carved a niche for itself as the home of the world’s fastest athletes. Jamaica has always been home to some of the world’s best sprinters. As far back as 1976, a Jamaican, Don Quarrie, won the Olympic Gold in the 200 metres at the Montreal Olympic Games.

The discovery of Usain Bolt in Beijing 2008, and the repeat performance at London 2012, have effectively pushed the United States of America [USA], (their closest rivals in the sprints and who have dominated this track event for decades) into the background.

Now it should be obvious to those who care that Jamaica has branded itself, not by chance but through deliberate policy. It knows where its strength lies and has exploited it to the fullest advantage.

The name Jamaica will definitely conjure in the mind such terrific sprinters as Usain Bolt, Johan Blake, Asafa Powell, Shelly-Ann Fraser, and Veronica Campbell-Brown.

Jamaica, a small island of 2.7 million souls, can boast being the strongest athletics nation (at least by per capita) and this did not come by chance. The authorities know very well that they have the raw materials and instituted measures to unearth more talents on a regular basis.

National competitions are organised for children as little as six years and these cut across all levels of the educational ladder. Scholarships are offered to the best to enrol in schools with specialist coaches, where they are groomed to stardom.

It is no wonder that Jamaica has the best quartet in the relays because the talents are overwhelming, and getting a place on Team Jamaica is a huge challenge for the athletes and coaches.

Brazil is one of the emerging world powers, ranking eighth on the global economic ladder. However, Brazil is best known for its prowess in football. Other countries are excited for just playing Brazil, whether in a friendly or competitive soccer.

Brazil did not sit idle for things to happen. It has several soccer academies that groom the young talents who are in regular line of succession taking over from their seniors.

Last year or so, there was a long list of personalities in the newspapers being invited to congregate to deliberate on the best way to rebrand Ghana. ‘Meeting to discuss branding the Republic?’ was an obvious question. Don’t we have enough already to package ourselves? Do we need a whole bureaucracy and its cost to the kitty to deliberate on branding?

Politically, we have already scored marks for being the first black nation on the continent to wrest liberty from the colonists. Our position as the torchbearers of Africa’s independence struggle could have marketed this country to every part of the globe.

For many years, we were the world’s largest producer of cocoa beans out of which chocolate and other cocoa products are produced. What have we done to make the mere mention of chocolate tingle with the image of Ghana? Nothing. We are still proud producing and shipping raw cocoa beans to the outside world while chocolate remains a delicacy on our breakfast table.

Mother Earth has been generous to us. Buried in her bowls in almost every part of the country are tonnes and tonnes of gold, which have attracted diggers from every part of the world, including China. What have we done with our gold? Nothing. We do not even have a refinery after mining gold and diamond for decades to enhance the value of our precious minerals.

The Chinese, having studied us and seen how careless and corrupt we can be, have invaded our forests with impunity digging for gold everywhere while our youth who attempt to do similar things on lesser scale are hounded and chained like wild animals.

There are many ways to brand Ghana without putting fortunes into people’s pockets. We have the foundation which we can build on.

Like Jamaica, we have raw athletics talents that could be unearthed, groomed and polished for the international arena where they could bring fortune and glory to themselves and the nation. There is no better way of branding a nation than advertising its performance on the world market.

Where are those inter-school/college athletics competitions which unearth talents? Where are those inter-regional competitions which brought healthy rivalry among the regions and at the same time afforded the opportunity for young talents to advertise themselves? Where are the Armed Forces Games which were another source of unearthing national talents?

Like Brazil, Ghana abounds in football talents. What we have failed to do over the years is to treat football as a business that can bring good returns. In that lackadaisical manner, there is no way we can do what the Brazilians are doing and printing their image on the football map of the world.

Branding a country cannot be attained through endless meetings, workshops and seminars. It takes a conscious effort to project a positive image of oneself, capitalising on your strengths and dimming your weaknesses.

Our tourism potentialities have hardly been tapped because of poor infrastructure such as bad roads and poor hospitality facilities. If we continue to live in filth, no amount of rhetoric will endear us to others.

Our performance at the 2006 and 2010 World Cup tournaments in Germany and South Africa respectively illustrate the point that the world will acknowledge you if you position yourself through performance or achievements on the world stage.

It tells you that branding has not got anything to do with bureaucracy, which is nothing but a drain on national resources. Even our democracy is a form of branding which we must encourage and improve upon.