"You cannot address community development if there are underlying human rights violations. I realized that I needed to use my skills as a community mobilizer towards a different end than the one I had originally intended: to find a solution to the community’s legal problems."
Nana Ama Nketia-Quaidoo works as the Director for Community Development for Advocates for Community Alternatives (ACA), a U.S. based organization that operates in West Africa. Prior to joining ACA, she contributed to community projects sponsored by USAID as a field officer and monitoring and evaluation specialist. She also worked as Programs Manager for Gender and Environmental Monitoring Advocates (GEMA), where she was directly involved in helping communities affected by mining to identify alternative sources of livelihood. She also worked as a Broadcast Journalist and News Editor at “Ahomka” FM, a community radio station, through which she became an active member of Journalists for Human Rights in Ghana’s Central Region. Nana Ama is a trained teacher who taught English and Ghanaian Languages in a community senior high school for seven years. She holds a Masters in Human Resource Management (MBA) from the University of Cape Coast Business School, and a Bachelors in Ghanaian Languages from the University of Education Winneba.
When Nana Ama Nketia-Quaidoo was sent to manage a development grant for an agricultural community in Ghana, she realised that no progress would happen because the illegal actions of the chief had cowed the community into angry submission: he was grabbing communal land and selling it off for private benefit. In this gentle on-the-ground account of a big struggle in a small community, Nana Ama describes how she found the right legal tool – a statutory human rights commission – and what its effect was in bringing the chief into line. “Even though, at the time of writing, the land restitution has not yet taken place, I am deeply moved by the effect of this intervention on the community itself. It is clear, listening to the peoples’ stories, that in the past they were kept in such darkness they could not cough in peace without fear of their throats being cut, because of the way their chief set spies among them. Now there is a sense not only of empowerment but of community cohesion too, and a belief, among community members, in their own capacity to lead. Everyone is ready to take up roles and responsibilities, mobilize and empower each other to keep fighting and resisting the oppressor’s rule. I see a new Nwoase that has more strength to carry on.”