K. Riva Levinson Delivers 2019 Aggrey-Fraser-Guggisberg Memorial Lectures

                            K. Levinson, President and CEO, KRL International, USA Riva

K. Riva Levinson, President and CEO, KRL International, USA has delivered the 2019 Aggrey-Fraser-Guggisberg Memorial lectures of the University of Ghana. The two-day lecture series was on the theme, “The Future of Democracy in Ghana”.

Speaking on the topic: Democracy’s Keepers: The Rise of the Activists Generation in Africa on the first day of the lecture, Riva Levinson gave a historical account of the development of democracy across sub-Saharan Africa and cited examples from DR Congo, Senegal and Burkina Faso where she opined, the activist generation and civil society movements have succeeded in shifting from dictatorship to democratic rule.

In improving democracy in Africa, Riva Levinson advocated for foreign donors to support activist generation and the civil society. She noted that investing in activist generation groups and civil society groups by empowering them with management skills, mobilization tools and new technologies will make them stronger and not to be influenced by the political divide.

K. Riva Levinson emphasised the need for civil society to have access to data at all times. According to her, data has power, does not pick sides and does not lie. She noted that early collection of data can serve as a check against fake news and advocated for the introduction of the Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) during competitive elections to give a non-captive validation of election result.

The lecturer also called for more youth empowerment policies that improve access to quality education and connective technologies to reduce the diversity between the urban and rural areas and also increase the numbers of activist generation. Ms Levinson also stated that responsible governance was the solution to the issues of increasing population growth and inequitable distribution of economic development in Africa.

Professor Ebenezer Oduro Owusu, Vice-Chancellor, who chaired  the first day’s lecture, urged Africans to strengthen its democracy and fight corruption with the beliefs, culture and values imbibed in their traditional systems. He added that the practice of democracy should be consistent with the values of respect, honesty, and care for one another, unity, hospitality, language, among others.

                                        Professor Ebenezer Oduro Owusu, Vice-Chancellor

The second day of the Aggrey-Fraser-Guggisberg Memorial Lectures was chaired by Prof. Philip Ebow Bondzi-Simpson, Rector, Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration, GIMPA.   The topic was: Power from the Margins: Opening up African Political Systems to Women, Youth and other Disrupters.

Prof. Philip Ebow Bondzi-Simpson, Rector, Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration, GIMPA.


Riva Levinson opened the lecture by showing the demographic trends of Africa and indicated that the population of Africa was set to quadruple by 2100 to 4.4 billion in which 60% will be youths. She also noted that although the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Africa had increased in the last decade, it has not transformed into sustainable growth.  This phenomenon, she hinted, was a threat as development trajectories may not be able to deliver on the aspirations of a growing continent and prosperity for all. She stated it was time Africa made use of fresh ideas from the youth and women as the current system has led to the squandering of opportunities for African developments.

Riva Levinson revealed that sexism remained the fundamental impediment to women’s participation in politics on the African continent and as such called for its eradication. Education of the girl child, she noted, was a means of ensuring participation in the democratic process on the African continent.

Additionally, Riva Levinson indicated that Africa needed fundamental electoral reforms and the democratization of political parties. According to her, for African democracies to grow, political parties must begin to rethink on how they conduct their primaries and set targets for women and youth candidates. She also called for a diversification and more inclusive governments in the shortest possible time. Communities, she proposed, were to choose their leaders directly and the ‘winner takes all’ of an election should be a thing of the past.

In concluding, Riva Levinson charged students to advocate for change and demand accountability from government. They were further urged to ensure that their priorities are reflected in the manifestoes of political parties.

In the Chairman’s closing remarks, Prof. Bondzi-Simpson called on Africans to reflect on their democracy and use the lessons from the lecture to help leave a legacy for future generation.

As is the custom on the second day of the Aggrey-Fraser-Guggisberg Memorial Lecture series, the Chancellor, Dr. Mrs. Mary Chinery-Hesse on behalf of the University, conferred an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa. on K. Riva Levinson, the 2019 Aggrey-Fraser-Guggisberg Memorial Lecturer.  The citation was read by Prof. Kwame Offei, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Academic and Student Affairs.

                     Dr. Mrs. Mary Chinery-Hesse, Chancellor of the University of Ghana and K. Riva Levinson

In her acceptance, Riva Levinson expressed sincere gratitude to the University for the award.

In attendance at the lecture series were former President John Dramani Mahama, Prof. Yaw Twumasi, Chairman of the University Council, members of the University Community and the general public.

                                                         A cross section of audience at the lecture

The Aggrey-Fraser-Guggisberg Memorial Lecture series is a major event on the academic calendar of the University of Ghana.  It was instituted in 1957, to commemorate the contribution made by the three persons memorialized to the founding of Achimota College, now Achimota School, and more generally to the advancement of education and particularly higher education in Ghana.  The three persons honoured by the lectures are James Kwegyir Aggrey, Alexander G. Fraser and Gordon Guggisberg.

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Please click here to watch Day 1 of the 2019 AFG Memorial Lectures

Please click here to watch Day 2 of the 2019 AFG Memorial Lectures