Author Archives: Malaka

To Live Free For a Day

parakeet-love-wallpapers-1

“Hey, Charity! What you doin’?”

“Girl… my momma is moving in with me next week. She’ll be down here from Detroit. Just tryin’ to get the house ready.”

“What’s with the cage?”

“Oh, these? These are my birds. Momma hates birds. She says they stank.”

“Hahaha! Well, let me leave you to it then. Catch ya later.”

“See ya!”

 

My neighbor’s mother moved in 4 days later and our neighborhood was never the same after that. In North Fulton, you get accustomed to certain noises. Woodpeckers, crows, finches…the occasional cat in heat, even. Nothing prepared me for the continuous chirping of the two parakeets that now called Charity’s carport their home. It’s not that their song was unpleasant – it’s just that it never ended. They chirped all day, late into the night and early in the morning. I didn’t notice it until my husband pointed it out one day this winter, and I haven’t been able to un-hear them since.

My kids adored Charity’s parakeets. Since I mistook their beta fish for a dying cockroach and beat it to death with a broom, they have had no pets of their own. That was not my fault. It was late and the frikkin’ fish startled me. If it wanted to live, it should have stayed in its bowl.

“Can we go over to Ms. Charity’s house and look at her birds?” they often requested.

“Sure. If she’ll let you.”

Moments later they would scramble across the cul-de-sac where the parakeets chirps were mingled with Liya’s own shrill cries of delight.

Hi birdies! Hiiii biirrrrdieeeees!!!!    

Every once in a while, Charity would let the kids sprinkle some bird seen in the cage. You would think she had given my tribe the password to the Matrix, they were so excited.

People were always coming in and out of Charity’s house: Cousins, aunts, nieces, nephews who had managed to escape the long arm of the law and on their way to community college. One day, a woman who possessed a girth so large that it could have been acquired by a lifetime of Southern cooking and a refusal to indulge in minimal exercise came by to visit Charity. I do not know her relation to the family. All I know is that her enormous buttocks knocked the cage over and set the two parakeets free. They seemed stunned for a moment and then they hopped away. Charity screeched. She loved her little birds so.

My husband saw the whole thing unfold and went over to assist. He crept (as well as a man of his stature can “creep”) up behind one of the birds that had perched on the trunk of her car. Sensing his approach, the parakeet flew away. Its cage mate followed suit. They were never seen or heard again.

Marshall and I have surmised that there is no way that either bird lived beyond that day. They were domesticated and used to eating birdseed. They had never had to build a nest or find shelter in the wild. Never mind that we have our own Crazy Cat Lady just down the road who has accumulated a host of feral felines. And then there are the hawks.

“This ain’t Rio with no happy ending where the two of them find a new home and start a new family. Them birds is dead.”

“Mmm hmm. Dead.”

All the same, I couldn’t help but think the final moments the winged creatures might have experienced. What was it like to see a human approach you, and then suddenly for the first time in your life, be able to spread your wings and fly away? Fly anywhere you wanted to go, even if you didn’t know where exactly you were going. How frightening and exhilarating that must have been for them.

But was it worth it? Was freedom worth losing the predictable comfort and security of their cage? What about you? Would you return to your cage, or would you choose to live free – even if it was only for a day? I think these are the options we are faced with every day: in business; in love; in any thing that requires a risk. What kind of bird have your instincts made the person you are today?

 

And I’ll beat the first person who replies with “Ah. But I am not a bird.” Beat you, I say! ;)

The Prowler: Part 2

Rape? What sort of absurdity was this accusation?

Rape

The word swirled around in Kwafo Danso’s consciousness like a sour note…a bad tune. The tall girl had accused him of rape! How dare she…she who made no fight to push him off. If she didn’t fight, it meant she was willing. Everyone knows that Ghanaian girls say “no” when what they really mean is “try a little harder.”

Kwafo rubbed his temples and sucked on his lower lip. It was dry and cracked. The air at the Airport jail cell was decidedly different. This air stank of despair, human excrement and forgotten souls. He did not like this air at all. But at least he had his friends and supporters who never wavered in their devotion.

“Kofi, did you bring the croissants like I asked?”

Kwafo’s sidekick handed him a parchment bag through the bars. Then he handed him a cup of Nescafe.

“How are you bearing up, boss?”

“Chale, it’s positively wretched in here,” Kwafo spat. “I can’t believe this foolish girl took me to the police for rape!”

Kofi curled his lip and said, “They all want the sex, but when you give to them, they act like they regret. Don’t worry, boss. God is on your side.”

God. Yes…yes! That was the answer. Kwafo furrowed his brow and gave Kofi a hard stare.

“Send the lawyers to visit the family. Send them to her church too. She was a virgin, which means definitely she’s under some church leadership. Get them to tell her she must forgive me for Christ’s own sake. Tell them how I am suffering!”

“Yes, boss,” Kofi nodded.

“Remember: She must forgive me for Christ’s sake!”

It worked. Just weeks later, Kwafo was out of jail and the tall girl had withdrawn her complaint. He was a free man! And not a moment too soon. He had not had a decent shower or eaten from decent dinner wear in ages. The first thing to do was to find his best suit, his cane and show everyone in town that the law in Ghana works as it should. Even though this child-turned woman had harmed him, he would show benevolence and pen a letter on her behalf. His friends in the media would happily disseminate it.

“Afi and I gave in to our mutual lusts and for that we have sinned. I humbly ask the public to respect the privacy of both her family and mine in this difficult time…”

Heh heh heh… Prince Charles himself couldn’t have written that better. Hmmm… He wondered if Oswald Boateng would consider making him a new bespoke suit? Ah! Now what? What was this news that his lawyer was bringing him?

“What do you mean, the Attorney General is bringing a case against me?”

“They say they still have a duty and a right to prosecute the crime, Kwafo,” the lawyer replied.

Kwafo Danso was enraged. “This is nonsense! The girl’s church and parents got her to back off. Now what does the State want here again?”

He flung his teacup against the wall. The crash brought his nineteen year old daughter rushing into the room.

“Daddy! Is everything ok?”

“Nothing to worry about, pumpkin. I’m just a little frustrated, is all.”

“Don’t worry, Daddy,” she grinned. “It will be okay.”

Kwafo Danso stared into his daughter’s eyes. She was so young, so innocent, so trusting…

 

*****

 

The battle for his freedom went on for four months, but at long last on April 22, 2015, Kwafo Danso was acquitted of the crime of rape. The Church had pleaded heavily on his behalf. The public had made it clear that this pursuit was a waste of taxpayer money. News had reached him that Afi was on suicide watch, but she was a Ghanaian girl. She was strong. She could handle it. What was he to do now, now that his image was in tatters? He would have to rebuild. But it was okay. All great men have to rebuild at some point.

His daughter breezed into the foyer where he was straightening his tie. She brought him his favorite cane and his white fedora.

She was gushing, and she was a vision in white. “Ready to celebrate, Papa?”

“Absolutely! Everyone is going to be there, you know. It will be such a fun time.”

“I hope the chef makes those salmon croquettes I love so much,” she grinned. “Come on! Everyone is waiting!”

“You know I would do anything to protect you… don’t you, pumpkin?”

The child laughed heartily. “Yes, Papa. I know. Now come on!”

Father and daughter pulled up to the African Regent, where the air was heavy with exotic cologne spritzed on Accra’s elite and transient residents. They were there to celebrate his acquittal.  As the double doors loomed, Kwafo felt a stirring in his pants…excitement in his loins. A waitress with a slim waist and long legs brought him a warm croissant and cup of tea soon after he was seated. She looked at him with stars in her eyes and a warm grin. As she leaned in to set his food before him, he whispered how beautiful he thought her legs were.

“Thank you, Mr. Danso! I grew up listening to you on the radio. I’m one of your biggest fans. Would you be kind enough to autograph this napkin for me?”

“Of course! Tell me…do you know if suite 202 is vacant?”

She shook her head. “I don’t know, but I can certainly find out for you.”

Kwafo Danso barred his teeth in a wide, secretive grin.

“Thanks love. Don’t stray too far. I may need you later.”

Yes: life in Ghana is good for some men. God bless the system. God bless Ghana.

The Prowler: Part 1

The air at the African Regent Hotel is distinctive. Perhaps it was the combination of exotic colognes – of Jimmy Choo and Burberry – carried on the bodies of Accra’s elite and transient residents that gives it that quality. All Kwafo Danso knew was that he loved being there and loved that he was the main attraction that evening. Gigs had been few and far between, but his legacy in this city gave him weight…enough to carry on the façade of wealth and importance until the next pay check. Someone squealed behind him. It was a sound that was all too familiar.

“Oh my God! You’re Kwafo Danso…the DJ! I’m such a fan of yours!”

Kwafo smiled. She was a pretty, perky thing. The girl standing next to her wasn’t hard on the eyes either.

“Thank you, my dear,” he said with a winning smile. “It’s always great to connect with my fan base. You’re so tall. How old are you?”

She smiled shyly and replied that she was nineteen.

“About my own daughter’s age,” he mused.

“Do you mind if we take a picture together?” she asked hopefully.

It would be his pleasure. He motioned for a member of staff to come over and perform the task.

“Big smiles, everyone!”

*Click*

“Hey listen, I have a few minutes before I have to get on stage. I’m MC’ing tonight, you know. Would you ladies like to come up for some drinks before I entertain the crowd?”

The tall girl and her short cousin giggled in delight. Their eyes were wide and full of stars. He could see she trusted him implicitly. How he savored that look. So young…so innocent…so tender…

Their breathless “Yes!” was all the permission Kwafo needed.

He whistled for his sidekick to join them, winking and saying “We’re going to the suite for drinks.”

Kofi understood immediately and grinned as he led the way to the elevator. He sized up the shorter girl. Not bad. Not bad at all.

The suite was immaculate, as well it should be. He was Kwafo Danso, and only accepted the finest. The tall girl and her cousin yammered on about whatever things university girls talk about while Kofi poured some juice. Kwafo opened up the bathroom door and feigned distress. He locked eyes with the tall girl.

“Afi? You did say your name was Afi, right? Could you help me with my makeup in the restroom? I hate to have shine on my face while I’m on stage.”

“Of course!” Afi replied. She was so eager to please. This was good. Very good.

Once she brushed past him, Kwafo shut the door firmly and kept his gaze fixed on hers.

*Click*

Afi grew timid and skittish “Where’s that make up?”

“You know we’re not in here to do make up.”

The eyes that were once full of stars were now clouded in fear…confusion. She looked like a frightened woodland creature. Kwafo felt the bulge in his pants grow into a full on erection. Her fear excited him. He took two steps forward and grabbed her by the wrist, slathering her exposed skin with the wetness of his salivation.

“Please let me go,” she said quietly. Her voice was trembling.

“No, not until I get what I want. You know you want this too.”

She paused before asking “Do you have a condom? We really shouldn’t do this without a condom…”

She was trying to smart, eh? The tall girl was backing away, trying to move his hands away from her body. Kwafo was having none of it. He shushed her, telling her she had thought of everything; she needn’t worry.

As he spoke, he bent her at the waist and yanked her panties off of her. She seemed to go limp, as though all the life had been drained from her. He heard her heart racing in her chest. When he prepared to penetrate her, she screamed and begged him to stop.

“Please, Mr. Danso. Please stop! I’m a virgin…”

It was true. Kwafo felt the resistance between her lengthy thighs. The idea that he’d been where no man had been before only fueled his fiendish desire. Kwafo Danso plowed into her core until she gave up begging and began bleeding. With every thrust, he robbed her a little more of her innocence, her tenderness, her life as a child. He had made her a woman. He had brought so many girls into womanhood. The thought of the dozens of others before this tall girl thrilled him to the point of no return. He exploded in her and pulled out after he had gone limp. He looked in the mirror and saw her reflection. Her ebony skin looked ashen, her face frozen in shock. Then he saw the blood.

This was his least favorite part. It was so…dirty.

“Take some of this toilet roll and wipe yourself up. Make sure you flush it all the way down.”

The tall girl complied, dabbing her delicate broken flesh with a wad of two-ply.

“Now take one of these,” Kwafo demanded.

“What is it?”

“It’s Postinor-2. I always keep them in case of emergencies like these.” He winked and laughed, straightening his tie in the mirror. “Shall we go out now and join your cousin?”

The tall girl nodded. Her eyes had lost all of their light, but Kwafo knew she would be okay. She was Ghanaian. She was strong. This was her culture. She even sat next to him at the event when his duties were done. See? She wanted to be with him too! Ghanaian women are so good. God bless Ghanaian women.

Social Media in Ghana and Online Abusers

Why do so many Ghanaian men use the threat of physical and sexual violence to silence women online? This is a global issue. Many of my fellow African female bloggers and content creators talk openly about the name-calling, overstepping of boundaries and attacks in general from men who cannot handle either rejection or a difference in opinion. I am discussing it in the Ghanaian context because that’s my lane.

Ultimately, I’d like to see this go away. I welcome any comments that will lead to a healthy conversation and promote the abolition of online abuse.

Christian Chauvinists: You HAVE to Stop Doing This

Chauvinism

: an attitude that the members of your own sex are always better than those of the opposite sex

: the belief that your country, race, etc., is better than any other

Siiiiggghhhh…

Fresh off of the Sabbath, there are people out here on the interwebs and at a Golden Corral near you showing their collective behinds over their church membership and its supposed significance. These are not followers of Christ, and I refuse to honor them with the label “Christian”. These are people who were born into a home where they saw a cross hanging in the living room and were forced to memorize a few scriptures in order to validate the religious moniker their parents bestowed upon them, but do not have Christ in their hearts.

And there are droves of them.

And they are loud and verbose with their obnoxious behavior and minuscule intelligence and displays of a deficiency of self-awareness.

And in the majority, they are men. Close behind these men are women who think that they are inferior to men and must therefore (exclusively) advance the agenda of men because this makes them “godly women”.

And I am TIRED.

I have a number of atheist acquaintances that I interact with online, and for the most part, our interactions are civil. They don’t believe in God or Christ’s redemptive work on the cross, and I am okay with that. What I am never okay with is when an atheist gets on his/her own religious soap box and begins to slight my faith. However, I have even less tolerance for church goers who in turn attack atheists in the vilest ways. I wish it were as simple as “You’re gonna go to hell if you don’t accept Christ!”

That would be nice. Instead, I’m seeing men tell women that they are sluts, cunts, stupid whores and witches because these same women refuse to kowtow to the patriarchal woman-hating god that these men worship Sunday after Sunday. These are the heralds of modern Christianity, and this is what folks think “Christianity” is… a bunch of douche bags sitting around demeaning women because God says so.

I promise you, I’m SO tired.

The people I love the most in this world – my brother and sister – are agnostic. They believe in a supreme being floating somewhere out in the Universe because they understand that as vast as the galaxy is, we cannot be the only thing that exists in it. That is the essence of hubris: to assume that your bipedal, mammalian existence is the most important vector in the expanse of space. They don’t share my faith, and that’s not their fault. It’s mine. It’s the fault of every douche bag church goer they’ve ever seen on television or met in person. If Christians were truly walking in Christ’s power – to heal, to console, to argue with reason and intelligence, and to love – there would be far less angst and debate and far more souls about trivial issues, far more evidence of God’s great love and more souls being won into the kingdom of Heaven. But douche bag church-goers STAY sending folks to hell, and your bible says you will have to give an account on the Great Day for every person you robbed of the opportunity to have a relationship with the true and living God.

It grieves me to think that when my brother and sister die, and we all must die, I would make it into Heaven and they would not. I know I could not be happy if we lived eternally separated from each other. Nevertheless, I recognize that their decision not to follow Christ is just that: a decision. They have observed a sample of the population, received the Biblical data (at least in part), analyzed it, and concluded it’s not for them. I have to (and do) respect that. Me kraaa, who’s to say God even wants my potty mouth in His presence?

Christian chauvinists! You have to stop your disgusting attacks on people who do not share your beliefs, and deluding yourselves into thinking that you can insult someone into the Kingdom of God. It just doesn’t work that way.

I understand why you do it though: It’s because you are afraid. You’re afraid that someone who is an atheist and functions in a respected sphere such as law, medicine or politics and does not share your belief somehow invalidates your belief. You think that if these “smart people” do not believe in the perfect God you think you serve then it means that you somehow must not be quite as smart. You think unbelief is contagious, and because you are not equipped with the mental dexterity to converse in an enlightened manner with someone who is not a douche bag church goer like yourself, your reflex is to insult their intelligence – or their sexuality, sexual history and/or gender –  rather than the substance of their view(s). You really must sit down and query your motives and your own faith. Ask yourself how someone blatantly stating that they would rather worship “burnt toast” than return to church affects you? How is that a menace to your personal faith?

Christians believe that the human being exists in three parts: spirit, soul and body. The spirit of God was made manifest in the flesh through Christ as an example of what is possible through your faith. But even in His day, when he walked and sweated and bled like any other man, folks still did not believe in Him. Even when He raised Lazarus from the dead, or made the blind see, or debated the Torah in the temple with new insight or performed the multitude of miracles we’ve heard about our entire lives, people still did not believe! Nevertheless, Christ’s ministry was about consistently showing individuals their singular importance to the Almighty, despite their sinful ways. That is why He did not condemn the woman at the well. That is why he told the adulterous woman that He did not judge her after sending her accusers away in their shame. That is why He vehemently forbade His disciples from sending away a throng of children who wanted to get closer to Him. Because ALL life has value to God.

So do you really think that by demeaning women (because Christian chauvinists are rarely brave enough to engage or combat men about their “sin”) you can win a soul to God? That’s your strategy? Spoiler alert: it’s going to fail.

My Son’s Love of Trains Lead me to Several Shocking Discovery

photo 2(6)

Having children can greatly enrich your life. If you don’t believe that, just ask Mark and Rhea (who have chosen not to release their surnames to the public), who go by the YouTube username “ilovemaything”. They made $1 million just uploading videos of their kids Maya and Hulyan playing with toy trains. My son, Stone, is an avid lover and connoisseur of all things locomotive himself, and like his comrades Maya and Hulyan, has greatly enriched my life via his own interests.

And, no: This is not a story about how my family struck it rich through pursuing kid friendly pastimes. The boy was instrumental in showing me something new.

photo 3(2)Marshall and I try as much as we can to expose the kids to real life events and situations that correlate to the kids’ individual interests. With four different people with four ever evolving fascinations, that’s a lot of exposure to wrangle. Stone will turn 6 this spring, but unlike his sisters he has maintained three main interests: cars, dinosaurs and trains. Trains are at the top of the list, and so it is for this reason and this reason alone our entire family found ourselves at the Southeastern Railway Museum in Duluth, GA.

It was fascinating. There was so much history! Even the girls thought it was a worthwhile excursion, and went as far as to thank their brother for suggesting the trip. (You have to see these people fight about how they’re going to spend the holidays to know how big that is.)

photo 3(3)The museum does an excellent job of chronicling locomotive transportation in America, replete with decommissioned freight cars, cabooses, a luxury Pullman and of course, coal/wood burning steam engines. We saw street cars and trolleys dating back to the early-mid 1800s, as well as a functioning railroad handcar that anyone could ride for $1. As we climbed in and out of each feature, we found ourselves imagining what it must have been like to ride and work on the railroad. The cab of the engine would have been extremely hot, with the engineer and coal shoveling men sitting within two feet of an open furnace. Further back, aristocrats in fancy clothes would dine on fine china and sip tea while they debated the merits or follies of international commerce and whether women should have the right to vote. A little further back there would be a caboose carrying mail or food. The railroad wasn’t the lifeblood of America, rather it was a network of veins that made a prosperous life in America possible… and it was controlled an exclusive group of wealthy men.

Control of the American railroad was instrumental in winning the Civil War. When Lincoln cut off supplies to the South, that all but brought the Confederates to their knees. The railroad has also served as a reminder, as well as a facilitator, of class and racial discrimination in America. Nadjah casually wandered over to this sign hanging in a 50’s era cart delineating the Negro section from the white section and pointed it out to me. The cart connected ahead even had seats segregated by gender. What was I to say?

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“It’s true. There was a time in America when Black and white people couldn’t sit together, by law. And it wasn’t that long ago.”

The next question came from Liya (aged 4). “Can they sit together now?”

“Yes.”

photo 4(2)The attitude of the children turned solemn for a moment, and then they went back to racing around the outdoor museum, exploring its wonders. But of course, that got me thinking. What was it like for the variety of Black Americans who had to navigate this system? We are not a monolith, with the same experiences or goals or advantages, but my ancestors (and I feel like us today, even) had to endure a system that treated them as though all Blacks were the same. And by “same”, I mean subhuman. I looked down at the royal blue jersey jumpsuit I was wearing paired with gold sandals. I hadn’t meant to dress up that afternoon, and I admit I probably looked out of place at the grungy museum with my chandelier earrings and 20’s inspired hair. But I couldn’t help but imagine what the experience a woman – a Black woman – born into wealth who purposely got dressed up to ride the rails might have been like. I did a little bit of research when I got home and gasped at what I’d found.

Dining set used in luxury coaches

Original dining set used in luxury coaches

First of all, not all Black people in America were slaves during the era of slavery. We know that. In fact, quite a few of them –particularly in Louisiana – were not only born free, but born into aristocratic families and intermarried (informally) with European men. Quite a few Creoles were slave owners as well. Slavery was the economic system and foundation for America’s wealth. Like ancient Rome who adopted similar policies, race-based subjugation was the springboard for America’s relative meteoric ascension. Before the Louisiana Purchase, Creole people were allowed the ‘benefit’ or participating in –and profiting from – this economic system.

Outside of that microcosm however, a wealthy woman of color would have found herself in an intolerant and intolerable world. Despite her finery and education, she would not be permitted to sit in first class. She would not be allowed to use toilet facilities on the train. She would have to lift her muslin gown and ease herself in the bush, with the rest of the Negro population. The rules would change for her the moment the wheels crossed into the true South. If she refused to comply with the rules, and regulations set out for her race and gender, the consequences could be dire.

Public humiliation for people of color has long been a tradition in America’s public transportation system. In 1882, Mrs. Walter Burton, the wife of a state senator from Fort Bend County (Texas) was thrown from a moving train for refusing to give up her first class seat in a whites only coach. Scott Bond, a fair colored Black man who could pass for white but refused to, talks about this in the book From Slavery to Wealth: The Life of Scott Bond. He discusses how on two occasions at least, he was asked to leave the Negro car to sit in first class with his “own race”. Hilarity does not ensue. On one of these two occasions, an exasperated and fearful Black porter calls for the conductor to force him to leave the Black section. An equally exasperated Bond asks the pair what they would have him do.

“The Law says I’m to sit in the Negro section, but you say I am not to! Who is to blame for this? Shall I cry out to God for an answer?”

The intersection of wealth and race (or presumed race) has never been a smooth or easy collision. These are just two of the examples I found on the internet about what it was like to travel while privileged and Black, and how that privilege dissipates depending on where you find yourself on geographically. Some of you in the MOM Squad are historians. I’d love it if you would share your knowledge about this with me. Have your grandparents ever talked about what it was like to work/ride on the train?

You can call me up, since you never leave comments. You culprits know yourselves. ;)

 

How South Africa’s Xenophobic Attacks Have Revealed Ghanaians Own Superior Attitudes

In a chorus there are many voices, and indeed there are millions of people speaking up both for and against the attacks on foreigners living in South Africa. There are numerous South Africans, frustrated youth primarily, who believe that all foreigners who have come to “steal” their jobs should leave the country immediately. Then there are those who recognize that the problem doesn’t lie with a foreign influx, but rather with the lack of education and opportunities that plague a large swathe of South African youth. In general, these disadvantages render them less desirable candidates for open positions from potential employers and have also failed to provide them with incentives (or knowledge) to begin businesses of their own. Education reform has been abysmally lacking in South Africa, and this is the great shame of the ruling ANC who instead of elevating education standards, recently lowered the threshold for student passing grades in order to artificially churn out more “qualified” graduates. How many of us want to be operated on by a doctor who only got a 30% passing grade in med school?

Of course in this chorus are those whose voices have been cut short, whose last utterances on this Earth were screams of anguish after having been burned by fire or hacked to death. While the images are real, and they are horrific, they are sadly nothing new. When I visited the township of Qolweni in 2011, I was introduced to a Ghanaian who had opened up a small hairdressing business in the township because there was none. Customers flocked, money rolled in, and jealousy blossomed. He showed me the stab wounds inflicted from angry young men who accused him of “stealing their jobs”. They burned down his shop and tried to kill him. Twice. He survived to tell the tale.

Mandela visits Ghana During the Rawlings regime.

Mandela visits Ghana During the Rawlings regime.

And then there are the sympathizers who see the madness in this all. We click our tongues and go on Google scavenger hunts to dig up long forgotten ideas and manifestos from African leaders now long dead, who gave blood, support, ammunition and funds to help South Africans in their fight to end Apartheid. How easily and quickly they’ve forgotten how it was other Ghanaians, Zimbabweans, etc that they kill today that helped them yesterday! In that refrain lies a more sinister group who have asked a question I’ve seen pop up in social media again and again. It chills me to my core.

“How would they like it if we did that to them?”

What an idea. So now we are to condemn the violence of others by proposing violence in return? What a singularly stupid idea! I have only heard this proposal from other Ghanaians, so I cannot say definitively that a Kenyan or a Somali has not said/thought the same. Right now, I can only speak for Ghana and hope to point out our own hypocrisy and minimal understanding of the South African plight.

South Africans – as we all know – experienced colonialism in a way that was unique from the rest of Africa. The English never came to South Africa with the intention of setting up permanent residence…but the Boers did. In a time when they were also escaping their own ethnic cleansing and religious persecution in Europe, South Africa represented their version of the “promised land”. They convinced themselves that the land belonged to them. To wrestle the land from the natives meant they had to employ the sort of subjugation tactics that we north of the Limpopo have never had to grapple with or imagine. While we dealt with the scourge of slavery – and even actively participated and profited from the sale of our brothers and sisters – native South Africans were massacred where they proved inconvenient, enslaved on their own land for convenience, and genetically modified to create a new caste system to further divide. They have never fully healed from that psychological and physical abuse. Coupled with an abysmal education where they have not been taught to see themselves as partners in a Pan African vision, it only makes sense that they would see another African thriving on their land as a throwback to an invasion. I’m not condoning their actions in the least. I pity these misguided souls who carry out these disgusting attacks. They are confused and crazed. But their confusion and insanity doesn’t make a Ghanaian better…and this is a sentiment I’ve seen frequently all over social media.

“At least a foreigner can come to Ghana and feel safe.”

“Our murder and crime rates are WAY lower in Ghana than in South Africa.”

“We in the rest of Africa are just BETTER HUMAN BEINGS than they are in South Africa.”

(These are actual quotes I’ve seen in Twitter. I’m not linking the accounts because I don’t want these guys trolled.)

Let’s first address the foreigner in Ghana. Foreigners feel “safe” in Ghana because we values foreign life far above our own. This plays out in many ways in everyday life. A foreigner will be served at a restaurant or entertainment attraction before a Ghanaian will. When my friends and I went to Fanta’s Folly in the Western Region, for example, the porters saw us approach with our luggage and let us walk to the front desk unaided. We were all Black women. An hour later when the boyfriend of one in our group met us there with only a backpack, two men leapt from their seats to help the scrawny white American man with his 10 lbs bag. We were shocked, but we shouldn’t have been. Look around Osu today for evidence of the same obsequious behavior and you will find it.

A Ghanaian would never dare attack a foreigner in Ghana because he knows (or thinks) that they foreigner is the key to his economic well-being. The foreigner brings jobs and investment. Just this morning, a user left a comment on Joy Online stating that “Ghanaians are good, and that is why the World Bank has come to help us!”

How can we compare our murder/crime rates to South Africans when we don’t even have the mechanisms to track those rates? Look at rape, for example. We can’t even decide as a nation what actions “qualify” as rape, let alone track it. Add to that, our crimes are horribly underreported in our country. Some tried to challenge me on this on Twitter. I asked him to name to official database that houses our crime statistics. He could not. Instead he hit back with “you think every crime in South Africa gets reported? SMH.” Of course not. But at least they have a baseline for projection and estimates. With our penchant for Fa ma Nyame (give it to God) and accepting GHC100 in recompense after a girl has been sexually assaulted by a neighbor or uncle, we can’t say with all honesty that we are “better” or “less violent” than the South African population. Instead, we are more diligent about concealing our lawlessness and offenses.

How then does that make us better human beings than our South African brothers and sisters? We’re better because we do our deeds in the dark, whereas they do theirs in broad daylight for the world to see? There is a reason that just 2 years ago, Ghana was West Africa’s golden boy, whereas today we are a pariah to our development partners. It’s because we are frauds, and our façade has crumbled. We have deluded ourselves and continue to think we can fool the world. We are not better. We are just as corrupt as the South African. Just as violent as the South African. Just as mentally enslaved as the South African. The only difference is that our chains rattle to a different tune.

My husband and I made friends with a Boer man named Henne in Plett a few years back. We had a potluck dinner and he regaled us with all sorts of tales. One of the stories he told me both fascinated and saddened me. It was about a movie he had watched, whose title has long escaped me.

It was about the Boer British War in 1899, where both sides committed horrific atrocities against each other. The war ended with British gaining administrative control over the Trasvaal, while provided several concessions to the Afrikaners.

“I tell you, I cried when I watched that film,” Henne said. “Two see those men fighting like that…ach! But at the end of the film, the two sides looked at each other and promised that no white man would ever fight each other like that again…and they never have since.”

Jesus.

Think about that.

As Henne tells it, to this day, English South Africans and Boers really don’t ‘like each other’, but they have learned to get along for the benefit of their common ambitions: to succeed in SA. What are we doing, people? What are we doing to ourselves? We have to unite as Africans, and these supercilious attitudes and false assumptions about our individual/national superiority is not going to foster that. We will continue to be defeated if we don’t extend our hands in cooperation right now.