Tag Archives: ghana

The Foreboding Message in Walov’s Revolutionary Song, ‘Never Go Change’

When Michael Kwame Gbordzoe composed the lyrics to our national anthem,  ‘God Bless Our Homeland, Ghana’ culminating the first stanza with the refrain:

And help us to resist oppressor’s rule, with all our will and might forevermore

I wonder if he ever imagined that the government elected by the people, for the people, would eventually morph into the oppressor of the people.

There is no doubt that citizens are feeling burdened and hopeless in the country right now, and that is directly as a result of the way the country is being governed. From the executive office of the president, to the religious leaders that sway the emotions of the people, to our municipal mayors and educators, there is a frenzied – almost primal need to subjugate those who find themselves under the authority of anyone in these groups. Ghana has long been considered a hard place to live, but it is only recently that it has become near impossible for the native Ghanaian to thrive in his/her own homeland. Ghana is very kind to the expatriate corps, who navigate the system with ease thanks to the privilege that being paid in dollars/pounds sterling. Ghanaians themselves will go out of their way to show a foreigner that their lives and desires are preferred above their own. This has contributed to the climate and attitude that the native Ghanaian is not worth serving to one’s best. It is an attitude that Ghana’s political elite display with wanton flagrance, insulting the population and then offering half-hearted apologies for political expediency, if any at all.

It is in this bleak climate that Wanlov the Kubolor has penned what many consider the song of the soon coming revolution, ‘Never Go Change’. (The video released was online two days ago). The melody is haunting, the message a warning. The single black and whaite shot of what appears to be a homeless, but hardworking man sweating in his toil is a portent and reflection of life for the average Ghanaian today. I asked Kubolor to talk about his motivation for the arrangement and lyrics of the song.

wanlov-kubolor-resized

MOM: Musically, I think it’s a BIT of a departure from your usual subject matter. You usually tackle sexual attitudes and religion (this has earned you the moniker “controversial”)…so why politics now?

Wanlov: Musically it is because I am known for rapping/singing on beats, but I started listening to Sixto Rodriguez over 2 years now and have been learning acoustic guitar from Kyekyeku & Tumi Ansah (M3NSA’s dad). Also dumsor is to blame for me learning guitar…but I think you meant topic-wise. I have always rapped/sung about politics from jump. The first song on my first album “Green Card” was called 50th Dependence and sadly all the lyrics from then are even more relevant now. 

MOM: Have you been meaning to do this song for a while, or was it spontaneous considering the political climate Ghana is in now?

Wanlov: I wrote this song a few months ago and debuted it at the Lauryn Hill concert in Accra. The crowd response gave me goosebumps. This is the song of the revolution.

MOM: ‘Never Go Change’ reminds me of Lauryn Hill’s I Find it Hard to Say (Rebel) in which she calls out authority figures for diminishing the value of Black life and oppressed people. She rhetorically asks “Why don’t you rebel”. It’s apropos that you would open for her with this!

Wanlov: [It] was not a conscious decision, but it crossed my mind to ask her to do (record) the song with me. However she was in a bad space because she had just lost her band leader so I shunned. Maybe if the song goes worldwide will ask her to revisit it with me ;)

MOM: You’re one of the few celebrities who has used his voice to address social ills. Do you take on this mandate BECAUSE of your celebrity, or does your fame give you the platform to advocate for causes you would be engaging in regardless?

Wanlov: I do not consider myself a celebrity…just an unpopular popular citizen who knows better and wants that better to be a basic Ghanaian right.

MOM: Do you expect any backlash for releasing this song, particularly for the call to “cut off their heads and splatter blood all over the walls”?

Wanlov: It would surprise me…they do not take the entire country seriously…why would they take me seriously? Besides they kill people every day through their lack of action or abundance of greedy or uninformed decisions. 

MOM: Why did you choose to use such a calm, melodic beat instead of something more angry and edgy?

Wanlov: I am past angry…I am now in the calm & calculated zone waiting for my people to arrive.

MOM: The song is a jeremiad about the flagrant display of greed in the face of so much suffering in the nation. Our political and social elite seem to be able to get away with the most heinous crimes with absolute impunity, and because they can, they do. And they will never change. But at the end of the song, you ask the listener: “Like you, you go change?” Do you think we ALL have the potential for corruption at the levels we’re seeing? And if so, is there really any hope for Ghana? It doesn’t seem to matter who we vote into power, the question keeps coming back: “Like you, you go change?” After all, these guys went to our schools and live in our communities. They are a part of us. What keeps this cycle of crap going, in your opinion?

Wanlov: The only reason something radical has not been done yet about corruption is because we are all waiting for our turn to get into a position and exploit it selfishly. We admire successful corruption stories. For example, Woyome is a hero to many. Ministers implicated in corruption are hailed and called honorable.

There is no hope for Ghana to change peacefully in the next 2 generations. My youngest sister who finished high school 2 years ago paid for a school sweater her first year. She and her mates did not get the sweater they paid for in the 3 years they attended that school till today. They were punished if they wore “non-prescribed” sweaters which they needed to because the school is in the mountains and it gets very cold when the sun sets. Upon all the maths and science and whatever they studied, the biggest practical lesson they learnt was behavioral. The teachers/staff they looked up to taught them that when you are in power you are not accountable.

Also our generation did not grow up seeing our parents bribing police by the roadside or tipping the ECG worker to not cut the illegal connection, but our children are growing up seeing this as normal…so imagine the next century…

This cycle keeps going because of the fine balance of colonial legacy, capitalism, religion, shortsightedness, nepotism, patriarchy, pretend patriotism & cultural/spiritual poverty. It has been set up nicely and will keep repeating till the pipes burst in the ever depraved marginalized slums who can’t even afford to follow a religion to sedate them. They will ravage everything shiny and attack anyone above their level of livelihood. Then Ghana will start from its ashes instead of continuing from the tree tops.

Ma bre (Translation: I’m tired)

 

Watch ‘Never Go Change’ here:

*NB: A day after this interview, news broke that Adams Mahama, the Upper East Chairman for the new Patriotic Party (NPP), had been the victim of an acid attack by two unnamed assailants. His injuries were deemed critical, and sadly cost him his life. He was part of political dispute and the victim of his own party’s in-fighting.

Politicians cannot continue to rely on the goodwill and pseudo spirituality/piety of the Ghanaian public. People are angry. People are frustrated. People are losing their capacity to tap into their compassion and humanity.

No right thinking person would condone these attacks, but ALL right thinking people must ask what sort of desperation would lead a person to resort to this kind of violence and address it at the root. The roots are obvious and exposed, but it is up to us as Ghanaians to admit that they are rotten and tend to them accordingly. It’s not as simple as “because Africans are savages”. To rely on that as an explanation is to willfully dismiss the many obvious and reoccurring wrongs in our society today.

A Legacy of Broken Promises, Shattered Dreams and Our Ecomini

Yvonne Nelson is a Ghanaian actress and a producer. Physically, she was built for modeling or volleyball. Academically, she could have been anything she wanted. Professionally, she chose to enter into the entertainment arena, and has worked towards it with such passion and dedication that she has earned the moniker of “celebrity”. Yvonne Nelson is now leading the charge for a May 16th 3dumsormuststop vigil and is now the voice of a “voiceless people”… but it ought not be so. Ghanaians should not need Yvonne Nelson to speak for us.

But we do.

We need Yvonne Nelson, Lydia Forson, Sarkodie, EFYA, Shatta Wale and any other individual with a platform and a regional/international presence to speak for us, because our own government has methodically and intentionally rendered us voiceless. They have stripped the people of their power and their voice for their own selfish gain, hoping that the elite and celebrity classes would be also so equally egocentrically driven that they would leave the masses to flounder and drown in our mess. The bloodsucking members of Ghana’s military leadership, parliament and eventual executive branch have taken Ghanaians for fools for almost 40 years in all that time, did not account for the fact that some of us may have been brought up with some national pride and would one day call them out for their misdeeds.

It started with One Simple Step. It continued with the Occupy Ghana marches. Today it is the #dumsormuststop vigil. Tomorrow, there will be another call to arms. Ghanaians will NOT stop until our government has delivered to us all that it has promised and all that is ours by right as a nation.

Ghana’s energy crisis is but one of many crises the country has to grapple with. We have a long standing employment crisis which has led to decades of Brain Drain. We still have a health crisis with a deficit of doctors in many specialized fields, including psychiatry and oncology. Ghana’s education system is churning out thousands of graduates every year with no critical thinking or reasoning skills. Many of them serve in public office. We have a series of environmental crises, compounded by poor city planning and management. The energy crisis has only gone further to compound all of these existing problems. We were not promised an attempt to keep a lid on a mashup of disasters by our leadership. We certainly were not promised a government that would create more problems for its people. Ghanaians were promised a fair, transparent, empathetic and efficient government and the bill has come due. The people have come to collect.

2020viz

The (P)NDC has overseen the lion’s share of Ghana’s (under)development since Flight Lt JJ Rawlings unleashed his coup to end all coups in 1981. Ghana has been on an oscillating pendulum of hopeful progress and decline ever since. There was a plan to bring the country on par with its Asian counterparts Singapore and Malaysia called Vision 2020 which I wrote about here. (A copy of the document also exists online if you are curious about the details.)

The (P)NDC government anticipated population growth decades ago, and talked about a mixed approach to solving this foreseen problem to include wind, solar and nuclear energy. What the people got instead was daylight robbery. Our coffers were looted by officials with federal monies being deposited into Swiss accounts; our sugar, rubber, tomato processing and shoe making factories were decimated; our beaches which could rival any in the Caribbean for their beauty were fouled with human waste. When our brothers venture to sea, they haul back tin cans, diapers and bio-waste in their nets. This is in our food supply. Now Ghanaians MUST import basic lifestyle items like tomato paste, canned fish and toothpicks. But what’s worse, perishable food items (like frozen chicken) are held up in port for weeks and go rotten in freezers that cease operation when the lights go off. They are held up in port because the workers are not paid, and the only way to clear one’s items is to pay your way through the intentionally constructed labyrinth of bureaucracy that features an itching palm at every turn.

The NPP had 8 years to change the course of this tide, and in my opinion did not do enough to do so. Nevertheless, President Kufuor did a lot more for the country’s reputation in his two terms than any other leader besides Nkrumah. It is mind boggling what the Mills/Mahama combo has been able to undo in such a short time.

Ghanaians are scratching out a living. This is not what we were promised! We are literally under siege by those whose lifestyle our taxes and fealty finance. Every week, several times a week, the population is insulted by either the current president or some member of his cabinet. We are called “unsmart”. We are called “prostitutes”. We are told we are doing the dirty work of the opposition while our infants are dying in non-functioning incubators or our fathers gasp for last breaths because the hospital lifts do not work and the oxygen tanks are on the bottom floor. We are taunted to vote them out if we dare. Yentie obiaa…we don’t hear you, we don’t care.

In our culture, the worst thing you can call someone is a liar. As far as I know, there is no word in any of our vernacular for “maybe”. Our tradition mandates that either you do something or you don’t- and you certainly don’t make a promise that you have no means or intention of keeping. In other words, let your yes be “yes” and your no be “no”.

Ghanaians are angry, frustrated and feeling hopeless and it is President Mahama’s fault, no matter what his minions, sakawa boys and yakiri kubuus may say. Rhetorically, they ask: “So did dumsor start with President Mahama? Is he the one who brought it? Heh? Did Mahama cause dumsor?!?!”

What pseudo Socratic thinking.

No. He didn’t. We’ve had a power crisis since the 80’s. However, he ran and won his election on the premise and promise that he had the answers to solve the crisis. It was part of his manifesto. He made it a habit.

 

Now that Ghanaians are demanding that he keep his promise, his sycophants have charged us to come up with ideas, rather than criticize. One of Ghana’s most learned sons did just that, and offered to provide his services for free. Benjamin Dedjoe is  the Chief Electrical Engineer for the US Army Corp of Engineers’ Arsenal division. He was rejected by the Ministry of Power and Energy and told that it was not expertise that was lacking, but rather “resources”.

Rejection Letter MOPE

A year later a Ghanaian delegation including a man wearing his wife’s coat went to Germany in search of their expertise to solve our problems. Until the Germans can solve our African created problems, the government wants us to conserve energy. How can one conserve something (s)he gets 30% access to?

This is why Ghanaians are angry. Our future is being sabotaged. Our past is being denigrated. The culprits responsible for this mayhem are lacking in both compassion and common sense, and the people are expected to be silent in the face of such abuse. We will not be.

I’m looking forward to the day with Yvonne Nelson and our celebrity core will not have to serve as the “voice of the people”. I look forward to the day when we get our power back. It is soon coming…I can feel it. In the meantime, we march, tweet, think and agitate with her.

Oh John Dumelo! Why Should we Try to be Rome?

This post isn’t about John Dumelo, my ex-boo. A while ago I wrote about how much I admired him and how compassionate and brilliant he was. Then we went and started speaking off script in a series of videos, tweets and radio interviews and my regard for him imploded. The gravitational pull of my contempt for him destroyed the walls of the ivory tower I’d mentally placed him in. It’s not like someone close to him hadn’t warned me about John Dumelo earlier, either. But as the old adage says: I can show you better than I can tell you.

This post isn’t about John Dumelo. It’s about a nation of John Dumelo’s – or rather a large enough section of population that share his philosophies and thought processes. These are the people who – in the midst of the worst power crisis Ghana has ever seen – want to lead us to proverbial Rome.

Welcome to Ghana, land of my birth. Akwaaba! In the metropolitan areas, there is a load shedding schedule that cycles on 36-48 hours of electricity off, 12 hours on. I’ve heard of people going on 8 day stretches without electricity. My father was one of them. There is very little manufacturing that takes place in Ghana for a myriad of reasons: Corruption, coups, mismanagement, fraud. Pick a combo from the menu; the results are the same. Ghana consumes WAY more than it produces, and the power crisis only goes further to hinder the efforts the few manufacturers that dare to operate under these conditions. In the middle of all these comes John Dumelo, megastar actor and beneficiary of the ruling government’s World Cop “generosity”.

He appealed to Ghanaians to give the president time to fix the power crisis.

“After all, Rome was not built in a day.”

You see this? This is the sort of Post Traumatic Colonial Disorder that plagues the nation. This is anti-Blackness. THIS is why Ghana is spiraling downward. Remember when MP Nelson Baani (NDC) wanted to stone/hang adulterous women because “that’s what they do in Afghanistan”? He was reminded before he went slithering back into obscurity that Ghana is NOT Afghanistan, it is not a caliphate and his job is not to function as anyone’s executioner. But it’s not his fault. Like John Dumelo, Nelson Baani suffers from Post Traumatic Colonial Disorder. He can’t think for himself. He relies on a prescribed set of rules from people who have never had his or his own people’s interests at heart to dictate what and HOW he thinks.

Why would we want to look like Rome, I ask you?

The Romans were notorious copycats. They stole from the Greeks, North Africans and Persians. They appropriated global cultures and presented it as their own inventions with such veracity that the antics of Kylie Jenner and Iggy Azalea pale in comparison. They were a democratic society, but they were far from egalitarian. Their survival and progeny was wholly dependent on violence, and that violence kept power and privilege centralized in the hands of the few. The strategies that Romans used to facilitate slavery would later serve as the handbook for a successful 400 years of African enslavement in America, right down to determining who was fit to reproduce and who wasn’t. Oh, and they had some really nice gardens, pottery, aqueducts and a coliseum. But is Roman society what Ghana is meant to aspire to?

Oh, John Dumelo-ites!

In making his comments about Ghanaians and their expectations for leadership to do their jobs in regards to solving the energy crisis, the actor came off as insensitive and completely out of touch. This was the impetus for fellow entertainer Yvonne Nelson’s hashtag #dumsormuststop which went viral in hours. It consequently led to an interview with the BBC the next day. This of course, made government officials livid. Several of them went on a rampage, calling Yvonne Nelson and her compatriots “liars” and seeking to discredit them. Please. The proof is at Kotoka (Ghana’s international airport), where the lights just off a few weeks ago for the world to see.

But let me show you how dumsor (lights on – lights off) affecting real people. The following infographics have been brought to you by Fazebook and Twirra.

The Problem:

photo 1(4)

 

The Promise(s):

The Influential Defenders of Incompetence:

jmelo

 The Outrage/Grief/Disbelief:

The “Unofficial” Official Government Response:

photo 2

In case you are wondering who this misogynistic bloke who is more interested in policing the bodies and relationship statuses of Ghanaian women, he is a former aid to “D” President’s Chief of Staff. Chances are, he’s still functioning somewhere in Ghana’s government.

photo(1)

And that is the cycle, my friends. This is why Ghana will NEVER progress…because at the end of the day, our political officials, religious leaders and business titans are more concerned with the location and preferences of a woman’s vagina than they are dedicated to solving pressing issues.

Because Rome.

My Favorite Moments from the 2015 VGMAs

Last night (and part of this morning), Vodofone hosted Ghana’s version of the MTV/American Music Awards in this year’s edition of the Ghana Music Awards Festival. Whereas the average American Awards show is 2-3 hours, the VGMAs was an endurance testing 6-7 hour affair which ended around 5 am GMT.

Reviews of the show have been mixed, with a number of people of the opinion that this was the worst VGMAs they’ve ever seen. This was my first time watching the show, and I felt privileged to be able to view it online. The fact that it was streaming worldwide was a win as far as I was concerned. I’m not a big awards show fan and avoid them wherever possible, but the VGMAs was worth eschewing my principles for just one night. It was many things: entertaining, confusing, dull and inspiring. Here are my favorite moments.

The Red Carpet

Sister Durrrby’s Dress: Ghana Twitter went absolutely insane over Deborah Vanessa’s dress last night. Hands down, she was the best dressed entity out there. I’m talking better decorated than the stage, the lights, and any bi-pedal being at the show. Sister Durrrby is often makes fashion statements with her clothing (or lack thereof *ahem* nudes *ahem*) and last night was no exception. She was a stunning mix of old world fantasy, modernity and queenliness. The dress was commissioned under the Wusuwaah’s Diary label after Deborah told her she wanted to “look like a princess” for the night. Home run! Check out the label’s tumbl’r account here.

 

Blaque Boy’s Coat: Chale, chale, chaaaale. Without a doubt, Blaque Boy was the worst dressed person on the red carpet, and that’s a pretty impressive feat, considering he’s a dude. Guys have two choices when it comes to red carpet attire: black or blue. Pick any shade of the two. Occasionally, you may even venture out and try on a white jacket – but even then, one must be careful. White jackets if done incorrectly can be interpreted as an attempt to pose for the new face of the Cream o’ Wheat box. As for Blaque Boy, he threw all caution to the wind and showed up as a mix of ringmaster, paisley upholstery and a meth overdose. And he took these liberties while in the function of the red carpet host. How were any of the viewers supposed to care what the artists where wearing when the host showed up as the conductor for a rave party? I think his coat was made in Ghana, which can be forgiven and is even admirable because…

 

Elizabeth Ofosu-Agyare, Ghana’s Minister of Tourism was filmed strutting the red carpet in a stunning azure dress with crystal details that was made in Morocco. Minister Ofusu-Agyare was trilling on and on about supporting Ghanaian artists and showing the world what Ghana is capable of in a Moroccan dress. What bigger night than this to showcase a local designer? Heh? But it’s okay. These are the tactics of the current government – to tell Ghanaians to patronize made in Ghana goods and then fail to do so themselves at critical moments themselves. She was right in line and step with this lip service administration. Well done, madam minister.

But you know who kept it real? Who kept it absolutely one hunned and ten? Yvonne Nelson. Yvonne Nelson don’t care what none of y’all think, how none of y’all feel or that you’re in your feelings about her looks. In what can only be described as Viola Wig Shedding moment, Ms. Nelson glided down the red carpet in a short ‘fro and bare feet you guys! Just coming off the heels of filming ‘If Tomorrow Never Comes’ which required her to cut her hair, she chose to rock her natural tresses without pressing, dying, weaving or gluing any attachments. This was really brave, particularly since Ghanaians are so critical of short hair on grown women. (That’s a whole ‘nother discussion.) Asked why her shoes were off, she said “They are Loub’s (Louboutins) and they are beautiful, but they hurt my feet.”

Yvonne-Nelson-at-2015-Ghana-Music-Awards

That’s grown woman stuff right there. Someone please come and dash her dambs, because clearly, she is fresh out!

 

The Show

Wiyaala was the opening act for the show and she brought it. She brought that old school – Tina Turner -rock goddess – Grace Jones – AC/DC – that funk and that power to the stage. Whooo! I wish I could find a gif for this one move she did with a back-up dancer where they melded – literally fused bodies – together using nothing but their thighs and toe nails. Then she did a back bend while balancing on his quads. I was like “ OH MY GAWD!!!!” And she never missed a note while singing Tinambanyi (Here We Come). I’m getting chills just recalling it. She looked like a frikking warrior deity. Someone said she could have taken bold Leonidas’ position in 300: Rise of the Strong Women. I agree. She’s taking the musical game, devouring it, and asking for seconds.

I love that woman.

Dark Suburb. Humph. These boys. (Or boys and girls, no one knows.) Their show was so full of energy. I was exhausted! There were flipping dwarfs, bare chested dudes painted in white clay, lightening, growling, strips of leather; You get the picture. They are just different and in a league of their own. But as impressive as they are/were they couldn’t touch…

The Compozers Lawd have mercy. I said lawd *stomp* have *stomp* merrrrcy!!!!!! They opened up their set with a rock inspired, smooth version of the Ghanaian national anthem that was so incisive in its delivery it almost made me proud to be a Ghanaian again. (No seriously, the country is so wrecked I feel like we’re living through a lost episode of LOTR: The Desolation of Mahama.)

Musicianship is something we’re losing not only in Ghana, but globally, so it’s always a thrill to see people who can still play an instrument. My generation is the last to remember what it was like to go to a show with full bands backing a singer exclusively, rather than a DJs turn tables and it’s great to know that this sort of performance isn’t going the way of the pterodactyl just yet.

 

Special/Touching Moments

Wiyaala won awards for Best Female Vocalist and Best Songwriter, both well deserved. She worked really hard this year and the lyrics to all of her songs are important and impacting. When ascending the stage to accept her award, she brought her mother along to accept it with her. (Her mom also brought along her handbag.) Wiyaala has spoken frequently about her mother’s unwavering support for her dream to sing and entertain, and as a mother myself, watching the two of them together in that moment got me right in the uterus.

You know what else was special? Lydia Forson’s face when her co-presenter starting rambling in broken English and fake slangs about his business prowess and innovation. Apparently, every Ghanaian award show that was ever performed in the history of mankind was his idea. I asked Lydia to tell me exactly what she was thinking and in what exact order, but she hasn’t yet. She doesn’t need to. Every woman watching her face that moment was thinking it too.

Crazy dude in his crazy coat making crazy claims

source: Ameyaw Debrah Look at her face. Now imagine an epic side eye. Heish!

 

As excruciating as that was to watch, it was not nearly as painful as waiting for Daddy Lumba to take the stage to perform his set. Daddy Lumba’s back up dancers deserve the MVP Award for the night. This living legend sent 4 women in black booty shorts and crop tops to dance on stage like four hapless kittens while he sat back stage doing God-knows-what for a full 8 minutes. That’s 8 minutes of dead TV air time, watching 4 grown women jiggle and gyrate to nothing. Someone buy them Poki and meat pie. They’ve earned it!

Reggie Rockstone’s refusal to speak in English touched my heart. His group VVIP won something (by this time I was getting sleepy and didn’t care who won what), but in his portion of the acceptance speech (delivered in Twi), he commanded the entire auditorium to stand up and sing him ‘Happy Birthday’.

They sang in English.

 

Weirdness

In 2007 Tic Tac, aka Ghana’s Busta Rhymes, had a hit called ‘Philomena’. It was about a girl who had poor personal hygiene. It was/is arguably his best and most well-known song. He forgot all the words to this song on stage. Every last lyric. Why?

Akosua Agyapong is like our Rosie Perez. She was our Jennifer Lopez in the Fly Girls days. Akosua Agyapong did the robot during last night VGMAs. Akosua can’t dance anymore.

At one point, every hip life/hip hop was on stage pretending to be the African Oliver Twist, asking crazy questions like “please sir, can I have some more”. Apparently, they want the Ghana Music Association to make sure they are still getting paid when they are “no longer relevant”.

Dude.

Come on now. If you know you are planning to be irrelevant as an artist in a few years, invest your money NOW…and I mean right NOW.

As strange as that request was, nothing beat Blaque Boy’s slangs. He was speaking clear, intelligible English, but he just didn’t sound…right. Here, try this: Put your fist in your mouth. Now say ‘cup cake’. Now talk like that for the rest of the day. You see the problem?

 

I can’t wait for next year!

 

Ghana Museums and Monuments Board Sanctions Debase Slavery Exposition

Some of his "art"

Some of his “art”

Nope, nope, nope and all the nopes that ever noped.

I am really hoping that someone like Soraya or Kinna or one of those really cerebral chicks I follow on Twirra will pound out an amazing think piece on this disaster that one Togolese/Ewe artist is pitching as art and help the WORLD understand why this is just a hot mess that never should have been allowed to leave the confines of Fiatsi Va-Bene’s mind.

Ugh. The fact that I’ve even said his name and driven clicks to his website is like a dagger to my soul, nevertheless, it behooves us all to know who the enemies who walk amongst us are. Oh yes, Fiatsi is an enemy of the Black race. There are no two ways about that.

If you are so inclined, you can Google this man and look at his work. A quick glance will reveal his faux depth. He is preoccupied with Black bodies covered in filth, chains or as offerings for human consumption. He sees Blackness as something to be exploited and devoured, and that’s where his artistic narrative ends. His latest “exhibition” is the next step in that narrative.

M.O.M. Squad and ladies and gentlemen of the Interwebs, can you believe that the academics at the Ghana Museums and Monuments Board have actually allowed this heretic and debaser of our ancestry to hold an exhibition depicting people shackled and silent in the bowels of the Elmina Dungeons? I know this because Mr. Va-Bene has posted an open call for volunteers to sit silently in the bottom of the dark, dank cell that held hundreds of thousands of African men and women before ferrying them off to slavery (if death didn’t take them first) on this website. 

And people are signing up, some giggling with excitement about how “crazy” this is going to be!

The 12 hour “exhibition” called Return of the Slaves will proceed as follows:

Performance Description & Rules

  • Participants will stay in the slave dungeon from Friday, 6:00pm to Saturday, 6:00am (12 hours overnight) with loosed chains on their hands and legs
  • Participants are not to communicate verbally during the 12-hour stay but they will be free to move within the dungeon
  • Participants will wear only red wrappers around their waist and on the breast (females).
  • Participants are not to exit until the end the performance
  • No physical pain will be inflicted
  • The public will be able to view performance in the dungeon by lantern or torchlight only

 

Food and Drink

  • Participants are not to eat any food during the 12-hour stay in the dungeon, they will be given only water
  • Food will be provided to participants at the end of the 12-hour stay in the dungeon

 

Yes. You read all of that right. Participants are not allowed to speak. They are not allowed to eat. They are supposed to behave as though slavery is a normal (and comfortable) condition for them.

Are you kidding me? Are you trying to tell me that those mighty men of Ashanti who were captured in war were not plotting some escape, or the mother who was snatched from her children was not clawing her way desperately out of those walls? Sit silently for what? This man and the Ghana Museum board is MAD.

But that’s the problem with Ghana. Madness is running the country and we are calling it art and progress. A dead goat is at the helm and we call any nonsense and excuses he spews wisdom. None of these people should be allowed to have any influence over Black people. They are the worst type of white supremacists. These are the vanguards of the New Black in Africa.

Now, there are some people who see absolutely nothing wrong with this exhibition or the mentality that lead up to its (planned) execution. Please don’t bore me in the comments section. Save your prattle for someone who is interested in your mediocre view of yourself. I am uninterested for two reasons primarily: I can’t change your mind about the disgusting way that you view your Blackness, and because this is Ghana. NO ONE is going to step in and stop this travesty from happening. White people will come from out of the woodwork with voyeuristic intent to witness Black suffering. They get off on it. It’s better than an orgasm. Don’t believe me? Just watch who shows up in July with their flashlights to go down into the cells. But as bad as that is, that the brainchild and architect of such a perverse event should share the same skin as me is more than I can take. I swear, the spirit of every African slave raider and child predator that ever lived inhabits the bodies of the Museum board and this primate who calls himself an “artist”.

This is worse than the human zoo. This is worse than the SNAP challenge. Can you imagine an “artist” inviting people to come to Auschwitz to re-enact the gassing of Jewish people, or a call for US Marines to have their corpses beheaded by the Japanese? No. We can’t. Why? Because the world respect any body that isn’t Black, including some Black people. But to be from Africa and pull a stunt like this? Because it’s supposed to be “edgy”?

iCan’t.

 

Ghana at 58: Neither Independent Nor Free

There is a general sourness in the mouths of Ghanaians this year at the mention of Independence on this 6th March. Save for the few individuals who have committed to celebrating the beauty of Ghana – since her successes have been so few in most recent memory – there is not much hope in the country. The sentiments are a far cry from the emotions that governed Ghanaians during the first night independence was declared 58 years ago. If you were in Accra at the Black Star Square, you couldn’t help but celebrate. Today, Ghanaians are indifferent to if not in mourning over the trajectory the country has taken. We are indeed a failed state.

But why is that? Every country has its challenges. Even the leviathan that is the United States went through a decade of recession and eventually pulled through, so what is it that has Ghanaians in general feeling so hopeless? From what I have gathered in conversation, it is a subliminal realization – though not yet accepted – that Ghana is still under colonial rule. We are still a repressed people, burdened by the yoke of an obdurate master… and our colonizers look just like us. Now that the British Empire is no longer our task master, we have replaced their role with something far worse: Ghana and Ghanaians are groaning under the affliction of internal colonialism.

Internal colonialism is a term used to describe the distinct separation of the dominant core, from the periphery in an empire. This term derives from Colonialism which is “the subjugation by physical and psychological force of one culture by another… through military conquest of territory” . The term was created to describe the “blurred” lines between geographically close locations that are clearly different in terms of culture. Some other factors that separate the core from the periphery are: language, religion, physical appearance, types and levels of technology, and sexual behavior.

‘Internal colonialism’ is a notion of structural political and economic inequalities between regions within a nation state. The term is used to describe the uneven effects of economic development on a regional basis, otherwise known as “uneven development”, and to describe the exploitation of minority groups within a wider society.

 

Flag of Gold Coast

Flag of Gold Coast

I believe that since our president (past and present), parliament, judiciary and clergy have no inkling on how to rule or run a country, they have fallen back on the tactics of our old oppressors i) because those are effective, and ii) because our leadership is lazy and governed by the same motivation that brought the Europeans to Africa’s shores in the first. That motivation is greed. It is an insatiable greed and lust to pleasure self that has led Ghana to the pathetic state she is in now. At 58, she should have been crowned in glory…but the country is literally a filthy pauper – mired in her own human filth and pleading with the IMF for loans in exchange for her body and soul.

What were these tactics that the Europeans employed that our current government (not just at the executive level, mind you) is using to their advantage? I have identified 5. Scholars of history may be able to provide more, and I hope they will in the comments.

  1. Divide and Conquer

This is not the oldest tactic the Europeans used, but it is definitely the most effective. Once they saw how easy it was to destabilize Africans and their power bases by aggravating their differences, the method was replicated all over the continent. Those in power do the same thing today, with the most recent example being the kerfuffle over the practice of differing religions in schools across the country. We have to ask ourselves: who benefits from this sort of unrest?

Examples in other areas abound, including ageism, tribalism, gender inequity, and abrochifor and omanfor (those who live abroad and those who choose to stay in country). In my view, the lattermost division may be the most dangerous phenomenon in today’s global economy. When South Africans were in the struggle for an end to apartheid and for Mandela’s release, students and activists helped the needle turn tremendously when they pushed for divestment in South Africa. Suddenly, the Apartheid government sat up when the economy was at stake. Similarly, Ghanaians on the ground and abroad need each other as allies. I need you to show up for protests, and you need me to show up at my American senators office to press him not to invest funds into the pockets of corrupt officials.

  1. The use of violence to quell descent

One of the most effective ways to keep a population in fear and in a box is the use of violence. Sir Gerald Hallen Creasy was a British colonial administrator with a bloodlust who oversaw the public murder of 63 WWII vets when they demonstrated against the termination of their war benefits. In similar learned behavior, Kwame Nkrumah had suspected enemies of the state jailed without trial, and President Rawlings sanctioned the murders of numerous public figures he considered enemies of the regime.

Recently, when the Occupy Ghana demonstrations took place in 2014, the world was shocked by pictures of police in tanks, heavy riot gear and fire arms to meet the protestors who were mostly businessmen and women, artists and geeks. Thankfully, there was no bloodshed, but it was enough to remind the citizens that the government is never above that option.

  1. Control of the food supply

Ghana is a cocoa producing country because that’s what the British needed to fill their coffers: cocoa. The Crown decided which cash crop was to be mass produced for export and pecuniary gain. Palm kernels, coco yam and cassava grow equally well in Ghana, but they held little value for the British. Today, our government still decides where resources for agriculture should be invested, and it often has little to do with the benefit of the Ghanaian people. With gari prices soaring, there is still little concentrated effort being put into cassava production and processing. What’s worse, a GMO agenda is being rapidly and violently pushed through parliament without ANY input from the citizens that will eventually ingest these foods. If not halted, companies like Monsanto will gain control to Ghana’s food chain from farm to table, and the country will find itself in the vice grip of yet another international conglomerate.

Control the food supply, control the people.

 

  1. Economic dependence on a ‘Master’ figure

This one is pretty self-explanatory. The world – and a fair number of Ghanaians – did not think that an Independent Ghana could survive if it cut itself from the Queen’s purse strings, but not only did the new nation wean itself from foreign “aid” (aid that was generated from raw materials stripped from its soil), it went on the become one of the fastest growing economies in that era. What we have today is a return to that same pre-colonial mindset. Not only can we not imagine ourselves living independent of foreign aid, our Black neo colonizers have placed us deeper and deeper into the debt of our rivals like India and China…and this after we had our HPIC status wiped clean just a decade ago.

  1. Invoking a deity to prey upon the suspicions of the people

‘When the missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land. They said ‘Let us pray.’ We closed our eyes. When we opened them we had the Bible and they had the land.’ –Desmond Tutu

Religion has always been an effective tool for suppression. Human beings are not just made of flesh and bone; we are also part spirit and soul. The use of mind tricks and the threat of spiritual torment if one does not conform to the status quo is how slaves were made to pick more cotton and how the Irish were made more docile. Abolishing and destroying the memory of any other religion besides the one the oppressor sanctions guarantees this. And there’s a benefit: when the oppressed soul does well, it is blessed; but when it does not, it is punished. (Spoiler alert: Even in the Bible we know that’s not true, because God allowed Job to be tested and abused, and he was considered the most devout soul in his generation.)

This is what the British did to us, and this is precisely what our government still practices today. Ghanaians are goaded by presidents and MPs into praying for God’s blessings and told that promises and policy will come to pass “by the grace of God.”

False! Charlatans! Steady, consistent work and actionable plans will make your policies and agenda come to fruition, not this hocus-pocus Christianity/Islam you practice as a group! I spit on your false piety! You have the money and the power, and the people have only their Bibles!

So as you see, Ghanaians have little to be joyous about on this Independence Day. That’s not to say there aren’t good memories and that there isn’t hope that lies ahead…but when the electricity is only on long enough in the country’s capital to allow one to see/hear the president’s Independence Address, it puts a damp cloth on the spirit of rejoice.

Maybe one day, we will truly be free.

 

 

 

 

 

Religious Intolerance and Education in Dumsorland

Evenin’, Saints. I ain’t gonna keep you long. I just have something that’s heavy on my heart that needs sharing is all. For those of you not interested in Christ, Allah and Ghanaian affairs, feel free to sit this one out.

I have been keeping tabs on trending Ghanaian news and have been horrified by what I’ve witnessed. Ghana, Africa’s “shining example of peace”, has been exhibiting some pretty distasteful behavior where religion and education are concerned. Most African countries exist with a mix of religions, with Christianity or Islam dominating the population, depending on how determined the Arabs or Europeans were to convert their subjects and keep them converted. It’s easier to control people who believe in (or fear) the same spooky deity as you. This is why there was so much hostility towards indigenous African religions… the invaders couldn’t figure out how to turn it against our ancestors. Conversion was therefore often forced, and anyone practicing traditional religion frequently severely punished in the colonies. In return, “devout” Africans were rewarded with jobs, elevated social rank and schools in return for their obsequiousness. In time, people handed down their adopted religions to their children for these new benefits – some going as far as to change their names to more Anglo sounding or “Christian” names – and the rest became history. The work was done, now that the slave identified more with the oppressor than with his ancestor.

Fast forward a few hundred years, and Ghana is dealing with aftershocks of this mental enslavement we like to call enlightenment – and our children our suffering for it.

An African child, like any other child of the global village, typically has no choice as to what religion they are going to operate under until they reach adulthood. The religion one’s family practices is your inheritance. In my case, I lived in a multi-faith home where my mother was a Muslim and my father some sort of Christian. He drank beer, never went to church and rarely prayed, but he grew up Anglican so that’s what he identified as. My mother was responsible for my siblings and my religious upbringing. So we prayed 4-5 times a day, fasted at Ramadan and gave alms to the poor (when it was convenient). We also went to Soul Clinic International, a Christian school founded by an African-American pastor. Coming from America myself, I thought that our school’s Director and his family would help me ease into my new life as an elementary school student in Ghana since we had a “common” background, but my religion would prove to be a barrier from day one.

Every morning at assembly, I would have to say a prayer declaring Jesus Christ as lord. I was forced to memorize and recite Bible verses. My teachers often had unsavory things to say about Muslims. One afternoon, my 5th grade teacher stood at the chalkboard and told a joke about the salat (posture a Muslim takes to pray) wherein the punchline was “I sh*t, I was my nyash. I sh*t, I wash my nyash. Oooh God, if I’m lying, look inside my nyash!”

My classmates burst into uproarious laughter while they banged on my desk, willing me – forcing me – to find humor in this insult. I’ve never forgotten that day.

You would think Ghanaians would have matured by now, but recent events in the news prove otherwise. We still haven’t learned how to respect each other or get along yet.

The fact is, Ghana is nearly split 50/50 along Christian and Islamic lines. There are a sprinkling of atheists and a few animists, but these are the two dominant religions. The legacy of colonialism is that most of the development in the country took place in the Christian south while the Muslim north languished in the dark ages. It is a legacy that continues today. The north of Ghana has the highest illiteracy rates, less access to technology and abysmal access to healthcare. The north is also predominantly Muslim. So what is a Muslim who wants a better education/job opportunities to do but come south into Christian terrain? That terrain includes better schools – and in a few cases, like Wesley Girls – the very best the country has to offer. This is the situation we find ourselves in today. Students who are of varying ethnicities and religious backgrounds want to better themselves for their progeny’s sake and are being told that they MUST adhere to “compulsory devotion” or leave the institution of their choice.

Compulsory devotion. If those two words strung together don’t smack of the colonized mind, I don’t know what else does.

For the record, I am not a Muslim anymore. I converted to Christianity in college, and it was a traumatic experience. In fact, I don’t recall it with neither fondness nor pleasantness. Still, it needed to be done to save my soul from sin and death, etc etc. As traumatic as that was for me, I still had some level of choice, even though I knew my mother would be furious. What choices are these Muslim children who are being forced to attend Sunday worship being given? Of course, Ghana’s kneejerk reaction from a barely thinking public is “Go build your own schools!” I cringe every time I hear this. It sounds eerily similar to “Go back to Africa!”?

logo2One of the best things to ever happen in my tenure as a student was to SOS HGIC, even if it was only for the last 2 years of high school. It saved my life and my mind. The school’s motto is “Knowledge in the service of Africa.” There were no devotions held on campus. The Christian students were ferried by bus every Sunday to worship, and the Muslims prayed wherever they wanted. My sister and I would pray on Friday in my dorm room. It was far less stressful and we were all able to focus on our academics. HGIC graduates are some of the greatest minds in West Africa today.

I sincerely believe that we need to take God out of education in Africa if we cannot figure out how to implement the tenants of love and compassion. Telling folks to “go build your own” is not Christian compassion. Christ never forced anyone to follow him. In fact, the Bible says if anyone does not believe in the gospel to shake the sand from your feet and carry on to the next town. It does not say bend their heads into your religious yoke.

Forcing people to “worship” together doesn’t build a nation. Stable infrastructure builds a nation. Equal distribution of resources builds a nation. Tolerance for your neighbor’s beliefs – as long as they don’t harm anyone – builds a nation. But telling folks who want to do their part to participate in the economy via better education to kick rocks because you have your head in an ungodly religious cloud isn’t going to make that happen. These mission schools were created to make the Ghanaian a better brand of servant. They were created for the white man’s benefit… not ours. They have served their purpose in that regard. Isn’t it time we grew up? For whose benefit are we now seeking knowledge for?

It’s time to take God out of schools in Ghana, because clearly, we don’t know how to handle nice things.