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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.