Saturday, October 4, 2008

How they psyche you

"Keep your culture Don't be afraid of the vulture Grow your dreadlock Don't be afraid of the wolf pack..." - Bob Marley, from the album 'CONFRONTATION.'

'European CIVILIZATION will be a good Idea.' Ghandi

In his quest for world domination\destruction, the European (and our definition of European includes the bastards Europe sired in North, South and Central America, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand), does not always employ violence. Sometimes his cynical smile is more deadly than the heaviest gun in his formidable arsenal of instruments of savagery.

Those of us who grew up in Africa will remember that the first image of the European, was that of the benevolent, always smiling priest, who live in the biggest house in our villages, consuming the best products we produced, while producing nothing. It was not his to partake in the toil, no. He only consume what others produced.

According to him, he is ministering to our spiritual needs. Imagine that! A European from a spiritless, loveless, joyless and decadent place like Europe, crossing deserts and oceans to come and teach us about love, brotherhood and human companionship. The Yorubas have a saying that if a man promises to buy you a dress, you should first of all look at what he's wearing. You shouldn't take seriously a man attired in rags promising to buy you a beautiful dress. How could a man who has known no love in his entire life promise to teach same?

We were ignorant then. We have been brainwashed into believing in the goodness of white men. Such is the power of the European ideological institutions that they have managed to turned a historically oppressing race into one with godlike qualities. When it comes to manipulating facts, Europeans are second to none. We are singing their praises instead of condemning and attacking them. They are experts at masking their intentions and camouflaging their evil desires in holy halo. They are masters at laughing with their face, while plotting with their hearts.

I am a cultural nationalist. I believe that culture is the most important thing in this world. Culture defines whom you are. What you think of your culture says a lot about what you think of yourself. Culture is not only music and arts, although they are important components of it. Culture encompasses also language, traditions, mode of dressing, of eating, in short, of living. A cultural philistine cannot respect himself.

This fact is well known to the European, that's the reason why he is doing its utmost to attack our cultural patrimony. All the ideological institutions in the western world are doing nothing except to denigrate African culture, and to promote theirs. Mind you, you will hardly see them attacking the African person, no. They will attack our culture, and make caricature of that which is dear to us.

Take religion for instance. When Europeans descended on Africa like a horde of rampaging vampires. They not only intended to kill us physically, but also psychologically. How do you kill a man psychologically except by taken away his culture. By taken away his culture, you reduced the man to a no-person. By emptying a man culturally, you reduce him to a psychological cripple. He’s stripped naked.
How did the Europeans accomplished this? They did so by casting our religions as paganism. How?

Among the first things the Europeans did was to condemn our gods and cast them into a bonfire. Wherever they go, they born our gods, our shrines and our altars. They said that we are pagans because we worship THE IMAGES of our gods. Did the Europeans gave us his own god? No. He gave us THE IMAGE of his own god! See how clever he operates. He gave us the image of a guy nailed to a cross, in obvious agony. To bow to such image is, to the European, not paganisms, but Christianity! So successful are the Europeans that churches in Europe are packed full with Africans! Even when most Europeans are skeptical about the Christian religion, Africans are prepared to die in defence of the adopted religion. It is a daunting task to convince the African nowadays that before the Europeans came our way, we never heard of Jesus Christ or his supposed father in heaven. Most African Christians will do battle, to challenge the simple fact that Africans were building empires, before they were acquainted with Jehovah.

That was not all the European managed to achieve. He not only laughs at our gods, he taught us to laugh at our own god. It is one thing for a man to laugh at your father; it is entirely another thing if he can teach you to laugh at your own father. That is a unique feat and that is what the European has successfully accomplished. So complete is the brain-washing that Africans are ashamed to partake in their traditional religious rites! They don't want to appear 'UNCIVILISED.' And the more EDUCATED the African, the more contempt he feels for his African religion! We have a situation where a man is considered EDUCATED if he is totally weaned away from his history - from his culture. The African who has the most contempt for Africa is deemed by the European to be sophisticated, a man of the world.

To round up:

After much reflection, Marx declared religion to be the opiate of the people. If opiate are sedatives, then Marx was only half- right. Religion nowadays, especially in Africa, has become the amphetamine of the people.

Africans are ready to slaughter one another, in the name of these religions that purportedly teach tolerance and brotherhood and love. Arab, Asian and European missionaries continue to swamp our continent converting Africans into religions that are being rejected in their countries of origin. They live in the best houses, eat the best food, drink the best wines, and tool around African cities in the best limousines, while telling their ignorant congregation that 'everything in this world is vanity.'

Africans must continue to wait for a paradise hereafter, while these foreigners are bulging their stomachs with loot from our land. It does not matter that most Europeans no longer go to church or believe in God, Africans continue to die for a 'Messiah' that was denied by his own people. Are we ever going to learn?
It is time we start to ask ourselves what benefits we derived from worshipping these alien gods. Materially, we are worse off now that we know about Jesus and Mohammed. Our fathers were building cities, pyramids, and empires without knowing about a Jewish tribal god called Jehovah. Our fathers were mining and smelting iron without knowing about an Arab called Mohammed.

Spiritually, we are more decadent that before these foreign gods were introduced to us. We have a well-ordered society, which these Middle-Eastern religions contributed in large measure to destroy. African governments can start by expelling these missionaries who, in the words of Ingersoll, are making their living by pretending to stand between the helplessness of man, and the wrath of the gods.

They can then ask the indigenous religionists to start paying taxes like any other business concerns. We should remember the warning to beware of saints whose charity pays their salaries. We should also start to educate ourselves that every society creates its own god in its own image. The colonialist supplanted our religious beliefs with theirs, among their other cultural imposition. Three decades after we supposedly freed ourselves, is it not time we re-discover our roots? Why should Africans continue to supplicate to the figure of a blonde, blue-eyed Jesus when all historical records point to the fact that he was Hebrew? What do the Arabs know about tolerance that they can teach Africans? And the sanctimonious European missionaries roaming around Africa should tell us what they know about love that we can learn from them. We need to educate ourselves that no society has been developed by religions, and none shall ever be. Instead of taking pride in knowing the Bible and the Koran by heart, Africans should start learning those skills could help transform their countries and their continent into viable societies.

Our generation may be lost, but we should, at least, save those things that are salvageable, for the coming generations.

And on language. In Africa during the colonial period, the European out rightly banned the speaking of African language at all the ideological institutions he created to celebrate himself and his race. I remembered been punished for speaking my language, Yoruba, during my secondary school years. Mind you, Nigeria (the 'country' to which the British consigned me) has been 'INDEPENDENT' for about ten years! So successfully was the indoctrination that several years after the colonialists took their leave from our lands, their policies are still being carried out by the colonialist dogs they have trained. It is a confirmation of this success that today you have Africans who refuse to speak their language, because they think that it is primitive. And we have a situation today whereby many of us are writing to our parents in a foreign language.

These are conscious efforts on the part of the Europeans. Their aim was to create Africans who look and think like them. When they control our lands, they took a few of us, give them some western education and promoted them to 'interpreters.' Such jobs in colonial Africa were plum jobs, indeed. Africans were fighting among themselves to get it, since it is considered an honor to be the nearest to the white god.

We have African leaders like Senghor who took great pride in being recognized as great French grammarian! This guy was even more French than the French.
The most tragic thing in post colonial Africa was the refusal of the leaders to do away with these odious legacies. Aside from Tanzania, where Julius Nyerere tried to develop an authentic African outlook, no other nation in Africa made that conscious effort, not even Nkrumah, easily the most articulate of them all. Nyerere adopted KiSwahili as his country's official language. This is quite logical since that is the language spoken by most of his compatriots. Nyerere speaks and writes English very well and could have easily made the Queen's language the lingua franca.

African nations like Nigeria or Ghana or Senegal could have taken one of the indigenous African languages and adopted it as the lingua franca or even develop one from scratch. This is not as daunting as it seems. All that is needed is conscious and committed leadership. Indonesia successfully did it. When Indonesia got its independence from the Dutch in 1948, there was nothing like Indonesian language. The Indonesian leaders could have opted for the easy way and adopted Javanese, the majority language. No, they didn't. They set out to create the Indonesian identity complete with a language. Today, what the Dutch took centuries to pull apart, the Indonesians have successfully put together. It is a joy seeing Indonesians communicating together in their OWN language with doesn't exist until about half a century ago.

Kamuzu Banda, the late Malawian president perhaps illustrated the caricature the Europeans created in Africa. This old man will not be found with nothing but a three-piece suit, complete with a bowler hat. This is man who built a school in his country that still teaches Latin! To him, a dead language Latin is a CLASSICAL language! I have been to conferences where we find Africans sweating profusely in their three-piece suit. They are trying desperately to impress the Europeans. The Europeans, whom they are trying to impress, have shed their jackets and ties, simply because it was too warm.

Nigeria: The Blight of Africa

“Nigeria we hail thee
Our own dear native land
Though tribe and tongue may differ
In brotherhood we stand
Nigerians all and proud to serve
Our sovereign motherland

Our flag shall be a symbol
That truth and justice reign
In peace or battle honour
And this we count as gain
To pass unto our children
A banner without stain

O God of all creation
Grant this our one request
Help us to build a nation
Where no man is oppressed
And so with peace and plenty
Nigeria may be blessed”

Please, dear reader, take the trouble to re-read the wordings of the song that was from the old Nigerian anthem.

Looking at Nigerian today, one is bound to ask whether the composers were not simply beyond irony.

“Though tribe and tongue may differ in brotherhood we stand.” Really, Nigerians in brotherhood? Sing me another song. Apart from football, one would be hard-pressed to name one single thing that unite Nigerians.

“Our flag shall be a symbol that truth and justice reign.” Absurd, absurd., very few Nigerians will be able to relate to this. The Deltans who are virtual colonial subjects in ‘their own country’ are bound to disagree that they enjoy any modicum of justice.

“Help us to build a nation where no man is oppressed and so with peace and plenty.” Let’s continue to dream our dreams but very few will contest the fact that Nigeria is today a land of oppressed\oppressors. It is a nation where the capricious corruption of the ruling elite put them entirely in a class of their own.

It is very difficult not to feel sad about the country called Nigeria. Every single time I visit the land of my birth, hot tears poured down my cheek on their own accord.

With its immense natural wealth, a large, creative and very enterprising population (a fifth of every African is a Nigerian), the country has absolutely no business to be in the league of Almost Failed States.

Yet, the country is mired in every socio-economic-political problem imaginable. This country of some 150 million citizens has find it impossible to conduct a credible census since its foundation and organizing credible elections is way-way above the capabilities of our Anago cousins. On the economic front, Nigeria is, paradoxically an immensely rich nation with an incredibly poor citizenry. And the country has consistently ranked among the most corrupt nations on earth. It has also consistently performed poorly in all indices of well-managed nations. Until few years back, the country that ranked among the world’s oil-exporting nation is also the same where citizens breaks bones in order to fuel their cars. And almost half a decade of nationhood, Nigerians still dance for joy when their electricity service provider gives them their pitiable allotment of power!

“It is a great irony that Nigeria is the seventh largest producer of oil in the world, and yet, up to now, almost 100% of the finished petroleum products we need are imported.” That was culled from a speech by President Yar’adua to a meeting of investors in London recently.

What is saddest is that the country has never lack social critic with good conscience. What is baffling is that the rulers (both civilian and military) of this very heartrending nation appear totally immune to all criticism and advices.
It is not easy to forget the powerful lyrics of the irreverent Fela Anikulapo Kuti who spent all his years on mother earth chronicling and wailing about the shortcomings in his land of birth. Samples from Fela’s lyrics:

“United Nations dem come get name for us.
Dem go call us underdeveloped nation,
we must be underdeveloped to dey stay ten ten in one room.
First and second day dem go call Third-World,
we must be third world to dey sleep inside dusbin.
Dem go call us Non-Aligned Nation,
we must dey craze for head to dey sleep under bridge.
Ordinary thing for man to enjoy for town nko o, e no dey.
Food, e no dey. Problem, iyen dey. Light, e no dey.
Wahala, iyen dey. Dem turn us to suffer head O, original suffer head.”
That was from Fela’s album, ‘Original Sufferhead’.

And take this from the album ‘Suffering and Smiling,’

“Dem sleep, dem go wake like cock
Dem go reach road police go slap
Demi go reach road army go whip
Dem go look pocket, money no dey
Dem go reach house power no dey
Dem go reach house water no dey
Everyday na de same thing
Every day na de same thing
Suffer suffer for world, enjoy for heaven.”

Fela Anikulapo sang his powerful lyrics almost forty years ago, yet the conditions he was describing then still, inexcusable, exist in today’s Nigeria. If anything, they have become even worse.

Nigeria of the 1970s and early 1980s was a regional, even a continental superpower with clearly defined Global ambitions. Its currency was almost at par with the British pound and was more valuable than the American dollars. The leaders sank billions of petro dollars into building first class infrastructures, ports, refineries and road networks that was the envy of visitors from the sub-region. The country’s educational and health institutions were well serviced. The national carrier, Nigeria airways, boasts of some thirty-eight planes whilst the Nigerian National Shipping Line boasts a number of ships.

That was some three decades ago. Few who saw the promising nation of thirty years turned into an ugly shell will not cry for the nation. A sad parade of visionless and parochial leaders who consistently put their personal well-being above their nation’s needs have joined hands with their ‘friends’ in the west to turn the country into a sad caricature. Long gone are the super-highways that dotted the land. In their stead are dilapidated highways filled with swimming-pool sized manholes. A string of corrupt Directors have run both the Nigerian Airways and the NNSL aground. Nigerian universities have been taken over by students more interested in practicing cultism than learning anything knowledgeable. Nothing illustrates the sad state of Nigerian medical facilities than the simple fact the nation’s number one citizen, the President, is a frequent visitor to a German hospital.

Ask any number of Nigerian and they will tell you that among the best legacies left behind by President Olusegun Obasanjo was the establishment of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission, EFCC. Chief Obasanjo, in his second incarnation as a ruler of Nigeria, was apparently appalled by the monumental corruption he met in Nigerian body polity that he vowed that the impunity with which the elite were looting the national patrimony should be curbed if not altogether eliminated.
Under the fearless scion of the Ribadu family, Nuhu Ribadu, the EFCC did what many Nigerians believed were impossible: curbing the excesses of the moneybags who believed themselves above the laws and the rules of the country.

No, corruption was not totally eliminated under Obasanjo, but long gone was the era of ‘BIGMANISM,” which had characterized the elite have treated the national treasury. Chief Obasanjo handed power to his handpicked successor, Umar Yar’adua from the famous Yar’adua family. It’s a decision the Ota chief must be ruing unto this day as the dull and dour former governor of Katsina state has being busy systematically dismantling all that his predecessor managed to achieved for the nation in his eight years rule.

Unlike Obasanjo who is a totally detribalized Nigerians and who managed to packed his cabinet with the best technocrats the nation has to offer, Yar ‘adua has largely surrounded himself with his Hausa\Fulani clansmen. We now have the totally ridiculous position whereby the head of the executive branch of government as well as the head of the judicial arm and the Senate President all come from the geographic north. This is, in addition to the north occupying the powerful positions of Minister of the Interior and the National Security Adviser.

Nigerians could have well live with that. What they find too bitter to swallow is the apparent moves by Yar ‘adua to emasculate the EFCC. First, under the pretext of sending him on a Course, Nuhu Ribadu was removed as the head of the EFCC. Nigerians rose as one to condemn his removal; the power elite was unmoved. Ribadu duly proceeded to do his course at the Nigerian Institute of Strategic Studies, Kuru. Few months down the road came the shocking news that Ribadu, a serving police office, has been demoted by two ranks!

Nigerians are yet to come to grip with that obvious nonsense when news came that State Security operatives are trailing him in order to effect an arrest. Next shocker was the revelation by the former Governor of Kaduna State that Ribadu has been earmarked for assassination!

Although he had just celebration his one year in office, the administration of Yar ‘adua is bound to be one of Nigeria’s worst ever. A year might be too soon to judge but as the African proverb says: “The eye that will last until dusk does not begin by oozing at dawn.”

Nothing the President has done so far gives any indication that he understands the monumental challenges facing him as a leader much less to talk of his being capable of remedying them. Many Nigerians who remember the regime of another well-meaning dullard from the North, Shehu Shagari, cannot but wonder how such wonderfully inept persons managed to get to the nation’s presidential throne.

Nigerians used to boast that their country was the Giant of Africa, few of them today will contest the sad fact that the country has now turned to the Blight of Africa.

When an elder loses his head

“There is no medicine to cure hatred.” – African proverb

One of the things I cherished most in life is the strict disciplined upbringing that I received from both my parents. My father was almost martial in his self-discipline (he never ate outside his house); my mother was less austere, but she did her best. I learnt a lot from my parents for which I am eternally grateful.

And among the things African I cherished the most is our reverence for old age. Disrespecting an elder is a big taboo that is heavily frowned upon. In our culture, one’s material station in life has nothing to do with this veneration of old age, hence the saying that a child might have more cloths than the elder, but he can never have more rags. You might have all the new Ghana cedis fighting in your pocket, but you’ll be considered uncultured, even boorish, if you should show disrespect to someone older than you.

Image my shock and awe when I got to Europe in my early twenties and saw children ARGUING (they call it discussing) with their parents. And horror of horrors, some children were actually calling their parents by their first names! I have to explain to my son that it’s quite unacceptable for him to call my brothers (his uncles) by their names with the uncle prefix. It’s simply not done in my culture and he certainly would look like a cultural philistine were I to take him to my village and he start calling his uncles by their first names!

Throughout my stay in Europe I never got used to the idea of sitting comfortably in a public transport when there were people older than I standing up. Many find my behaviour peculiar and pretty old fashioned, but I simply couldn’t bring myself up to start behaving outside my cultural space.

In Africa we revere old age maybe because we hope and pray to get into old age. But like in everything else, our elders evolved a strict check and balances to ensure that things properly balanced out. Old age carries great responsibilities. An elder must comport himself (sorry I am not being sexist here) at all times. He has more responsibilities in ensuring that his conducts, including utterances, are ALWAYS measured and that they are above board and above reproach. An elder speaks guardedly; he dances with more caution and he does not eat with both hands (metaphorically speaking).

So what happens when an elder violates these age-old norms? What happens when the Chief becomes the village machoman and start to exhibit bolekaja (come down and let’s fight antics)? Unlike the free-for-all ‘freedom’ we think that we are enjoying today, our elders do not believe in unfettered freedom, and they certainly do not believe that a society needs liberty without its concomitant responsibilities. An African proverb says that it is the elder that decided to ease himself by the roadside that calls for people to come and look at his buttocks.

Ex-President J. J. Rawlings utterances at a press conference early this month and his subsequent speeches left me a bitterly disappointed man. I am both sad and disappointed that a man that I greatly admired and respected should decide to jump into the gutter with his critics and perceived enemies. What baffled me the most is: what made him do it?

Those who have been reading my pieces will readily agree that I hold no brief for President Kuffuor and his party and government which I consider too close to the imperialists for my comfort. And their slash and burn, Jurassic economic policies aches me badly. And readers will attest to the fact that I have always refrained from personal attacks and insults. Sorry to disappoint you, but I am not going to start with President Rawlings!

In an exchange of missives with the editor of the London-based New African magazine, Baffour Ankomah, last year, I opined that Ghanaians appear to be unappreciative of the tremendous changes that President Rawlings brought into their lives.

In my opinion (IMO), with the exception of the incomparable Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah, no other Ghanaian leader has performed better that J.J. President Kuffuor has done his best in terms of physical development, but the moral turpitude of government makes it score very low on my card. I told Baffour that given his intellectual limitations, J.J. did his best and performed rather credibly. In the pantheon of Ghanaian leaders, President Rawlings is eclipsed by the Osagyego, but we shouldn’t forget that Nkrumah was among the foremost intellectual of all times.

“He who hates, hates himself.” – African proverb

I know that many people will be shaking their heads in dismay, and some are probably reaching for cudgels and things, but I only ask that we remember the rot our beloved land was before J.J. came in. No matter how passionate we are about our political convictions, historical facts are simply historical facts which we simply cannot wish away. No matter how hard one tries, one cannot argue away the simple fact that President Rawlings left Ghana in better shape than he met it. That, IMO, should be the yardstick with which we judge those that rule us.

I don’t know about you, but I very clearly remember a pre-J.J .’s Ghana when people were breaking bones in order to but agbelemo. I remember a Ghana where shops are TOTALLY empty. I remember a bankrupt and totally corrupt Ghana where citizens were despondent, and were massively voting with their feet. It was a Ghana where citizens residing in Nigeria and other lands were sustaining families with packages of Geisha sardines, toothpastes, soap and other hard-to-get consumables. It was a Ghana that was held in utter contempt by the rest of the world.

Many are minds that will point to alleged violations of rights and other things; I do not wish to wish their agonies away. But the only certain lesson we learn from political history is that there is no nation that didn’t go through a baptism of fire in its quest for nationhood. Correct me if I am wrong, please.

The Albinos enslaved and colonized us; today our ruling elite consider them their best of pals. Mayhap it’s time we Africans start to ask ourselves why we are ever so eager to forgive strangers who abused and brutalized us while we are willing to carry the grudges of the slightest slight from our own kind for ages.

No dispassionate analyst can wish away President Rawlings immense contribution to the democracy we all enjoy today. We may shout and cry about the shortcomings we see around us, but the fact remain that many of our institutions are the envy of our brothers and sisters across the continent. OK, we get blackout now and then, but go and ask the Burkinabes or the Nigerians. Those who complain about the dirt in Accra only need to take a trip to Lagos. Our electoral system is adjudged to be among the best in the world.

As I have often written on these pages, no society evolved by man is devoid of its earthly problem. This has been my biggest gripe with those wretched Albinos who leaves their roaches-infested Council flats and come to Africa to pretend that they just landed from ‘alujanahs.’ Sorry for the digression.

What, on earth, then informed a former President to come out firing from all cylinders? I once opined that it is the sad duty of a writer to catalogue the woes of his society. Do ex leaders also have the same obligation? I think not for the simple reason that while many can become angry writer of vitriolic polemics, very few of us will ever occupy the Presidency of our land. That’s what makes the Presidency of any nation so special and so awesome! The American presidency have been occupied by men of the shadiest characters, the moronic George Bush being the latest in the sad parade of amoral President to occupy the White House; yet Americans continue to revere the office of their leader. It shouldn’t be different in our dear land.

“If your mouth turns into a knife, it will cut off your lips.” – African proverb.

It saddens me greatly whenever I see the only living ex-president of this country being made the object of crude and not so funny jokes. I feel much diminished whenever I see the ex President of my land been rendered in unsophisticated and not altogether flattering caricature.

I don’t know who President Rawlings advisers were, but in the last few occasions I feel that he has been badly served. Those who get paid to manage his PR should hang their heads in shame as they have woefully failed to do their job properly. In computer jargon, they all ought to be DEBUGGED! How on earth could they have so badly misjudged the mood in the country? And the timing, God have mercy!

For Christ sake, there is going to be a general election in a few months and any right-thinking person knows that there are many ‘floating’ voters hanging all over the place. What could have caused our ex leader such aggravation that he couldn’t see the incalculable damage he’s doing to the party that he founded? It could be true that he’s not the Professor Mill’s best of pals, but could Mr. Rawlings be so hateful as to want to shoot his lips in order to spite his tongue?

Dear President Rawlings, I do not know what your minders are doing, but I feel concerned enough to tell you that they are ill-serving you. Please, do not make the life of people like me who hold you in the highest esteem unnecessarily more difficult than it is. I hate it when I see you slinging verbal mud with all and sundry. The office of the President which you have been privileged to occupy is an exalted one, and we would all be diminished if it is to be desecrated by those who take it upon themselves to trade insults with you.

You are a man of undoubted charisma, but the simple truth is that there is no way you can win a slinging match with a newspaper editor if he chooses to go to the gutter with you. Our elders say that the man who pelts another man with pebble is asking for rocks in return. My counsel to you, for whatever it’s worth, is to please simmer down and drink from the fountain of peace. The era of demagogy is finally and truly over in our land; try Pedagogy for a change.

Let me stop here with another advice from our elders: the Wiseman is like a nail; his head keeps him from going too far.

When the President misfired

What are you burning this early morning?

Can’t you see? I am setting fire to both my Voter’s card and my NPP membership card.
Oh, why the drastic measures? Is it not illegal to set government’s documents afire?
What government? Make dem come catch me!

But you have been a long time member of the NPP, why do you suddenly disown the party whose praise you have been singing over the years?

Me, I am leaving all politics alone. I’m giving up on all politicians. Let any of them show his ugly face around here, I bet you I shall become violent. Walahi!
That’s serious, what is going on?

Didn’t you listen to the President speech?

He makes a lot of speeches, which one are you referring to, specifically?
Yes, he makes lot of speeches, maybe that’s why he’s President; I am talking about the one where he call us lazy, ah!

Oh, no! The President didn’t call anyone lazy. What he said simply was that there is enough money in Ghana and those complaining of poverty are the lazy ones.
Have you now become the President’s mouthpiece?

Me, no! I leave politicians and their antics strictly alone.

So what are you talking about, or do you have money fighting in your pocket?
Me, I do not even have two Cedis to rub together.

Why then are you defending the indefensible?

I am sorry you feel that way; it’s not that I’m defending the President, I was just correcting the wrong impression his speech have apparently created in people like you.

Anyway, I do not blame you. Do you know what I find most galling about the whole speech?

You tell me.

Don’t you remember that I lost a dear brother during the ‘Kume Preko’ marches organized by the President’s own party to protest what they called hardship in the land when they were in opposition? Yes, yes, my younger brother died in my arm on the streets of Accra, and I have to bury the one who is supposed to bury me. His death caused my joining the NPP.

Yeah, I remember Wofa Yao. Good brother we had; good brother we lost! May the ancestors give him peaceful rest, Amen!

And today those for whom we marched and died ten years ago have the audacity to come out and tell us that we are poor because we are lazybones. Yes, today they have used us to get into power and drunk with all the appurtenances they have bestowed on themselves in their cozy offices, they can sneered down at us, the foot soldiers, that made it all possible for them to ascend power. What a SIN THING – apologies to Blakk Rasta.

I think that you are taking the speech out of all contexts

What do you mean? What context?

Are you denying the fact that there is money in the system?
What money in what system? Maybe at the stratosphere where the President and his men operates there is plenty money in their system. But at my level there is hardship, and it is not due to laziness.

Are you denying that many of our folks are simply slothful? Don’t you see the young men playing cards and games all day instead of engaging in productive enterprises?
You are really talking like a cutthroat capitalist. There are too many condemnation of the poor and little understanding and no concern at all. The youth you’re talking about have no education whatever and they have absolutely no formal training in any trade, what skill do you expect them to peddle?

Is it the President’s business to educate the youth?

Don’t talk like a fool, my friend. I am not talking about the President’s educating or training anyone. What I’m saying is that a state that doesn’t care enough for its citizens to give them good education should not condemn them. Of course, there is enough money in Ghana. We all see the gleaming Landcruisers with siren blaring cruising our roads. We see the big mansions springing up all over the place like mushroom in good weather. We see our yesterday’s nonentities today riding 4-Wheel jeeps with ear-shattering sirens and bodyguards. No, we see it all, and we are not complaining but they need not rub insult upon our injuries. If we have all those money to buy all those cars and build all those mansions for our elite, why is our conscience not pricked enough to give all our children free education and free medical services. And don’t tell me that we cannot afford it; we have simply got our priorities very wrong. Tell me, in which of our cities do you find decent Public Conveniences? Where in Ghana do you find Public Library or Swimming Pool? Of course, we are lazy and we do not deserve any good thing in life. Let them continue to mock us? The judgement of history shall be harsh, very harsh on those who had the opportunity to make their society a better place and missed it.

You are really worked up, my friend, what have the President done that irked you so much?

It shows gross insensitiveness on his part to blame laziness for the abysmal, grinding poverty in the land. Maybe he should blame some of the Jurassic economic policies his friends in the West are forcing down his throat for our woes. It is all well and jolly for him to turn our nation into a begging, groveling vassal state; we begrudge him not. But he shouldn’t rub it in by blaming us for the failed policies of his government. Mr. President should come out and tell us how many manufacturing industries his government has established. He should come out and tell us how many jobs his government has created that Ghanaians are too lazy to do. No, Mr. President, several things ail us, but laziness is definitely one of them. Mr. President should take a trip to the Northern part of our country and see where folks are toiling for upward of fourteen hours in their farms in order to eke out a miserable existence. The produce of their labour cannot compete with those of his friends in the West. You know that my wife works in one of the rural banks; she works from 7AM to 8PM Monday – Friday and from 8AM to 4PM on Saturdays. That’s seventy-three hours a week. And for all that she gets paid Sixty-five Ghana Cedis! That probably cannot buy the President a bottle of his favorite Champagne. Oh, she also has our young daughter to care for. Would it not be sacrilegious to call that woman lazy? You remember that I took a loan to partake in the Presidential Special Initiative for Cassava and that the whole thing collapsed on us. I used part of the loan to start a tomato and poultry farm. They all collapsed because it is cheaper to buy European chicken and tomatoes in our market. I am still struggling to pay the loan back. We are now struggling to survive on my wife’s pittance. And to those of us not living on Mars, we know how hard the inflation is biting hard. The cost of living is literally killing us. Mr. President can take the time to find out how much a tuber of yam cost before he came to power and how much we pay for it today. He can also try the same with other items like Gari, Banku, Kenkey, Plantain, sugar and even ‘Pure Water. ’ Now you can understand why I don’t take kindly to the President talking out of order. History recorded Marie Antoinette berating the poor for protesting over, for her, mere bread. It is said that the Queen had about three thousand chefs to cater to her gastronomical fancies. It is therefore, difficult for her to comprehend human beings fighting over bread. In the President’s household, where everyone is well-fed, it could be difficult for them to understand that things are difficult for the ordinary folks. It might be difficult for them to empathise with us, but they should stop insulting us. We can do without it, thank you very much.

The President didn’t insult anyone.

No, he didn’t, he was simply saying: if they won’t join us, we beat them verbally
He said no such thing. And you got the saying very wrong, it is: If you cannot beat them, join them

Whatever, the President’s handler should tell him to remember that power is transient. No condition is permanent.

PS: Would someone kindly educate me on what is responsible for the sudden profusion of ear-piercing sirens on our roads? I ask because in most sane societies that I know of only essential services like ambulances, police and the fire department use siren. Or are we having an Orwellian case of ‘all animals are equal, but some are more equal than the other?’

Exit Thabo Mbeki!

Do you think those Southies are really Africans

What, what is Southies?

I mean those South Africans.

You and your terms! Why did you ask if they are Africans?

Didn’t you hear that their President has resigned?

What is news in that, Presidents and Prime Ministers resign all the time?

In Africa, come on?

The Pakistan Maximum Leader resigned, so did the Israeli premier. I don’t know what’s agitating you.

You are being evasive, have you seen a leader resign in Africa?
Let me think…

You think, what? You cannot name a single Africa leader who has voluntarily resigned from office. That’s why I find the act of the Southies so blasphemous, so sacrilegious, so outrageous, so…

I get the drift. But the man had no choice, his party asked him to go?
Ah, why are you talking like this, my friend? Who owns political party in Africa, is it not the president? Je suis le partie, le partie cest moi!

Speak English.

I am the party, the party is me.

I did not know that you speak French.

I do not. I just made that one up. But it neatly sums up the essence of my argument. Who owns political parties in Africa if not Mr. President? Can you imagine, God forbid, the NPP asking President Kuffuor to resign!

Do you think that he would resist?

Ah, my friend, you are talking as if you are not living Africa. Who, on earth, would dare to ask him in the first place.

There must be people in his party who will summon the courage if they find his act egregious enough.

Egregious, what do you mean?

I mean like interfering with the judiciary the way Mbeki was accused of doing?
Ah, my friend, you are talking nonsense. Are you not living in this country? Didn’t our President pack the Supreme Court so that he can get sympathetic rulings?
Rubbish, he appointed Justices as he is constitutionally empowered to do?

But he did it after an unfavorable ruling.

Look, I am not a legal luminary so I cannot argue the fine points of law with you. Mbeki transgressed and his party asked him to go and he did the only honourable thing and left. What exactly is your beef with that?

Do you really think that he is an African?

Don’t be ridiculous, the man is as black as you and his father was one of giants of the Liberation struggle.

So it is claimed. But he was said to have grown up outside Africa, you see what I mean?

No, I don’t see what you mean!

You see, with plastic surgery and things the real son of Mbeki Senior might have been switched. Even the name Mbeki sounds suspicious. I will wager that it’s either Japanese or Indonesian.

I think that you are losing it?

No, consider my empirical evidence…


Yes, Plastic surgery, the suspicious name, the man very un-African aloofness, his supercilious intellectual detachment, the way and manner he chooses to resign instead of battling it out with his opponent and destroy both party and country in the process. I don’t understand a thing and I really do not know what makes the man ticks! What I know is that a true son or daughter of Africa would have elected to ‘dabaru’ everything as they say in Nigeria, instead of resigning meekly.

I still do not know what is agitating you?

Doesn’t the man love power? Doesn’t he love the prestige, the authority and all the good things that go with high office?

The man is an acclaimed intellectual, maybe he will find time to write his memoirs and give lectures?

What, you don’t mean that a sane man will choose to go and write when he can be President!

For some people, occupying high office is not the highest aspiration.

I think that you are just spewing arrant nonsense. Don’t you live in Africa? Don’t you see what people will do to get into position for which they are uniquely unqualified, and for which they have not got the foggiest idea about what to do? Do you not see how elections are rigged, manipulated and then arranged in ‘Power Sharing’ arrangements? Or do you think that they do not pay their President well enough in Southie?

I would not know that. All I know is that Mbeki does not feel himself justified by the material appurtenances of his office. I heard that he does not go around in convoys of expensive jeeps breaking all traffic rules.

What, you don’t mean that he stops for traffic light.

Yes, that is what I meant. He travels with his security detail but they obey all traffic rules and regulations.

You cannot be serious. Tell me you are not serious! Is it not true then that Southie is the richest country in Africa?

It certainly is, and by a very wide margin. But what has that got to do with anything?

If they are the richest and we are a HIPC country and their leader travels unceremoniously while ours travels around extravagantly, don’t you then agree with me that the Southies are really not Africans!

Perhaps they are the more decent Africans

Who is talking about decency? We are talking about showing off. Ours is a bankrupt economy wobbling on legs supported by donors’ generosity. Our leaders are junketing around the world with begging bowls, yet that has not stopped them from riding the most expensive cars money can buy. That hasn’t stopped a mere Deputy Minister from having traffic cleared for him. Maybe there are a few things we can teach our Southie cousins.

Maybe it is they who have some lessons for us.

Lesson, what lesson can we learn from them?

Maybe decency and modesty to begin with. We can also understudy them about how to live the life that we preach and about how to husband our scarce resources instead of wasting them on material aggrandizements. We can learn to be simple human beings who do not feel justified by our material possessions.

Wise saying:

" Never use both feet to test the depth of the sea." - African proverb