Saturday, October 23, 2010

Europe no be Paradise (a story)

One of the attractions of the former SWISSAIR is their Visual Display Units (VDUs), the television-like gadgets that informs passengers about our geographic positions as we cruise far above -in the skies.

I prefer the information provided by the VDUs to the second-rate Hollywood trash with which the other airlines entertain their clients.

I had a windows-seat on the Zurich-Lagos-Accra flight and so could see the ground when the clouds permit. It was a wide-bodied MD-111 jet. My seat was close to the wings and I fascinated myself watching the ailerons flap in response to commands from the instrument panels located in the cockpit. When the clouds clear sufficiently enough to see the ground, I could see the gorgeous landscape that was mother earth racing slowly beneath us. I scribbled some notes in my reporter's notebook.

According to the instruments we were cruising above the snow-capped Alps Mountains. It was a truly magnificent sight - the Alps. The more I watched the awe-inspiring mountains the more I marveled at the logistics prowess of Hannibal, the great African general, who had to move through them with elephants to launch his attacks on Europe.

My seat-mate, a middle-aged man with a handsome Ghanaian face, was munching bread and cheese with abandon; his mouth made primitive noises.

We had barely lifted up when the guy tugged at my shirt and asked how to summon the steward.

"How do you call them?" He asked in thick Twi.

I told him that I don't speak Twi. He didn't understand why I am on an Accra flight without speaking Twi; I didn't explain to him.

I taught him how to operate the buzzer. He pressed the button and he seemed impatient when no one materialized immediately. I explained that it would take some time. He seemed ill at ease.

Finally, a pretty stewardess in a chic uniform came and smiled. The smile seemed too natural for an airline hostess. My seat-mate beamed back, "Mepamechau, ekom dimi."

The stewardess' processed smiles disappeared for a moment - just a moment. It reappears and she asked the beaming passenger what he wanted.

My companion's smiles widened just so, "I fit get blead and butter?"

I had to restrain myself from laughing. Cupping my hand over my mouth, I pretended to be looking out the window. The lady smiled back, "Sorry, I don't understand you." She replied with that thick accent with which the Swiss speak English.

The guy smiled back, "Blead and butter." He repeated, gesturing wildly.
The lady could still not comprehend him. He was agitated. He pulled at my shirt again? Why can't he just say 'Excuse me?'

"You fit tell am?" He demanded of me.

Of course I can tell her, but I wish he would be a little polite to those he asked to be his translator. I told the lady that the guy wanted bread and butter.
Ignoring him, she told me that he should exercise patient, as lunch would soon be served.

I translated but the guy shook his head sadly. "I no fit wait. Tell am say he for find me blead, even if na one wey dey chop remain."

I translated that my seat-mate suffers from ailment which made it imperative that he must have something in his stomach as soon as possible. She won't like to have a sick passenger on her hand, would she? She shook her head and left promising to see what she can do. That's my good girl, thank you very much. She re-appeared moments later with a tray of bread with generous slices of cheese. The guy grabbed it with both hands, his mouth already salivating.

I do wish he would eat his food without making so much noise, but would it not be rude to tell him? I continue to suffer in silence. The price we pay for being social! He watched me scribble in the notebook and he seemed fascinated.

"You be journalist?" He wanted to know.

"No. I am a writer."

He seemed dis-oriented by my answer. "You dey write and you no be journalist!"

"Precisely." I answered, enigmatically. I did not want to encourage a discussion with him.

He took the hint and continued to attack his bread and cheese with gusto. One of the stewardesses hurried past, my seat-mate took a good look at her disappearing flat buttocks and he seemed to melt.

"E fine, paa aa!? He smiled at me.

I managed to avoid his beaming eyes. He tugged at my shirt again, "You no tink sey de girl e fine?" He'd finished his meal and was rubbing his hands on his corduroy trousers. I pray that he's not going to ask me to play his pimp.

"I like dem girls? They fine, so. They also like me. What I did to dem, dey no fit forget. But three months now, I no get girl." He said sadly.

Curiosity got the better of me and I asked why he didn't have a girl for three months. It was like opening a hornet's nest.

"Koti hold me." He replied with a chuckle.

"Koti?" I wondered.

He looked at me anew. "You no be Ghanaian," he concluded. "Dem police hold me."
I considered him afresh. He was a funny character. He made his declaration as though it was the most natural thing in the world. There was no hint of shame, sadness or irony.

"So you're a criminal." I didn't mean to injure his pride, but he didn't seem to me like one to take offense easily.

"No, I no be criminal. Mankine no steal. Dem say I be illegal, that's why dem Koti hold me. My eyes see pepper."

"They say or you were illegal?"

He looked pained. "Na de Surinam girl wey mankin go find na im go report me. Dem crazy, eh. Those Surinam girls are crazy." My companion railed like a rejected prophet.

His eyes misty with sadness, he bellowed, "I paid plenty money to get my paper, but the girl, im eye open for money too much. Na so so pay pay mankin dey pay. As you e be reporter, you for write am tell our people make they no make the mistake wey I make. Make dey no marry Surinam girls, oh! They for fin better Dutch girl. Dutch girl dem be good. When they collect their money, dey go wait make you get your paper finish before they go divorce you. But Surinam, dey want too much money. They don't like work, ehn. Na so so dem go siddon house they watch television - 'Bold and Beautiful,' Oprah Winprey or what they call dat American woma wey always dey talk talk - while mankind go dey slave-slave for them."

Consuming food like a famine victim and drinking beer like it was going out of fashion, my seat-mate spent the next three or so hours telling me the story of his life.

He was born about thirty years ago to a poor family in a village in Brong-Ahafo region that I'm not about to name. Kwame (he didn’t tell me his surname) described his family to me and painted a grim picture of poverty and deprivation. His family could hardly afford dinner, their only meal of the day.

Kwame grew up thinking that having only one meal a day was the natural order of thing, until he started seeing other children eating regularly. His cobbler father's business had collapsed when the old man contracted arthritis. Kwame was barely three when he started hustling for his own upkeep. He managed to get to Accra before his eleventh birthday and got all his education on the streets of the Ghanaian capital. Carrying load at markets; picking pockets; renting himself out as a trotro mate; and later as a bouncer at nightclubs. He did them all until he garnered enough money to go to Lagos, which was then a Mecca.

Kwame 'Jammed luck in Lagos,' to use his own word, by taking a crash-course in shoe-shining and shoe-repairing. The manager of one of the big hotels smiled on him and allowed him the use of a shed in the hotel. He soon combined money changing and pimping to his booming cobbling business. Saving every kobo, aside from what he sent home to his mother - his father was now deceased, Kwame got enough money to dream big time. He acquired a Nigerian passport and had it visaed to three European countries.
"Nigeria never spoil den. You fit get visa easily." Kwame said ruefully.
He spent time in Spain and Italy doing mostly agricultural works. Neither country jelled with him.

"Dem poor pass Africa sef. Italy, Spain, tchwee, dem poor proper. We dey Africa, we think every whiteman e get money. Some Italians poor pass church rat sef. Some of them dirty pass gutter. Dey bath only once in a week. For two years, I laboured in vain. I no fit save kobo."

So was it until a friend suggested they try their luck in Holland where people were boasting of plenty riches.

"E be easy, then." Kwame said describing movement within Europe in those days.
Holland was, for Kwame, a paradise compared with Italy and Spain. He managed to acquire the passport of a EU country he didn't tell me, he was able to hustle and saved money. In a short while, he decided to regularise his papers. The only way to acquire a residence permit was to marry a Dutch citizen.

Kwame has no qualms about those things. "If the whiteman is crazy enough to want you to marry his sister before he will allow you to stay in his country, that's his problems, not mine."

Kwame implored me to tell 'my fellow Ghanaian' that 'Europe no be paradise as people are thinking.'

He had slaved in Holland for four solid years and he was returning with only the shirt on his back to the country he left almost seventeen years ago. The Dutch police arrested him at the flower farm where he was slaving following a tip off from the Surinam lady he had married to get his papers.

"The bitch," Kwame wailed to me. "We marry for almost three years. It remains only four months for man to catch three years. Then man for be free." From the farm, the police bundled him to their station; they wasted no time in sending him to the detention center pending deportation. They had all the incriminating evidence they needed.

Here he was - a betrayed and embittered man enroute to a country he loves with passion but, which sadly, still cannot take care of her less-privileged citizens.
I asked him what he did to antagonised the woman for her to betray him.

"Me! I no do am anything. Na so dem be. She wan marry another man so she go get more money. I paid ten thousand euros for the fake marriage. The contract was for one year. After one year, she already started pestering me for more money. She had eight children from eight different husbands. I continue to pay until I lost my job with KLM. She threatened me. I have to borrow money to pay her. The new job I get, I for pay back the money I borrowed for her. But she will not listen. One day, I dey for work when the koti came and took me away. You for write everything down. Make our people no make the same mistake."

I don’t want to be saved, period!

“Religions are the cradles of despotism.” - Marquis de Sade.

What manner of arrogance made the Christians believe that they have the right to disturb my sleep? Is it not presumptuous for them to arrogate to themselves the right to intercede between me and my supposed creator?

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of religions in the world, have the Christians pause to think of what bedlam it would be if the other religions are arrogant like they are - waking people up to listen to ‘good-tidings’ in the middle of the night.
What would our towns and cities look like if the Moslems, The Hindus, The Buddhist, the Traditionalists and the rest of the religionists wake up every night and start peddling their versions of piety? Were they to so do, our villages towns and cities will be nothing but hospitals for the insane.

“Religion is a fraud, but it must be maintained for the masses.” - Frederick the Great.

After much reflection, Karl Marx said: “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.”

If opium is a sedative, then Karl Marx was only half-right. Religion has become, at least in Africa, the amphetamine of the people. It has also become big, very big business. How else do we explain the hypocritical fraudsters who tell their malnourished congregation that ‘everything on earth is vanity,’ and yet tool around in the latest hi-tech cars and live in posh houses?

These damned parasitical priests are living the most decadent lifestyles one could imagine; yet they shamelessly tell their congregation the ungodly untruth that they have to wait for their own paradise after death!

It seems as though Africans now need a dose of spiritual injection in order to draw breath. Our land is dotted with every description of churches. Ill-fed ignoramuses, who believe that their god in heaven has answer to earthly problems, accost us on the roads. On the streets, in the trotros, the Christians are everywhere, falling over themselves in their bid to take us to ‘alujanah.’ The hypocritical, sham charismatic charlatans leading them are crowding our airwaves with their fake American accents, pretending, in the words of Robert Ingersoll, to stand between our helplessness and the wrath of the gods. The ignorant congregations are shouting hallelujahs to their false claims of ‘miracles.’

Why does any normal being needs a miracle? If these tricksters can heal the sick, cure blindness and barrenness etc, etc, why don’t they simply build hospitals? We will be grateful to them for it.

Anyhow, I know, as any thinking person should, that all miracles, all magic, are essentially fakeries.

“It is not God that is worshipped but the group or authority that claims to speak in His name. Sin becomes disobedience to authority not violation of integrity.” - Sir Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan

We have to be thankful that most modern states are now secular. I shudder to ponder what it would be like to live under a theocratic rule. Why can’t these men and women who go about preaching love and tolerance practice what they preach? What is more intolerant than shoving your religion down someone else’s throat? What’s more intolerant than believing that your god would damn someone who only asks to be allowed to enjoy his sleep? There are, at least, six churches near where I live. If I need to go there, I can easily find my way to them. No, it is not enough for the Christians to disturb our sleeps with their constant drumming and singing; they have to come right into my house and try and shove their nonsense down my throat.

I believe religion to be a private thing. Every human being should be able to find his or her way to the creator. If my father is in heaven, why does he have to talk to me through another person? If I need to talk to my son, I talk to him directly and not through another person, not even his mother.

I believe in live and let’s live and I wish the Christians would learn this elementary courtesy. I believe that I’ll be ‘saved’ through my own efforts and not through some ‘holy’ book of dubious origins filled infantile tales of pornography, absurdities, massacres, mayhem and false astronomy.

I am fully prepared to face my creator and account for my actions. I don’t need any Christian to teach me anything about morality. I need no one to tell me to love my fellow-being because common-sense tells me that I cannot expect love from those I hate. I don’t need a religion to tell me not to steal; I’m fully contented with my station in life and I’ve trained myself not to want anything I cannot afford. I don’t need a preacher to preach to me about fornication; I am not only afraid of AIDS but I know that there’s much more to life than horizontal jogging. I don’t need eternal life; one life is simply enough for me. I don’t want any paradise in the sky; I want to build mine right here on earth. The nature of my work calls for no prayer: I cannot find lost hard disk clusters by reading the bible; neither could I fix a modem, motherboards or any computer hardware problem by supplicating to my almighty father. Religion has nothing to offer me, so the Christians can take their pie-in-the-sky lies and sell it to whoever will appreciate it. Kindly leave me alone.

“All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.” - Thomas Paine

A great mind has opined that we Africans are in the fine mess we are because we spend more time preparing to go to heaven than on improving our material lives here on earth. While other people are slicing genes, interacting with one another thousands of miles apart through electrons and doing their utmost to improve their physical and material environment, we are busy wallowing in our ignorance-engendered poverty.

We occupy our days and nights with useless religious rituals, chanting futile hymns, and we pretend not to know why we are as poor as we are.

Instead of parading our streets with ramshackle followers purporting to teach a religion they barely understood, I will be glad if our religious leaders can mobilize their followers to plant and harvest. What a beautiful sight it would be to see a Methodist’s Corn Farm or a Presbyterian Yam Farm or a Catholic Cattle Ranch or an Anglican Cocoa Plantation!

Are there biblical injunctions against the establishment of Electronics and Computers Academies, instead of the plentiful Bible Studies schools we have? Is there any reason why our numerous churches cannot build factories and help alleviate our chronic unemployment? Many churches are built right inside dirty swamps, violating the injunction that cleanliness is holiness, why are our preachers not interested in improving their own earthly environment instead of sermonizing about a glorious, beautiful heaven?

The Christians should not be too emboldened because some of us are not countering their outrageous lies; it’s simply because we have better employments for our time.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Inspector General Of Police And His Convoy

We live in a society where things are becoming increasingly comical. The other day I was pleasantly amused, surprised, and angered when I saw the head of the police, the inspector general (IGP), in his GP1 vehicle, sirening his way through dense traffic in Kasoa.

First, I was amused that the Oga police did not see the irony in his peculiar situation. The IGP is the head of the police force, right? The Motor Transport and Traffic Unit (MTTU) is part of the police, of which Mr. IGP is the boss, right? MTTU is charged with ensuring hassle-free vehicular movements on our roads, right? How could a whole IGP miss the irony in his trying to cut corners by beating snarled-up traffic with his siren-blaring convoy?

I was angered because as I have lamented several times in this column, we are suffering in great sufferation (let's borrow Rasta-speak here) in this country of ours mostly because people who get paid to get things done do not perform. They are not only failing to do their jobs, but rather look for ways to make it possible for them to beat and cheat the very system they are supposed to manage.

And most galling of all is that there are no checks in place to ensure that this system-bursting bigmanism does not exist. Equally infuriating is the fact that there is absolutely nothing we citizens can do about this obscene abuse of power. No matter how irate I felt about the spectacle of the IGP patently cheating the system, there is not a darn thing I could do about it. I knew it and he obviously knows that no bloody civilian will dare open his mouth.

Who born dog, indeed?

Several questions become pertinent here: Does the IGP have authorization to use sirens or is our number-one law enforcement agent breaking the law? If a common IGP can travel in a siren-blowing convoy, what is there to stop the other service chiefs from doing the same? The heads of the navy; army; air force; Customs, Excise and Preventive Service; prisons; and forestry could also start using sirens. And what about our parliamentarians -- are they not also worthy enough? And the directors at our Minitries Departments and Agencies, are they also not worthy enough? And let's not forget our district chief executives; they also have their apushkeleke (Ghanaian slang for ladies of easy virtues) and other part-time girlfriends to impress, don't they?


Monday, October 11, 2010

The death of Allan Koomson

According to news of September 25, 2010, a young Ghanaian residing in the Netherlands was killed under suspicious circumstances by Dutch Immigration Police, the dreaded Merachauese.

According to Myjoyonline, “The Circumstances under which a Ghanaian resident in Holland died at the hands of the Dutch Immigration in February this year are yet to be unraveled, as family members of the deceased are being kept in perpetual darkness.

Failure on the part of the Dutch authorities to tell the cause of death of Mr. Allan Koomson, after he was arrested by the Dutch police and handed over to their immigration counterparts for allegedly working without a permit, has sparked confusion and discomfort among family members, who are waiting to have information on the cause of death of their relative.”

The case which was said to have happened in February of this year is yet to be unraveled with the Dutch authorities, as usual, dallying and dallying and given one silly excuse after the other.

Allan Koomsom who was said to have lived and worked in the Netherlands for ten years was picked by the Dutch police and found to be without residence permit.
This has become a big, big offence in the Netherlands, as in several other European countries where racist, anti-foreigners parties are mushrooming like enzymes. Example is Holland where a rabidly racist politician and noted Islamophobe, Geert Wilders, is poised to become the power broker. The Scandinavians, who also like to tout their tolerating characters, are not far behind in the foreigner-bashing game.

The Dutch police was said to have handed over Mr. Koomson to their immigration counterparts after arresting him for not having residential papers.

There was no suggestion that Mr. Koomson suffered any ailments before his incarceration. And died whilst in the custody of the Dutch Police.

I have lamented severally in this column that it is time African governments wake up and start treating their citizens with utmost respect. At home and abroad, our governments should treat us with dignity. It is difficult to protest when foreigners treat us badly when our own officials continue to treat us with disdain. The foreigners also know this; and this may explain why they continue to treat/kill us with impunity.

The scandalous mal-treatment meted out to our citizens in Europe is simply outrageous. And this has been going on for many years. Our officials, having sold their conscience for handouts, lack the courage to lodge protest. They are busy groveling for aids and handouts to be bother with the plight of their citizens.
And what about the shabby treatment meted out daily to our compatriots at Western embassies in Accra? How many times have the outrageously racist behaviours of Western diplomats been chronicled without our officials lifting a finger to sanction the erring diplomats. I guess that they are too busy trying to get their invitation to their cocktail parties to call the racists to attention. There is no way any European country will tolerate Ghanaian diplomats mis-treatment of their people in their land; yet this is the shame we are forced to daily live with.

Our Diasporan community forms a very important part of our population. Conservative estimates put their numbers at two million. Their remittances alone form a large component of our national budget. Yet, our officials continue to treat them with contempt. The average Ghanaian remits more money to Ghana than the average European, yet whilst we roll out drums to celebrate the ‘Obronis,’ we treat our own people with derision.

We love the money they send to us and that is all. For years our officials have been busy debating how to incorporate them into our development agenda. They have talked un-ceasingly about creating a ministry to cater for them.

This should show how screwed-up our brains really are in this country. We have sentenced our best brains into involuntary exile because we lack the wherewithal to cater for them here. And instead of tapping into their huge reserves of brain and economic power, we would rather go to Asia, Arabia, Europe or America to beg for ‘experts.’

I wonder why it never occur to us that these nations also depend on their experts and would move heaven and earth to ensure that they stay at home. We continue to live the fiction that these foreigners love us so much that they would send to us anything but their third-rate experts. And it is these third-rates ‘experts,’ who struts our streets like Peacocks with our officials fawning over them, and our women drooling for their attention. And we say that we are free!

As I wrote in the Essay, ‘The Myths of Tourism,’ the average European tourist has very little left after paying for the flight ticket and hotel accommodation. But that simple fact has always eluded our officials who keep dreaming about building our alujanahs on tourism! In the article, I challenged the proponents of the tourism-leads-to-development hoopla to show the empirical evidence to support their stance.

That should show how skewed our thinking is in this country. Remittances from our brothers and sisters is said to be the second largest source of our revenue, but we are still debating how to accord them the very huge respect they deserve.

What exactly is wrong with us? We spend huge sums to educate our people. Because of failure of leadership, we cannot create enough jobs to employ them. They then decide, like any rational human being would do, to sojourn abroad. They live abroad but their hearts are always with us. Any visit to any of the money remittance agencies will reveal that very many families live on the largesse of their relations abroad. We know their phone numbers when it is time to ask them for money. But when they are in hardship, we do not give them support.

Allan Koomson case was not the first time that a Ghanaian has been shabbily treated in Europe. But what have we done to give our people abroad moral support? Nothing, I would say. We as a people have done nothing and our officials have done zilch.

In the piece, “The sad saga of Ama Sumani,” I bemoaned the humiliation of a Ghanaian nurse, Ama Sumani,’ by British police. I wrote, inter alia,

“Sometime in January 2008, British immigration officials forcibly removed a terminally ill Ghanaian (she suffers from a form of cancer called multiple myeloma) from the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff and deported her to her native Ghana. There was widespread condemnation. The journal ‘Lancet’ called the action “atrocious barbarism.”

The patient’s name is Ama Sumani. Her age is 39, and she’s among the many Africans who are unable to regularize their stay in Europe – no thanks to European’s bureaucracy energetic efforts to build Fortress Europe.

Whichever we look at it, this action is condemnable. And I am aghast that none of the numerous ‘Human Rights’ organizations in Europe has taken it upon itself to champion Ama’s cause. Of course, they will tell you that it has nothing to do with her being black. But we are all witnesses to the vociferous noises European media made about the same time on the Natalee Holloway lady that got missing in Aruba.

Yours truly have consistently maintained that part of our problem in Africa is that we keep on crediting the other races with our humanism and spirituality. Anyone who has stay for any length of time in Europe will attest to the fact that Europe’s definition of humanity starts and stops with people of white hue. The reaction in the West most certainly would have been different were Ama Sumani to be a white lady. And you can bet your last sinking dollar that the EU and the USA would have called a UN Security council meeting to discuss the matter, were Ama to be a white lady deported from an African country. And we can only imagine the vociferous call for punitive sanctions were that country to be Zimbabwe!

In the 1990s when yours truly was editing the Pan-African journal, ‘The African,’ in the Netherlands, we (not the royal WE) consistently call on Africans to emulate the other racial (a nebulous classification defined by racist European anthropologists) groups and build a Pan African Racial Solidarity as enunciated by the great Marcus Garvey. The strength of the other racial groups is based upon the fact that they see themselves as a unit; a WE against the OTHERS concept. That is why a slight, injury or death of a European outside of Europe is the concern of every European state. And that explains why European forces always evacuate every WHITE person in any trouble spot. And it is the only reason why you will never find an Arab or a Chinese buying from an Africa shop even in our so-called countries.

Alas, in Africa, instead of building a solid Racial Solidarity, we still cling to our tribal and sham national identities. Refusing to learn our history, we continue to see ourselves as ‘Nigerians,’ ‘Gabonese,’ ‘Ghanaians,’ ‘Malians,’ and other identities bequeathed to us by our colonizers and the historic oppressors of our race! And, of course, the other races are exploiting our disunity to further their interests.”

In that piece I employed a Yoruba proverb that says: “Iri taba ri oja la nna.” Which
means that Goods are priced the way they are displayed.

The other races are treated us with utter contempt because they know that we are too individualistic to have any sense of racial solidarity. That explains why even Lebanese, Afghans, Iraqia and now Chinese are rubbishing us even in our own land. I learnt recently that there is a Chinese club somewhere in Accra where Africans are refused entry! My gosh!

Would we dare to go to China and discriminate against Chinese in their country? But because of our love for crumbs, we refuse to get it into our heads that these foreigners are in our land not because of any love but simply because of what they can LOOT from us.

We sit on vast wealth and allow foreigners to get the lion’s share whilst we settle for pittance. Our officials dance themselves silly whenever the foreigners dole out their pitiable ‘aid’ to us. We trumpet the so-called aid they are supposedly giving us, no one tells us how much the companies of the aid-giver makes yearly from our dear land.

Methinks that it is time psychologists begin to explore this peculiar behavior of ours.

The Dutch Immigration Police killed Koomson because they did not see us do anything in the case of Ama Sumani. If our officials have vigorously protested to the British about the inhumane treatment of the sick lady and made it clear to them that we shall, under no circumstances, accept such abhorrent and racist behavious, the Dutch would have taken notice and dare not treat Koomson so dastardly.

But our paid officials are busy drinking their whiskeys with their white ‘friends’ to have any time for us. They are too giddy to be seen with the omnipotent and rich European to bother with our brothers and sisters who are toiling in inhuman conditions to build the prosperity Europeans are so callously flaunting in our faces.

What about our Parliamentarians? What about our Student organisations? Why can’t our students mobilise and march to any embassy in our country whenever there are reports of any form of maltreatment meted out to one of our compatriots. Why can’t we mobilise to boycott the product of any nation that maltreats our people? Are there no NGOs formed to protect and safeguard the lives and interests of our Diasporan Community, if not why not?

We treat Europeans in our mist as decently as possible. And we should demand nothing less than that from them also. Because many of us still belief the fiction that Europeans come from a rich continent, they are even treated like some demigods.
The other races are taking us for granted because they know that they will get away with it. They know that we do not even care enough to be apathetic. We continue to spend our money buying products from racist countries.

This should not be so. Individually, there are things we can do to register our protest in our own little ways. For example, I still do not buy anything from Shell. It has to do with my protest against their pro-apartheid policies of the past. I also do not patronize any Israeli-made product because I find the Jewish state treatment of the Palestinians abhorrent.

Methinks also that our brothers and sisters in the Diaspora should do more to safeguard their own interests. I was there and I saw how timid many were when it comes to forming or joining organisations and associations to foster their collective interests. Many of them will cowardly retreat into the comfy of their homes where they will lament the indignities European authorities are piling on them. It is time they realize that there is strength in numbers.

We do not beat chest with one finger as an African proverb puts it. Another of the sayings of our elders is: it is impossible to break a tied broom.

My advice to them is to join an organization to protect their interests. Racist European police will continue to maltreat and occasionally kill them if they refuse to join national or international organisations to foster and protect their collective interests.

There should also be protest at the highest levels of our government whenever a citizen, any citizen of Ghana, is maltreated anywhere in the world. But we first need to put our own house in order.

After all, as they say, charity begins at home.

Monday, October 4, 2010

On People's Migration

My maternal granny of very blessed memory gave me an injunction that I took dearly to heart, and which continues to guide me today. Never stay in a place where there are no strangers, my grandmother told me.

Looking back some forty-something years later, her words continue to make eminent sense. A reason must be responsible for a community not to have a single stranger in its midst. And indeed one must be a crazy banana to want to stay in such a place.

Two proverbs best encapsulate my Yoruba people's attitudes towards human migration. One is: Omi ni eniyan. The second is Ibi ti aye ba gbeni de, la npe layede.

The first means that human beings are like water, which flows wherever it can find its level. The second one means that it is where destiny leads one that we call home. I shall have more to say about the latter proverb later.


Wise saying:

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