It’s The Ghanaians That Are Racist; The Rest Are Just Conforming! – By Selorm Branttie
This amusing concept of Ghanaian hospitality never ceases to amaze me. From the days of yore, we have been known to be very friendly to visitors on our shores. This friendliness was a mixed blessing. It improved trade and exposed us to the rest of the world, but it welcomed slavery and brought us an inheritance of an inferiority complex. The complex that everything local was inferior to everything foreign.
If you think what I say is a lie, think about the exchange rate per slave to the commodities that were received, mirrors, silk clothes, woolen clothes and guns. We never sought to even exchange these slaves for technology like mills, steam engines or lighted streets, however, we sold our gold for so little, more often than not with the tacit agreement of self-serving local merchants who should have known better.
Well, this was centuries ago. Spin the wheels 150 years later to a nation stating its relevance in the realms of contemporary African nationhood, a torchbearer of the ideals of freedom, a beacon of democracy and a tower that is supposed to be worth emulating because of its human rights and respect to its citizens. Surely we deserve all those accolades, and given the dearth of leadership rampant on this side of the world, we probably are even of a superlative breed.
Now, the direction of leadership in the country for 20 years of democracy is benchmarked by the ability to win plaudits for how much debt you are able to glean for the young ones to pay for. Presidents of the various eras and regimes have come home to cheers for being able to go a-borrowing. Newspapers tout the skill of these beggar-leaders to the highest ends of the earth. Our resources, no matter how valuable, are being jettisoned for the ability to show who can borrow best.
We have not recognized the worth in us, we have not evaluated what we have to offer the world, or we are living in a blissful situation where the nation as a whole does not understand our place in modern society. We are ourselves to blame if we are seen by foreign nationals who come here as inferior. After all, who made them feel superior?
If, as a foreigner, I come to this country Ghana, and I am given all assistance, tax breaks, audience with the rich and powerful, favourable customs clearance, assurance of cheap, subservient labour, ability to skip laws because my presence is deemed to enhance the profile of the nation as an investment destination, why not?
If we sit here and discriminate against local businesses gaining market share legitimately, only in the same breadth to promote foreign businesses sometimes with less capital which ends up being repatriated, and for nepotic reasoning prevent other Ghanaians entry into the market on trumped up grounds, why will we not go a-borrowing?
If Ghanaian foreign investment which will grow the economy and create jobs for the youth is sabotaged due to perceived political preferences, when the currency of the nation and its coat of arms, as well as its national anthem is not a design of allegiance to any party symbol, then what is the use of the so-called, well paid, corrupt and well-oiled cogs and wheels of leadership?
If lowly Chinese construction workers, by virtue of the fact that they only came in through conditionalities of questionably negotiated finance and infrastructure loan agreements, can come and abuse local workers and treat them like dirt, even from a country that disregards basic human rights and access to free information, where are our standards?
If we sit down for our workers to be exploited on their own territory, their own land, the land of their birth, work on weekends and after hours, holidays on construction sites without any overtime, and their supervisors look on, and they are sacked by these foreign construction workers, some of whom are prisoner-exile types from China, and they are allowed to treat free able bodied strong men of Ghana with impunity, then I think we sometimes deserve the racism on our own land.
If Ghanaian innovators are not recognized on their own soil, even when others at the highest level show them respect just because people think that their activities will show them as inefficient, when innovations are sabotaged because somebody’s 10% wasn’t paid, but a white man in the deal with no money gets his way because he is white and a visitor, where are we going?
After all, we are racist by our attitude. We have proved ourselves inferior. Our leaders have made it abundantly clear that we are worth nothing. We have devalued our natural resources to collaterals for loans. We don’t even spend the loans the right way. We siphon them off to Swiss banks to enrich the same people cheating us, while we deny even the stolen capital to the development of our people.
…And people get angry when a white man builds a restaurant and tells you that you can’t be a member because it’s for whites only. The joke is on us….