By Kwabena Gyasi, Global Systems, Orlando, Florida
My folks always told me a little learning is dangerous. I dare add that a little learning by a journalist borders dangerously on professional misconduct and the willfully misinformation of his or her audience. Such willful misconduct is on display plentifully in Michael Kamber's report of the above-mentioned title published in the New York Times and subsequently reproduced in Professor Falola's forum.
The thinly disguised contempt of this journalist for Ghana's official Pan-African policy, which has been one of the cornerstones of that proud African country's foreign policy since attaining independence, is betrayed when he writes the following: "Ghana, through whose ports millions of Africans passed on their way to plantations in the United States, Latin America and the Carribean, wants its descendants to come back."
He continues further with the following: "Taking Israel as its model, Ghana hopes to persuade the descendants of enslaved Africans to think of Africa as their homeland - to visit, invest, send their children to be educated and even retire here."
The question I pose is what is wrong with an African country offering a welcoming embrace for people of the African diaspora? Given the historicity of slaves having been taking FROM Africa, should anyone who is a proud descendant of the African race in the Diaspora need to be PERSUADED that Africa is home, as this journalist accuses Ghana of doing? Also, if Mr. Kamber had bothered to do his homework, just as real professional journalists do every day, he would have found out that Ghana's Pan-African policy of reaching out to the Diaspora is not a leaf taken from the state of Israel but from the inspired writings and philosophies of Marcus Garvey and W.E.B DuBois, as well as from African cultural ethos such as "sankofa".
The lazy, unexamined neo-colonialist thinking of Mr. Kamber seeps in his anti-Pan African propaganda of a report when he writes of Ghana's policy to promote cultural exchanges with the diaspora the following: "In many ways it is a quixotic goal. Ghana is doing well by West African standards - with steady economic growth, a stable, democratic government and broad support from the West, making it a favored place for wealthy countries to give aid. But it remains a very poor, struggling country where a third of he population lives on less than a dollar a day, life expectancy tops out at 59 and basic services like electricity and water are sometimes scarce."
It is easy for lazy social commentators and journalists like Mr. Kamber to regurgitate ad nauseum what obviously meets the eye without bothering to fully inform their readers about the complicity and connivance of the powers that they are beholden to. Even the barest educated citizen of the Third World understands the desires of certain powers-that-be to permanently subjugate the rest of the world in neo-colonialist conditions. Hence, the reason, at least in part, for the poverty in Africa (and other parts of the Third World) that Mr. Kamber is happy to trumpet to his Western readers.
When he writes that "Nkrumah was ousted in a coup in 1996, and by then Pan-Africanism had already given way to nationalism and cold war politicsŠ", perhaps he should tell us which country was behind that coup and which group of neo-fascist Ghanaians were paid to do the meddling country's dirty work? Interestingly, it is the same model of paying locals to do the white man's dirty work that was employed during slavery.
Let it, therefore, be made unambiguously clear that the embrace of the republic of Ghana (not the Gold Coast which was controlled by the white man) for members of the diaspora is a genuine, ideologically-conscious and morally unassailable public policy undertaken by a nation to promote greater understanding, atonement (read it as 'at-one-ment'), exchanges and unity among a people with a common past and heritage who are also joined by a common struggle against marginalization, discrimination, disenfranchisement and subjugation. Therefore, the 'embrace' is far from the 'uneasy' sort depicted by Mr. Kamber.
If the world of Michael Kamber can countenance today's Germany erecting memorials for Jews that were heinously butchered by the German Fatherland, it is obviously too hypocritical that the New York Times will grant him public space to deride an otherwise noble public policy of promoting harmony and love among Africans by an African country that came into existence well after the slave trade. Perhaps, a little close scrutiny might show that part of the wealth enjoyed by the New York Times today has roots in the so-called trade that was in human chattel.
A little learning is dangerous, Mr. Kamber. When you learn that "akwaaba, anyemi" are two words from two different Ghanaian languages fashioned to welcome our diaspora, there is nothing "awkward" about those words being put together in one sentence. In fact, if you care to use a little bit more learning, Ghana has more than one language and, therefore, her government is able to promote the official use of all those languages just as they do in places like Switzerland and Canada, which I do not see you applying your baseless linguistic theory of the 'awkward' to. As for the rest of the garbage you attempt to peddle as serious reporting, I would rather not burden you with the complexity of educating you about the sociological facts of a culture you apparently have no sophistication for.