Independence, what independence?

Posted by By at 31 March, at 08 : 00 AM Print

Independence, what independence?

How come you never celebrate Ghana’s Independence Day, my brother. Every year I watch you as you go about your business as though it does not concern you. I have never seen you raised the flag or make a toast on the glorious day?

Glorious, you say, what is glorious about it?

Blasphemy! Do you mean to tell me that there is nothing glorious about the day we threw off the yoke of colonialism or our saluting the men and women that fought so assiduously to free us from the yoke of the whiteman’s bestial rule?

Maybe we are reading from different scripts. Fighting for liberation from any tyrannical rule is glorious only if we make the effort worth the while for the gallant warriors that fought for it. And it remains debatable whether we actually throw off any yoke, colonialism or whatever.

Do you mean to tell me that we have not been honoring our heroes and that our acts have betrayed what they fought for? Do you mean to tell me that we are not free?

Look, I did not mean to tell you anything. You are the one that came to me asking all the questions. The answers to the questions you asked are staring you in the face, if only you’ll look.

But do you honestly believe that we have not been honoring our heroes and that our acts are unworthy of their heroics? Are you saying that Ghana is not free from colonialism?

Look, my brother, we have done absolutely nothing to show that we truly appreciate those that fought for our liberation. Our vast tragedy in this country is that we are so full of hypocrisy and we lack the capacity to tell one another the home truth. Do you know what independence means or what it meant to be independent? We keep on putting on hypocritical shows every year whilst by our very acts we tell the world that we are still in servitude. By our very acts, we tell the world that we are ashamed of who we are. We refuse to bear our indigenous names and we bleach our skin to look as white as possible, and hypocritically turn around to celebrate independence and shout how proud we are of being Ghanaian and African.

Those are grievous charges…

And I do not make them lightly. How many of us are proud of our Ghanaian or African heritage? We run away as fast and as far as possible from our cultural heritage and, then hypocritically, turn around to start celebrating Ghana’s independence. The majority of us are aping the same oppressors, the same colonizers our parents fought to remove from our land. How many of us answer to indigenous Ghanaian or African names? How many of us eat what is grown in this country? How many of us wear our traditional attires? Let’s not even talk about the institutions with which we manage our affairs. Have you taken a look at our judges and see how un-independent or badly colonized we remain. Have you seen the leader of our parliament and his principal staff; do they remind you of a liberated people?

All that could be true; but there is no running away from the fact that we have made giant strides since we got our independence.

Giant strides, you say, dear friend. Ah! Mayhaps it is time of the year for people to indulge themselves in silly self-congratulations.

Would you rather we indulge in self-flagellation instead?

With all sincerity, yes.

You cannot be serious!

And why not, dear friend?

Birthdays are occasions to indulge in celebration no matter how hard or bad things are; it is the one day set aside for individuals and nations to fete themselves.

Even if undeserved?

And do you think that our partying is undeserved.

You really want to put words into my mouth. Look, you and I spent last night in total darkness all because our electricity company cannot generate and distribute enough light. And we are fifty-five years old. There is no running water in our neighbourhood. Fifty years after we start governing ourselves, we have no industrial capacity whatever. We are one giant market for discarded and disused junks from foreign lands. We do not produce enough food to feed ourselves. We have no scientific or engineering capacity whatever. We have no manufacturing capability of any description. We cannot build even a culvert without rushing to the Chinese. We cannot construct any stretch of road without running to the Americans? Cubans still have to come all the way from their small island to come and help with our health service. None of our leaders ever mention how he intends to make us join the rest of humanity in creating things – anything. All we do is look for money, loan, grant, dash, whatever to splash on our depraved appetite for consumption. We do not manufacture even match stick, or bicycle spoke after over half a century of self-government and you expect me to join in some celebration. Sorry, I have much more respect for my mind, and I have better employment for my time.

You talk about independence, just yesterday, we are told that the government sought and got the IMF to approve a Chinese loan, and you sit here to tell me about some Mickey Mouse independence. Look, what among all the paraphernalia we so shamelessly displayed on our so-called independence day was a product of our indigenous brain? Please, don’t make me laugh. We have absolutely no sense of shame. There we are, with the whole world watching our shameless celebration of our sham independence. Our president would not even deign to wear Ghanaian attire on this day meant to showcase that we have come of age, ah! Look at all our dignitaries, how many of them came in local attire? Look at the armed forces we displayed; do they carry any made-in-Ghana weapon? We attired our military people in uniforms of foreign design, and our heads swelled with vain pride as we watch them parade with foreign made armaments. Perhaps I am going too far, was their common uniform made in our blessed republic? We have even reached the stage where our elite barred the worship of our local deities by the pouring of libation…

That Is not fair, the government excused itself and blamed it on the chieftaincy’s disputes in the Ga area…

Please, I do not want my intelligence to be insulted. I listened to the cock and bull story the deputy minister of state released and he should go and tell such inane nonsense strictly only to the marines? Was it Ga dispute that made the president also turned up in jacket and tie in a tropical heat to celebrate his nation’s supposed independence? And what about the president jetting off to the US just few hours after attending the shambolic celebration. Was meeting Obama a higher priority than sitting with Ghanaians to reflect on this solemn day? Would he die of starvation if he postponed his lunch with Almighty Obama for a day or two? You see, in politics and international relations, appearance matters as much as essence. I truly believe that our elite continue to play some big time game with us. Their hearts and minds are never in the show they put on for us. They knew that we are not truly independent but they also know that we love ceremonies, parties and stuffs. So, they allocate vast sums to organize useless jamborees to let us forget our continued oppression.

All that could be true, but shouldn’t we ordinary citizens celebrate our heroes in our own ways?

That is what I meant by our vast hypocrisy. If our independence meant something to us; if we truly appreciate the struggles of our heroes and heroines, we will do all possible to keep alive the ideas and ideals that they fought and died for…

Do you meant to say that we do not believe in our independence?

You have a way with words, but the short answer is: No, we don’t

How do you mean?

How do I mean, you asked. If we take the ordinary meaning of the word ‘independence’ to mean “Freedom from control: freedom from dependence on or control by another person, organisation or state,” then we cannot be, by any stretch of the imagination be described as independent.

Do you mean to tell me that the whiteman is still ruling us?

I don’t like these labels of ‘whiteman’ or ‘blackman,’ but yes, the same system that controlled us in the past still control us today. So long as we are tied to the same apron string of the Neo-Colonial system that retards our progress and keep us as hewer of woods for some people, it Is not only shambolic but quite nauseating to celebrate any independence.

But don’t you agree that we are the toast of the world when it comes to Africa? Is not true that our country is seen as the best performing nation in Africa?

Now you are lumping apple with garden eggs. But seriously, what is it with us in Ghana that we crave the adulation of the imperialists the way dogs crave bones? Why do we believe all the self-serving encomiums the masters of double-speak pour on us? So we are the toast of Africa, and so what. But, honestly, why do we keep believing such utter bunkum? Where does that leave South Africa then? Or Namibia or Botswana or even Nigeria, despite all her problems? We seem to forget that the imperialists make it their business to study the psychology of those whom they want to oppress and exploit. Few years ago, they touted us as the Golden Boy Wonder of African economy; it did not stop them from roping us into the HIPC club when it suited them. But if foreigners make it their business to tell us inglorious lies, it behooves us to have our feet firmly grounded in reality. It is only a child that is mesmerised by unearned exaltation. Our objective reality should be the sole criteria by which we adjudge ourselves. Do you honestly believe that those that fought and died for our liberation will be happy to see that we have managed to give everything back to the same person from whom they wrested it?

But you honestly don’t believe that we are again under colonization, do you?

The honest truth is that we are under a more insidious form of colonization than the ones our heroes and heroines fought and died for. At least there was a clear-cut racial divide when they were fighting; today we have our own people selling us short to the same historic oppressors of our race. The physical chain of colonial oppression was only replaced by a far more dangerous mental chain roped around our minds.

But that is not the same thing. We had colonizers then given us direct order, today we have our own kith and kin ruling us. That definitely is a very tangible manifestation of self-rule.
A great mind once said that appearance can be deceptive. It was the great Frantz Fanon who wrote the classic ‘Black skin, white mask,’ a book I’ll recommend to all African and every anti-colonial person. Don’t you think that the imperialists will only be too glad that we have our local compradors willing to lift the burden of direct colonization of their soldiers. Rather than have the unsavory spectacle of white overlords, is it not more profitable to have black men and women looking after the masters interests like the overseers did in the plantations? Today, the imperialists can second themselves safely in Washington, London and Paris knowing full well that their lackeys are doing the arduous job of securing the best for them.

Are you counting Ghana among these neo-colonial states?

I am counting among the neo-colonial states any African nation that had no indigenous participation laws in it’s a statue books. I am counting as colonial any African nation where the commanding heights of the economy are controlled by foreign multi-nationals. I am counting as neo-colonial any African country that pays foreigners more than her own citizens. I am counting as neo-colonial any country in Africa that still seeks approval from foreign governments or institutions for sovereign loans she contract. It remains a colonial the African state which receives two, three, four or ten percent for her minerals whist foreign multinationals run home with over ninety percent. It remains a colonial any African state that still depend on benevolent handouts to feed and cloth her people. I count as neo-colonial any African nation that refuses to industrialise or have well articulated industrial policy. It remains a colonial any African state that depends entirely on imports for her basic needs. It remains a neo-colonial nation any state in Africa that refuses to take pride in its culture or that refuses to have a cultural policy which strongly emphasise local indigenous and traditional ways of life. It remains infirmed and colonial any county in Africa that refused to have a language policy and which allows the leader to continue to address his people in foreign languages.

Don’t you think that is rather a long order?

What is long or short there? Do you think a European, Arab or Asian will accept anything less? Have you ever seen or hear a European chief of state addressing his or her people in a foreign language?

But are you not discounting the fact that we live in a globalised world?

Another nauseating word: globalization. How global is the so-called globalization? What is the African content in the so-called globalization? Did we have any say or input into its imposition? Give me a break. We have foreign words and foreign ideas imposed upon us and we glibly and gleefully accept it as universal praxis.

You catalogue all the woes besetting us. Don’t you see any redeeming feature, and do you know of any country that has managed to solve all her developmental challenges?

Again, you lump together two totally unrelated issues. The way things are, I must say that I honestly do not see any redeeming feature. Every day we sink deeper into the abyss. We have lost almost all our culture and we remain unique among Africans for not practicing or partaking in our indigenous culture. Not only would we not speak our languages, but in speaking the foreign ones, we want to be known and praised as speaking it without Ghanaian accent. As soon as an American or Indian or a Nigerian opens his mouth, he leaves no doubt about his national origin. But in Ghana, our heads sway when we mimic fake Oxford accent. And, I never said that any nation has managed to solve all her challenges. What I see, however, are nations making strenuous efforts to tackle these challenges unlike us, whose instinct is to seek foreign assistance for every problem we have.

About the Author

Femi Akomolafe is a passionate Pan-Africanist. A columnist for the Accra-based Daily Dispatch newspaper and Correspondent for the New African magazine. Femi lives in both Europe and Africa, and writes regularly on Africa-related issues for various newspapers and magazines.

Femi was the producer of the FOCUS ON AFRICANS TV Interview programme for the MultiTV Station.

He is also the CEO of Alaye Dot Biz Limited Dot Biz, a Kasoa-based Multimedia organisation that specialises in Audio and Video Production. He loves to shoot and edit video documentaries.

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