Perfect Distraction

Posted by By at 1 October, at 15 : 41 PM Print

Perfect Distraction

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Perfect Distraction


About three years ago, I attended a lecture given by the great Barbadian historian, who is also the current vice-chancellor of the University of the West Indies and chairman of the CARICOM Reparations Committee, Sir Hilary McDonald Beckles. The well-attended lecture was in Amsterdam, and Sir Hilary pulled no punches as he made his passionate case for reparation for the enormous and calculable damage slavery did to the African people.

Sir Hilary described us as a “Recovering People,” who are yet to overcome from the massive traumas (Post Slavery Traumatic Experience or PSTE) of the horrendous experience of Chattel Slavery, which Europeans like to reduce to a harmonious and civilised trade between two equal and willing partners. These apologists focused more on the perfidy of some African chiefs and totally neglected the great battles fought to keep the slavers at bay. See my article: On Slavery

No honest analyst will consider the condition of Africans today, wherever they might be, and not conclude that we exhibit very serious symptoms of clinical traumatic psychosis which is abnormal in human beings.

It was probably his observation of our peculiar and aberrant behaviour which led the late Fela Anikulapo-Kuti to sing his “Opposite People”:

Them go show o, them go show
Them go show themselves clear clear
Them go show o

Them go show o, them go show
Opposite people
Them go show themselves clear clear
Them go show

Anywhere them dey
Anywhere them dey
Them go show themselves
Opposite people

Everyone dey dance
Dey dance for enjoyment (Dey dance!)
Everyone dey talk
Dey talk for communication (Dey talk!)
Everyone dey hear
Dey hear for ideology (Dey hear!)
Everyone dey think
Dey think for him progress (Dey think!)

Now now but look am, him don show himself
Opposite people
I say look am, him don show himself
Opposite people
I say look am, him don show himself
Opposite people
I say look the thing him don show himself

Everyone dey dance, him go push
Everyone dey talk, him go shout
Everyone dey hear, him go sleep
Everyone dey think, him go drink

Him go dey shakara
Him go dey katakata
Him go dey shakara

Let’s consider just two examples of some of the serious abnormal traits we display to the world.

Sadly, there are two items foisted on us by those who enslaved and colonized us, and totally destroyed our minds and souls, and turned us into Mental/Intellectual Zombies.

Religion: The average African Christian/Moslem is a serious Nutcase. Let us not even ask why any normal human being will worship the god of the one that enslaved and colonized him, no European will recognize the type of Christianity we practice in Africa.

The saying that new converts make the worst zealots is best amplified by those among us who want to exhibit their devotion to their new faiths.

Not only do African Christians pray and worship 24/7, they believe that they must hijack every available space, and inconvenience as many compatriots as possible. For them, breaking of all civilized laws, rules, regulations and ordinances is permitted and encouraged as long as it is done in the name of Jesus. To their enfeebled minds, which have abandoned all reason and to which thinking is a great encumbrance, Jesus is the answer, and the Bible is the only book that contains knowledge.

African Christians think that their god can be praised only by the building of Megachurches in areas designated as residential, and by the installation of the noisiest amplifiers money can buy. For them, imposing their brand of piety on all and sundry is a good thing whether or not it is welcome. African Christians do not consider it unethical and morally repugnant to occupy state institutions and use public facilities to force citizens to worship like they do in our public schools, hospitals and offices.

Whereas today most churches in European are empty and are being turned into bars and things, the Christians in Africa continue to build bigger and bigger cathedrals.

Today, most Europeans look back to the period when they allowed ignorant charlatans in priestly garbs to hold them in sway, and they shake their heads in shame. Europeans call that period of their history The Dark Ages. Not so with our African Christians, who continue to vociferate loudly to defend a faith whose history is wrenched in shocking corruption, violence and bloodshed.

Whatever little education people in Europe have today, they try as much as possible to use their brains to think and make rational decisions. This is not the case in Africa. If, for example, a sick primary school child in Europe is asked to go and see a priest, he will ask what doctors are there for. An African Christian, even with a PhD, will say: “Let us go”.

Democracy: For reasons best known to us, we in Africa, even the most educated and sophisticated among us choose the Civics Class definition of democracy as: “Government of the people, by the people and for the people,” over Kwame Nkrumah’s more appropriate definition: “Democracy is a competition between Oligarchs.”

Once again, we in Africa have taken a borrowed idea and ran amok with it. Few Westerners will recognize the type of democracy we practice in Africa.

In most European countries that I know of, politics is the domain of politicians and political scientists, and elections and campaigning are restricted to election periods. It is not so in our Africa. We eat, drink, sleep and dream politics. Everyone is a born politician and a walking encyclopedia on political affairs. Our media – newspaper, radio and television publish and broadcast little else apart from political stuff.  It is not for us to discuss economic, scientific or technological issues; it is only politics. It might not be bad if we even discuss issues, no, we do not; it is all about personalities and vicious insults and innuendoes.

Albert Einstein defined madness as doing the same thing every day and expecting different result. Any other people who are capable of the most minimal critical thinking would have pause to ask: what have we gained from over three decades of democracy?

No one can accuse us of being champions when it comes to self-criticism. It is enough for us to adopt an alien political system that has absolutely no connection whatever with our situation, history or culture. That it was given to us by the British is good enough reason and that the Americans also practice is just topped the icing. We have countless universities with faculties of Political Science, but our well-degreed ‘scholars’ are interested only in getting foreign sponsorships so that they can become the most enthusiastic of Parrots, to promote foreign ideologies and thoughts and screw up the brains of our children. Look at the ones in Ghana who, shamelessly, turned themselves into excited reviewers of what goes for newspaper in our blessed republic.

Our politicians understand our psychology very well. They no longer pretend to be interested in developing our countries, they now focus their attention firmly on comprehensively grabbing and looting as much as their term will permit. That is when they are not busy changing their constitutions to elongate their illegal rule, beating up or killing opponents. Not that the opposition are any better; they are interested more in grabbing the reins of power than in proving viable alternative to poor and inept governance. Of course, they also do not miss any opportunity to loot when it is their turn to eat.

Britain’s former High Commissioner to Kenya, Edward Clay threw it squarely into our faces when, few years ago, he delivered a speech to the British Business Association of Kenya and said: “We never expected corruption to be vanquished overnight. We hoped it would not be rammed in our faces. But it has … They may expect we shall not see, or notice, or will forgive them a bit of gluttony, but they can hardly expect us not to care when their gluttony causes them to vomit all over our shoes.”

Of course, many pseudo-patriotic Africans felt affronted by Mr. Clay’s blunt honest truth.

African politicians are clever and they are crafty, though. To placate us and make us look elsewhere as they go about in their nefarious ways, now and then they a throw a distraction in our faces, and like famished hyenas we grab the bone and run away with it. They can very easily raise a hullabaloo over religion or tribalism or the vexing question of who the founding father of the country is.

It happened a few days ago in the Republic of Ghana, the nation that recently celebrated its 60th year of political independence.

Ghana, like most African nations, started life with lots of ambitions. The founding president, Kwame Nkrumah, was in a hurry to build a thoroughly modern nation. Sadly, his rule was terminated in a coup organized by the opposition party in cahoots with the American CIA, British and Canadian Intelligence.

Today, Ghana is a sad case-study of a neo-colonial nation with all the major aspects of the economy firmly in foreign hands. Today, while countries with which Ghana began life (Malaysia, South Korea, Singapore, China etc.) have become fully developed or close to it, the country is still mired in shocking underdevelopment. With a massive debt (139billion cedis as of September 2017), the well-endowed nation still relies on donor support for its very survival.  The country’s infrastructure remains antediluvian, and it still struggles to provide adequate electricity, water and telecommunication for its citizens.

All the shortcomings notwithstanding, many Ghanaians still take pride when they boast of their nation’s ‘solid credentials as a democratic country.’

That they continue to line up in rain and sun to vote for otiose, elitist and reprobate leaders is of little concern to the average Ghanaian. What is most important is when Western organisations, agencies and media laud and present their nation with accolades, such as ‘Africa’s Most Democratic Nation.”

The country has held seven general elections during its Fourth Republic. There have been 5 presidents. None of them has been able to solve, say, the water or electricity problems. Not to worry, the political class has sufficient gimmicks with which to bamboozle its citizens.

So, a few days ago the president, Nana Akufo-Addo, had a brain wave and decided to add another public holiday to honour his political family.

According to a release by the Flagstaff House on September 18, signed by Eugene Arhin, Director of Communications, the President has decided to propose legislation to Parliament to designate August 4 as Founders Day and September 21 to be marked as Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Day, both of which will be observed as public holidays.

According to the release: “It is clear that successive generations of Ghanaians made vital contributions to the liberation of our country from imperialism and colonialism. It is, therefore, fitting that we honour them, as those who contributed to the founding of our nation. The most appropriate way to honour them is to commemorate the day on which the two most significant events in our colonial political history, that led us to independence, occurred – 4th August.

“On that day, in 1897, the Aborigines Rights Protection Society (ARPS) was formed in Cape Coast. The Society did a great job to mobilise the chiefs and people to ward off the greedy hands of British imperialism to ensure that control of Ghanaian lands remained in Ghanaian hands.

“It is equally clear that the first leader of independent Ghana, and the nation’s 1st President, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, played an outstanding role in helping to bring to fruition the works of the earlier generations, and leading us to the promised land of national freedom and independence. It is entirely appropriate that we commemorate him for that role, by designating his birthday as the permanent day of his remembrance.”

It was a clever masterstroke by a crafty politician who appeared to have studied his Machiavelli’s The Prince very well.

With 13 days marked as Public Holidays – one is called Farmers Day and, apparently, is dedicated to the farmers of a country that continues to spend a large chunk of its earnings on food imports,  despite having three ministers at the Ministry of Agriculture – Ghana is already among the countries with the highest number of holidays.

Any casual visitor to the country knows that productivity is abysmally low, even when people turn up for work. Not only do workers routinely turn up late for work, the first hour is devoted to what is called “devotion”, a group prayer session with bible readings, psalm singing and what-not. And people do find the silliest excuses to leave their posts. Many workers abandon their posts half way on Fridays as they have to hurry back to their villages where funerals are big events.

Anyone interested in the development and the progress of the country would have asked Mr. Akufo-Addo why he thought a struggling country like Ghana needed another holiday.

Rather than look critically at the economic impact of another free day, commentators and pundits pounced on the juicy bone the president threw at them: they concentrated on the politics. Everything became Akufo-Addo’s NPP political family versus those who claim allegiance to Kwame Nkrumah – even if only at the level of lip-service.

The very fact that it was the African Union that first came up with the idea of celebrating Kwame Nkrumah’s birthday as a holiday was lost in the cacophony of useless effusions that suffused the airwaves in Ghana.

Unfortunately, even the CPP (the party Nkrumah founded) failed to come up with a meaningful statement. It was left for the party that split from the CPP, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) to come up with the most potent rebuttal to Nana Akufo-Addo’s silly attempt at revisionism.

It remains unclear why the Ghanaian president is hellbent on raking up old wounds rather than concentrating his time and energies on solving the seemingly intractable challenges besetting his country.

The gods know that Ghana faces enough problems and stress without a leader adding to it.

It is said that a people deserve the type of government they get. By joining our reprobate leaders in their silliness, and by chanting the praises of misrulers who keep us firmly as the Wretched of the Earth, we have no one but ourselves to blame.

Maybe those trying to pass their hagiography off as solid history will do well to take a look at these two documents.




About the Author

Femi Akomolafe is a passionate Pan-Africanist. A columnist for the Accra-based Daily Dispatch newspaper and ModernGhana, 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 Man and Machine Coordinator at Alaye Dot Biz Limited, a Kasoa-based Multimedia organisation that specialises in Audio and Video Production. He loves to shoot and edit video documentaries.

His highly-acclaimed books (“Africa: Destroyed by the gods,” “Africa: It shall be well,” “18 African Fables & Moonlight Stories” and “Ghana: Basic Facts + More”) are available for sales at the following bookshops/offices:

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Femi Akomolafe


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