The sad saga of Ama Sumani

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The sad saga of Ama Sumani


“Goods are priced the way they are displayed.” – Yoruba proverb

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.

Any properly educated African will know that all these are shambolic identities to keep us disunited and fragmented for the benefit of Europe. Apart from Ethiopia and, possibly, Egypt, the rest of nations of African are artificial European constructs that made neither geographical, historical, political, sociological, economic nor logical sense. We thus have the absurdities like the Gambia, a state entirely constructed on a strip of land within another nonsensical state they called Senegal. It is not only tiny Gambia that is eminently folly; large ones like Nigeria suffer from the same abnormality.

Case in point, yours truly is a Yoruba. Pray, should I relate more to the other two hundred and fifty or so or nationalities in Nigeria more than the other Yorubas scattered in Togoland or the Republic of Benin, with whom I share the same language and culture? A few other examples should suffice: The Mandingos (Mande) are found in at least nine West African nations; the Hausas are to be found throughout West Africa; the Akans are the majority in both Ghana and Ivory Coast. Let it not be forgotten that two of Ghana’s major ethnic groups, the Ewes and the Ghana are Yorubas from origin.

Advocates of Pan-Africanism are not talking whimsical nonsense when they ask that Africans look at themselves as one people. People of African descent make up a sizable percentage of the workforce that keeps the British health service going. Were they to be united, the Africans in British health delivery system could have prevented the humiliating deportation of Ama. By downing their tools in solidarity with Ama Sumani, they would have made the British realize how important they are to their health care delivery system and help save their hapless sister. But because they refuse to unite, Africans continue to be humiliated, all across the world. By not standing up for one of our own, the other races can keep on trampling upon ALL of us with virtual IMPUNITY. The Jews are not treated shabbily anywhere simply because they consider a slight against a single Jew an assault on all Jews.

And with the WITHOUT THE WEST WE ARE DOOMED mentality of the Kuffuor’s government, you can safely bet that there will be no official Ghanaian protest at this gross violation of Ama Sumani’s rights.

That’s just by the way; let’s turn our attention to what we are doing to help ourselves. We are all witnesses to the wanton, actually obscene, display of wealth at the congress the ruling party held to select its presidential candidate. The question is thus beggared: why are we Africans lacking when it comes with helping our own folks? Fifty years after we start ruling ourselves, should our folks still be risking their lives to seek greener pastures outside our shores. With our abundant natural resources, Africa certainly has no business being the world’s beggar.

In those countries we look up to, rich people do not strive only to be rich; they also try to enrich their societies. That’s why, after they have amass their wealth, they build schools, libraries, hospitals, set up foundations and make endowments. Many of the greatest universities and medical institutions in the US benefit greatly from Private Foundations and Endowment Funds set up by individuals. Fire up your Google and see the number of private foundations that are helping the famous Harvard University.

Cecil Rhodes made his fortunes plundering Southern Africa, but he went ahead to set the Rhodes scholarship up at Oxford. President Bill Clinton is one of the most famous Rhodes Scholar. When Bill Gates made his billions from software, he set the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundations to fight some of the medical and developmental challenges facing the world.

When we come to our dear land Ghana and Africa, what do we have but seriously rich people who have absolutely no sense of community or civic responsibility. It is though the word ‘compassion’ has ceased to exist in our vocabulary. I do not know about you, but I was sick to the pit of my stomach when I saw the obscene display of wealth during congress the ruling party organized to elect its presidential candidate. These fellas have twenty-five thousand dollars to shell out as registration fee, but I do not know a single one among them who have a foundation in his name. Rescue me if I made a mistake, please.

I think that part of the problem we face is that our elite are far too removed from the sad reality their misrule has created for us. In the article, ‘Give the slum a try,’ I advised Ghanaian rulers to spend just a day at Alajo or Sahara in Accra, so that they can have an idea about the level of poverty their policies have consigned us. Not surprisingly, no one has taken up my suggestion. Our rulers no longer even care enough to be apathetic. That could partly explains why they keep dancing around us all these years without doing anything about ameliorating our problems. If a guy who has the means but refused to build a library, park or hospital in his community gets to the pinnacle of power, what is to show that he was not just on ego trip? If I have twenty-five thousand dollars to give to a political party, I certainly would have some to spend in my community on say, a library, a park or a swimming pool.

Ancient travelers like Ibn Batuta wrote effusively about Africa’s traditional hospitality and compassion and essential humanity. In ancient times, our forebears would rather go hungry than allow a stranger to be without food. Food was terribly plenty, but no one starved in our traditional communities. Begging was considered a shameful enterprise in which no family would allow a member to participate in. There were no high walls and electronic gadgets to protect huge mansions, but no one slept rough on the streets of our ancient villages and towns. Families and, society at large, ensured that no single member is left out of the common wealth.

Today, in our mad rush to be ‘civilised,’ we have abandoned all these enviable traditions. In our haste to jettison our own culture, we have embraced avarice, greed and selfishness like a new religion. We no longer look at unfortunate members of our family or society with understanding or compassion. The sight of the homeless, the numerous children begging and prostituting themselves no longer prick our conscience. We no longer measure ourselves on how valuable we are to the societies that produced us; we measure ourselves strictly now on our materialistic worth. My mansion has to be bigger than my neighbour’s. My car must be better than anyone’s elses. It was the wit, Oscar Wilde, who said that America was the first country to move from barbarism to decadence without the benefit of a civilization. Would Ghana be the second? Sankofa, anyone?

Poser: What legacy is Presideny John Kuffuor leaving behind for Ghana? What would we remember him by in say, ten, twenty years? It’s sad that African leaders continue not to see the necessity in leaving their marks on the sand of times! Nuff said.


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.

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 now available for sales at the following bookshops/offices:

  1. Freedom Bookshop, near Apollo Theatre, Accra.
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  3. WEB Dubois Pan-African Centre, Accra
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  5. African Kitchen in Amsterdam Bijlmer

Where to buy them online:

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Africa: it shall be well

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Africa: Destroyed by the gods

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Femi Akomolafe




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  1. a good piece of work…keep it up.


    senasusu, 15 years ago

  2. The deportation of Ama Sumani (described by Lin Homer, chief executive of the Border & Immigration Agency, as “not exceptional”) not only shows a total lack of compassion, it suggests a vindictive cruelty in the methodology of the Border & Immigration Agency.By denying her the drugs she needed & the support people were willing to give, the Border & Immigration Agency are guilty of no less than culpable homicide.It is horrific that someone receiving treatment vital to their survival can be removed from hospital against their will. What is chilling is that this is the operational practice of a government funded executive agency.


    No Borders Wales, 15 years ago

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