The truth we refused to tell ourselves

Posted by By at 24 April, at 11 : 16 AM Print

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This is a summary of a recent conversation with a friend on the treatment of some Africans by some racists in China.

It was one of our greatest teachers, John Henrik Clarke, who told us that the biggest mistake our ancestors made was to credit foreigners with our spirituality and humanity. Our progenitors naively believed that every human being deserved to be accorded the same dignity and the same love they shared among themselves. That was the reason they took no action when those they rescued and gave refuge to, began to surreptitiously abuse the hospitality they were extended. Before our parents realized their folly, it was too late.

Remember the words credited to Jomo Kenyatta: “When the Europeans came we had the land and they had the Bible. They asked us to close our eyes and pray, and by the time we opened our eyes, they had the land and we were left with the Bible.”

The honest truth is that I am tired, very tired, of our whining and fulminations about the treatment some of our people are receiving from unreconstructed racists.

Don’t get me wrong, I am totally, absolutely and unconditionally opposed to any form or manifestation of racism. Absolutely nothing will make me tolerate a racist slur for even a second. On a personal level, I would rather die than accept to be treated like an inferior by any human being.

But then, we need to ask ourselves why we remain the only species of humanity that keeps on looking for friends instead of protecting our interests like other people do, especially in international relations.

If, as every International Relations 101 student knows, in international relations there are no permanent friends or permanent enemies, only permanent interests. This is the quote often attributed to Lord Palmerston; why then do we in Africa keep on looking for friends when other people are busy with pursuing their naked, but enlightened, self-interests?

The truth is that we attended the same schools with the Chinese and the Europeans and the Americans, but when it comes to negotiations we look for our selfish interests, while they seek the maximum advantage for their countries.

Because of our irredeemable selfishness, we will sell our national interests for a Swiss bank account, a house in Dubai, or visas for our sidekicks. Without blinking an eye, we will  accept the crumbs and dispose of our national patrimony. We will then go to town to whine endlessly about racism when those to whom we have sold our birthrights, begin to treat us like scum.

Did Fanon not warn us that no one treats his imitator or inferior like an equal?

Against very sound advice and angry polemics from some of us, Ghana Telecom, including its fiber optics facilities and its university, was sold for a pittance to British Vodafone. Of course, within a few years, Vodafone has recouped its “investment” and it is today busy with fleecing poor Ghanaians by charging premium rates for crappy services it would never be allowed to get away with in Europe. Just take a look at the scam they sell as Data bundles in Ghana!

Why can’t we get it into our heads that the Chinese are not in Africa because they are sold on our “Black is Beautiful” sloganeering?

We would be supremely naive to think that they are in Africa for any other thing but to further their personal and national interests. It will be the height of folly to think or even imagine that any of them, coming from a communist country, will not be beholden to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of People’s Republic of China.

About two years ago, at the height of another bout of Chinese-bashing hysteria in Ghana, I wrote a piece which caused quite a consternation.

My piece was titled, “Not In Defence of Chinese Galamsey.” Here are some excerpts:

“Are the Chinese or the foreigners really to be blamed for degradation of our environment and the pollution of our rivers?

Who else is to be blamed? Have you not seen pictures of them and their equipment?

We are to be blamed, if the truth be told. Our gargantuan selfishness, our boundless greediness, our abject lack of vison and capacity to think beyond the now, our unbridled materialism, our insatiable and gluttonous appetite for easy life, our stupendous unwillingness to face reality, our crass stupidity, our utterly incapability to plan…



Are those not too harsh words to use, Femi?

To be honest with you, I wish that I possessed harsher words in my vocabulary. I wish I had the oratorical skills of Robert Ingersoll or Frederick Douglass to rain thunder, brimstone and the rest of the heavy stuff. It disheartens me to see how utterly hypocritical we can become at times. All we do is to pretend to be good people when we certainly are not. Our stupid and selfish actions belie all our sanctimonious, duplicitous posturing. So, it makes us feel good to blame the Chinese. We feel fulfilled and sanctified to declare ourselves blameless and pour the blame on the foreigners for our mindless and unbounded corruption.

We feel good, yes! We are not ones to ask ourselves simple questions, like, for example: Who invited the Chinese and the Russians and Ukrainians and the rest of the foreigners into the country? Or do we imagine that the Chinese just landed in our forests and started to dig gold? O, we are such wonderful bloody hypocrites and pretenders. We pretend not to see, or read, or hear evil. We have government, right? Our government has all the appurtenances of a sovereign state – police, armed forces, secret services, etc, etc. All the men and women in these agencies get paid to protect our national interests. Why don’t we ask ourselves why all our officials went to sleep while our forests were despoiled, and our rivers polluted beyond redemption? Of course, critical self-examination is beyond us. We are not concerned with self-analyses. That is not in our culture.

Since we are such a beautiful, peaceful, god-fearing, nice people, it is easy for us to blame foreigners. Don’t we have a president with uncountable ministers? How about our over-compensated members of parliament who do little apart from ratifying loan agreements? Not to mention our professionals in all spheres of life. And what happened to our glorious journalists, including the so-called senior ones? Where were all these people when our environment was degraded by illegal miners? Are we to believe that our MPs and our elite do not travel to their villages, towns and regions? Did they all lose their sight and failed to see all the devastations all over the country? Who gave the foreigners residence permits? Who issued them with gun permits? Who provided their gold bullion with security? And you talk of Pan-Africanism! And you blame Chinese.


Are you denying that there are illegal Chinese miners?

It appears that you are not following what I am trying to tell you. It appears that like most of us, you hate the truth with a passion. It looks like you, like most of our compatriots, find the truth repulsive. Where did I absolve Chinese or foreigners? No, I did not absolve the foreigners. What I am telling you is that it is blue-blooded Ghanaians who sold out. That is a fact we should not hasten to run away from. Per the law of the land, it is only Ghanaians who are granted licenses for small-scale mining. It is our own people who obtain these licenses and go abroad to invite foreigners in. It is our chiefs who give out the lands after receiving their four-wheel jeeps and fat cash payments. We all know these things, yet we pretend and vociferate loudly against Chinese and other foreigners. Honestly, I think the foreigners should gather themselves and take us to the international court for duping them.

Femi, you certainly cannot be serious!

And why not?

You are saying that the Chinese should take us to court after they spoiled our environment and polluted our rivers.

Again, it appears that you heard only the things you wanted to hear. No Chinese or foreigners spoil our environment. We are the ones that destroy our own environment. We do that through our greediness and our inability to take thought for the morrow. That is a fact we have to acknowledge. Blaming foreigners makes us feel good, but it certainly is not the whole truth.

On whose side, actually, are you?

What do you mean?

I thought a Pan-Africanist would take side with his own people.

You thought wrong. I am on the side of telling unembellished truth. A genuine Pan-Africanist is one who tells his people unalloyed truth all the time. We gain nothing by pretending that we are innocent and blameless in the degradation of our environment. We serve no one’s interests by failing to tell ourselves bitter and unvarnished truth all the time. It is time that we own up and start to look inward – at our own failings. Do you know the saddest part of the whole Galamsey saga?

Pray, tell me.

To me, the worst part of our immense tragedy re the galamsey problem, is that we have absolutely nothing to show for all our wanton greediness except the utter waste. We sold ourselves far too cheap. In years gone by, our chiefs sold their war captives as slaves for mirrors, gin and gun powder. Far too cheap. The foreign slave raiders made all the money to build up their societies and we have absolutely nothing to show. To Trumpicate things: Too bad. Today, our chiefs and elite have sold our precious minerals for a pittance –  jeeps and mansions and smartphones. Far too cheap. I have visited both Amsterdam and Antwerp, two European cities that tout themselves as “Diamond Cities”. By polishing and adding value to rough diamond stones, the two cities managed to transformed themselves into ultra-modern cities of excellence and major players in the diamond business. But look at us; we only employ our muscles to dig the gold, we lack the imagination to establish a refinery that will allow us to add some value and earn more income. None of our well-educated officials can come up with ideas that go beyond digging gold ore up and shipping it out in its raw state. It is more than sad. I have visited Obuasi, Dunkwa-on-Offin, Tarkwa and other mining communities, and it is difficult for me not to shed tears at our stupidity. Just look at the woebegone sight that confronts you at Obuasi! The town is even sinking. And that is a town in which gold has been mined for over a century. We ended up with nothing, absolutely nothing except devastation that makes the eyes sore and teary.”

Read the full article here:

It can only be hoped that we will wake up from our deep slumber, realise our follies and decide to take firm charge of our own affairs before it is too late.

Femi Akomolafe

(c) April 22, 2020


About the Author

Femi Akomolafe, a passionate Pan-Africanist, was one of the PCs Pioneers and ran a Computer Consultancy firm in Amsterdam, the Netherlands for several years, where he also set up the first African Bulletin Board System (BBS), the precursor to the Internet. He also established the first Black Newspaper, The African, in the country.


Femi has been very active in the Pan African Movement since the early 1990s.

A columnist for ModernGhana and a Correspondent for the London-based 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 organization that specializes in Audio and Video Production. He loves to shoot and edit video documentaries.

He is currently engaged in vegetable farming.

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:

  1. Freedom Bookshop, near Apollo Theatre, Accra.
  2. WEB Dubois Pan-African Centre, Accra
  3. Ghana Writers Association office, PAWA House, Roman Ridge, Accra.

Where to buy them online:

On Lulu Books:

18 African Fables & Moonlight Stories

Ghana: Basic Facts + More:

Africa: Destroyed by the gods:

Africa: It shall be well:


Africa: it shall be well

on Kindle books:

on Amazon books:

on Lulu Books:

Africa: Destroyed by the gods

on Kindle books:


18 African Fables & Short Stories:

on Amazon books:

on Lulu Books:

My Lulu Books page:


Get free promotional materials here:

  1. Africa: it shall be well:

A FREE Chapter of ‘Africa: It shall be well’ can be downloaded here:

  1. Africa: Destroyed by the gods (How religiosity destroyed Africa)

A FREE Chapter of ‘Africa: Destroyed by the gods’ can be downloaded here:

Read a review here


Contact Femi:

Femi’s Blog:
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Kindly help me share the books’ links with your friends and, grin, please purchase your copies.


Femi Akomolafe




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