What has been the most thought-provoking question you have had to answer?
In Havana, 2009, my Caribbean friend, Lex Bowen, faced me with the most traumatic and puzzling question in my life. While we walked briskly to lunch on that cold afternoon, Lex, unexpectedly, asked: “Why did your grandparents sell my grandparents into slavery?” Unwillingly, I took my breath sharply and stopped.
I stood ‘dead’ for several seconds until I remembered one of the African myths, and responded, “They did not sell your grandparents into slavery. The whites abducted them.” Interesting answer right?
Let us wake up to the inconvenient truth. Our leaders keep misleading us back to slavery. Although this write-up does not intend to bring dark history to life, it sees Ghana racing back to the bygone era of slavery. And that a nation that refuses to remember history, is doomed to repeat it. Sadly, a large fraction of us still sees slavery as ‘America’s original sin’. What is kept away from us is that, slavery was seen in all civilizations across the world.
Slavery existed in every community where arable land was abundant with scarce labour. It existed in every society where mining took place and towering buildings erected. In every society where power was defined as the ownership and control of captives, slavery thrived. All this was true in African, America and Asia. Americans and Europeans only built a trade in slaves for the world market in partnership with African leaders.
Uncontrollable quest for material wealth, ruthless desire for power, indebtedness, and the affection for the marvels of technology that were identified as the drivers of slavery still hang large on the horizon, in Ghana. If we could just open our minds, quiet our fears and debate our disagreement honestly, we could uncover how close we are to another bondage. About a decade or so, in many facets of life, we have depended on Beijing. While we continue to so, let us keep in mind that last year, with more than $1 billion in debt to Beijing, Sri Lanka handed over her major port to Beijing.
This happened at the time Djibouti was looking over to surrender another key port to Beijing. Rumours have gone rife about how the Asian giant is baiting African nations including Ghana with hazy contracts and corrupt deals that seek to keep victimized nations in the mud of debts. Beijing is noted to be using predatory loans to undercut the sovereignty of indebted nations, denying them their liberty to write their future and achieve their dreams. Also succumbing the victimized nations to her whims. Every nation seems to know this except Ghana.
In this age of remorseless advance of technology, a sovereign nation that cannot construct its Ministry of foreign Affairs, Defence Ministry and its Presidential seat with the skills and labour of its citizen but with foreign hands and foreign skills, is reap for slavery. In this age, a nation whose politicians aid and abet foreign recidivists to destroy her with illegal mining, illegal logging and with many other underhand dealings, is reap for recolonization.
However, we can rescue this nation by eradicating the sense of dependency that has contributed hugely to our plights. And that if we study our past successes and failures to learn not only what happened but why it happened, we could take ourselves off the path of slavery. So let us rescue this country not by pledging our allegiance to political parties but by pledging total allegiance to the State. Let us rescue this country by raising our expectations while keeping abreast of our privileges, duties and responsibilities as citizens.
The Author of this article is the founder of Let Your Thoughts out (LYTO), an organization focused on empowering the youth to partake in nation building through writing and speaking.