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26.09.2003 Feature Article

The "Cheeky Darkie" Comment - A Response

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Even though I have been disgusted by the "Cheeky Darkie" comment of a New Zealand broadcaster in describing UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, I am not too shocked by it. It is good, though, that the New Zealand Prime Minister, Helen Clark, has quickly distanced herself, and the whole country she represents, from this reprehensible behaviour. I would too if I were head of a country whose citizen dragged the country's name in the mud under circumstances similar to what we have just seen. It has even been reported that Paul Holmes, the racist fellow who made the remarks has apologized! That, too, is a good thing. But I wonder how sincere his apology is.

We have a funny saying in the Akan language: "Nea ewo ani so na yede ko dae mu". This means that you dream about things that obsess your mind. The bible also says that out of the fullness of a man's heart does he speak. If I am dying to eat 'Akrante' soup and 'cocoyam fufu' and that is all I am thinking and talking about, it might show up in my dreams one of these days. Now, if all my jokes, even if they are just jokes, are centred around guns, bombs, knives, murders, blood, I might soon alienate the people around me because they might begin to get scared of my unhealthy predilections. To say this is to say that Paul Holmes' declaration on the air of what he thinks about Honourable Kofi Annan could not have been a mistake! He really meant it! There are times when we commit a slip of the tongue; and it is usually easy to tell when a person has sincerely committed one. But it would be hard for me to understand that what he said about Mr. Annan was "..... just something you toss off in the morning.", which is the way he has tried to dismiss his insulting attack on the UN Secretary General. No one makes a slip of the tongue by using insults. They always come from the bottom of the heart. They are not just blurted out!

Judging by some of the things Paul Holmes has said so far by way of apology, I have a feeling that he may be sorry, after all, for what he did. But I have this feeling also that he is not at all sorry that he said such nasty things about one of the world's most important persons. He may only be sorry that his utterances have backfired and attracted such considerable backlash. Quite often when people say they are sorry for some action, what they mean is that they feel shame and embarrassment for drawing undue attention to themselves through a wrong act, and not because they consider what they have done to be wrong. How could he even appreciate the full import of his utterances when he implies that all he was doing was just saying Good Morning to his listeners. After all, he was "just tossing something off" . How can any serious and right-thinking broadcaster use racist insults and expletives as a way of greeting his listeners, acknowledge he is sorry and then turn round and call it something he was "just tossing off".

Racism is a state of mind, and people who have prejudiced attitude towards other races cannot be cured -- they are too incorrigible in their ways to be rescued. Some people will never appreciate the achievements of Black people. It doesn't matter how much you may have contributed to a cause or how high you may have climbed, you would not amount to much in their eyes because of the colour of your skin. To such people it does not matter that you are the UN Secretary General. Just because you are a native of Ghana, a Black African nation, you lose all credibility in their eyes.

Whilst most people in the world, I believe, see beyond race and gender, there are, unfortunately, many Paul Holmes out there who use racist comments as a form of greeting; and to whom Black people are accepted only if they are in positions of subservience and servitude. To such people, a black person, especially if he/she is from a Developing country, cannot have international authority or pre-eminence because we are perceived to be inferior. Obeng-Diawuoh, B.K. Bardstown, Kentucky, USA Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

B.K. Obeng-Diawuoh
B.K. Obeng-Diawuoh, © 2003

The author has 16 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: BKObengDiawuoh

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

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