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Backward Ever, Forward Ever

Feature Article Backward Ever, Forward Ever
JAN 12, 2022 LISTEN

A cold ‘buffet’ opening
I hate buffets. Perhaps this is not the right sentiment to express when one has immediately come from a month of merriments. For one to be challenged immediately with an assortment of meals; dared, there and then, to perform, I must admit, for a sopi-sopi eater, that is a tough challenge. Because after each buffet episode, always comes regret. ‘Ah! I should have eaten this or that instead.’ I tell you, after each buffet challenge comes regret.

That is the reason why it was particularly disheartening that right in the midst of that subpar buffet queue of that 18th December, 2021 afternoon, I saw this gentleman ahead of me in the queue, tap on the shoulder of his friend ahead of him, and self-assuredly say, “So, what do you think? Did the white man also teach us how to stand civilly in a queue?” Did he say those words? I must have misheard him, because you know, hunger has the capacity of causing one to hallucinate sometimes. So, I must have definitely hallucinated that.

But I didn’t. Because this friend of his, obviously at his wits’ end, retorted, “Herh! I am tired of this nonsense of yours. If you can’t stay in your own country, go look for a white man somewhere to be slave to!” Never have I had such strong feelings for a stranger. But twice that day—I had for these two gentlemen ahead of me. The one right ahead of me, I had the urge to strike in the head with my spoon, and the one ahead of him, I could give a hug—only if he would allow it.

I hate buffets, I tell you! And on 18th December, 2021, my hatred was a justified one. Instantly, my friends, I lost my appetite. Right in the spread of different variations of rice—jollof rice, fried rice, waakye, I instantly lost my appetite. This gentleman, my worst ideological nightmare, had stripped me entirely off the little appetite I had left. What option did I have but to look around for soup—fufu and soup?

Why We Read
Now, here at ‘Attempted Prophecies’ we talk a lot about the Black/White dynamic. Finding remnants of colonialism (in thinking and in attitude) persisting in us in all aspects of our personal and national lives, we delve a lot into the Black/White dynamic in this column. So much so that one finding us midway—grabbing one Wednesday edition of B&FT newspaper, and finding us—might (might!) just deign to call us anti-Caucasian. But that would be woefully misplaced. What we seek here is true integration. And for integration to be useful, it must be so done by people standing on a level ground. Integration between the mighty and the weak is inescapably rife with oppression and abuse by the former against the latter. In this globalised world of diverse people, we Black people interspersed worldwide have, due to the history suffered upon us, found ourselves constantly as the latter, and Caucasians worldwide, owing to their particular history of suffering upon others oppression, find themselves, the former. So, a merger between these two groups in the present, must be carefully done. The former must come in stripping themselves off their past assertions of authority, and the latter must go in equally stripping themselves off their past positions of servitude.

Why We Write
We here at ‘Attempted Prophecies’ are not biased against the Caucasian’s point of view, even as we endeavour to always create a mind of our own. Where we are in agreement, we do not hesitate admitting such agreements; where we disagree, well, we go all out in our disagreement.

This 20th century English writer, George Orwell, author of one of the world’s defining dystopian novels, ‘1984’ (a novel that arguably describes the dystopia Blacks have for centuries been subjected to), wrote this other novel titled, ‘Why I Write.’ In it he described what he believed to be the main intentions a writer has for writing. First, he notes, is the “desire to seem clever, to be talked about, to be remembered after death, to get [one’s] own back on grown-ups who snubbed [them] in childhood, etc." While this attempts at describing the almost animalistic part of our human nature, I would argue, that in our contests, in our part of the world, one who attempts to write does not do so, first to satisfy this desire.

Don’t get me wrong, God knows, we all yearn to be remembered. Procreation, for instance, has since time immemorial, helped serve this end for many of us humans. Life, we believe deep in our hearts, should matter more greatly; more than the mundane we have grown accustomed to—eat, drink, sleep, wake, work, pay school fees (it’s school fees week, by the way. The period in every child’s life where their parents secretly rethink their education). Life should matter; we all yearn to be remembered fondly for our existence upon this very ancient earth. So, strike one for Orwell.

Also, there’s the issue of retribution Orwell mentions: “…to get your own back on grown-ups who snubbed you in childhood…” So apparently, we, the people, who yearn to be remembered fondly, also yearn to fulfil this childish desire. Look, I won’t mention this, because I don’t even remember it: on one fateful Sunday morning, in that protestant church of which I, a child, formed a part by association (my association with my parents), adults of the church met to award the children of the Sunday school for their achievements, and very corruptly (blatantly), they awarded the pastor’s daughter ‘The Most Brilliant Child’, and me, they gave an award as silly as ‘The Happy Child’. Nonsense! As if Nhyira, or whatever they called her was more brilliant than me. But those days are behind us. Let me quickly add that the award was a lyric book of the song, ‘Jesus loves the little children … all the children of the world…” with this fraudulent White Jesus, standing in a circle with multi-coloured kids. But as I said, I won’t mention this, because I don’t even remember it.

Orwell or not, I still stand by what I was saying: in our part of the world, we do not have the luxury, in this particular case, as writers, to revel in such personal idiosyncrasies, and place upon them, our ultimate goal in the undertaking of this act of informing—writing. For us, there is a bigger burden. We have a country to build, a continent to lift up, we have an entire race to uplift. With each and every passing day, each and every passing thought, with each ideology honed and disseminated among our own selves, the Ghanaian, the African, the Black folk, thinking themselves mere individuals living their own very private lives, are committing upon their whole nation, generation, race, either upliftment (upliftment from the misconceived notion of the lowly Black) or further degradation (the assumption of the role of the lowly Black).

Let us deal with this matter realistically: should one find themselves, proponents of the latter, either in action or in words, insisting upon our inherent lowliness as a race, like this gentleman in this buffet queue did, let that person accept, right here and now, that the economic development they seek—one which they keep hammering upon governments to achieve—will never happen for their country.

And this is why we write…
…Because of the urgency of the matter. Systematic, institutional, sociological inferiority complex abound in us as a people, in all aspects of our lives. From the continental level, down to our national, further down to our individual levels, systematic inferiority complex still remain un-uprooted.

A Recap
And that is how we started the year 2021. With the article ‘Genesis: The Basis of All to Come’, also titled ‘Stealing From All Angles’, we looked at the peculiar dilemma we, as a people face. When performing the act of self-critique upon ourselves—our national journeys, our governments—we always face a crucial challenge, one that demands religiously that we do so tactfully. Because harsh lacerations can easily be reminiscent of colonial, imperial uninformed indictments. “I have always found my articles quite problematic. Whenever I cite Europe, USA, et al. as examples of this and that development imperative—I have always found these ‘citations’ problematic. Especially so, when done without a caveat…” It read. But in the end, with this introspective piece, we found a resolution to this dilemma.

In ‘W-Who Are You Calling Poor?’ and ‘Those Aboard The Titanic…’, the pandemic made us especially retrospective. We pondered heavily on our lateness in our national/continental journeys, one that constantly leaves us divorced from global discourses—in this particular case, in the ‘vaccine race’, i.e., the development of a COVID-19 vaccine, and our lack of purchasing power, to, as the developed world was doing, purchase for our populace, these lifesaving jabs, and having, rather, to resort to and wait on aid.

Still seeking for ourselves a seat at the global table, in ‘Generational Clubs’ and ‘Forging a Quota’, we did so by taking ourselves through the history of industry itself. We expanded on speedy industrialisation, information technology, and African solidarity, as three of the crucial means to help get us there. “Africa, finally, is set to leave behind its raw-material-export-based economy days to a higher, more propitious purpose—a competitive manufacturing-based economy. Finally, our continent’s endemic subsistence attitude in this highly Industrialised Age, is to give way to a globally competitive industrial market. Africa is to finally have a reputable place on the global scale, on the global market. Our first step is to be a giant step—it is the continent’s free trade area dubbed AfCFTA.” We noted.

In ‘Hair v. Motown’, we took a look at a very interesting dynamic, one which involves us, being endemically, importers of ideologies, importing all even to the extent of foreign pain and injustices. The article read: “…in this social media age we find ourselves, we see globalisation reigning even stronger. More than ever, ideologies have become fluid—moving from one national border to another. And this trend of movement—like all experiences of the African, since slavery, through to colonialism—has been this: Africa is always at the receiving ends of such ideologies. The white man is always the teacher; we, the student. And with the crossing over of ideologies, this situation has unfolded: the African is now borrowing struggles.”

We whisked ourselves back to the PC revolution of the 20th century in ‘Humble Beginnings Look Like Tetanus’ and one of my personal favourites, ‘The Rich Neighbour’. We saw how the developed world, placing on a high pedestal, their human resource capital, end up constantly churning out such populaces capable of spawning worldwide revolutions. The article went: “There is always news flying around of Ghanaians—male, female, youth, children, adults demonstrating astounding knacks for innovation. From inventing vehicles, airplanes, robots, etc. these potentials are as interspersed everywhere on our continent as they are, our country. We only get periodical, sporadic, tiny glimpses of these innovative stories. From time to time, these stories show their heads, and just as they came, they leave, sight unseen. But each time these stories hit, the undertone accompanying them are quite like the Biblical testimony on Jesus—“Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Can anything good come out of Ghana or Africa? Each time these stories hit us, they carry the aura of ‘This is unheard of!’ Even though, in our relatively short history as a nation, we have had a mighty list of genius minds—minds whose fullest, world-changing potentials, were unmet or have not yet been met...”

After witnessing the sheer importance developed countries give to their human resource capital, we could not help but decry our situation with ‘Wakanda Life is This?’ and ‘God is Not Racist and a Bunch of Other Issues.’ The former went: “While some are off fantasising about a fictional Wakanda, Africa has here, vibrant human and natural resources realistic as day, more so than ‘vibranium’—and an opportunity to use the former to convert the latter into internationally competitive goods and services, further enriching the African continent.”

‘Ressisoppresseso’ Has Real Meaning’ hit us hard with this line from our national anthem, “And help us to resist oppressors’ rule…,” so much so that we almost found kindred spirit in the then US President, Donald Trump with his obsession with his ‘they are cheating us’ chant—‘they’, in his opinion, being China, and ‘us’ being USA. Except in our case, our ‘they’ has since the 18th century largely been the West, of which Trump’s USA forms a part. We can also easily throw China into this mix. The piece read: “Old age makes one introspective. And 64 years, that is old enough—old enough for Ghana, to start, word for word, adhering to its own promises made to its own self. “Resist oppressors’ rule” is the most profound of promises a country has yet made to itself. It is the truest an African country can ever make to itself.”

In a broken English of a title, ‘When You’re Dying, You Say We Are Dying’, Trump’s nagging resonated with us once again, ‘the world is laughing at us!’ Even though he, by ‘us’ meant, USA, we with ‘us’ mean us—Ghana, Africa. Because it seems that even as we talk of global economic decline spawned by this global pandemic, for certain countries, it hasn’t been all gloomy. Because it looks a whole lot like Matthew 25:29 somewhere in the developed world: “The economics of ‘the rich get richer and the poor, poorer’ has prevailed for Gates, Bezos, Musk, Zuckerberg, and co., consequently for America, China, and some of the rest of the developed world… “With all that’s happening around the world, it’s really unfortunate. But it’s made gaming the largest entertainment medium in the world.” CEO of Nvidia, Jensen Huang said. “These are times when the strong can get stronger.” Nike’s CEO John Donahoe, another winning entity during the pandemic, aptly put it. Indeed, the strong are only made stronger by the pandemic, and the weak, weaker.” We discussed in that piece.

In ‘Not for the Rich Folks’ and ‘Higher Learning; Low Expectations, we looked at a matter near to my heart, one that has resounded in most of all these articles mentioned—University/Industry Partnerships towards industrial growth and national development. Still in the throes of the pandemic, we took a look at the enormous impacts these collaborations in the developed world had on scientific research into the novel coronavirus, and subsequently, the development of vaccines.

‘The Scattering, The Gathering—The Diaspora’ was our attempt at making good sense of the call for an African/African Diasporan Partnership towards our developmental journeys (national and continental).

The nation’s housing sector was our obsession in ‘#Stay Home #Stay Where?’, ‘The Son of Man and The Concept of the Abode’, ‘Pigs in Skyscrapers’, ‘White Elephants in Black Hands’, ‘White Umbrellas in Black Hands’, ‘It is With a Heavy Tongue’, and ‘Closing Down on Housing’.

In ‘America’s Hay Days’, ‘We Deserve This Movie Break’, ‘To Each Their Own Journey’, and ‘Willingly, Your Ideological Slave’, we demonstrated how as we in Africa blindly take on the ideologies of the Caucasian, they on the other hand have, all through their national journeys, in all aspects of their national lives, been very intentional in every national decision made, every ideology and culture imbibed in their people—even when it comes to a segment as supposedly flimsy as their movie industry.

‘Blurred Lines: On Angels and Demons’ and ‘Blurred Lines: On Leaders and Losers’ was us delving into a very vital national institution—the police service. Another sector indispensably vital to a nation’s progress: its energy sector. And that was where we were at with ‘The Old God’, ‘The Philosophic Whining of a Disgruntled Tomato Purchaser’, and the articles yet to come this year.

We capped off the year with one other personal favourite series of mine, ‘This Whole Thing Began With Textiles’, ‘The West Used to be Full of Colour!’, and a ‘Nation of Metaphoric Lispers and Stammerers’

This year our journey towards self-discovery continues. Because as we pursue optimal personhood, optimum nationhood is concurrently attained. So, Happy New Year. The year 2022 has a lot of twos in it. Ah! If I had succeeded in building my church last year, I would have dubbed this year the ‘Year of Double-Double’, whereupon I would shout to my congregants, “Double Double!” and they would respond, “Amen! Amen!” Ah! Such a great opportunity missed. This right here is why we set up a church.

But luckily, I need not own a church to wish upon your life unending favour, good health, and great wealth. So, there you have it…

And for Bernard Yaw Ashiadey and Alistair Kuuku Arthur-Don of B&FT, and all the hardworking ladies and gentlemen at ‘Africa’s leading provider of business information’, you get these blessings double double. I believe this is where you say, ‘Amen! Amen!’

[Published in the Business & Financial Times (B&FT) - 12th January 2022]

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