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05.09.2004 Feature Article

Aburokyire ni, your attitude stinks

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You've got a ring in your nose so I should sing for you? I am not prejudice against anyone for either piercing their ears, or threading a ring in their nose, or with tattoos elsewhere. Personally, that out of the norm diabolical expression is a choice… a choice that does not trample on my rights or interferes with my well-being.

The metaphorical analogy for discussion is the “Ghanaian attitude.” The kind of attitude, which limits my rights to enjoy privileges I have paid for. Most Ghanaians who have had the opportunity to travel abroad have developed stinking attitudes that only portray our ignorance and stupidity. We tend to criticize or point fingers at others for our mistakes or blame others for our own irresponsible behaviors, insubordinations, and defiant indulgences. We do not empathize situations and therefore fail to accept that we have the ultimate responsibility to ensure that in our ignorance and stupidity, other peoples' rights are not strangled. Commanding respect is not an achievement, it has to be earned by respecting oneself and influencing others to respect you.

In my article captioned “GHANA AIRWAYS and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines ...Don't Go With The Flow,” some of my respondents recounted dreadful stories, despicable experiences that any sensible being will deplore. Every private citizen of Ghana has a public responsibility therefore, it is my ardent duty to share with the rest of you these deplorable experiences and hence, “Aburokyire ni, your attitude stinks”.

In that article, I lashed out at KLM and Ghana airways for sheer complacency and ignorance, resulting in abuse, disrespect, and price gouging but do we have to wholly blame them? My answer has not deviated, emphatically, I say yes. My reasoning being that an individual's fault should not transcend down the ladder to all and sundry. The discreditable few should pay the piper for their own acquisitive behaviors. However, regardless of someone's faults or stupidity, he should not be abused or taken advantage of but should be punished judiciously. Would you allow your innocent handicapped son or younger brother to be abused for no fault of his own? I doubt it because the disabled has equal rights as God's child too…. a matter of nature's principle. We are all endowed with inalienable rights aren't we? So when you make too much noise in the airplane, steal toiletries from the restroom, or steal a flashlight from the plane in flight, you have indirectly abused my rights and privileges because I have paid for them for comfort too.

When on vacation from our backbreaking jobs, the jobs we won't do if in Ghana, we feel like a bird out of the cage. We are programmed to work and sleep, a routine never experienced in Ghana so we feel abused by the host country. We vent it out “I took the best of the white man.” I drink beer not akpeteshi or palm wine. I fly and not ride in tro-tro. Our imaginations are endless. We are better than everyone else. We want to carry the world on our shoulders, our pride and stupidity soars, respect for others cast out of the window and we become combatants. All because we are able to afford a pair of flared or low cut jeans and a polo shirt or blouse and that, we think gives us unlimited rights. What about the other person's rights, Messrs Aburokyire ni? Have you ever considered my rights? It's about time you did. Here are a handful of excerpts from the hundreds of responses to my article all because of your stupidity and ignorance. The structure and contents have not been altered, however, names, professions and relations have been modified or deleted to protect the respondent. Here we go: Hello Sam, Your piece was an excellent one. I have taken KLM several times from the USA via Holland to Ghana. I can tell the difference in service between the USA/Holland trip and Holland/Ghana trip. I guess we have to blame ourselves. We need to insist on our rights as paying passengers. I always insist on my rights. Not in a loud way but, rather in a direct respectable way. The problem is some of us cannot articulate properly in English. Also, some of us are not seasoned travellers. Some of us are just happy to be on a plane. And some of us are so stupid that we clap when the plane touches down.

What do we expect from the White folks? Why should we be clapping for them for doing their jobs? Until we get rid of our inferiority complex, White folks will continue to abuse and disrespect us. Yes, some of us do take the tot drinks out. Some do take the cutlery away. I even saw someone removing the aircraft flashlight near the toilet. How stupid can that be? When I asked the chap why he did that he said, " After all, I paid so I need to also take something away" This chap was very ignorant. Little did he know that the flashlight would not work outside the plane. It did not use batteries. Secondly, it was a safety flashlight. In case there was an accident on board, how were we going to find our way out? Some of us are too loud and some of us are just pure stupid. The white folks see through us and we smile at them like fools to the slaughterhouse. Dr. K Hello Sam, Your article is a sobering indictment of the work ethics and management culture of Ghanaians. What goes on at Ghanaair is only a microcosmic representation of the entire situation in the Ghanaian society, at governmental, corporate, and individual level. Your views also reveal, albeit sadly, how we have slipped down the social ladder and allowed our neighbours to treat us with disdain. Below, I will set down my own thoughts to reinforce your assertions. 1. You were so right when you pointed out that all the airlines servicing Ghana offer better services on their European routes than to Ghana. When I lived in Japan, I flew Aeroflot, the Russian national carrier to Ghana one time. The flight from Tokyo to Moscow was excellent and comparable to any of the best airlines of the world. I was pleasantly surprised because it was a different situation from what I had heard about the airline from many Ghanaians I had spoken to. But boy, was my conclusion hasty! On the flight from Moscow to Accra, we were treated like animals. The airplane was smaller and had less legroom for passengers. A very big and tall guy going to Congo who sat next to me suffered a great deal from his long legs. The airline allowed some passengers to load their carry-on luggage on the deck of the craft till it blocked the entrance to the rest room. Needless to say, we travelled 11 hours on an aircraft that denied us the "luxury" of toilet facilities. On the return flight from Accra to Moscow, I was reaching out to hand an object to the guy who sat across the aisle from me when my hand touched the butt of the male Russian steward. He got angry and insulted me. I said I was sorry but it still didn't help. I didn't realize it at the time, but later I was wondering if he thought I was gay and had touched his butt in admiration or what. You are so right! 2. I agree also with you about our work ethics. When I the Personnel Manager of GNTC Motors Division in 19----- I would arrive early for work, but then could be gone the rest of the morning. If I didn't leave but stayed in the office, I could be on the telephone with my friends the whole morning, or it could be the whole afternoon. Sometimes my ----- would stop by and we would go out to shop for home essentials and come back without batting an eyelid. I planned and coordinated my wedding from my office at GNTC using the company phone and time. You can imagine the toll on time and government funds that this entailed. I could leave the office and go out to town to check on my wedding plans and not even return to the office sometimes. I used my staff of ----- to do private things. If I was too busy to go out with my ----- to shop on company time, I would let my secretary escort her. And talking about staff, I didn't even need ----- people on the government payroll working for me. To tell the truth, my Chief Clerk was the one who did all the work. I only put my signatures on the documents and reports he prepared. The other half of the time, I was on Legon campus chasing Professors for my transcripts, and later at the Embassy of ----- arranging for my visa. If you think this is shocking, what is more shocking to me is that no one cautioned me, or even noticed that I spent less time working than I utilized for my own private needs! The Director of Personnel had his office at Ghana House and had no idea what was going on in my working life at ----- where my Division was. On the other hand, the General Manager of the Motors Division cared less about me because he too was too busy starting his own business. What a country! 3. It is also true that Ghanaians use government property and supplies freely without even stopping to think about it. I lived with a Training College principal and saw it all. The store Department of the college regularly sent our house "complimentary" bags of sugar and rice, and "complimentary" boxes of evaporated milk, canned sardines, tuna, mackerel, cooking oil, etc. We always had large chunks of meat in our freezers. The college was well resourced and had two trucks, a Benz bus and a 504 Peugeot saloon car. Our family always travelled on the saloon car and got free gas every time we were travelling. My wife, whose father was a -----, describes the wealthy life they lived because of free supplies of food and other resources, not to mention the usual perks from wealthy parents that they received. I can go on and on. But just look at the waste and inefficiency! How can any country develop in such an environment? I don't want to take your time. But my brother, our country needs help, and you were right in pointing out that the help has to be divine. But I even wonder if divine help would be enough. And my doubts occur not because I do not believe in the ability of Jesus to transform lives and situations. Our people have to realize first that they need help, and be willing to seek it for any help, even divine help, to work for them. The truth is, they don't even realize where they are and why they need to change. And that is why I feel so pessimistic about the future of Ghana. It was indeed a pleasure to read your article and to have the opportunity to send you my comments. May God bless you, my brother. Papa D Bro Sam, I like the piece you have on Ghana Airways. I have never travelled on Ghana Airways before due to their incompetence that didn't start at the beginning of this century. I finally sighed belatedly when I read that the management board had been dissolved - an action that should have been taken long ago when Ghanair was making headlines of gross incompetence virtually every week. As for KLM, I had my luggage delayed by a day from Amsterdam to Accra on July 17, 2003. I also heard about possible compensation for delayed luggage and went to the airport office a day after my arrival. The nonsense and disrespect from a Ghanaian staff made me ask myself why I even went there in the first place. In any case, I got my luggage the following night. It is the attitude of Ghanaians that make foreigners treat us with disdain and disrespect. Ghanaians are so greedy and corrupt that they will do everything (with minimal observed effort) for money apart from suicide bombings since we love ourselves too much to die for money. The treatment of Ghanaians at the western embassies in Ghana - case in point Spanish embassy - reflects the total disrespect that we have deservedly earned. This embassy doesn't even have the courtesy of providing a bench or shelter for people waiting outside. One always wonders why people just stand in front of a wall at such a vantage point like airport junction. Corruption in Ghana isn't a curse but it is going to go on after we are long gone. Have a great mid-week. NBD Hello Sam, Kudos to you for such an excellent article. At first I thought it was too long so I was going to stop reading it, but it got interesting with every paragraph and so I decided to read to the very end. God bless you for your boldness and may He continue to crown your efforts with much knowledge and success. You have hit the nail right on the head, and I hope Ghanaians will take a cue from this. Sometimes I believe we have caused this discrimination ourselves. Despite our years of stay in the Diaspora, some of us tend to act like "bush" people on the airlines - hence the treatment we get on these foreign airlines. Even on the Ghana Airways flights, the attendants tend to treat the whites aboard better than their own nationals. I don't know if it's shear envy or that they think they are better than you even though you live in the Diaspora. If such attitudes are suffered at the hands of our own so called flight attendants, why should we expect to be treated differently aboard foreign airlines that have little or no regard for the black race. I guess if we want to be acknowledged and treated with dignity and respect, we have to prove ourselves competent. Have a different attitude towards the way we manage businesses, improve our behavior in certain areas and also say no to bribery and corruption and all what you have said in your article. A word to the wise they say is enough! Regards, G Hello Sam If you were up for CEO/CFO of Ghana Airways, you would have my vote. I am so embarrassed and disappointed with our people. I often wonder if we will ever be able to redeem ourselves enough to attempt to catch up with even the “Second World” In reference to your article, have you seen the way we behave? We refuse to read signs, act orderly, take instructions and calm down. I would treat a passenger with indifference if he/she behaved the way some Ghanaians do. It is really bad. We tend to be quite lawless and see absolutely nothing wrong with it. I know they can be very racist but we really do allow them to behave that way. I have, for the most part, been treated with respect and it is because I command respect. I follow rules and do the right thing. KI Hello Sam I read your article regarding KLM, and I may beg to differ on a number of points. One particular point that struck me was about KLM's alleged claim that Ghanaians collect the drinks to sell. Well, I visited this restaurant at a Shell gasoline station close to Achimota. My wife and I ordered two small bottles of red wine and to our surprise, her bottle had Royal Dutch Airlines and mine had Alitalia insignia on them. We both wondered where the wines came from, and ironically, you piece has finally answered our question. Also, I could write the same story as yours, except that the airline will be Ghana Airways and the flight attendants, all black Ghanaians. I have travelled on KLM more than 100 times; I have nothing but respect for them. You should question the attitude of some of our people rather than blaming our faults on the airline. I am not sure what you encountered with KLM, but it is wrong to generalize because a lot of us have seen nothing but respect and efficient crew, who never abandon Ghana when the route was less profitable. OAP Northwest-KLM frequent flyer Hello Sam THANKS, IT IS VERY NICE TO READ YOUR RESPONSE. THESE GHANAIANS THINK THEY ARE SO CIVILIZED BUT INSTEAD WITHOUT DOUBT MOST OF THEM MAKE A MOCKERY OF THEMSELVES WHILST THINKING LESS OF OTHER PEOPLE.- AND LABELING THEM AT ALL TIMES. THE SOCIETY AS A WHOLE NEED AN ATTITUDE ADJUSTMENT WHETHER BACK IN GHANA OR IN FAR FLUNG PLACES. MAJORITY OF FELLOW GHANAIANS DO NOT LEARN ANYTHING POSITIVE FROM THEIR HOST COUNTIRES TO UPLIFT THEMSELVES INSTEAD THEY SHOW EMPTY PRIDE AND MISS OUT ON A LOT. FOR THE MOST THEY LEFT GHANA ONLY TO MAKE MONEY AND NOT TO EDUCATE THEMSELVES. IS ANYONE SURPRISED THE COUNTRY OF GHANA IS IN THE STATE IT IS IN - CONSIDERING THE POPULATION OF THE COUNTRY IT COULD REALLY BE A MODEL FOR THE REST OF THE BLACK CONTINENT, BUT NO NO GHANAIANS WILL LOOK DOWN ON THEIR NEIGHBOURS AND INSTEAD THINK THEY ARE SO WELL ADVANCED. JUST READ THE SAY IT LOUD PAGE AND SEE THE IGNORANCE THAT IS SPEWED BY MANY OF THEM. LET'S HOPE THE FUTURE GENERATION OF GHANAIANS CHANGES THE STATUS QUO!!!! AB Menua Sam, I agree absolutely with the facts, which you raised in your article. When it comes to baggage handling KLM is worst on all routes and the airline community knows it. The EU I understand is coming out with new regulations about baggage loss and I hope we as passengers will benefit. I'm not a fan of KLM and do not hold brief also for them. Buy when it comes to the Ghanaian against any institution for rights and priviledges either we abuse it, make outrageous claims, don't read the small prints, etc, etc. Ghanaians don't form queues period. I am a community leader in Amsterdam and have dealt with my people; at times it is a shame. All passengers with seat numbers 1 - 20 for example come forward you see all of them rushing to the gate. Menua Sam I can go on and on and on and I always say let the Ghanaian discipline him/herself first and you'll have grounds to claim what is yours. AK Hello Sam I am very glad this is being exposed, but the Ghanaian passenger is equally to be blamed. Most of them do not do much traveling by air once they get from Ghana to their respective point of destination. So they do not have anything to compare KLM with. I watched the pushing and shoving that goes on at the airport in Amsterdam one day and clearly told the KLM airline worker to "stop treating the passengers as if they were cattle" and reported her. With regard to charging extra for travels on Th, Fri, Sat, & Sun most airline fares are higher for travel on those days so I am not sure KLM is out of that practice. British Airways that you mentioned is very disrespectful of Ghanaian travelers just as much. The last time I traveled on BA from London to Accra. I watched the way the flight attendants interacted with their Ghanaian clients which was very disrespectful. But you couldn't blame them, as most of these young guys were so loud and rowdy as if they were on a school bus to the amusement park.

Also before arrival in Accra the flight attendant walked down the aisle and sprayed the air from an aerosol can, when I asked her what she was spraying she abruptly responded "it's our regulation to spray before landing" I then told her that I shall not fly BA again after that return trip and will let all my contacts know about this practice. I have never flown them again in almost 10 years and instead have been using Alitalia, which is not publicized among the Ghanaian community well enough. All in all your article touched on some valid points well worth taking note of by all fellow Africans!!!! AB When one travels to Rome, one does what Romans do, but some Ghanaians either overdo it, exaggerate it, or are sheer stupid and will kiss 'you know what' to be accepted instead of being oneself. Once in a foreign land, we become brainwashed faster than we blink an eye, through media and other social influences. We engage in risky behaviors and adopt schemes that are detrimental to our well-being and shame our Ghana. Current de jure statistics show that about 4% of Ghanaian males now abroad have pierced ears, 2% have tattoos, 18% disown Ghana, 42% are married to foreigners, 3% are enrolled in schools, 20% are employed in jobs we will not do in Ghana and the rest are stupid and lost. A friend who aspired to travel to the USA told me he did not mind scrubbing the toilet of a white man but he will not do the same job in Ghana even if the wage in Ghana is 10 times more than the wage in the USA. Nothing wrong with wiping the butt of a white man but if that is an ambition and not of necessity then I am living in a wormhole. The lost fellows from Ghana are the most incoherent, disgraceful, and persona non grata in our society. Ghanaians like other foreigners travel in search of opportunities that are non-existent in our own homeland but if you are bred or educated to scrub a white man's toilet then that it is a sad upbringing or overture only if it is out of choice. Once we arrive in foreign lands and put things in their right perspective, we begin to explore and learn the customs of the host countries faster than a whirlwind. We want to be accepted and that leads to pang of conscience. We exuberate because we were lost and now we are found. We multiply our wages by exchange rates and can't believe we are instant millionaires. We are now somebody, rowdy, show-off, and stupid. We want to be someone that we can't be…a white with perm and/or bleached hair, Jamaican with corn rolls, African American with gold teeth, pierced ears, and tattoos. The most fluent words we learn are “shit, asshole, motherfucker, bitch, kiss my ass, whassup” forgoing the fact that “a rat turned armadillo still has a tail on” we are purely bred Ghanaians and we will remain Ghanaians by birth till the end. Our intonations don't lie, our tribal marks or accent give us away. We are excellent copycats without a premise for our indulgences…we are avant-gardes in identity crisis. The least we can do is be wise and respectful of others but that is lacking too. Common sense and wisdom are not sold in stores, it is inborn by nature, and if you don't have that please seek philosophical and psychological help. Don't be a disgrace, respect yourself and defend your country, someone defended the one you enjoy so much. “Aburokyi man,” “Borger,” “America man,” “whatever,” are you one of the disgraceful few? If you are, then change your attitude. Be a role model for your country and let people enjoy you. Be empathetic in every situation, …JUST BE YOURSELF…. a human being and not a senseless rowdy showoff fool, that isn't cool by any standard. Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Sam Nimo
Sam Nimo, © 2004

The author has 3 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: SamNimo

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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