Before we proceed, did I ever mention to you that mad gentleman I saw the other day, who had an antenna on his head? Oh, let’s think back, I must have mentioned this one point in time. To cut the long story short, I once saw this madman wedge in his corner somewhere—I forget where; it’s all a blur—having a television antenna securely wedged around his head—with a Sellotape. And I immediately thought, ‘Wow this is someone who surely knows when they have a problem.’ Admirable, isn’t it? To be ailing and to know that one is in fact ailing, and immediately go out in search of solutions to one’s problems—that is surely heroic, isn’t it? Although sometimes, we tragically miss the whole point, and like this madman, mistake an electrical gadget capable of incepting and attracting signals to our TV boxes as one replicable in instances when the brain waves are at odds with the rest of the world’s. I mean we are all agreed on this point, right? - that TV antennas are not fitting solutions for infirmed minds.
Let’s get this straight though. This article is not about madness. Well, it’s about…erh, we’ll see…
It was good we began on that note—it was important we treated last week’s piece as a prequel to this week’s article. Because—and what is it that we said last week: “History is an indispensable fact of human living—so far as the act of living is undertaken, history becomes indispensably birthed. Human beings, being in varying degrees self-absorbed and again, in varying degrees, sadists, we find ourselves committing garnishments and ‘tarnishments’ to history—every chance we get. The embellishments are committed when we take charge of the penning of our own histories; the tarnishments, when we leave our histories un-codified…”
And it is in this codification that we find our particularly daunting challenge this week. Because if strict codifications be the strongest criteria for asserting a people’s history, then we are rightfully doomed as a continent. For we don’t have as much penning down going for us—neither do we have as much concerted efforts in the recouping and embellishments of our history going for us. At least not as far back or to that level as some races, nations, continents, and sub-continents have looked into their pasts, and have consequently secured for their present selves and future generations, that deep sense of self. One that says, if we did it before; we can surely do it again—and even better. If our ancestors orchestrated nationhood and human advancements on such massive scales as far back as pre-Christ times, surely, we are able to do now, exceedingly, abundantly, more than these past ancestors of ours, having comparatively limited capacities and know-how in their time, ever did.
We indeed are rightfully doomed as a continent if codification is to be the only criteria for recounting history. Because wouldn’t we be forced, this entire generation upon generation of continent (well, pretty much sub-Saharan Africa), to start the count on our history from the point of entanglement? By ‘entanglement’, I mean slavery, and then colonialism, and then neocolonialism—if we want to venture into matters too presently. And that has been the general rule of thumb. Persons reporting outside this vast confinement of continent are quick to be this dismissive: Africa has no history, they say. Our history is made to begin with the infamous infiltrations of the 7th and 15th centuries—the Arabian and the Western infiltrations, to be precise. That is indeed a stupid assertion, isn’t it? Especially, for a continent long touted by scientists as the ‘Cradle of Humankind’—as the birthplace of humanity itself. Surely the wide expanse of our human existence cannot be made to arbitrarily begin this late.
So African history cannot certainly have begun at the point of infiltration and belittlement—just a few centuries back. But having taken too long to get a point made—just this one point; that one point we wanted made when we began this series of articles as far back as a month ago with the ‘Uncertainty Will Be The Death of Me’ article, the matter regarding rule of law… I think it’s safe to proceed on this trajectory, no matter how tragic this trajectory, and begin Ghana’s recounting of its history with the rule of law, at that infamous place of belittlement. So please permit this crash course into Ghana’s history with the law. Beginning, begrudgingly, at the point of colonialism.
But let’s proceed, trusting that we at Attempted Prophecies are headstrong enough to come back to this matter sooner than later, with a deep inquisition into the full-scope of our continent’s history—discoverable, again, in our archaeology, linguistics, and our almighty oral history.
The Abused Becomes The Abuser
What took place during those infamous centuries between the African and the European was not an isolated human event. It did not spring out, out of the blue. Conquests, slavery, colonialism, had been the Caucasian modus operandi. And even as we endeavour to take a long look back into our own African history, we will find this same concept of sameness reflecting once again—that conquests, slavery, colonialism, have, in fact been, our MO too.
But that’s a risky link to draw, isn’t it? It’s like finding a man and woman engaged in heated verbal exchange—and finding empathy, in turns, with the man, and then the woman, as they outdo each other with the harsh venoms they spurn out of their mouths. But what do you find? One of these two people takes out a fist and drives a series of blows into the other’s face. Surely, you might begin to forget the harsh words initially used by this pair and begin to focus on the gore that is right before your eyes—the brutalised face. So much so that should you be called to bear witness to this affair, you might find yourself incapable of relating matters as accurately as possible—that it all started with two culpable parties. Why? Because one’s culpability in the end, was so harsh that it wiped out the initial culpability of the other.
It is the same with the issue of ‘sameness’ as we almost attempted to highlight here between the Caucasian history of gore upon us, and what remnants we might have in our own histories as committed by us upon others or upon our own selves. The gore that proceeded from the slave trade—and pardon the focus on the Transatlantic Slave Trade in this piece—was so gory, disproportionally demonic, that any comparisons whatsoever attempted to be drawn with it, would be surely done from a position of self-inflicted blindness—refusing to see quite plainly, the gore that ensued right from that demonic human act.
I hate it when old wounds are consciously and wantonly opened. Because what purpose does that serve? In fact, I believe we mentioned this matter of the futility of opening old wounds in one of our past articles. Let me go and see if I can find it; I’ll be right back…
You know what, I could not find that article. But I do remember that we talked about this matter specifically in the piece titled ‘Stealing From All Angles’…
But yes, what purpose does it serve to open old wounds, just for the sake of it? I, for one, I must quite bluntly say, I hate people who stand in the way of their own healing—people who hold on to past pains and traumas, carrying them on their shoulders like a badge of honour, a thing to throw in the face of the whole world around them, every chance they get. Hoping that in so doing, they get painted blacker and blacker, as angels of God, and the rest of the world, paler and paler, as devils [By the way, do we need a second to re-read this sentence, to see the ingenious switcheroo we just did there?]. Those people, intent on playing victims just for victimhood’s sake, they never find healing. Consequently, they never find liberation. Surely, this is not the kind of persons we want filling our vast space of nations, continent, and race.
But here’s the card you and I have dealt our own selves. Our relationships with our own present selves are deeply marred by our demeaning history—and that’s just how it is, we’ve just allowed this cancer to fester without undertaking a conscious uprooting.
Example: When the Queen Was Slain
Take this example, when the Queen of England died at the young age of 96, and a group of village folk did ‘susu’ towards making an obituary banner; and oh, they did a march-past, right on that bad road of theirs, glimmering in their faded white parade uniforms—all for what? In honour of their Queen, we presume. It certainly made no sense, but that’s all well and good. After all, you and I cannot sit here and decide who or what a person should mourn. But this in the end affected us all—because weren’t we made to sit and suffer through the endless comments made by fellow Ghanaians during this same, very British period and pseudo-global period of mourning, alluding to a supposed Black inferiority? Yes, proceeding right from fellow Black mouths were outrightly gruesome, derogatory words such as…
Erh, upon second thought, I am going to desist from repeating these statements in print. Because doing so might bizarrely be lending some form of credence to these derogatory Black comments spewed by Black folks on fellow Black folks. But I do know that you know what these derogatory comments were and are. And you know that such attitudes towards our own selves, and these perceptions of self can never be one that drives the collective good—of building for ourselves, not only national developments, but racial advancements too. Africa cannot rise to its position of prominence as indeed the cradle of humankind and civilisation driven on negative PR, plighted everlastingly with an excruciatingly skewed and derogatory perception of self. That’s just not mathematically possible.
On Ugly Children
Because here is the thing, you don’t go about admitting to your children that they are in fact ugly. There is such a thing as embellishments—garnishments that uplift, rather than causing further deteriorations. After the world, biased in its conception of what constitutes a good-looking individual, attempts beating down your child to the bone, attempts robbing him of his very essence, just because he doesn’t meet a present human conception of what constitutes a good-looking person, you do not, upon this child coming before you as a mother or father, with this heart-wrenching matter, outrightly admit to this child: ‘well, of course you are ugly’…and leave the matter like that. No embellishments given. No chances of growth ensuing. Only deterioration. A deterioration that is sure to drown this child of yours further down to the bottom of the global food (and sense of worth) chain.
There is the other option of the ‘garnishments’ in this same scenario. And you already know how you would have gone about this—you, a parent of a hypothetically ugly child in this scenario. After all, the great things of the world, the great advancements orchestrated by human ingenuity, was it ‘good looks’ that sprung them forth? So why is this child of yours to suffer in fatalism over his supposedly bad looks? Wouldn’t you, as a parent, begin to highlight his very strong points, and parade them in hopes of upliftment, as the very essence of his being—that thing that will create for him a formidable place and name on this vast earth? And in so doing, wouldn’t you be said to have committed an embellishment on a certain truth at hand—the glaring truth of your child’s unfavourable looks—instead of further deterioration in his/her perception of self?
It’s a Balancing Act
That’s just what it is—it’s a balancing act. In nurturing a nation, just as in nurturing a child, it is indeed a balancing act. Sometimes truths must be addressed head-on by citizenries in hopes of forging quick and sharp rectifications for the smooth-running of nationhood. Yet at times, when we find ourselves down in the dumps, what we have to do for ourselves is to undertake some form of embellishments on our present state of affairs—garnishments that uplift and not cause further degradation in our states of affairs and perceptions of self.
With that being said, I will say that on the matter of rule of law, this nation of Ghana, at the point of excruciating colonialism, had its hands pretty much tied—we suffered the laws as badly as were meted out to us. But the period following our independence, whatever ills suffered the people by the law, has been, very bluntly, our own doing. And a lot of deterioration caused us in this national journey of ours has been our own doing.
This just had to be said right off the bat, because, even as we search for solutions to our national problems, we would not want to end up like this batty gentleman of ours, with the antenna perched against his head in hopes for a solution for his ailing mind.
Because, I mean, we are all agreed on this point, right? - that TV antennas are indeed no fitting solutions for infirmed minds…
[Published in the Business & Financial Times (B&FT) - 13th October 2022]