When Was Our World Ever a Happy Place?

Feature Article When Was Our World Ever a Happy Place?
SEP 29, 2023 LISTEN

During the course of the delivery of his National-Statement Address to the 78th Annual Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), right here in New York City, on Wednesday, September 20, Ghana’s President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo was reported to have lamented the precarious state of a Post-World War II Era in which there existed a “rising spate of mistrust and unhappiness” among peoples and nations (See “ ‘Our World Is Not a Happy Place Today’ – Akufo-Addo Tells World Leaders” 9/21/23).

It is not clear to this slightly 60-plus-year-old writer and avid student of global history precisely what the Ghanaian leader meant, being that anybody who has lived for as relatively long as he has, and even considerably longer, at least as long as 79-year-old Nana Akufo-Addo has lived, must be cognizant of the fact that except for highly privileged and openly class-conscious Ghanaian citizens like the former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, who never miss a heartbeat to remind the overwhelming majority of their countrymen and women of their privileged class background and social status, for the most part, life and human existence for the rest of us jigaboos of this world has always been decidedly grim and inexorably fluxional with uncertain and truculent fluidity, as the immortalized African-Caribbean genius psychiatrist of Martinican nationality, Dr. Frantz Fanon, would have boldly and frankly characterized the same.

If, indeed, life in Ghana has increasingly gotten even harsher and grimmer, it is almost undoubtedly or definitely because the current crop of the country’s leadership, of which the former Foreign Minister has been key for at least a generation now, conspicuously and abjectly lacks the requisite level of sacrificial patriotism that remarkably distinguished the first generation of the country’s transitional and immediate postcolonial period. We are here referring to the likes of Dr. Joseph (Nana Kwame Kyeretwie) Boakye-Danquah, Mr. Kwame Nkrumah and Mr. Archibald “Archie” Casely-Hayford whose father, the legendary Mr. Ephraim Casely-Hayford, spearheaded what would eventually become known as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), originally called the National Congress of British West Africa (NCBWA).

Unfortunately, the present purview of our conversation precludes us from delving any deeper into the history of the latter intellectual association of the four erstwhile British West-African Colonial Territories, namely, Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and The Gambia. We must also quickly add the hallowed names of Messrs. John Mensah-Sarbah, regarded as the first legally trained indigenous Ghanaian citizen in the contemporary era; Kobina Sekyi, an unapologetic African Cultural Nationalist and mentor of Dr. Danquah; and George Alfred “Paa” Grant, the Founding-President and Chief Financier of the politically seminal United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC), the first modern Pre-Independence political party establishment, to name only the few of those that readily come to mind.

On the global front, the relationships between and among nations appear to have become relatively more accentuated by “mistrust and unhappiness” largely because of what the famous Canadian media theorist by the name of Marshall McLuhan prophetically recognized nearly a half-century ago and aptly characterized as the increasingly rapid spatial contraction of the world by the exponential advancement of communications technology into ONE VILLAGE, what Marshall McLuhan called THE GLOBAL VILLAGE. Of course, it could also be quickly pointed out that the equally exponential increase in human populations across the globe, commonly called the global “Population Explosion,” has resulted in the relative scarcity of the material resources that most humans share in common and indispensably depend upon to survive, such as food and water and mineral resources.

Significantly though, even as our most observant and brilliant social scientists, in particular our economists, tell us, the scarcity of potable water resources has been largely due to the wanton destruction of our landed and forestry resources and, to be certain, our ecological system as a whole. Further complicating matters is the sheer greed of a world in which civilization and the exponential increase in knowledge capital has also, ironically, resulted in the wanton Darwinian Exploitation of the most vulnerable by the most powerful. The foregoing, as it has relentlessly and ruthlessly played out in Ghana, with the rich and the most powerful few kleptocratically cannibalizing the lion’s share of our commonwealth, is what Nana Akufo-Addo ought to have dispassionately addressed in his approximately 20-minute National-Statement Address to the UNGA.

Instead, we had the Ghanaian leader running rings around the real issue or the crux of the problem by characteristically simplistically pretending as if it was a sheer matter of what many an American social scientist would abbreviatedly label as “Institutionalized Racism” or White-Over-Black Hegemony or the Global-North Against the Global-South. Of course, there is a significant modicum of truth to the Global-North and the Global-South dichotomy or dialectic, but there are other equally significant bottlenecks in-between and along the entire length and range of the spectrum which must be equally troubleshot and objectively exposed for what they inescapably are and then radically extirpated or rooted out.

In Ghana, the problem is an epic failure of progressive leadership on the part of the movers and shakers of the two major political parties, namely, the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC). And the test of inescapable failure here regards the very basic recognition of the fact that the criminal refusal to let existential self-love and common sense govern our general attitude towards the unignorable need to envisage the protective preservation of our ecology and environment as an inalienable protection of ourselves and, in particular, our humanity is the fundamental cause of our misery and unhappiness. The problem that Ghanaians have as a nation is not mere mistrust. Rather, it is the scandalous failure to recognize and accept the fragility of our humanity and the respect for our environment, the highest level of our religiosity, which is an uncompromisable love of the self.

On the latter count, Nana Akufo-Addo scandalously demonstrated in his United Nations General Assembly Address that he is still a politically diapered baby still suckling at his mother’s breasts. I really do not know whether him calling his mother by the falsely formal name of “Yeboaa Akua” is any fundamentally different from this writer’s calling his paternal grandmother the far more familiar and culturally normative name of “Akua Yeboaa,” as this apparently psychologically self-absorbed elder kinsman seems to suppose. You see, if your mother attended Akyem-Begoro Middle Girls’ School, like my own paternal grandmother who, by the way, did not graduate as a result of premature pregnancy, it may interest you to learn that it was my barely literate great-grandfather, Nana Kwadwo Aboagye (Theodore Adolphe), of Akyem-Asiakwa and Asante-Juaben Royal Families, who settled the German-speaking Basel missionaries from Switzerland in Begoro to make it possible for your mother to secure a decent education and prized cultural training by the standards of the time.

Then also, it may perhaps interest you to learn that it was my school dropout paternal grandmother, Auntie Kua, who produced the only son who, in turn, produced the one naturalized bomb-making or designing naturalized American nuclear physicist and nuclear-criticality engineer, not your branch of the family, you know? Any room for humility here, My Dear Good, Old Uncle Kwaku Addo?

*Visit my blog at: KwameOkoampaAhoofeJr

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD
Professor Emeritus, Department of English
SUNY-Nassau Community College
Garden City, New York
September 22, 2023
E-mail: [email protected]