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10.08.2019 Feature Article

The Underground Man - Part 48

The Underground Man - Part 48
AUG 10, 2019 FEATURE ARTICLE

"A great idea with hitches", started Kwame to lecturer her while sitting down in the grass enjoying a freshly picked export mango, green and red in colors bigger than the yellow small locals mangos foreigners would not want to eat. "When in 1946 for two years the cocoa bean boycott was ongoing and the British government had to intervene as Cadbury and others in UK had formed a cartel to dictate their price for cocoa beans onto the farmers, the farmers had stopped exporting. Even under our first President cocoa beans got destroyed by state order. Now few years ago the world organization IOCC that fixes the world market price by close of each day as guidance to buyers and farmers had moved from London to Abidjan. It is very clear that this move had only in mind the interest of the buyers and to ensure that Ivory Coast and Ghana will never join hands to be the master of the cocoa price. They know so very well, speculation on chocolate will never be possible but on the raw material cocoa beans is easy to do. No wonder that the so called Fairtrade organization is not demanding cocoa producing countries to stop exporting cocoa beans but a complete production of cocoa in the cocoa producing countries. That would eventually lead to unemployment in your countries while jobs are created here, would mean lower prices for chocolate for any consumers around the world as our labour cost are low, would mean also we in Ghana can afford our own product cocoa. We eat only five hundred grams of cocoa products per head each year while you in Germany chop about ten kilos...only because you have the money and we do not...simple as that. And now that you come up with the idea of this stupid Fairtrade chocolate, our situation is even worse. While you increase the price in your countries to have the logo Fairtrade on the chocolate, these products come to us here in Africa at a much higher cost than the conventional chocolate we hardly can afford and as custom duties are based on the value of goods, we get an extra portion of punishment. The consumers in your societies do not know with every chocolate that carries the logo Fairtrade, they do us great harm and deprive us from our very own natural product cocoa. When they would do what is right to do, demanding chocolate only to be produced in our countries here, than this for them would mean they would become irrelevant. This they do not want to see for which reason all these nonsense is done and the consumers in your societies do not see what is really going on here. This industry is nothing but a Mafia of a handful of people, I am telling you!"

"You certainly cannot be so harsh to the big companies that as far as I know made their fortune as companies during colonial times with cocoa beans as the basis of their wealth", tried Anna to bring Kwame down that was shouting out against the noise of the waves.

Kwame got up to throw the peals of the mango behind him into the brown dried grass: "To top it all up, dear young German friend, the quality you eat and you call chocolate in your societies, is so...so, so bad...more than second class. I means we can buy most international brands here over there even in Shoprite. Can you imagine, from Germany, the eastern part, they stock Haloren Balls and other small German brands? Can you believe that?...For me it is so shameful...so sad. Never in the history of cocoa has the world seen any rich farmer. Concerning natural rubber in Brazil and beyond there still today you can see the remains of concert halls and theatres built by rich rubber farmer...but with cocoa, that never happened. And you must consider when oil was discovered in the Arab world they formed the OPEC to ensure they fix the conditions of oil exploration and export on the same level like Europeans and Americans looking eye to eye to balance both interests. Here our neighboring country Ivory Coast and us produce a more than seventy percent of the world production of cocoa beans and the whole of West Africa around eighty and more percent. While you can subsidize oil with other forms of energy, cocoa you cannot replace by candies as only they can make a human happy...and happiness is forever human being, rich or poor, stupid or intelligent, the basis to use and see the problems we all have from an eagle eye perspective to solve them one by one without falling into depression or anxiety. If all these countries here in the region would follow the Arabs and do the same to protect their very own interest, the price of chocolate would go up, jobs lost in the world of the White Man, job created in the world of the Black Man. So, you see, this world is all about the balance between Blacks and Whites, which side to take dominion over the world visible in all aspects we see on earth."

"As for me", mentioned Anna standing up ready to go watching out that a blue TroTro old like her mother, would not run both of them over filled with passengers tied to each other to use limited space to the maximum possible, „quality matters a lot. As cocoa beans are food items and food as the condition when it is fresh it has the best quality, over time the quality comes down. So I do understand that we in Hamburg can never get the best beans possible as the transportation is simply too long and many of the cocoa beans do not make the trip but get rotten along the way. So, I wonder that consumers knowing one dead cocoa bean had spent its trip to us surrounded by twenty other beans that they did not get infected by the dead body? But...but wan to chop them and be declared by the manufacturer as a great product...how stupid that is!"

"That is why I am saying and demanding, we here should unite and ensure all chocolate is only produced here. This lowers the price, improved the quality, makes our Millions of farmers happy and they kids enjoying Christmas and Eastern along their birthdays with a nice taste of a great life. But as we here are highly indebted to your countries, this will never happen. The companies over at you end put enough pressure on your governments to keep jobs in your societies that they bow down to them so that in the end the tax payer in Europe with his donor funding makes sure we survive here in Africa...but never ever walk on water as we could, only to keep our heads above water. What we need are strong leaders that can stand up to such nonsense, such crime against humanity, tell the truth and fight for our interest to set us free from the so called good people that seek in our countries their sense in life and bombard us with love and products and services to make money back home."

Anna walked on the railway tracks alongside Accra-Tema beach road connecting both neighboring cities once built by the colonial masters. Sakumono Lagoon was clearly to be seen in the background, a vast green lush reservoir to take heavy rains helping to ease the impact rains had each year on both cities especially Accra causing lose to properties and lives. Illegally developers had encroached on the Lagoon with posh houses been build blocking the free flow of waters from higher grounds to the Gulf of Guinean. The Golf Course on top of the Lagoon was a popular spot for celebrities that had most of their houses just behind the Golf Course in a designated area to be away from the crowd and among themselves. No one cared about illegality in Ghana unless it is beneficial to its own agenda. Laws exist, law enforcement was left to chance and politics. "That means Kwame, you are telling me, that when we give you support, I mean donor funding and aid from our tax payers money, it in fact supports corruption in Ghana?"

"Of course, that is what it all comes down to", answered Kwame guiding Anna safely to the other side walking alongside the beach road close to the sand. "These metal rails you see here to protect people walking from falling down onto the beach and protecting the land from being washed away, was constructed by white people just recently. Here the metal rails are painted in green and yellow, all done by your people. And also, do not forget, Ghana, like all of Africa, gets IMF and World Bank funding with the condition attached to it that they have to restructure part of their administration and handling of finances. Do not believe, we Blacks do not know you people very well and what you are up to. We also know, the loans given come with a date of final repayment. After that is done we are set free from you people and guess what?"

"What do you mean?"
"We go back to our own old style, our on corrupt, inefficient ways to manage our affairs. We do not take the momentum forced onto us by you people to change, no, we simply remember our forefathers and do as they did...simple as that!"

Anna watched young and old fisher folks pulling a heavy fisher net to the shore saying: "Then you are telling me, what we do is in the end useless, just helps you people here to survive but not to live really as you should do?"

"That is the point I am making", agreed Kwame with her statement sitting on the hot sand by her side. A cold breeze slowly flew over them cooling them down. Behind their back Sakumono Village with the old slum in which human waste was running through the place in-between houses open to fill the air among playing children with smell of pee and washing powder. The flow ended in a larger open gutter directed into the Gulf of Guinean for all eyes to see. "Lavender Hill...Lavender Hill!"

"What do you mean by that?" asked Anna seeing the hard working men were laughing while pulling the net closer and closer to the shore. It seemed they would have a very good catch.

"At Lavender Hill each day trucks after trucks dump their human waste into the sea...untreated, polluting the environment. They collect the human waste from houses and instead of treating it to make fertilizer and other useful products out of it...even producing energy to feed into our national grid to help stopping Dumsor, Dumsor, our word for power outages, they knowingly and openly destroy our environment just like that."

"That is terrible!"
Kwame advised her by showing to his right in the far distance:" There is toxic city, a place where your old electronics come and the wires are burnt to extract copper and other precious metals from it that the young boys can sell to scrap metal dealers and make their living while the toxic work causes them cancer and other illnesses for which they need money to go to hospital and be treated. You see, the cycle is going round and round with no improvement. Only the elite in their mansions are enjoying a good life. The honest and hardworking majority of our society is run over by history that partially is written by you people also. But do not get me wrong, please, as an independent country for more than two generations by now we have it in our own hands, in our own decision making process, in our hearts and minds to change this our great nation to be better each year. When you see plastic waste in Korle-bu Lagoon no white man dumped it there. It is only us that dump waste on the ground, our plastic bottles, and our sachet water plastics, dump our cars, our TV sets...endless story. We are responsible for it..not you white people."

"I have seen so many open gutters!"
"Yes, that is madness of the Black Man", shouted Kwame out his anger. "All our politicians have studied in your society, their children go there to school, they sometimes even have houses there for which reason they know that only underground pipes can drain a city and country well. But look around you, all these open gutters that are not working. They are chocked by garbage, by plants growing in them, by washing powder awful smells. They are blocked with stagnant water so that mosquitos have a great place to be fruitful and multiply. Often in our villages we are free from Mosquitos, more than in our cities. So, than ask yourself, as our leaders know that your underground pipe system is the better option why is it that they still allow here in Ghana open gutters to be constructed?"

"Black mind is not correct mind?"
"Exactly...that is the point. We all know, thanks to the internet, how life is working around the world. We can see with our own eyes in each country of our planet what is working well for people and what not. So, why do we not copy you people when you do something good and avoid the mistakes you make to build our own great nation in the proper way instead of repeating the same old mistakes over and over again. Ask yourself why?"

"That means, when we white people come here, tell you what you should do best, show you how it should be done, you smile into our faces, are very sweet to us with kind words, but in reality when we turn our back to you you still fall back into the old style of managing your own affairs and destroy your society, especially more and more dramatic in years to come once your population increases, the income for natural resources goes down and climate change will increase the prices of food!"

Kwame looked at Anna saying: "That is the point! As long as you people have no say here, no power to make your good ideas in combination with our national interest of our own possible...but stand like a coach powerless by the side of the playing field...nothing is going to improve. The small changes we are making will be overtaken by the problems coming for which we are not least prepared. We do not think far, we think of today, of our individual pockets...not for the nation, not even for our neighbors. We are very egoistic. When you look around it is obvious, planning for generations is not our strength. We think and plan only for short time, but certain things need generation thinkers that we simply have not. When I am sick, I do not heal myself but mandate a qualified doctor regardless of color, race and belief to help me and follow his lead...but when it comes to politics we think we can heal ourselves...what a failed nonsense. Reality proves us wrong. And as the problems of the future are mounting itself before our very own eyes, we can actually see them, we do not think far and do not take the much needed actions. When Joseph in Egypt was asked to help a nation survive, the Pharaoh understood only him was able to make his people life in the time of draught and gave him the position of power to decide. But we Blacks are not clever like that Pharaoh, we better run and run closer and closer into our final downfall. We are stubborn to the extend we have no shame to play with the future of the coming generations. When you can see a problem in future coming to you, it is time today to start solving that problem to ease its impact. Our leaders and our people have no sense for that but cycle around their own misery...round and round until history will swallow them all up!"

Anna got up, saw the net close to the shore and fisher folks getting excited, women with baskets arriving to be the first to buy the day´s fresh catch. "Let us go to them and see what they day has brought them. Get up, Kwame!"

Kwame knowing the scenes about to unfold from daily life was relactend to follow her. As Anna was persistent he walked behind her to see the net on the beach still closed. The fishermen unfolded the net to see the result of their morning work. In small boats parked on the beach they had gone out with the net just after sun set. All fishermen feared the water, most of them unable to swim. It was that fear that had made them set out to fish close to the beach while their friend on-shore were holding both ends of the net tight in their hands to pull it in on-shore.

The vendors put down their baskets and metal bowls, got on their knees to check fish after fish. Not many big fish were in the net, mostly small silver fish as side dish for meals. The net was very, very empty of fish.

"There is so much plastic in it, I mean it seems more than half of it is not fish but TV cover, bottles and what have you not", was Anna most surprised to see her first catch on the beach of Sakumono.

"That is life here...daily routine!" commented Kwame ignoring the catch as he knew what to expect from going out to sea. "Out there in the distance not visible for your eyes, that is where your Trawlers, the big ships, catch our fish and you in Europe enjoy the nice, low price in your homes. We here have plastics in our nets! That is the harsh reality. But", pushed he Anna away from the crowd, "in the end you come with donor funding and loans to us to make us survive...survive somehow...only somehow!"

"But...but", got Anna all excited, "that is all nonsense."

Karl-Heinz Heerde
Karl-Heinz Heerde, © 2019

This author has authored 323 publications on Modern Ghana. Author column: KarlHeinzHeerde

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