What Is All This Fuss About? – Part 3
I just discovered that Paul Boakye’s very insightful article titled “What Nobody Tells You About Moving to Ghana as an African American or Caribbean Returnee” has been taken down from the Ghanaweb.com website. I made this discovery after I mistakenly deleted the copy of the article that I had saved on my file and decided to access the same on Ghanaweb.com, where I had originally sighted the same. Fortunately, I was able to access a copy of the aforementioned article that had been published on a website called Medium. Now, I don’t know the decision behind the deletion of the article, which I personally deem to be one of the finest and most thought-provoking of its kind ever published on any major Ghanaian media website.
It is not easy to put my fingers on precisely what Mr. Boakye would want his readers to come away from his article with, especially since the critic and sometime resident of Ghana accuses Jamaican returnees presently living in Ghana, for the most part, of harboring thoroughgoing contempt for their hospitable hosts. Ghana may really be a quality-of-life improvement for these Jamaican-British and Jamaican-American arrivals, for this is what the writer-critic has to say about some “200-plus members” of this “contingent” (that is Mr. Boakye’s own word) that he had the chance to briefly socialize with: “It’s always nice to see some of the ‘London-born’ posse and catch up. But boy, how they can turn the air blue with their cussing and gripes. What’s the point of living in Ghana for ten or more years if you don’t like Ghanaians?”
The curious but not altogether surprising thing here is that these allegedly Ghanaian-hating Diaspora Jamaicans may be really suffering from an acute sense of self-hatred, for they evolved from a post-slavery subculture that they seem to be equally averse to. “Well, tough fxxxking luck! I see you didn’t leave England to move to Jamaica, where the locals there will [sic] have probably shot you dead by now or burgled [burglarized?] your house numerous times because they see you as wealthy returnees. ‘No, I couldn’t live in Jamaica at all,’ they’ll [they’d] tell you. ‘The place is too violent out there, man. But we reach home now, and we nar leaving here, no matter what none-a-them say.’” Naturally, there is a love-hate relationship between these Diaspora Jamaicans and the indigenes of their new host country. What is pleasantly clear here is that warts and all, these returnees would not give up the relatively higher quality of life and peaceful daily existence in Ghana for the wanton level of violence and chaos of Jamaican society. Most immigrant groups feel the same way wherever they go or they may be outside of their places or lands of birth.
But, of course, as the critic points out, the problem is squarely one of an infantile sense of idealism and naivety that often accompanies many a search for greener pastures. The intended destination of hope or dream, as in the American Dream, invariably tends to be perceived in other worldly terms, for the most part: “ ‘It’s all those reggae records we listened to throughout the 70s, 80s and 90s,’ said one [of the contingent of Jamaicans that the writer-critic met and socialized with in Ghana], ‘daydreaming of Africa, only to come ‘home’ now to find a welcome that’s not quite what we expected.’” It is a love-hate relationship that has been quite loving enough to enable these African Diaspora Returnees to take for themselves Ghanaian ‘wives’ by whom they have produced offering. The disdainful attitude of these returnees is absolutely nothing far short of outlandish; if anything at all, it strikingly reflects the same disdainful attitude that their former white slave masters had for their ancestors who, by the way, especially their grandmothers and great-grandmothers, these supercilious Europeans casually consorted with and sometimes even forged loving and lasting relationships and exemplary conjugal bonds.
“Some of the guys even have Ghanaian ‘wives’ and kids, but you’d never believe it by listening to their opinion of local people. Close your eyes and you’d think it was the voice of some white racist talking about ‘ignorant baboons’ and ‘corrupt brainless fools.’ They like to keep up this ‘them’ and ‘us’ façade, which I don’t happen to share, and reminds me of why it’s been over 18-months [sic] since I saw them last.” This part of his evaluative observation is rather comical, because Mr. Boakye has been contemptuously saying basically the same things about his former Ghanaian hosts that he now accuses the Jamaican “contingent” that he claims to have hobnobbed with, presumably in Ghana’s capital of Accra, of being guilty of. Indeed, any bona fide Ghanaian citizen would readily tell the critic that he absolutely does not need to either feel sorry for us or presume somebody else to be guilty of acting towards his/her hospitable Ghanaian hosts with abject disdain.
Whether we are quick to acknowledge this or not, we, Ghanaians, tend to be self-deprecating and downright disdainful of one another more often than we would like to believe. And it is highly likely that this may very well be a global human problem, even among ethnic and racial supremacists. On occasion, some of us have also felt disdainful of and morally and culturally superior to these lost and woebegone sons and daughters of former slaves. So, really, there is absolutely nothing new to reveal or unload here.
Finally, in terms of whether any Civil Society Organization (CSO) could legitimately be accused of “copycatting” Ghana vis-à-vis the latter’s recent commemoration of the Year of the Return festivities, about all that can be fairly and justifiably said is that Ghana has absolutely no monopoly or exclusive copyright on our yeomanly and prophetic bid to reunite with the African Diaspora, although as Ghana’s President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo noted recently, at least 75-percent of all the European-built slave dungeons, forts and castles are located on Ghana’s approximately 300 miles of coastal stretch.
The fact of the matter is that the Transatlantic Slave Trade is a Continental African Story and, properly speaking, an Indigenous or Black-African Story. What this means is that it is a total nonissue for anybody to deride another African country, especially a West African or Black-African country for being, somehow, guilty of copycatting Ghana’s landmark commemoration of the Year of Return. We are, fundamentally, all of us, one and the same. In the past, we have celebrated the FESTAC festivities as one people.
*Visit my blog at: kwameokoampaahoofe.wordpress.com Ghanaffairs
By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York
January 7, 2020
E-mail: [email protected]
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."