“The Black Man Is Not Cursed”

On July 31, 2019, my former boss at the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, Captain ‘Rtd’ Nkrabea Effah Dartey who was the Deputy Minister when I was a mere District Chief Executive of the Ahanta West District then, responded to a piece I had written with the heading ‘Is the Black man cursed?’ published on the 25th of July, 2019.

I read with interest Capt. Effah Dartey’s responds to what was a rhetorical question on the basis of the behavior of the black race as compared to the Caucasians and the coloured, the world over. My worry is the poverty, hunger, illiteracy, homelessness that afflicts the black race anywhere in the world, relative to other human species of different colours. There is nothing I can do about my colour as a black person other than to be proud of it and live with. However, can’t I do anything about my circumstances?

Captain Effah Darety in his strenuous efforts to answer my rhetorical question resorted to history and religion. He states in his fourth paragraph ‘any black man who will ask the question that ‘Is the black man cursed?’, will indirectly be confessing the success of a deliberate intelligently orchestrated deep seated campaign to Dehumanize the black race into perpetual Serfdom’. Well if a certain group of people, by virtue of their colour decide to ‘deliberately and intelligently orchestrate deep seated campaign to dehumanize the black race into perpetual serfdom’ and we cannot wean ourselves out of that deliberate efforts to get us down in the C21st , then there is something terribly wrong with us.

Captain Effah Dartey used the Bible and history to support his argument that the black man is not cursed to my relief, except that his source of the argument, the Bible itself, was the beginning of our woes. Surely I know that millions of Africans will describe my position as sacrilegious and all that, but this is a view I have held since my secondary school days. Yes, I have a copy of Walter Rodney’s book, ‘How Europe Underdeveloped Africa’ in front of me as I write. What tools did the Europeans use to under develop Africa? War, religion and trade. If we are not sensible enough to wean ourselves from internal wars financed externally, if we decide to sell our raw natural resources to Europeans at prohibitively cheaper prices and use those monies to import Brazilian hair and canned foods and alcoholic beverages from the Shopping Malls and the Super Markets built by them, then we have no course to continue to complain.

How many days in a week and how many hours in a week do we spend worshiping God in the hope of going to Heaven whose geographical location we do not know, while our surroundings and environments get filthier because of our reckless activities and still expect others, black people of course, to come and clean them for us. Are we thinking right? We may not be cursed, Captain, but we are either too lazy to work or too lazy to think. We cannot blame anybody at this stage.

Let anyone dispassionately analyze what is happening in this country today in the name of the Bible. Charlattans, criminals and school dropouts have resorted to the use of the Bible to extort and defraud the desperate poor in our societies, by blaming their friends and relations for their woes. The terrible effect on our personal economies and societies as well as the national economy and the broader society is that we are not working hard enough to make money, even where we do, we do not save and generate capital. We only subsidize the expensive lifestyles of the so-called men of God.

Captain, I hope you are aware of some of these men of God with the Bible, flaunt their wealth and riches while the congregants who create those wealth for them live in penury and still blame governments for their woes or at best hope to enjoy in the Heaven whose position on the globe they do not know.

Captain, I was born into a very poor family, both immediate and extended. I was the first son of my mother and her second child. She was the first child of my grandparents and did not have a male sibling for me to have benefitted from the traditional ‘wofa support’ in the Akan society. I happened to be the first child of my father, nowhere to look up to for support in the midst of the poverty.

My only strength as I was growing up was that my brains worked in school and assured myself that I would at least have a secondary school education. My cardinal principles of hard work, discipline, honesty and sacrifices were founded from an article I read in 1972 in the ‘Weekly Spectator’ when I was in Middle School Form two. And it said ‘It is not a shame to be born poor, but it amounts to a crime to accept poverty as an irreversible condition of life’.  

I did not attend your Achimota School some, because I could not have had the monies to transport me to the school from where I resided even though all the marks I obtained in the 3 Common Entrance Exams I passed from 1972, 73 and 74 could have given me a place in that school. I am sure my grandparents and my parents and their contemporaries were all victims of ‘How Europe Underdeveloped Africa’ including Ghana, but I did not accept my conditions as a child because of what Europe did to us. I was so angry that even if I had an alternative to their education, perhaps, I would have chosen the other. But I decided not to choose one of the very tools used to enslave us, the Bible.

Captain, I am sure you might have heard and read about Haiti, it shares a border with the Dominican Republic somewhere in the Americas. The Haitians are blacks and extremely religious but among the poorest black people in the world. Their supplications to God have not changed their conditions of life. The hard work of their neighbours has made them relatively better. ‘Look at the continent we live in, Africa; the greatest most richly endowed soil mass on earth’, your words. You should have added and yet very hungry. Except that it is still the work of Europe 62 years after our independence, politically.

Zimbabwe is on the verge of famine today, it used to be the food basket of Southern Africa, Illiteracy in Nigeria is phenomenon, 25 million of their citizens suffer one form of disability or the other in spite of their wealth, we have mismanaged all the industries we built after independence, those surviving are in the hands of Europeans or Chinese, our first class hotels, Catering Rest Houses across the Regions are all gone. The President just this week had cause to suspend the operations of Ghana Manganese Company Limited which we sold off some years back for acts detrimental to our national interest.

Who are we? Some huge industrial and commercial entities of the State which used to employ hundreds of people in this country were sold to Churches, to produce what? To preach the word of God and assure the congregation that they can remain poor but when they die, they will enjoy cheese and butter breakfast in a certain Heaven. However, the men of God take money from the people listening to the word of God to buy their cheese and butter from the European Shopping Malls while on earth.

The black man is not cursed, but is a lazy thinker.

Daavi, give me my three tots of mahogany bitters.

From Kwesi Biney