I am not too sure whether Major Kofi Baah Bentum (retired) was my junior in the Army, but even so, since he retired as a major, let me, Captain, salute him – sir!!! All correct!!!
I read your piece, above titled, on Page 7 issue of the Tuesday 6th August 2019 edition of the Daily Graphic. Your question is very sad: WHERE DID WE GO WRONG?
As I was reading your article, my mind went back to 1976. I was then a third year law student at the University of Ghana, Legon, and we attended a public lecture at the Auditorium of the School of Administration.
The Guest Speaker was the former Nigerian Afro-beat King, diminutive fair colored FELA RANSOME KUTI – he spoke to the packed to capacity crowd for 4 hours!!! His constant theme, for which he kept coming back every 10 minutes, was “If You Don’t Know Where You Are Coming from You Will Never Know Where You Are Going……..”
Major, did you say “Where did we go wrong?” “Who are the “We” in the first place? I bet there will be an earthquake if we try to answer this question.
Are we Akans? Sorry – are we Akwamus? Or Akuapims? Or Fantes? Are we Akyems or Asantes or? Are we Bonos or Ahantas? Are we Gas or Ewes? Guans or Gonja? Are we Dagombas or Kusasis? Mamprusis or Walas? Who Are “We”???
For purposes of this article, let us agree that we are GOLD COASTERS later became GHANAIANS… very well. We are together as a “nation” called GHANA.
The most powerful civilization that flourished in the West Coast of Africa particularly in the 17th and 18th Centuries was the ASANTE Kingdom. According to history, King Opoku Ware I was a conquering General, almost of Napoleonic and Caesarian standards. At the time of his death in 1750 Asante’ nation or Asante Empire was twice the size of present day Ghana.
The Asante Empire lost its fighting glory down to the Yaa Asantewaa War of 1900 when the British Empire annexed it as a “colony” part of their Coastal hegemony; then the so-called “Northern Protectorate” plus the referendum of 1956 which added “British Togoland” collectively to become GOLD COAST emerging to GHANA.
So, Major, at the birth of GHANA in 1957 we were a hodgepodge of several amorphous nationalities, all brought together under the British flag, exchanged for GHANA.
We started our national journey in 1957 not too sure of what dress to wear: black suits like English gentlemen or Kente cloths like Asante royals or smock like Dagombas? What language should we speak – Twi, Ga, Ewe, Hausa or what?
Every historian will tell you that Kings went to war for the sole purpose of plunder… the legendary Mongol King Jenhis Khan is quoted as saying: “the greatest pleasure in life is to conquer your enemies, seize their horses and goods and hear the women cry…”
In the modern world, which is post Second World War, you cannot send troops to “conquer your enemies” but you can through innocuous institutions like “World Bank” “International Monetary Fund” and other sweet named bodies pull vicious wires to control trade and the flow of goods and services.
The first tool is Language. Most French speaking youth from Africa end up in Paris and France. Most English speaking youth from Africa end up in UK and America. Most Portuguese speaking youth end up in Portugal, like DR Congo youth in Belgium, others in Spain….
Through language our culture is corrupted in favour of what happens over there, so much so that look at me, a typical Akwamu indigene, native of Jinjini in Bono Region, thinking in English, writing in English, speaking English….
After language comes Education – how do we train our youth? How should we train our children? To become office clerks??? Or to become thinkers?
Which Asante educated child can rattle offhand all the past Kings of Asante? Twum and Antwi, Obiri Yeboah, Osei Tutu I, Opoku Ware I… I need Google to help me.
After education comes the Economy. We are being preserved as Consumers for their manufactured goods. They determine how much to pay for our raw materials, and they also determine how much we should pay for their manufactured goods. Major, you are asking “where did we go wrong?
Have we EVEN started going somewhere?
Look at the very tragic case of PANAFEST……………..
In 1990, Efua Sutherland and Dr Mohammed Iba Ben Abdullah collaborated to introduce a maiden festival: PAN AFRICAN FESTIVAL OF HISTORICAL THEATRE. Both of them were playwrights and they wanted to glorify African heroes.
They commissioned a national competition of historical theatre plays, and my script NANA ADINKRA won second prize. The organizers produced a TRIAL PANAFEST at Cape Coast Castle in November 1991 and I took my drama group Theatre Mirrors to go and perform NANA ADINKRA on 24th November 1991.
Trial PANAFEST was one week long of just historical plays. Ghana Dance Ensemble began on Friday and Legon Abibigorommo played on Saturday. These two productions were so good that reader, Sunday night was EXPLOSIVE at Cape Coast Castle.
I will never forget that night till death. As leader of the group, I leisured about in town until 6pm when I got to the entrance to Cape Coast Castle – reader, it was JAMMED!! It took three policemen 15 minutes to escort me through the crowd to enter the Castle, to see EVERY SPACE occupied by spectators… all, to watch the historical theatre.
Instead of building on the achievement of PANAFEST, the organizers have diluted it so much that the HISTORICAL THEATRE content has long disappeared. PANAFEST, these past twenty years is now an annual ritual of khebab eating, “colloquium” “diaspora homecoming” drumming and dancing…oh, Major, WHERE DID WE GO WRONG?
Can you ask that question again?
Rejoinder by Captain Nkrabeah Effah-Dartey (Retired)