Dear Unc’ Kwesi Yankah - RE:Dear Ace, are we celebrating independence this year?
Ace Anan Ankomah

Dear Unc’ Kwesi Yankah - RE:Dear Ace, are we celebrating independence this year?

Several years ago, you famously asked: ‘Inde when dence?’ Now, I think I have an answer: We at The Dilemma Of A [21st Century] Ghost: ‘Do we have Independence or are we In_dependence?’

The ‘eyes right’ (never left) marches are nice paah: music, colour, live TV, speeches that few listen to and fewer remember, some marchers collapsing on the regular, while my thoughts vacillate over the relevance or otherwise of the whole shebang.

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Colonialism’s shenanigans

But I need to show how the British colonialist introduced the Empire (pronounced ‘Empaa’) Day predecessor to Independence Day, while systematically dismantling our original traditional monarchies through trickery and war.

Related: Dear Ace, Are we celebrating independence this year? - Occasional Kwatriot Kwesi Yankah

Trickery?

Because there is nothing in the so-called ‘Bond of 1844,’ signed just 11 years after they abolished 400 years of slavery, by which the southern chiefs surrendered their political independence to the British.

Yet, for over a century, Britain hoodwinked the world, implementing what the Bond did not say.

Ten years later at the 1884-85 Berlin Conference, the ‘world powers’ donated us to Britain.

It took them another 17 years to annex Asante by blood and then declare the ‘Northern Territories’ a protectorate.

Then, in 1916 (with ex post facto League of Nations ratification), they annexed what they called ‘British Togoland,’ as a spoil of the First World War from Germany

So, in 1957, the British Parliament had to pass the Ghana Independence Act to, in one fell swoop

(i) AMALGAMATE the four territories into one ‘Gold Coast,’

(ii) PROCLAIM it as ‘part of Her Majesty’s dominions,’

(iii) RENAME it ‘under the name of Ghana,’ and

(iv) grant INDEPENDENCE thus: ‘as from March 6, 1957, Her Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom shall have no responsibility for the government of Ghana or any part thereof.’

Unc’ Kwesi, after Queen Victoria died in 1901, the colonialists introduced her May 24 birthday as ‘Empire Day,’ forcing school pupils to march in heat and dust to salute the Union Jack on the birthday of a dead monarch they had never met.

The pupils sang ‘Rule Brittania, Brittania rule the waves, Britons never, never, shall be slaves,’ and proclaimed ‘Brittania…shalt rise more dreadful from each foreign stroke,’ while ‘eyes right-ing’ stiff-standing ’salutees,’ representatives of the British monarchy.

Come 1957, our indigenous compatriots replaced the white monarchy.

Independence Day replaced Empire Day, but retained its trappings, trimmings, bells and whistles, especially the ‘eyes right’ towards indigenous stiff-standing salutees. For 66 years!

Governance sampling

Uncle, in those 66 years, we have sampled almost every conceivable governance form:

• 1957: Westminster.

•1960: Republican, one-party.

•1966: Liberation.

•1969: Continental Europe/Westminster.

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•1972: Redemption.

•1975: Supreme Military.

•1978: ‘Yes’ but ‘No’ Union Government.

•1978: Palace coup.

•1979: Revolution.

•1979: American.

•1981: Provisional National Defence.

•1992: American/Westminster.

While at it, we have also shed blood, swung between the ‘isms,’ and since 1966, gone to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for ‘Arrangements’ and ‘Facilities,’ on the average, every 3.35 years.

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Been there, done that, the citizens get the ugly T-shirt. Pending: a new IMF Facility where citizens get an uglier T-shirt with ‘IN_DEPENDENCE ‘R US,’ emblazoned in bright neon colours, plus a matching ‘haircut,’ i.e., forgoing substantial parts of investments in government securities.

Financially, IN_DEPENDENCE may prove pricier than INDEPENDENCE.

Unc’ Kwesi, there has been some progress, especially stable governance for 30 years.

Unprecedented. But as for the economy, its current alphabetical grade hasn’t been discovered yet.

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Our growth and development has been erratic and epileptic, while others are doing mind-blowing things: Vietnam, Chile, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, India, China, Morocco, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar.

We appear oblivious to not being in the game; we aren’t even at home watching the game on TV! Thus, while I’m grateful that Ghana has given me the miracle of a decent lifestyle, that being a miracle and not the norm, shows that we are IN_DEPENDENCE.

Ghosts

At 66, Ghana is not beyond aid, still depending on those who in 1957 proclaimed that they ‘shall have no responsibility for the government of Ghana or any part thereof,’ and probably to which Nkrumah famously responded that we are ‘capable of managing [our] own affairs.’

Unc’ Kwesi, you know how I love to sell Ghana.

When we discovered oil, my gushing irritated a Nigerian acquaintance who retorted, ‘Ghana? You only speak better English than all of us, and you aren’t Nigeria.

But please don’t repeat our mistakes.’

Recently, another said to me, ‘we have always known that Ghana is just stuffing, padding and packaging.’

Lost-mojo, egg-in-face, no clapbacks.

In groaning, I recalled the Akan dirge that loosely translates: ‘my lover’s illness sent me to pick a healing herb.

But because of my bad luck, an evil ghost (not a benevolent one) met me and snatched the herb.’ So, maybe evil herb-snatching ghosts have been turning every prospective good fortune into bad luck.

But Uncle, I am probably tired of my own groans and moans over imagined hard luck, street marches (one-day highs that dissipate when everyone goes home), writing letters, suing, ‘working like a bull and paying my taxes,’ or even praying for Ghana.

Maybe good/bad luck and benevolent/evil ghosts koraa are tired of us.

Methinks ‘the fault… is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.’

Thus, instead of Ghanaians living our name as ‘brave warriors’ holding the feet of elected servants to the fire, we have bowed at those feet, washed them with our tears, kissed them dry with our lips, anointed them with alabaster-boxed expensive oil, and then delivered the pleasure of foot massages for good measure.

And as minions and subordinates, we blame not ourselves, but alleged ghosts for us being IN_DEPENDENCE to the former colonialists on the macro, and their indigenous replacements on the micro.

Celebrate, we must

But we can neither mask our truth under marches nor ignore March 6 and its meaning.

And it is probably a good thing to move the event around the country.

Make it more inclusive in several ways, including the benefit of ‘infrastructure’: Because our presidents do not drive on bad roads, the roads from Jubilee House to the venues might get paved.

And every building to be visited might have the benefit of the mixed smell of fresh paint and fresh detergent. Multiply that by 16 regions and 216 districts, and then wait for your turn.

So, let’s do the marches, motorcades, feasts, et every usual cetera.

And, Unc’ Kwesi, I strongly support your call for new placards:

STOP GALAMSEY

STOP CORRUPTION

STOP PAYING BRIBES

STOP LITTERING

STOP DODGING TAXES

FIRE SERVICE: DON’T WAIT FOR A FIRE TO FILL YOUR TANKS

I will hold one: WE’VE MET THE EVIL GHOST – AND HE IS US

Happy IN_DEPENDENCE DAY in advance!

They call me Ace.
­
PS: And, oh, we take our holidays seriously paah.

By law, you will pay a fine and/or go to jail for up to three months if we catch you engaging in any business on a public holiday, except selling food, grocery, alcohol or medicine, operating restaurants or hotels, or providing public services (water, electricity, hospitals, fire service, fuel, telecommunications, public transport etc.)

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