KB Asante: Voice From Afar column
How long should authority be unconcerned - A disparagement of the African character?
For years, our forebears laboured abroad as slaves to help build metropolis of learning, culture and enterprise in distant lands. For years, we were made to believe that colonisation was necessary for our human development and capacity to rule ourselves.
For years, the groundswell of opposition to the obnoxious policies gathered momentum. Eventually, the people threw off colonial rule and assumed their God-given right to govern themselves.
Leadership fell on Kwame Nkrumah who recognised that the mental cobwebs of inferiority and dependency must be swept away if self-confidence and the capacity to build the future were to flourish. Kwame Nkrumah realised that Africans could not flourish half-free, half-slaves. He recognised that the independence of Ghana could not be of much meaning when most of the people of Africa were under foreign subjugation.
Unfortunately, quite a few of our leaders do not appreciate this view. Many Ghanaians of little understanding asked whether Nkrumah did not throw Ghanaian resources away by helping other subjugated African countries. The same short-sighted people do not favour African unity and are happy about its apparent collapse. But even the short-sighted must be aware that the fight for the equality of Africans within the Comity of Nations is not yet won.
On the other hand, attitudes seem to question the equality of Africans or black people with the fair skinned. The young may not appreciate this, but in Nkrumah’s time and a few years after, we were much more respected than now. That was why I wrote last week about my pleasure when the President asked the delegation which went to China recently not to beg but to negotiate with the Chinese as equals.
Our economic situation has deepened the inferiority and dependency complex. We regard those who want to do business or invest in Ghana as donors of manna from Heaven. The behaviour of some of our leaders makes visitors and foreigners feel superior and they treat us as inferior beings. Even the British, who should know us better, seem to regard us as pariahs who should be kept away from their country. Anyone who has tried to get a visa to the United Kingdom (UK) should know this.
I applied for a UK visa on June 28. As I had an appointment to keep, I paid to walk in for an interview without appointment. After all this, I have not got my passport or visa back. Time was when I could send my passport to the British High Commission and get it back same day with a visa stamp. This was the courtesy extended to a former High Commissioner to the United Kingdom and a former Minister of the Republic of Ghana. But things have changed and perhaps a 90-year old Ghanaian would like to spirit away to the UK to run away from economic difficulties. Worse still, he might be a terrorist!
Our Government should take note of the behaviour of “friends” and development parties and do to them as they do to us. In diplomacy there is no other action. In trade development and financial matters, we need no fair wind partners but business associates.
Ghanaians may abuse their office but when caught, we should deal with them appropriately to safeguard the privilege of the people. Meanwhile, we should recognise the changing scenes and develop mutually beneficial relations with the Chinese as we maintain old acquaintances who respect us.