Thursday, June 17, 2010

Slap me and call me Yaa Papabi! A Guest blogger speaks wise words ...

Today's posting is a guest blogpost.
It's written by a friend, Graham Knight. (Read more of Graham's work on ).
I first met Graham in 2006, at a fair at the Lincoln Community School at an artist friend's (Kagyah, Peter) booth, and then, got to meet him more intimately at same friend's home for a Christmas get-together.
First thing that amazed me about Graham was learning that he had moved over here permanently from his native UK (whilst some Ghanaians are desperately moving over to the UK!); but over the years, he has fascinated me more with his straight-forward opinions on life, religion, politics, and the world; his love for music, his personal philosophies, and the very unique set of characteristics which make him solely ... Graham Knight!
I went over to his blog for my once-in-a-while visit, and fell in love with this blog posting (find below). If you read it (especially as an African) ... and you do not feel the punch, you need to go back and re-examine your values.
For me, a passionate Ghanaian and zealous African who sees value in my home and my people even whilst they do not (for laziness' and ignorance's sake), I was moved to tears that Graham, a native Briton, now turned indigenous Ghanaian, by his veritable love for Ghana & Africa - had found the right words to capture what none of us has been able to capture for ourselves; moved to tears, that he had the vim, to declare specifically what we need to do for ourselves, where we were not bold enough to declare.
I'm not sorry that he did ... but I will be, if it all goes to nought.
So once again, I ask you ... PLEASE read ... and propagate. Propagate. Pass on. Practice. Be it.
Graham Knight believes there is a battle of worldviews taking place and that it’s time for Africa to stand up and fight.
"The African peasant, who for thousands of years has lived according to the seasons, whose life ideal was to be in harmony with nature, only knew the eternal renewal of time ... In this imaginary world, where everything starts over and over again, there is room neither for human endeavour, nor for the idea of progress."
Nicholas Sarkozy, Sengal 2007
In 2007, the French President, Sarkozy, made comments about Africa which were called racist. I felt the condemnation of racism missed the point and masked something far more insidious; an ideological battle to impose one worldview, one way of seeing and understanding the world and, ultimately, one culture and one market. Sarkozy’s assertion that the circular view of time is “imaginary” is but an attempt to impose his culture’s way of life on everyone else. Africans have not only failed to defend their position but they have immediately submitted to the other side.
For those who live in Africa there are things that are obviously true about life that to outsiders seem false. The limited horizons of Sarkozy’s thinking (and those like him) make it impossible for him to envision that any other world exists outside of that created by the French Enlightenment and Revolution. The failed project of the French Revolution as the exporter of ‘universal liberation’ was taken over by the USA and it is perhaps no accident that Sarkozy forged an alliance with Bush. It is now America and its allies that are attempting to impose their civilisation on the rest of the world. They want to export their version of ‘democracy’ and their ‘universal values’ and definition of ‘human rights’. The failure of Africa to realise the fundamentally different worldview of the West, with its notions of ‘progress’ and ‘development’, has allowed Africa to voluntarily accept this new form of colonialism.
The West sees time in a linear way. It believes it has a starting point and continues in a straight line for eternity. It is the same outlook that influences the idea that traditional societies are primitive and immature: that moving further down a fictitious road, from tribal societies to ‘developed’ ones, is a measure of ‘progress’. Many Africans have accepted this view, most uncritically, and so it follows that they see themselves as ‘backward’ and ‘un-advanced’. Unsurprisingly, those African cultures that have successfully avoided Western education have refused to accept that their way of life is inferior. We continue to see cases brought against African governments by nomadic tribes who simply do not want to change the way they live their lives.
The dangerous situation for Africa is that the world is being shaped by those influenced by the ideals and worldview of the French Enlightenment and Revolution. It is a world, perhaps, unsuited to Africa but demands that Africa give up is African worldview, if it is to survive in it. It is a difficult dilemma.
The first stage to finding a way forward is for Africa to regain confidence in herself. Africans have to rediscover their greatness and uniqueness not in order to feel superior but in order to meet the West as equals. They need to understand the strengths of their worldview and culture and to be more forceful about propagating its worth. They need to challenge Western notions of progress and development and the economic system that underlies it. They need to show how, amongst other things, their way of living is more sustainable and puts less strain on resources and how the extended family provides economic and emotional security. All these advantages make Africa more developed not less.
It is time for Africa to challenge and redefine the terms of the debate. If Africa is ever to take its place in the world, it is not by taking on Western concepts. Rather, it has to assert an African perspective and consciousness in order to make informed decisions about which direction it wishes to go.
*(Next blog post ... one-on-one with Dr. John Afari Idan - best Biowaste Expert in Africa, and a Ghanaian. I will be talking with him about the future and transformation of our several, unmanaged, municipal disease-breeding dumpsites into full-scale Sorting, Recycling, Biogas-generating centres. I believe this is possible, and will ask him how we can make it happen. Stay tuned for that posting.)


  1. "They need to show how, amongst other things, their way of living is more sustainable and puts less strain on resources and how the extended family provides economic and emotional security. All these advantages make Africa more developed not less."
    A 'Brutal' (fantastic) point! But unfortunately, that same hyper-individualism and Western aspect of family life, has already dug roots in our culture, and transformed schools into ludicrously expensive child-care centres, that most parents hope will do their work, that of the extended family circle, and even go as far as make morally and ethically good men and women out of their children ... while they spend all their waking hours working hard and making large salaries, which will ensure that their hyper-individualism is kept intact.
    Value Africa, and know WHAT needs changing, and what needs ENHANCING!

  2. Thank you for this post - I want to copy it and take with me for people to read as I visit in Canada and get asked questions "why is Africa behind?" which are based on that same Western mentality of superiority which has made no effort to learn and understand Africa. And then when I return to Ghana I want to show it to those Ghanaians who are rushing to leave the country for what they perceive to be greener pastures, or those who are already on the Western treadmill that takes them yet further away from all that is valuable in African tradition.

  3. Thank you too, Nana. And bigger thanks to Graham, who stood up for our rights. Opened my eyes, it did!
    Take it with you, and let them know ... (lest we forget!)

  4. Thanks so much for posting this, Golda. Confidence, is all we lack. Methinks the way to inspire people to believe in themselves is to just give them a mirror that shows them all the things they do well, and all the things they do right. It would be to show them how inherently expressive they are. How creative they are. How wise their ancestors were. How lovely their way of dress. How delicious their food. How just plain awesome it is to be them. Sadly a lot of the visions and the lessons we get from early on tell us the opposite. They tell us that God, who has all wisdom and knowledge is white. That beauty means fair skin and silky hair. That all knowlege comes from books. That work is only valuable if you're paid a lot of money to do it. This is happening all around us. To change it, we need a bigger force that asserts the opposite. Oh my...this has got me going. Maybe I should do an entire blog post on it. lol.

  5. Esi, please do blog about it! It's a big issue that transcends all levels and interest-categorizations ... ie the different value of the African, compared to other continents.

    You have said it well, "we need a bigger force that asserts the opposite."
    The problem is what force?, how to identify it as that?, and how to get it up and 'changing' ...
    Madiba Mandela is one of the internal African forces Africans genuinely look up to, respect, listen to
    ... I hope no-one has to suffer, go to prison for 27 years, and come out for a little more suffering AGAIN, before they will be as big a force to change us, or before we believe in them and listen to them! We are so thick-headed!
    Just saying ...
    So let's do this!

  6. I have an additional view on this, that is rarely brought up.
    Here's an example to piant a picture of that view.
    If I'm in an abusive relationship, I'd welcome encouragement from everyone to boost me out of that abusive situation.
    BUT there are some people whose encouragement would be of less value because they could do better than encourage me. My abuser encouraging me would be of little value. My abuser's son or brother or sister's encouragement will be of little value. Especially when they know how that abuse started and its everyday toll on me.
    They could do better by starting a cause to end the abuse.
    Keep in mind that whilst the abuse is going on, I'm unable to solely focus on self development because I have the abuse that's pulling me down to deal with as well.

    We should continue to educate each other on ways to shed the burdens that impede our development.
    If foreigners find our plight painful to watch, I'd like to see more action from them in terms of rallying together to tell their home governments and institutions to cut the abuse.
    They will listen to their citizens and taxpayers. They will not listen to Africans that are financially indebted to them.
    Anyway we can help further that cause, we will.
    We can all do this together but we need to work where we will be most effective in reaching that goal of restoring the African's self-value.


  7. So where do we start from? And how do we go about it? Perhaps we should all meet up sometime, and chew seriously over how to start such a 'campaign'.

    And Mike, much as I understand why u make the point about the foreigners, do you really think we should even leave some space for them to fit in a solution, in this entire 'equation'?
    I think only a rare few will genuinely put effort into helping, like Graham, like Nana ... but the starting push-off, the sustenance of its momentum, the climaxing and successful landing ... that will have to be ALL us, if it should really work.
    Please inbox me your number, and let's see if all interested people here, and off this blog, will like to meet online/physically ... now and then to see how best to start this changing process.

  8. Mike - I am apparently your abuser, the one whose encouragement you do not require.

    As your abuser I wonder why you think I would do anything to help you or listen to your call for action. It seems the little I have done is worthless. Why should I continue to do any more?

    According to you, I find your plight painful to watch. Why do you think an abuser would care what you feel?

    So you are right - no one will listen to financially indebted countries which have nothing to offer.

    As an abused person you obviously cannot focus on your self-development. So you cannot help yourself and an abuser would not help you either.

    It seems we are back in nowhere land. We have polarised ourselves into paralysis.

  9. Golda, this dialogue we are having now is the start. Next is to empower each other. Wake each other up. You teach one person, I teach another, they teach others. Because as you said, we ALL need to be involved in this push. As we enlighten & remind our people of our worth, one by one, we will help ourselves develop our country and make it a better place for us.
    Oh yes, there are some non-Africans that will honestly, genuinely step up to help. In my picture, there is room at the table for them to sit and contribute but it is very little room for the carefully selected few. Our hospitality & blind trust has gotten us burnt a good number of times. Can't keep going down that same wide road.

    Together, we can do a lot so I'm open to joining any group discussions that will move us forward.


  10. Thanks Mike!
    We are taking small steps now ... let's work on actualising all these suggestions into some positive current of change for Africa!

    Thanks too 'Hitman'!