I promised to return to the topic. I hope it gave you food for thought. I also hope your reading of the second installment follows seamlessly from “Leave Tsatsu Tsikata Alone: l.”
And here is where I start off: Why didn’t he—the accounting-turned-law professor—quote from Bruce Wright’s Black Robes, White Justice, Randall Robinson’s The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks, Douglass Blackmon’s Slavery By Another Name: The Re-enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War ll, Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, Molefi Kete Asante’s Erasing Racism: The Survival of the American Nation, Gloria J. Browne-Marshall’s Race, Law and American Society: 1607-Present and The US Constitution: An African American Context, and Derick Bell’s Race, Racism, & American Law, And We Are Not Saved: The Elusive Quest for Racial Justice, and Faces At The Bottom of the Wall: The Permanent of Racism?
Not surprisingly, I didn’t even see a quotation or epigram attributed to Justice Thurgood Marshall, the first African American Supreme Court jurist, who also contributed to Ghana’s first constitution. It’s always the wisdom of dead white men and Asians with some of our leading scholars! Why the afore-mentioned list? I give this list to show that African people have a lot to offer as far as resolving their problems are concerned. The list also goes to show that America is not a social, political, and judicial land of “milk and honey” for its African American citizens as the accounting-turned-law professor made it seem! In other words, why impose one “imperfect” system upon another “imperfect” system? This is not to say that Africa and Africans cannot appropriate useful ideas from foreign cultures, but to say that if, indeed, we must do so, then it has to be done in creatively critical contexts! And where do we draw the line?
Let’s return to the a-cultural professor: He generously quoted from sitting Indian jurists as well as from Indian cases with deep precedential value to the petition. That is fine. But why did he leave out the salient facts: That it takes five years, on average, to acquire a passport in India due to the high corruptibility of Indian officials; that a girl/woman is raped every 23 minutes and that most of the rapists are not brought to book, let alone charged and sentenced for the crime; that Indian married women who fail to pay dowries to their husbands are kept under stiff domestic peonage and later subjected to “bride burning,” and that most of the men involved go scot-free? He quoted Mahatma Gandhi but failed to inform us that Gandhi refused to ride on the same bus with Black South Africans or that he represented British interest against South African Indians. He quoted Gandhian non-violence but didn’t tell us he had read Norman Finkelstein’s What Gandhi Says: About Nonviolence, Resistance and Courage! Why didn’t he tell us anything about the culture of impunity in India? Why didn’t he also tell us what Indian jurisprudence is specifically doing to address inequities in the caste system and the miserable plight of Dalits? Finally, he quoted Rudyard Kipling’s “The White Man’s Burden” but ignored Edward D. Morel’s “The Black Man’s Burden.” Why didn’t he tell us about Mark R. Levin’s Men in Black: How the Supreme Court is Destroying America? Or about America’s Rockefeller laws or the Voting Rights laws?
Here is the dilemma: Why don’t we Africans extend the cultural glare of reverence to our intelligent men and women: Ama Mazama, Marcus Garvey, Yaa Asantewaa, Kwame Nkrumah, Sojourner Truth, WEB Du Bois, Martin Luther King, Jr., Fela Kuti, Malcolm X, Ama Ata Aidoo, Peter Tosh, Ella Baker, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Amilcar Cabral, Fannie Lou Hamer, Winnie Mandela, Rosa Parks, Patrice Lumumba, Sirleaf Johnson, Wole Soyinka, Dorothy Height, Steve Biko, Leymah Gbowee, Dedan Kimathi, Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings, Chinua Achebe, Dambisa Moyo, Desmond Tutu, Oprah Winfrey, Molefi Kete Asante, Ana Yenenga, Walter Sisulu, Bob Marley,, Rita Marley, Julius Nyerere, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Abdias do Nascimento, Walter Rodney, Cheikh Anta Diop, Theophile Obenga, Jean Aristide, George Alfred Grant, Adu Boahen, Kofi Awoonor, Aryee Kwei Armah, Yosef Ben-Jochannan, Randall Robinson, Louis Farrakhan, Paul Bogle, Ivan Van Sertima, Toussaint L’Ouveture…Why do we give preference to Western thoughts at the expense of African wisdom? To illustrate my point, let me quote a Ghanaweb feature writer (See Kwadwo Cristo’s “Ayikoi Otoo, Stop Sensationalizing The Law of Contempt”)
Before I sing off, I want to leave the Ayikoi Otoos of Ghana these words by Mr. Allan Dershowitz, a Harvard Law Professor of international repute, delivered immediately after the controversial Bush v Gore decision: “the decision in the Florida election case may be ranked as the simple most corrupt decision in Supreme Court history because it is the only one that I know of where the majority justices decided as the they did because of the personal identity and political affiliation of the litigants. This is cheating and a violation of the judicial oath.
Do you identify any peculiarity with this quote? Not really. In my opinion, it is one of the best or apposite referential legal snippets sharing a useful situational-theoretical parallel with Ghana’s current post-verdict brouhaha. But does the label “international repute” actually fit the public intellectuality or profile of Allan Dershowitz? I bet not, if one knows the facts. Dershowitz is a staunch supporter of the State of Israel. He’s also sympathetic to Zionism. And finally, he’s Jewish. But would he agree to the expansion of democratic and human rights to Palestinians? No, a big one at that. Let’s just say—for the sake of argument—that if Bush were the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and Gore the State of Israel, do we think Dershowitz would have made the comment he made above? Again, no. Dershowitz had debated any intellectual, Jewish and Gentile, who had dared spoken for the Palestinian or questioned Israeli mistreatment of Palestinians. MIT’s Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein—author of the bestselling The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering—are two of his ideological enemies, though both are also Jews. In fact, many in the know believe that DePaul University’s refusal to extend pedagogical or professorial benefits of tenure to Prof. Norman Finkelstein had to with the pressure Prof. Dershowitz put on the school. Why did I bring this up? The politics of “double standard.” Why must we internationalize Dershowitz’s reputation when millions of Muslims and Arabs in the international community don’t subscribe to his partisan geopolitics? Cristo’s reproachful equation is even more telling: Many black Ayikoi Otoos versus one white Allan Dershowitz!
Let’s move on: Are we not proud of our nation’s ethnic and cultural diversity? Are we not proud that NASA’s rocket scientist Ave Kludze is Ewe? That NASA’s robotic engineer Ashitey Trebi-Ollenu is Ga or Ga-Adangbe? That former two-time WBC super featherweight champion and former WBC featherweight champion Azumah Nelson and former WBA welterweight champion Ike “Bazooka” Quartey are Gas? That the virtuoso traditional instrumentalist Koo Nimo is an Asante? That the writer and poet Kofi Awooner is Ewe? That the multilingual writer Aryee Kwei Armah is Ga? That the world-famous feminist writer Ama Ata Aidoo is Fante? That President John Dramani Mahatma is a Gonja? That the world-famous architect David Adjaye—whose works include the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo, the Skolkovo Moscow School of Management, the Denver’s Museum of Contemporary Art, and the National Museum of African American History and Culture (one of a few architects selected to design the museum) is Ghanaian? That the world-famous social and political activist (expert on “female genital circumcision”) Efua Dorkenoo is a Fante? That Mohammed Ibn Chambas, an international jurist, diplomat and scholar, is from the North (Bimbilla)? That the seasoned actor Kofi Adorlolo is Ewe? That Dr. Hilla Limann, a political scientist and constitutional lawyer, came from the Upper West Region? That Prof. Francis Allotey, the math prodigy, and Patrick Awuah, Jr., Herman Chinery-Hesse, Yaw Nyarko, Dotsevi Yao Sogah, Oheneba Boachie, and Fred Swaniker are Ghanaians?
Let’s look at these beautiful and talented actresses and their corresponding ethnicities:
(1) Ga—Joselyn Dumas, Nikki Samonas, and Naa Ashorkor Mensah-Doku
(2) Asanti—Jackie Appiah, Nana Ama McBrown, Ama Konadu Abebrese
(3) Fanti—Yvonne Nelson, Lydia Forson, Martha Ankomah
(4) Ewe—Luckie Emefa Lawson, Beverly Afaglo, Zynell Lydia Zuh
(5) Hausa—Sermira Adams, Salma Mumin
Can anyone tell me if these women do not count among the world’s most beautiful and talented actresses? Who says ethnic diversity do not add to Ghana’s national beauty? Which testosterone-pumped Ghanaian male in his right mind wouldn’t want to ask the hand of any of these women in marriage? Or to ask for a date with any of these women? Tell me! Will we take a page from Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth and stop repeating the same mistakes our colonizers committed against us—what I shall call Eurocentric tribalism or “divide and rule”? Are we willing to step into the “unequal leg length” shoes of Tambu’s confused psychology, as Tsitsi Dangarembga’s Nervous Condition eloquently describes?
Is political and cultural reversion to neocolonial manumission what the new Africa wants? Are our politicians prepared to read Molefi Kete Asante’s Afrocentricity: The Theory of Social Change? Are our psycho-culturally dislocated scholars ready to read Tom Burrell’s Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority? Isn’t it true that African culture is both sufficiently and internally self-regulating? What justification does Adofo Rockson offer to support his claim that we outsource the adjudication of our national cases to the West? Is he waiting for Ama Mazama’s Africa in the 21st Century: Toward a New Future to tell him that not every product of the white man’s imagination is helpful, or even useful?
Didn’t we model our constitution after Western prototypes? And didn’t we include the concept of “equality” in it? If so, why then are our leaders crying foul, claiming the youth of today are disrespectful? Doesn’t our Western-derived constitution make the elder and the youth “equal”? Who is older than whom—the youth or the elder? Why don’t our all-knowing Western-trained legal scholars tell us “equality” is Orwellian for Jim-Crowism or separatism in most places in America? Why don’t they also tell us the French national motto—Liberté, égalité, fraternité—onetime meant the enslavement of millions of Africans?
Back to Mr. Tsatsu Tsikata. Recalling why many Ghanaweb readers threw pebbles of provocative ethnic slurs at Mr. Tsatsu Tsikata, I wrote back to Dr. Bokor setting the record straight:
I can say on authority that NPP’s cacophonous attack on Mr. Tsikata will not reverse the verdict. In the meantime, Mr. Tsikata, a Ewe, will go down in history as one of Ghana’s, in fact, of Africa’s greatest legal minds. The fact that his towering intellect tore the petitioners’ “solid case” into irrecoverable smithereens is more than what the “superior” Akans, to which I belong, bargained for. Why don’t we celebrate the man’s genius as a people? Are we not aware that the indiscriminate attacks we are leveling against the man takes the shine off our democracy. As for me, an Akan and Afrocentrist, I take great pride in one of our national assets, which, in this case, Mr. Tsatsu Tsikata, truly, is. His ethnicity notwithstanding, Mr. Tsikata’s brilliant performance calls for memorialization in the public consciousness.
But the politico-scientific actualities of law (or jurisprudence) are no respecter of ethnicity, race, nationality, or religion. The actualities are contextually more of a functional question of brain power and dignity. It does appear to me that Mr. Tsikata has both. It also explains why, right from the beginning of the hearing of the case, the petitioners’ mounted a fierce public propaganda against his person and his legal representation of President Mahatma (I mean the inclusion of the NDC). Meanwhile, bringing up the archeology of the tramped-up charges upon which ex-President Kufuor politically “convicted” him failed to do the trick, either. Neither did subjecting him to intense public calumny fail to bend the compass of the man’s confidence and intellect in their direction. Mr. Tsikata’s contribution to Ghana is considerable. According to Mr. Sam Jonah, the Executive Chairman of Jonah Capital and ex-President of AngloGold Ashanti, says Ghana owes its oil industry primarily to the ingenuity of Mr. Tsikaka. Let us, therefore, celebrate Mr. Tsatsu Tsikata as we celebrate Cheikh Anta Diop and Kwame Nkrumah.
In fine, I wrote:
Tsatsu’s mind is akin to Midas touch. And the actualities of his “superior” intellectual gifts are too slippery for the tactile enjoyment of his enemies. Let the prophet be honored and respected in his own land! What do we as a people want others to see us: As the historians of the lions or the hunter?
My parting words to you all goes like this: Will you agree with me—as Aryee Kwei Armah’s titular book states—that The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born!