One of the biggest changes affecting the people of planet Earth this year is the #BlackLivesMatter movement. It’s one of the things I have not really had the opportunity to speak about because almost everything that needs to be said about it has been said.
I agree that the black race has been cruelly and unfairly exploited for centuries and it is time it stopped. That is why this movement is so important.
But there is something else that needs to happen in order for black people to really be treated as equals by all other races, and if we don’t deal with that thing, it won’t matter how many white people get the message and start treating us like humans -we will still never be equal. Let me explain.
In 2016, as part of the improvements to Terminal 2 at Kotoka, a new arrival corridor was created with a sliding door at the end. All the people arriving from all over the world poured out of these doors all day and all night, into the open Ghanaian air, where friends and loved ones awaited them eagerly behind the crowd control barriers.
The traffic through these doors are meant to be one-way, with people coming out of the doors, and nobody going back in. There’s a security guard on hand to prevent anyone from the outside traveling the wrong way through the doors.
One Sunday night a few years ago, I was one of the eager family members, standing on my feet for over two hours, waiting for Fiifi’s delayed flight to finally spit him out of the sliding doors, and into my arms. While I stood there, eagerly shuffling from one foot to the other, I noticed a white man in a t-shirt, shorts and sandals.
He came out of the doors with his trolley, and after about 5 metres, he stopped, as if he had forgotten something. So he turned his rather fully laden trolley and returned through the double doors before they could shut again.
Literally fifteen seconds later, the same thing happened, except this time, it was a Ghanaian traveller. He had an equally laden trolley, he travelled an equally short distance before remembering something and turning around. But this time, he didn’t make it back through the double doors, because the security guard blocked his path with a gruff “no entry”.
The traveller couldn’t believe his ears. He had just seen the security guard let the other traveller through under identical circumstances. Why was he being treated differently? The guard’s response was, “are you him?”
I must confess, at this point, I was tempted to intervene. What utter injustice! Rules are rules, and ought to apply equally to everyone. But i was even more confused by the fact that, having decided to be discriminatory, the Ghanaian security guard was doing so against his fellow Ghanaian traveller!
So what was it? Was it that he was afraid of the white guy? Was he showing the fabled “Ghanaian Hospitality?” If so, was the Ghanaian traveller not deserving of the same hospitality? Why do so many of us consider people of other races to be superior to us?
I know some of you will have some long philosophical explanation of the after-effects of slavery etc, but seriously, is there anyone alive today who was subjected to slavery? And if this is an attitude that we have inherited from our slave forefathers, then why?
Why are we passing on a slave mentality from generation to generation? I certainly do not consider myself inferior to any other human, so i will not be passing that state of mind on to my son. If i do, it will be MY fault that my son thinks like a slave, not the fault of our colonial masters.
Hundreds of years ago, our ancestors sold their own kind to be walked out of the Gate of No Return at Cape Coast Castle. They were never seen again. Today, while the descendants of those we sold are being shot like dogs in the streets of a nation that does not want them to feel at home because their skin is the wrong colour, we, here at home, are preventing our own kind from re-entering this self-created “Gate of No Return” at Kotoka Airport, because their skin is the wrong colour.
The numerous intersections of irony are making me dizzy.
My friends, what are we doing to ourselves? And why can’t we seem to stop? Ghana is our home, and we are a family. How is it that we can look down upon each other, while exalting those who do NOT share our history, our hustle, our story or our struggle? When did we decide we were not good enough?
The change must begin NOW. We must start to build in our children a sense of self worth that seems to have escaped every generation of African since the dawn of time. We must break the chain, by showing our children a different example from what our parents have shown us, otherwise, we are simply raising them to be slaves.
My name is Kojo Yankson, and I am a proud black African man. No more and no less than any other human.
GOOD MORNING, GHANAFO!