SUHUM—My grandmother warned me to never drink from a stranger’s glass or eat a meal prepared outside of the family, unless of course, I had watched its preparation from end to end—and unless the stranger consumes it too. The former is more important than the latter.

Some people would eat anything without hesitation. (This is why terminology like cannibalism arose.) Generally it is unwise to base your limitations of consumption on someone else’s judgment. There is no telling what others would do.

Watching the preparation of the meal is ever more imperative. Before the stew goes from spoon to mouth, it is vital to know what happened earlier. What were the social lives of the vegetables before they were plucked and boiled? Where did they come from? A lab, or a commercial farm, or a garden? How were they tended? With love and care, or with fertilizers, or with DDT—chemicals that are so divorced from nature that they are so difficult to pronounce that they need acronyms?

What were the social lives of the animals? That being—a living thing—who we’ve nicknamed “beef,” but is actually a cow, and maybe goes by some other name on the pasture, perhaps was once a calf who had a mother and a father and probably siblings. Did they graze the lands together and roam freely or live in tight corners and in constant fear of the slaughter? Did they grow naturally on grass and herbs or artificially through consumption of meat products or force-feeding? Is the meat they cooked fresh or stale, healthy or diseased?

Sometimes a stranger’s food is just bland or tasteless, which is an inconvenience for your pleasure but not at all a major blunder. Other issues with a stranger’s food can fester into maladies with serious repercussions.

Is there too much pepper or salt? Too much salt and you could get ulcers or have stomach problems. Too much sugar and you could get diabetes and have vision problems. Too much butter and you could get high cholesterol and have heart problems. Are you allergic? You could have an intense reaction with unforeseeable consequences.

Or worse, are the strangers wholly untrustworthy? Would they purposely tamper with the stew to provoke your downfall? Would they outright feed you poison?

The latter questions, some might call conspiracy theories or paranoia. No one wants to believe that he has to live on this earth chasing his own shadow. No one wants to believe a stranger would have ill intentions, such that it is difficult to trust any visitor that passes through. Some would even blame themselves for showing caution and believe themselves to be guilty of an embarrassing characteristic of being inhospitable.

Yet this is the wrong way of thinking. No one should feel ashamed or apologize for being inhospitable to a malady or that which would weaken your health or the stability of your community. When our biological and physiological systems have developed in isolation, for different foods we are more or less apt for digestion. Our immunities vary.

It is better, my grandmother cautioned, that I see for myself and choose to eat or not accordingly rather than have that decision made for me and it lead to peril.

In the short run, it is much less work to just rest your head in the hands of probability and hope and pray that strangers and visitors turn out to be decent individuals, who help more than harm.

But in the long run, putting blind faith in strangers can lead to our consumption of digestion of harmful things. And this harm that can occur from ingesting a stranger’s meal extends far beyond stews—to also ideas and ideologies.

My grandmother’s words held wells of meaning. To a child, they showed how to live in the village. To an adult, they showed how to interact with others in surrounding villages and countries, and even with people from lands far away.

Her warnings to not eat a stranger’s stew explain literally why world leaders travel with their own private chefs and figuratively why it is poor advice to adopt another country’s constitution or sign trade agreements that were drafted in a boardroom thousands of nautical miles away.

Where were you (or your Ancestors) when the definitions and laws that define governance were crafted? Who cooked the local ordinances, national policies, and global regulations?

Do you know the ingredients in the stew, why they are there and what impact they are designed to have on your ecosystem? Or are you simply hoping that those strangers from strange lands have brought you their finest feast with best wishes?

My grandmother would never take that chance. She would never spin the roulette wheel with a stranger’s stew. And she would advise you, the same: Do not eat a stranger’s stew!

69 COMMENTS

  1. Nefetiti could have titled this piece, “Do Not Eat A Stranger’s Stew,” until you know what’s in it, and how it was made. This was a grandmother’s advise to a granddaughter. The purpose of this peerless essay is to expand on a salient point about the politics of identity and nationhood within the vast historical expanse of maintaining colonial norms and borrowing neoliberal ideas in Africa. What to do with the vestiges of colonialism in Ghana – as state police dress up like British Colonial cops – for example? Maintain these, tweak them or throw them away?

    Rather than attempt answers, Nefetiti opts for the sublime: a metaphor to couch the nonchalance with which we continue to treat colonial socio-political and socio-economic frameworks at work in our various nations. What this sterling essay does is forge a rethinking of the path of our “being” as nations, and promote a re-examination of the “ideologies” at the base of our quest for complete independence (or our conscious interdependence in an increasingly global world). But the more I write, I spoil it.

    Enjoy!

  2. How timely. Nefetiti must have read Hermann W. von Hesse’s mind! This is a fascinating story. More, that is is written straight up from Suhum. Goodness. The import is astounding and lends much to the debate introduced earlier by Jonathan Nukpezah about Ghanaian state cops dressed much like their former colonial terrorists. Anyway, the metaphor of “A Stanger’s Stew” shed light on the gross naivety of our elites in assuming that what others prescribe for their respective nations are indeed designed to help. Kudos to Nefetiti.

    • Thank u narmer for hitting thê nail on thê head. This essay is also great and opens up thê long debate about thê vestiges of colonialism as pointed out in an earlier essay by agbenuza .

  3. Words of Wisdom sounded many times from generations to generations but increasingly lost to those being foisted upon Afrika today as “state leaders” and the “educated elite” (more appropriately the AHI)! Thanks, Gbetohemaa Nefetiti, for sounding it again so poignantly! Kudos indeed!

  4. Those precautions grannies want us to take are very apt for those of us who are overly conservative in our tastes especially in meat.

  5. And a great introduction Akosua. It makes me think: Does this mean I should bring my own food to the potluck? And then I think again that the reason we have family gatherings and people bring their own food is because we trust one another as a community to the point that people who are strangers to me, as long as they are friends to people I know, they are welcome. Outside of that, the advice is true to be careful what strangers try to feed you. We need a good vetting process before food, ideas, and ideologies hop borders!

  6. Thank you so much sharing. Even though this topic is a metaphor, it was obviously passed down from the motherland to Black grandparents in the US. As long as I can remember I was always told do not eat at anyone’s house….This was indeed a form of being protected.

  7. “Some people would eat anything without hesitation.” Thank you Nefetiti. Thank you. Well said.

  8. Within this space of eating and drinking others brews, can someone explain to me why Ghanaian guards of honor are dressed with crest helmets on their head. They look like imperial troopers of some long dead European empire.

    Can’t we have a more authentic African military design? We can seek inspiration from the military designs of ancient Egypt, Nubia or the powerful kingdoms and empires of the western Sudan or of the west African coast.

    No wonder we continue to be the cultural laughing stock of the world. No one respects a monkey no matter how refined or graceful his copycat is.

  9. In 2014 I did an interview with one of the professors at the faculty of law in Legon. From the angle of the role culture, religion, etc, and their accessories play in shaping social and legal norms as theorized by Peter Katzenstein, I asked why judges still wear wigs. The defense of the wig was astonishing!

    • It was argued as having become part of our tradition and should not be given up.
      The Prof. actually said they are part of what distinguishes judges and lawyers from any other person wearing black suit, white shirt and tie. I referred him to the US and if I remember very well, he argued that he was sure the US was envious of the wig. I had to then give up!
      In GIMPA law school for instance, undergrads have to wear black suit and white shirts everyday from the day of acceptance into the school. I pittied them as they run around sweating and smelling.

  10. Kobla Gbemela our military should stop wearing khaki and using guns and tanks because they were not used in ancient Egypt. In fact drop the name Jonathan since it’s not ‘Afrikan’. You see I’m poking fun just to make the point that there’s no need being reactionary. There’s no need to go back to some imagined/mythical past. Is parliament Afrikan? Was the law that established Republic of Ghana or the University of Ghana Afrikan? We speak English and use Latin/Roman script to write Akan, Yórùbá, Gã etc. Is it Afrikan? We wear socks is it Afrikan? We need nationalists and patriots who will manage our nation well not reactionaries!

  11. Hermann. Military technology is universal and has evolved over millennia . The use of these technologies does not mean cultural colonialism. but symbols of state and national identity must reflect something authentic and indigenous. This is important especially as we are coming out of colonial dominance. The use of European/ Jewish and Arabic names are the result of colonial influence and in that sense we are victims. We can only grow out of it. My parents did appreciate the value of solely indigenous names and though giving us such names represent modernity or affinity with a ” higher culture” ‘ But I know better and will never inflict that on my children. Of course there is nothing wrong if you have a European heritage and bear that name. In terms of language , the use English is also due to colonial influence. But I am happy that in my lifetime, group of Scholars are developing an indigenous script based on Adinkra symbology. We cannot continue to be oblivious to loss of our identity in the name of modernity.

  12. Good luck with your experiments on an Akan script based on adinkra. But I still sense a reactionary fervor!

  13. Well the Europeans claim to build their western civilization on a mythical classical Greco-Roman past. That is what they teach in their classics.

    Europeans neither developed writing or even the numerals used today, it was borrowed from other civilizations. But they did not become a carbon copy of other civilizations like the Egyptian or Mesopotamian or Indian and that is what we have become. That is the point of the post. We have become unthinking copy machines of others.

  14. Gbemela don’t shift the goal posts. Did I say Europeans invented writing or the numerals? You don’t want to put words in my mouth do you? I’m talking about the roman/Latin script you use in writing your Ewe language. That’s what I’m talking about. Who doesn’t know that the sumerians, Egyptians , Phoenicians and ancient Chinese were the inventors of writing? Who doesn’t know that the ancient Indians and later the Arabs and Muslims invented the numerals? I’ll be a bad history student if I was ignorant of this basic fact. Address my post and stop shifting the goal post. That’s a bad debate/argument tactic.

  15. The Roman script is itself a derivative of the Greek which is itself derived from the Phonecian and ultimately from the Egyptian, so there is nothing wrong with borrowing that to write our languages.

  16. You are still beating around the bush. Again the point of my post was the blind copying of European norms. If that is okay in your opinion we might as well jettison our history and call ourselves the descendants of the Gauls like what some Francophone countries used to do in the past.

  17. My point is you are a reactionary and a self contradictory raw nationalist. You said police should stop wearing their ceremonial uniform because it’s European in favor of some ancient Egyptian costume. How does that make sense? You may as well ban our soldiers from wearing khaki and using guns which is equally European and Colonial. And still you don’t see your contradictions. My goodness I laugh enter nana addo’s room in flagstaff house! Lol

  18. here’s no such thing as Western Civilization! (I’m an avid reader of Kwame Anthony Appiah ).

  19. Your spurious name calling does not answer the question i posed in the post. The allusion to Nana Addo’s presidential abode has no connection to the issue being discussed here. I said we could take inspiration from ancient Egypt or any of the other civilizations of African antiquity. I never zeroed in on ancient Egypt. Dont put words in my mouth. Anyways you are entitled to your opinions and your mockery of attempts to intellectualize our traditional mass culture of Narmer Amenuti ‘s Ntoaboma. Reminds me of a similar debate among Slavophiles and Westernizers in another culture

  20. Well that is Kwame Appiah’s opinion. He does not speak for the western intellectual tradition.Maybe he has arrogated to himself the arbiter of western self-identity. Good for him

  21. Jonathan Nukpezah haven’t we used enough Akan and other indigenous Ghanaian motifs in our national monuments and institutions of governance? The state sword/akofena that you’ll see Nana Addo holding in his swearing in is an example. What again do you want? OUR heritage does not lie in Egypt or Kush or Nubia. Why the obsession? Our heritage lies here in Ghana!

  22. The idea of a western civilization is a modern construct and Kwame Anthony Appiah is not the only academic of note to critique the concept. Take time to study the critique of “the west” concept.

  23. We even have the the St. George’s , the Golden Lion and a Castle on our national Emblem or Coat of Arms. We have a lot of growing up to do

    • Yet Nkrumah accepted the coat of arms right? What does all those symbols mean? Why should we do away with it? The very idea of a coat of arms in itself is medieval European so why not do away with that too?

    • Of course Nkrumah had his flaws. So because he didn’t get rid of it together with other senseless practices such as the wearing of wigs , we should accept it as fait accompli. Every Nation , Kingdom, State that has ever existed had an Emblem , Totem or Coat of Arms. I think you difficulty is that ,you ascribe every modern phenomenon to European origin. There was a world before Europe , Sir

    • Kwasi Adarkwa I never said every modern phenomenon is of European origin. You do not want to put words into my mouth. I’m talking about a specific thing here, coat of arms and i said it’s european. It’s different from an African ethnic totem. The idea of coat of arms (the shield and insignia thing) is European.

  24. The jury is out on this one. Gentlemen, I would be happy if this discussion moves to why we still keep and practice some of the things which our colonialists introduced to help the expatriates they employed to work here but have been adopted as the norm for a sizeable majority of govt employees; examples are provision of govt housing; transport provision/allowances for fuel, house staff, utilities. Paying these ‘perks’ is a huge drain on the public purse – maintenance alone on govt houses is a huge burden on the public finance. Is it not time to pay realistic salaries and wages plus allowances and do away with all these expenditures which have such a considerable adverse effect on our economy.My thoughts.

  25. Aunty Roselyn Byrne these are the things we should be discussing. A good point. Otherwise I’m tired with these nonproductive hyper nationalist talk.

  26. The so called hypernationalist talk is what propelled Japan and China to where they are while an Africa that supposedly believes in a universalist civilization are wallowing in poverty and cultural delusion. Good luck with that

  27. There goes his bunch of falacies again! Shifting goal posts and fabricating examples which doesn’t even relate his fallacious propositions!

    • The institutions and institutional thinking you defend have been shifting goalposts long before Jonathan was born but you can’t see that.

  28. I work in Japan and they dont adhere to the idea of the west as a culture construct. They do not believe in a universalist construct. There is a unique Confucian civilizational identity here which lies at the core of who they are.

    • Don’t put words in my mouth.

      By the way I guess Japanese wear kimonos to work and still brandish their samurai swords around. Good morning!

  29. Not shifting goalposts. It seems like when you have no credible argument, you tend to adhominen attacks which does no service to the educational institution you list as being a teaching assistant of.

  30. I guess from your name you feverently believe in a universalist construct. I have met your type from Africa in educational institutions like the one you list as studying in. You all fit a certain stereotypical pattern and am glad i stayed away from such types when I unfortunately attended such so called elite institutions in the US.

    • You see I disagree with you and you call me neocolonialist who “fit a certain stereotypical pattern” my goodness! And what about my name? It makes me less Ghanaian erh? What about your Jonathan? Do you worship Jesus?

    • You think your ideas are the most important erh? Your ideas should define Ghana erh? Anybody who disagrees is a neocolonial house slave who’s oblivious to the suffering of plantation slaves erh?

    • I do not think they are, they are a point of departure for constructive discussion and critique and not adhominen name calling.

    • Well u called me names I didn’t. Read the posts. Even saying I fit the stereotype of the African educated in the west!

  31. Its unfortunate this has degenerated into something verging on personal and it is unfortunate.

    To be fair it was you Hermann W. von Hesse who started calling people “reactionaries” but it is also unfair for Jonathan Nukpezah to put your debater into a “stereotype” category.

    I am not a hyper nationalist as Hesse, puts it and i havent known those here on thread on the other side of the debate also as hyper nationalists .

    But the point has to be forcefully made that culture and symbolism are very critical in forming a national psyche and identity. Take all the various nations which emerged from colonial domination; forging a unique national identity is one task of nation building. That is why the Chinese are building Confuscious institutes around the world and promoting it at home . Why the Korean Government is spending millions to promote its history through films and their cuisine. And how the Hindu Nationalist BJP caused for the statute of Ghandi to be installed in the University of Ghana.

    There is universal culture and the European culture is certainly not the standard . We have to question and reform

  32. Unfortunately, I missed quite a lively debate! How did this happen? Lol. My dear brother Hermann W. von Hesse is ever feisty, again! I like it. But von Hermann, why do you feel that any suggestion to strengthen the imagination of country and nationhood from within is reactionary? This is the point Jonathan Nukpezah, Kwasi Adarkwa and Audu Salisu have made. Amply. How is it reactionary to revert to an organic evolution of our development and to do away with colonial impositions on our imaginations of self and nationhood? The words reactionary does not fit the Principles of Sankofa! That is, when you proceed on a path after coming to a crossroad and realize you have chosen the wrong path, or you realize that reality is below the expectation, you must recalibrate – back to where the conundrum began and take another path. There’s absolutely nothing reactionary in this attitude.

    Sister Roselyn Byrne is also correct. Pragmatic discussions are helpful. Colonial impositions like “free bungalows” must go. They will not go away until we’ve understood how they came to be. Within this space we are also led to understand why a Ghanaian police man dresses like a British cop he has no business looking like. Why do we read the Bible? Why the golden lion? Why would Nkrumah accept the coat of arms and so on and so forth. This is not reactionary. It’s simply to establish the facts of our being. Or we cannot clearly define who we are and what we want to become.

  33. Herman’s entrance into the discussion clearly showed he wanted a quarrel. If he did not want a quarrel then its even worse. If he indeed did not want a quarrel, then his misrepresentation of the whole post as “reactionary” results from this instinct that pushes many black people to jump to the defence foreign induced cultural traits, often to their own detriment.

  34. I was only pointing out the contradictions in Gbemela Kobla’s argument. Remember that the whole idea of coat of arms no matter how we recreate it is still something coming from medieval Europe. Our parliament and all our national institutions are relics of colonialism. If we do away with all that what do we replace it with? Even the state, the Republic of Ghana and the National house of chiefs is a relic of colonialism. I don’t think you guyz have really explained the meaning of the motifs in the coat of arms. It neither glorifies Britain nor colonialism. What about all the Akan symbolism of our state institutions? Haven’t we adapted/ localized our institutions enough?

    Audu Salisu for him to suggest that the ghana army should dress like the armies of ancient African kingdoms is reactionary. Is just like asking Japanese to wear kimonos to corporate meetings or to the work place. Did the Japanese military dress like samurai warriors during world War II ?
    We need real progressive nationalists who will manage our resources well. Leaders who wouldn’t sell our natural resources to foreign multinational companies in this crazy neoliberal world. That’s what we need not some vain ideological/nationalist rethoric.
    I tend to agree with Aunty Roselyn Byrne. HOPE I’m not being quarrelsome lol

  35. Hermann W. von Hesse, it seems we all want the same thing. However you seem to think there’s a single approach while I feel the approach needs to be multi-faceted. To say that the Principles of Sankofa is a “vain ideological/nationalist rethoric” is needless. Don’t you think? I mean, why can’t we question the place of colonial institutions in our future in addition to wanting “leaders who wouldn’t sell our natural resources to foreign multinational companies in this crazy neoliberal world?”

    • I like this my brother, we shd focus on immediate issues before thê seemingly remote ones. For example selling of our natural resources to foreign transnational corporations and signing as well giving unrealistic and less benefiting contracts to thê detriment of our national economic development. Thê issue of our guards dressing according to colonial format or tradition can also be looked at by getting our native designers busy.

  36. Even to talk about “”leaders who wouldn’t sell our natural resources to foreign multinational companies in this crazy neoliberal world,” Hermann W. von Hesse forgets that without the definition of what is “foreign” vis-a-vis what is “national” and a definition of what is “neoliberal” vis-a-vis what is not, involves a national ideology – the very thing he’s riled by! Hermann W. von Hesse is a bag of contradictions: Cognitive Dissonance, to be precise. Come again, brother Hermann W. von Hesse.

    • Did you read my posts carefully? Do you need a green book of an ideology to explain what I stated about neoliberalism in Ghana? Namer Narmer Amenuti I’m sorry but did I ever say our history is bogus or we can learn from it? I’m a historian of Africa myself so I wouldn’t say that. I was reacting to a specific point made by Gbemela about the military adopting some unknown ancient Egyptian /African military attaire. That was what I critiqued. Now Narmer Amenuti the Afrikan messiah is accusing me of rubbishing. African history and the concept of Sankofa. Hahaha. I’m sure you have some adrenaline running through your veins.

  37. Well some follow the works of the British born Ghanaian-American scholar Kwame Anthony Appiah as he describes himself who teaches at NYU while others follow the works of Cheikh Anta Diop the Senegalese born African scholar

  38. Well if we have exhausted the subject on SANKOFA as propounded by Narmer and the rest, please let us turn our attention to how best to balance the books for Ghana. My thoughts are on (1) too big government – to reduce our top heavy government; (2) abolishing of the nanny state – to do away with such perks as housing, transport, fuel, utilities, etc etc (retaining these for a few strategic govt appointees); ….. I am sure there are other issues that people can add to the above.

  39. Roselyn Byrne , you have bright to the fore very important issues for consideration by all Patriotic Ghanaians. Thank you

  40. To all Patriotic Ghanaians.
    – what is the Mission Statement of a Ghanaian Government?
    – if there is, is it based on any Scientific Deductions or based on a Chaotic and Sectional interest of a few Ghanaians who under the complexity of personal experiences and the gains of an immediate Revolution or Coup D’etat entrenched Class as the main Priority of a Constitution which guarantees the Security and Human Development for the Politician and his family and covered it up with what they termed as Article 71?
    – do these Politicians and the Article 71 Ghanaians shop on the same Market?
    – is it a well orchestrated plan of the Politician to produce uneducated youth, so that they could divide and rule them?
    The Political killings that we see, is evidence of the fact that all the Security Apparatus of Ghana has been structured to Protect the Politician and his interest.
    – do we have to consider the salary of an MP in the UK or a Senator in the US in order to compute Allowances of a Ghanaian MP?
    – why do we guarantee Foreign Travel for an Ex- President instead of offering him the opportunity to visit all the towns and villages he knew only sitting in Accra? Don’t you think this this will help these Presidents to uncover the lack of development and the failure of the Metro, Municipal and District Chief Executives they appointed to superintend over this underdevelopment which engulfs us?
    – why are our Politicians always travelling outside Ghana but not within?
    My only consolation is that our new Leader has claimed that he has never stollen, he is not corrupt; who am I? Only God.
    But I want to state emphatically that the Ghanaian Constitution is founded on Selfishness and Entrenched Corruption.
    If the new President is able to facilitate the actual Review of the 1992 Constitution, this will supersede any other Promises made on the campaign trail.
    The Constitution of Ghana must be based on Equity, our Natural Resources must enhance the Development of the Nation and its People. Why do we shoot down our Youth exploiting Resources in backyard because some foreigner has concession on land God has given the Ghanaian?
    – is it deliberate that we do not want to train and equip these young men?
    I think our MPs are not only Selfish but Greedy and will comfortably tell you it is Constitutional. They make the laws, selling the whole Country for Dollars. A Country’s money is backed by Gold Reserve; why do we have the Gold but live in poverty? Ghana oooh! Ghana; is being Black a Curse? No wonder the whites think we are FOOLS.
    Ghana looks more like George Orwell’s Animal Farm, where Napoleon and Friends could justify anything and everything the did. The Repercussions are very Grave for Ghana. Nana, it is your time; prove that you have come for the ordinary Ghanaian.
    The Constitution must be REVIEWED!!!

  41. “A Country’s money is backed by Gold Reserve; why do we have the Gold but live in poverty?” When you pose the question, Ghanaian economists will strangle you to death before you have time enough to explain the obvious. It’s a conundrum for most of us John Tsra-kasu.

  42. John Tsra-kasu i think you pose important questions but we need to go back to the fact ghana is a misnormer, a conglomerate/congregation of people put together within an imaginary demarcation that has no basis in their culture. with culture being where polity and social norms generate from, we need to first question that.
    do we really want to be a eurocentric nation state? are there any other forms of political congregation that would fit better with our ways? these questions are relevant and need to be asked.

  43. My friend Hermann W. von Hesse, you laugh but the effort to advance the outlook of our motherland in the increasing space of an interdependent global village is not a laughing matter. You think it’s a binary – we either demand accountability from leaders and stop emphasizing ideologies of nationhood or vice versa. Which is a false dichotomy! We don’t need to employ one and not the other. We need a multi-faceted approach to nation building so we do no sacrifice who we are and what we want to achieve.

    All nations have borrowed in much the same way that all societies have borrowed for their own advancement. England too! Even the idea of writing in English itself was banned in England. But it had to change! What we have in Ghana with respect to colonial institutions is not an example of the kind of borrowing that all societies do on their own accord, however. It’s an imposition. As with all impositions, some are valuable and others are perilous to advancement – or else the idea of “imposition” itself would be welcomed by all. The only way to ascertain what is good for us in the long term and what we must discard is a well-placed discussion. Therefore let’s engage on the merits of the issues rather than the efficacy, or lack thereof, of a false dichotomy.

  44. My friend Hermann W. von Hesse, you laugh but the effort to advance the outlook of our motherland in the increasing space of an interdependent global village is not a laughing matter. You think it’s a binary – we either demand accountability from leaders and stop emphasizing ideologies of nationhood or vice versa. Which is a false dichotomy! We don’t need to employ one and not the other. We need a multi-faceted approach to nation building so we do no sacrifice who we are and what we want to achieve.

    All nations have borrowed in much the same way that all societies have borrowed for their own advancement. England too! Even the idea of writing in English itself was banned in England. But it had to change! What we have in Ghana with respect to colonial institutions is not an example of the kind of borrowing that all societies do on their own accord, however. It’s an imposition. As with all impositions, some are valuable and others are perilous to advancement – or else the idea of “imposition” itself would be welcomed by all. The only way to ascertain what is good for us in the long term and what we must discard is a well-placed discussion. Therefore let’s engage on the merits of the issues rather than the efficacy, or lack thereof, of a false dichotomy.

  45. Narmer Amenuti I think you are misrepresenting me here. You have imposed a “binary ” on me and have proceeded to judge me by saying it’s a “false dichotomy”. That is not my thinking. I don’t think in terms of binaries. I follow and critique evidence. Ideologies may be useful but I don’t waste time on reactionary stuff. (Seems I’m repeating this word “reactionary ” paa. Pardon me. That’s the only bl)fo I know). And you guys should slow down you sometimes assume a messianic complex when it comes to issues like this. (I mean no disrespect) There are multiple views so yours shouldn’t be THE VIEW. We all love Ghana! I may disagree with your views and the way you word arguments and propositions that doesn’t make me neocolonialist or whatever. I have read Nkrumah, Fanon and all those guyz just like u. Anyways I’m babbling now and getting incoherent.
    Peace!

  46. Well, Hermann W. von Hesse, in so far as we can all desist from name-calling, I think debate is always useful. “Reactionary” does no good to the import of an argument. That said, labeling is important. Although it needs to be fair. I think, you’ve overused it.

    More, I still do not comprehend your point if it’s not one of a dichotomy. Please clarify! Unless your point is that you find my arguments, for example, to contain too much African ideology, or traditional ideology or national ideology, that I must “slow down.”

    To which I ask, for whom? Slow down for whom? Others speak and write about Kant, Kafka, Wittgenstein all day, in various publications across the West and also in Africa, yet I must “slow down” when I speak of my grandmother and her wisdom when it comes to the building of a nation to which I belong?

    And what is so “reactionary” to want to live how my Ancestors did, and to improve my lot from thenceforth? Is it because you measure my opinion by the yardstick of the normative of western ideologies, that my ideas from Ntoaboma must be in reaction to? Correct me if I am wrong.

    Even more to the issue, we seem to deviate from our discussion of “what’s for diner, what has been for diner, and what must be for diner tomorrow,” and rather choose to engage in whether diner is a reactionary approach to lunch. This, for me, is entirely beating about the bush.

    Would you say there’s nothing to gain in trying to understand our past, our colonial and slave-raiding past, our post-independence past, to understand our failure, our trials and tribulations and to forge a more cogent front for a forceful development? How again is it “reactionary” to want to learn from our past that I must be called upon to slow down?

  47. As always, great introduction Akosua Abeka! The essay made me think: Does this mean I should bring my own food to the potluck? And then I think again that the reason we have family gatherings and people bring their own food is because we trust one another as a community to the point that people who are strangers to me, as long as they are friends to people I know, are welcome. Outside of that, the advice is true to be careful what strangers try to feed you. We need a good vetting process before food, ideas, and ideologies hop borders!

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