You like money, but at what costs? People like to say that the Ghana government doesn’t collect enough taxes. And that we are poor for it. Some point to the United States where people pay taxes on their homes. Why not do the same in Ghana – One might ask? This will create enough revenue for the State, the claim continues. Putting corruption aside for a moment, I still abhor that assertion, if an assertion it is.

I realize those who call for heavy taxation – a state/city/regional tax on everything have little idea of what it actually means. I offer Akosua M. Abeka‘s interesting answer on the question: Should our State tax our homes/lands. Her answer:

Recall that in recent times, the idea of taxing “Shelter/Land” in the united states, for instance, has a history, rooted in the US Government’s expropriation of Native American lands. Take the case of Johnson v. McIntosh (1823), property, white settlers and slavery & rights of slaves.

Let me provide a brief intro: Could white settlers purchase land from the Creek, the Cherokee, the Choctaw, the Chickasaw, and the Seminole in the early nineteenth century? The US Supreme Court said, “No!” “Native American lands, the court ruled, must be passed through the public domain of the United States before being converted into the private property of white inhabitants.”

In other words, and this is the key, the foundation of the law of property in the United States combines, at once, the imperial assertion of U.S. Government sovereignty and the identification of that project with continental racial governance. Unsettling won’t you say? Once white settlers bought land from the US Government, they had to automatically pay taxes, in some form, at the behest of the US Government for the record maintenance of that property. What some journalists referred to as “making good on the purchase.”

This wouldn’t have been the case, at least not in the same form, if settlers were allowed to purchase land from the Natives. “Making good on the purchase,” would have been left in the hands of the new owners. Civilized men would have respected such purchases anyway. Later, if Blacks were allowed to purchase lands directly from the Natives, they would own the lands without recourse to state protection as well. The idea of perpetual taxation then would be a preposterous idea about land and houses!

All that intro to say that the state cannot collect taxes on what it never owned or created, unless of course it has a good reason to promise you protection! But then the state can provide optional “Insurance.” Not taxes! Worse, taxes in perpetuity? Checking what the state can tax and what it cannot, and for how long, remains a fundamental tenet of checking government expansion, invigilation and dictatorship! I hope in Ghana we do not import dangerous and debilitating ideas, which we know little about like allowing the state to tax houses and native lands. It will be a disaster. We have to think from within – what makes sense and what does not! You like money, but at what costs? This should be the question.

Are Native Americans, even in the U.S., as few as they have been summarily executed to become, paying taxes on their homes? Are they paying taxes on their lands? If you didn’t already have that answer, it is no. Why should I pay taxes to a Ghana government that has only existed since 1957, when the ownership of my land predates this neocolonial outpost by three hundred or so years? This one too is a debate?

Akosua A!


  1. The problem with the Metha (the More Educated than his Ancestors) is that he wants Ghana to look like the United States of America without understanding that the footing here is different. “Wortse mei shwei la shi dani ame kpor ke ha wor.” Our Ancestors poured blood to preserve it for us. That is priceless! There’s no more tax to pay or to collect from the owners of the land. Full stop.

    But you know, the Metha does not comprehend this footing in [parts of] Ghana. He takes for granted Ghanaian History. He doesn’t even think that history is important to the point where he fails to respect it. Don’t tell me to move on from ethnic affiliations when Ghana has done nothing but taken everything from me without a modicum of respect!

    Respect Ghana government? You’ve gotta be kidding—that neocolonial outpost in Accra? To even think there’s such a thing as “Ghana government is losing money for not collecting shelter taxes” is both asinine and stupid. I sit in my grandmother’s house in Nungua, and I look forward to the day an Akyem or Ga president of Ghana asks me to pay taxes on my ancestral lands. What? So if I don’t pay he gets to confiscate my land, sell it to USAFRICOM to build a military base? To China to mine the waters for gold so I don’t even have water to drink? Or so that this president sells my ancestral lands to his friends in London?

    The Metha has no shame! But he can be checked. On my land!

  2. What else can the Metha (the More Educated than his Ancestors) do if education means he should flee from his culture, what he is, bleech his skin, eat and drink coniac and declare akpeteshi as health hazard without conducting any test. By the time he is declared as being at apex of Metha (the More Educated than his Ancestors), he hates himself so badly that all he wants to do in leadership is turn his home into America or Europe

  3. Massa Audu Salisu, when are we ever going to be Authentic! And by “authentic” I mean nothing in the direction of essentialism. What I mean to say is for us to be unique and to give the world some new ideas? If some claim that Locke gave has arguments for civil rights, why can’t we accept Traditional African Law (like the one that governs my Nungua land), or Shelter Rights, Africa’s unique gift to the world as a right to live without being a property of the state?

  4. Massa, No Shelter Tax Wai.

    Or is it Mister Tax,

    I build a chamber-and-hall on my great grandfather’s land. Now you want Ghana government to collect taxes on the house from me? Are you out of your mind, Sir?

    Ghana government is losing money because they are not collecting taxes on my great grandfather’s land and/or my house? That is your “economic analysis?”

    Where was the Ghana government when my great great grandfather was protecting the land from slave raiders and the Akyem for three hundred years?

    Massa, lose the idea wai. Or Ghana will no longer exist, to be sold at will to USAFRICOM!

  5. We live in a country where the president can sell Ga Lands to USAFRICOM for a military base, and collect a personal check of some 20m dollars reported (I am not sure about the money story part). No taxes on this land will ever then be collected after the fact. Deal is done. Even the stuff imported by the USA to be used on this land goes free, no taxes oh!

    But we are here broaching the topic about collecting “Shelter Taxes” from ordinary Ghanaians? Shelter taxes from those whose ancestors poured blood and sweat for the land for hundreds of years? Come on. Something has to be sacred, even under a capitalist regime. In this case let us chose Civil Rights and Shelter Rights! We do not only have a right to live, but a right to make a place to live.

    My brothers, tswa omanye aba!

    • Yaaaooo yao, my brother I respond, yaaoo!

      Its really sad… This morning I read a paper that looks at how economic pan africanism locked horns and spread globally in the early 100s. A case in point in the paper was Garvey’s pact with empirial Japan, who was world power defeating Tsarist Russia at that time. But as we all know, Garvey is not a member of member of the “Metha”
      I say lets keep our eyes on the Metha (the More Educated than his Ancestors). For his education is our destruction.

      Tswa omnye aba!


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