Series of Writings on Decolonisation, Part I.

With neo-colonialism diffused into both activism and apathy towards politics, an abstract revisit has become imperative. The need for a paradigm shift to investigate causal dynamics further underlies this imperativeness. This causal dynamics have in a sense shifted to the domain of power; power in its basic form, in its relative form as well as power in its absolute form. In this regard, understanding the role of power differentials may be one of the last fortresses of the abstract unravelling of anti-colonial efforts.

Most colonised people implicitly inherit apathy towards politics thinking they do not take part. But all of the actions of any citizen are political. From apathy and non-participation to the most radical activist positions, all actions (and non-actions) are forms of being involved in the local, global political systems and generate effects in these systems. This implies, there is definitely and absolutely nothing like non-participation.

In a system that strives to represent the needs of all people, citizen participation is essential as a mechanism of power in order to generate real changes. Similarly, in a system that strives to represent the needs of few, anyone whose need it is not meant to address, whether they passively or actively participate, contribute to the well being of those whose needs the system addresses, as well as contribute to their own detriment. It implies that the only way is to strive to change the system that does not serve the need of all. To do this, there is a need for the development of political [and social] consciousness in each individual, which empowers them to assume responsibility for their own transformations and that of their community.

The conscious facilitation of questioning of imposed dogmas, laws or rules and the ability to recognize the ways in which one’s actions or inactions contribute to either the perpetuation of the oppressive situation or to change is a powerful tool.

It may sound simple. But if people internalise colonisation to the extent of self-hate, their political and social actions and/or inactions only contribute to their oppression. Its complexity goes as far as choosing guardians of their oppression among themselves. Even when the oppressors come to recognise their position and seek reconciliation, the colonial actions are hard to discontinue because they sit deeper at a psychosocial level in the colonised brain, where every power has been replaced by vulnerabilities.

The system, having been ripe, allowing beneficiaries of various forms of colonialisms to sit back and enjoy while some among the colonised ensure the system continues, comes to be characterised by power, and can only be changed by reassessing power definitions, relations and differentials. Power typifies every aspect of the abstract topographies of the relationship because in a postcolonial era, both colonised people and beneficiaries of colonialisms intend to discontinue colonial relations, however, it becomes a negotiation between the powerful and the vulnerable; vulnerable in a sense that the constitutive capabilities of imaginations, articulated experiences, intuitions, dialogues, images and concerns cannot transmute to produce any serious home-grown anti colonial movements. Time after time, stand out heroes who emerge find themselves alienated and often vilified instead of being embraced. However, their philosophies and epochs become mantras post-mortem to their lives.

The bunch of the work is left for the colonised to do; seek ways to understand the causes of the power differentials, and how to effectively use power in political and social relation from the simplest dyadic to the complex triadic relations. The search for solutions, however, over the course of the post colonial period, has been pigeonholed by strong resentments, especially in intellectual writings on these issues, mainly by intellectuals amongst colonised groups who are aware of the dynamics.

This may be justified because of colonial traumas, but is there any real solution in that? Solutions surely lie in researching causalities because beside having over-explored the effects realm, causal approaches, of which power dynamics is one, are rational epistemological inquiries that open doors to new possibilities. Effect based approaches on the other hand, remain resentful and emotional since colonized people cannot separate themselves from their trauma.

Tracing the roots of the problems reveals interesting dynamics. The weakness in Africa for example, starts with language, semantics and how Africans act towards others. The concept of “the other,” i.e. the idea of strangeness and estrangement for example, does not exist for most Africans. Consistent research revealed many African languages do not have a word for “stranger”. They use the same word and idea of “guest” to describe a stranger, hence are quick to open their doors for anyone, which in the past has proven fatal to them and their way of life.

For example, Al Dayf in Arabic means guest and Al Ghurayb means stranger, just like in German, a stranger is Fremde, guest is Gast. However, in Hausa, Swahili, Akan, Gá, Dagomba, Bambara, Amharic, Wolof, Bambara, Lingala and Xzoza, and all of the languages from different corners of Africa that I have investigated, none of them have separate words for stranger. The Gás call both stranger and guest gbɔ, the Akans, ɔhɔhoɔ, the Hausas call both baako. Colonised people in Africa looked more confused as time progressed.

For instance, while science uncovers more evidence of human origins in Africa, one finds a lot of African tribes rather try to claim hematic and Semitic origins as a way of trying to fit into the neo-colonial strata. It is interesting to note that through some natural creative linguistic processes, and often out of the same resentful approaches to solution seeking, anti colonial terminologies emerge in many colonised spaces.

In East Africa, the term Musungu emerged out of the Swahili term zungu zungu, which means wondering from place to place, as a name for white people. Names like Khawaja in Sudan, Obroni in Ghana, etc., emerged out of the resentful approaches to solution seeking. However, these are colloquially used slangs in contemporary postcolonial contexts other than formal linguistic terms.

Some African languages are often rather positive towards strangeness. The Wolof goes as far as adding additional titles as respect for strangers. Gane means stranger or guest, and when the person is a complete stranger, he/she can be called Gane la, to qualify the need to show the stranger respect. Few who come closer to qualifying strangers within the context of strangeness, like the Bambara, still use the same word for both guest and stranger. Duna means both stranger and guest but Duna nna, with the nna, which means “my” added to the Duna qualifies the word to mean “guest” or “my stranger”.

Furthermore, many traditions allow strangers who excel in an activity, regardless of how short they have been in a community, to be chosen as leaders. It goes as high as crowning strangers as chiefs. It is difficult to think of a voluntary surrender of will to power, vulnerability creation and compromise of own security and well-being than this.

Evidence of Africa’s inability to see the importance of the will to power and hence to resist invasions lie beyond modern colonial interventions, and there are several hypotheses on this. One that is often floated around, especially in Africa, is that colonised people, Africans especially, are naturally good people incapable of collectively mastering and using violence against others.

This hypothesis of course takes into consideration that the abundance of violence on the continent itself and Africans’ ability to use violence on a micro level against their own kind is a product of colonialisms. The other hypothesis that one would find posed in various forms is that the natural abundance of resources in ones own environment creates a lax approach towards the need to defend it, whereas as the lack of it creates innovative and sometimes malign adaptation mechanisms. Both hypotheses have substantial historical validities and plausibility.

For instance, when Alexandra the Looter invaded Egypt, Cheikh Anta Diop tells us that he did not focus on property looting, rather on books and knowledge. What brought Alexander to Egypt was not coincident. Europeans’ masters such as the Greek who learnt philosophy, Math and many other subjects from their African counterparts for free had gone back and told of the friendliness and openness they were received with and abundance of knowledge and resource they had seen in Africa. This will spread in Mediterranean Europe quick, leading Alexander to invade. The Persians who invaded before Alexander according to Diop, also looted after they had seen advance building technologies, gold and many other riches.

These things have gone on for too long that colonised people have lost track of causes and effects. The reactionary and resentful approaches to solution seeking keep efforts within the effects and ignores the causes since the causes require a strong understanding and use of power and rationality. One must set aside what we’ve been told about how Africans sold other Africans into slavery, or how white people colonised Africa and thought them to hate themselves, or maybe that Europeans were simply created superior, or even the idea that Europeans are simply wicked, or finally that Africa gave the world the first civilisation and then ended up poor.

All those theories, whether good or bad, are part of the effects and do not address causes, and therefore not relevant. What is relevant is to ask with which logic and on which premise do Africans act as individuals and as an African collective – if there is any at all. One has to look deeply to the onset of the ontological existence of all those factors and how they became human knowledge and began to be propagated.

It all starts with utterance – the power vested in utterance is enormous. But internalised colonialism does not allow colonised people to perceive it because they assume others have their good interest at heart. They perceive others love them and are often afraid to articulate their views in the presence of those “others”. Set on the course of becoming an endangered species, their realities become based on thoughts not produced and assembled in their own environments.

Colonised people need to understand the importance of power right from the level of utterance. From a causal logic of Nietzschean idea of will to power, power differential is the fundamental thing colonisation creates. Just like every inheritable human phenomenon, colonised people have contingently carried subservience with them through time and space.

Loss of power of utterances, definitions and actions explain the comfort they derive in others’ pity, and the expectation of love from others. It also explains their comfort in owning global tussles and holding symbolic responsibilities in world governance as a way of substituting for the power gap and lack of own collective agenda. Heirs of colonialisms allow colonised people to hold these responsibilities as a way of reconciling for oppressive pasts and ensuring the status quo is kept.

Analysing Obama’s antics as a contemporary example, one realises he fully believes in the American values from an extreme liberal viewpoint, which there is nothing wrong with. However, it blinds him from seeing context-based solutions. As things stand, he is clearly excluded from the structural long-term generational benefits of the system. Yet he is able to own and defend it based on symbolic satisfaction he derives from it. Thus it’s enough for him to be applauded by those who actually derive long-term tangible generational practical benefits from the system. It is another way of drawing satisfaction from subservience. An assertion like this may be met by a simple statement like “what can he do as a single person?” One would guess that if he really cares for colonised people, his option would be either not to take up the role at all or take it up and ensure there are clear context specific solutions for colonised and non-colonised people. Boutros Ghali’s short reign as UN secretary general proves that with a decolonising agenda, people do not last long at those posts but the long-term effects of their policies for all outweigh a longer period in the post with status quo keeping effects.

The alternatives for colonised people therefore remain the creation of an alternative system or reassessment of the power differentials within the on-going system. For example, if we want to understand why Africans love others and hate their kind, we need to explore more than colonial discourse. One needs to move beyond that and question the knowledge the African lives life with, and on how this knowledge is obtained and built – how he/she makes sense of self and life because all humans exist on certain ontological grounds. On what ontology is the African and the knowledge he/she propagates grounded? It is easy to say, “European colonisers thought us to hate our kind and love them”. It is easy to claim, “Africa gave the world its first civilisation”, “Europeans are cheats”, “Europeans are the devil,” etc. It’s always easy to criticise the privileged few because these critiques are emotionally laden and lack contrite ways out.

The relationship between the colonised and the colonial power is characterised by power differentials, in which the onus of truth and justice is placed fully with beneficiaries of colonialisms. Their dominance as the norm and their prevailing culture as the custodian of truth and world order are impossible to match. Colonised people need urgent understanding of will to power and the reasons why others suppress theirs. Nietzsche’s Machtgelüst and Wille der Machts, provides the understanding of who owns power of definition, how they can take the will to act cognisant of their power, how much of that they retain and how much of that they surrender to others. Furthermore, subservience, the juxtaposition and complementarity of their existence to others’ existence will also become clearer.

The realization of the role and use of power in the simplest dyadic and in the most complex triadic relations may inject the needed sanity in the way colonised people approach the world. Politics of resistance for example uses Clausewitzian philosophy to advance the position of advance the course of the oppressed. One of the few modern black leaders who understood the role of power in gaining freedom coined the expression “All power to the people”.

When we coined the expression, we had in mind emphasizing the word “power” for we recognize that the will to power is the basic drive of man… We have been subjected to the dehumanizing power of exploitation and racism for hundreds of years; and the Black community has its will to power also. What we seek, however, is not power over people, but the power of control of our own destiny. (Huey P. Newton)

Liberations spaces of colonised people are full of extreme liberal proponents and Marxists, but what they actually need is more Nietzscheans. Marxism is dogmatic and extreme liberal struggles create a one-size-fit-all neoliberal global approach, which contingently propagate the privileges of the descendants of colonisers and further colonial courses. Newton succeeded because he went to the bottom, to a deep foundational level to understand Nietzscheism. Marxism at that time seemed the way for him and many of his contemporaries. However, he criticized Marxism as dogmatic; Nietzscheism was objective underlying the way: power.

The graduation of will to power into politics of resistance has organic growth patterns, not revolutionary politics, because colonised people tend to interchange the two. A separation is needed. Politics of resistance, which can be traced to a divergence in the immediate philosophical sequence to Kant’s critical philosophy explored possibilities of realisation of freedom through the interpretation of the categories of modality. The dominant lineage passed from an emphasis on the modal category of possibility to the problem of the realization of freedom. Fichte, Schiller and Hegel worked through this revolutionary lineage.

The other, mostly less well-known to colonised people, is the line of descent passed through Kiesewetter and most prominently Clausewitz, emphasizing the modal category of actuality and the problem of opposed force or resistance. This drew upon and refounded the political tradition of resistance, a struggle more sombre and unremitting than temporary enthusiasms of revolutionary freedom. It has its purest expression in Clausewitz’s On War and its analyses of Widerstandsfähigkeit, or resistance capacity. It propagates a rational articulation of force and use of force and consequently can finally free colonised people. This, if cemented, as Mao’s China showed, also enhances the chances of the success of revolutionary approaches in case one is anticipated.


  1. Well put. If most African cultures do not have a word for “stranger,” it is certainly a huge problem. But I think research to assert the observation must encompass a more extensive research than a cursory look at the current lexicon.

    For instance, did all the Niger-Congo languages up to and including those now extinct function without a specific word for “stranger”? What about ancient Kemetic? No word for “stranger”? I seriously doubt this.

    If it is found that other languages, prior to what we speak now had vocabs for “stranger” then the “Causes” of this “African decline” might be put in another context – written language, or the lack thereof of a written culture since Sankore.

    However, if it is true that never has any African language had the vocabulary for “stranger” then we are in for a cooker. This will be momentous.

    • I’ve owned and read all of Dioip’s works. He is perhaps one of the most extensive and consistent Egypt advocate. And all thru his work, our relations with the outside has shown strangeness does not irritate us at all and we’ve been very welcoming to anyone from any corner… I agree with you more more research needs to be done, but so far my friend, I have to disappoint you. We see the good in every chicken head arrives at our shores.

  2. “A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within”. In other words, usually the Conquest of a civilization is not through war but a moral comeuppance.

    The African civilization however didn’t fall, in the final analysis, from climate change or inadvertent soil depletion or even war — it was conquered in Satan’s wrath against the forces of Good (God) – we don’t even have a name for “strangers”?

    Come on! Wake up. Time to do some evil – time to be bad and very bad – to save ourselves from the iniquitous order; from the bravura of marauding savages.

  3. In this essay, Audu Salisu attempts to facilitate the questioning of imposed dogmas, laws or rules on us – colonized people – and perhaps fashion a collective consciousness that might just be helpful in recognizing the ways in which our actions or inactions contribute to either the perpetuation of the oppressive iniquitous order, or towards the realization of constructive change in Africa. Imperialism must be driven away – and out of Africa – but it won’t leave until enough folks comprehend some of our weaknesses and move to quickly address them. This is where Audu makes his point, that the fundamental problem is with “language, semantics and how Africans act towards others. The concept of “the other,” i.e. the idea of strangeness and estrangement for example, does not exist for most Africans. Research reveals that many African languages do not have a word for “stranger”.” A problem, if you asked me. This is a must-read.

  4. My friend Audu Salisu. Diop is probably the smartest historian I have ever read. But did you know that there was a time in ancient Egypt, recorded by Diop himself, where anyone who didn’t look Black or Brown enough was immediately beheaded? The Egyptians considered such people as unfit to live. Yes barbaric, ha? Sure, I am not condoning such level of barbarity, but it goes to my point earlier that we may have lost the ideas of “strangeness” in others through an onset of a new philosophical paradigm of thought. I have an inclination that we can pinpoint that period since we stopped writing – analyzing, compressing, summarizing, repeating and modifying old and new ideas.

  5. Im completely with you… I don’t know about the facts you have just articulated, Iam not a barbaric person but I must concede it has given some comfort at one corner of my brain that at least we have been bad-asses before.
    The idea that we are just good people all the time frightens me… And as you know me by now, research excite me and therefore if there is any tangible lead, I would like to explore it if you give me the lead

  6. Solomon Azumah-Gomez what about the fact that we are so quick to give people Nkosuo Hene, or Oblahii a Mantse to any foreigner. This idea that some foreigner get a youth or development chief, because he has saved a child from falling is more scarier than the linguistic fragility, actually. Again, Ive seen that in Ghana, Nigeria, east Africa, southern Africa. So what is going on with us?

  7. “The African Origin of Civilization. Myth or Reality” Cheikh Anta Diop, Translated by Mercer Cook:

    “The Egyptians were so little white that when they encountered a white person with red hair, they killed him immediately as a sick person unable to adapt to life.” (page 240).

    I hope this lead helps.

    But more, could you imagine an Obroni Nkosuahene in Asanteman in 1850? 1890? 1909? 1940? No, I cannot! Whatever was going wrong, it has been going wrong from some time. I believe it wasn’t like this before the onset of the decline – that in fully separating who we are and who others are.

    Take another, the Ewes. They have a specific word for white people – Ayevu. Which means, the cunning dog. To Dahomey, whites were only cunning dogs. Now, I also believe they didn’t formulate this in their time of barbarity towards other Africans – slave trade. Rather I believe that they inherited the idea from long ago – way before they stopped writing.

    There is something supremely cognitive about having a written culture that sets you apart. Abandon it and you will be conquered. With writing, you have a means to think – interpret, analyse, summarize, record and pass on knowledge of the “others” to the next generation.

    Without it, the Ewes couldn’t tell the difference between Asantes and whites. Without it the Mumprusi could not differentiate between the Frafra and the Dagomba or the Arabs. Without writing, the Asante could not differentiate between the Fante and British.

    Serious problem!

  8. Audu Salisu, I am not saying that your hypothesis is wrong. No. I think it works in tandem with an earlier hypothesis that Narmer Amenuti raised. Together what I am saying is this, with the onset of the lack of a writing culture (Narmer), Africans started loosing the ability to define themselves and “others” (Audu). This is essential in my view to understanding the decline, or what Narmer calls “Our Historic Fall.”

  9. The Ewes, are one of the African ethnic groups with very elaborate theories on whites, from the reason while they are pale to the reason why the are so restless and envious in nature…. But where did we lose this… I found inconsistiencies because I though how could they have all these but still use the same word for guest and stranger?

  10. In Ewe, guest is “Amedjro” but white is “Ayevu”. “Amedjro” has a root, “Ame” which is human! “Ayevu” has a root which is “Avu” , a dog! But I am not Ewe so I hope some Ewe friends like Simon Eyram Tsike-Sossah can explain more.

    Remember too that we also may have lost a great deal of vocabularoy simply because we stopped writing – we stopped recording our own languages!

    • Interesting conversation. My introduction to language and society begun with N’gugi’s “decolonising the mind” but nothing deep as you both are discussing. I’m only more aware of nuances when I listen, think and speak.

      To the main topic of “stranger” in Ewe, I know amedjro with the “ame” (human/man) root. I think our framing is about context and how we code…what did the white man do to be called “ayevu”? What did we call the “amedjro” who was not white but did what merits the name “aye-vu”? That reverse thinking will help but I’ve thought over this for 30mins and I can’t find a name…I’ll ask my Uncle and revert. Sorry I could only ask more questions and didn’t bring answers.

    • Simon Eyram Tsike-Sossah I think u have been of great help. u have asked some important questions, reverse format or opposite of thinking cap Solomon Azumah-Gomez and I had on during discussion and that is very important… situational based names are important, and perhaps more important because the situations behind the names could help us unravel the other theses that Narmer Amenuti posited in earlier writings about the volume of damage lack writing or stopping of writing may have caused us-

    • Thanks Simon Eyram Tsike-Sossah. Actually, another thing crossed my mind and before I forgot I want to textualize it, or it is nothing.

      The etymology of the words or phrases are aggresively vital. Let us take the Ewes again (I guess these people really have a comprehensive theory on whiteness – fascinating realization for me). “Amedjro” comes from “Ame” (Human) and “Djro” (Ordinary). Taken together, that is “Ordinary Human”.

      To real Ewes however, “Amegbortor” is the actual name for the Human Being. There are two competing etymologies here. First, we have the “Ame” (Human) which is set. Then there is “Gbortor” which can mean one of two things – (1) “Being” as in “Breathing Being” as opposed to “Amekuku” (“Kuku” means “Dead” and together mean “Dead Human”) and (2) “Gbortor” also means “About Me”.

      I like the second meaning since it underscores an issue we have raised earlier – that of “strangeness”. To Ewes, however, by and large, especially in Vodun, “Amegbortor” is the explicit expression for the “Human Being who is About Me”. That means, they desist from referring to “others” as “Amegbortor” and choose rather to simply call “others” as “Amedjro”, that “Ordinary Human”.

      “Ayevu”, which is “Cunning Dog” swerves entirely from this verbiage. The Ewe refuse to recognize “whites” even as “Ame”, how much more “Amedjro”?

      Fascinating. Ha?

    • My father (Sossah) has mentioned his father and grandfather were very rich and owned slaves but he always insisted the slaves were not for sale and that many married in the family and became family. Thus, grandpa and great grandpa did no wrong, etc. I have not researched this but the family is not see as evil or have we been seen as helping White people capture slaves. I have heard my father point out a few people as “Kluvi” children/child of slave. In doing so, it was not a degeneration of the person but just a reference – a background to the person. Of course that can be disarming…
      On writing and or not writing, I am working on a project amplify work of Black writers and and ideas about “development” as it relates to West Africa around Peace, Conflict, Education, Economy and Agriculture with youth development as a crosscutting theme. of course if there is a burning topic we are willing to consider. Anyone interested could message me.

  11. I did not include Ewe in the piece because the person I asked gave me only Amedjiro, and someone call Sedjiro happens to be around, so his view were close to the Wolof one, which giving it a more positive touch. But knowing ewes are very sophisticated in their portrait of europeans, I decided to work more on the notion later and not include that in this piece…

    On the other issue, we have definitely lost a lot through lack of recording. Because when we localise something like Cup and call it Corpu… then we are not only not finding our own name for something that is new, what effectively happens is that if cup replace calabash, then we end up not having name for cup but just corrupting european name, and also losing calabash and its name in the process. So I think until we also become canibalist and eat others like they eat us, we stand no chance.

    • We for chop others. Ha. LOL! I like that. We the Gas had a very similar theory to the Ewes – you know we all came via Ife. The Ewes and the Yoruba have maintained a lot of their theories through maintaining major parts of Vodun. We the Gas, only the Nai Wulomor is Vodun, the rest of us enjoy Blofo Apio in church. Hehehe.

    • Hahaha, Becareful before the Vandapouyes, Hammonds and Abbeys who are so proud of their Blofo connection hear you. They will call you “primitive” and “uncivilised”.

    • Hahahahaha…. let them come. I just have to tell them, ” I will take you to Ekpe Le Kpe Dji” and they will be running! Hahahahaha…..

    • I want to expand somethings I found about whites in Ewe dialectics… its very interesting… The phrase “Egen le so shi” means “those who fell out of God’s hand during creation”. that is how Ewe see why whites are control fricks. Interestingly, Dogons have the same theory about white… according to the Yurugu principle.

    • Aaah…. see? Fascinating! Indeed, what we need is what you guys are doing! Writing – this is the fundamental essence of our consciosuness… I look forward to reading! Really!

    • What a surprise! You should have contacted me in the first place! As you know my dear friend, my knowledge in mina/ewe is very poor but I have obsessions on some terms
      Amedjro/dzro is describing the one who wants to come. The will/dzro, the sheer motivation to move and meet people is what describes this category of stranger, that’s why he has to be hosted and honored.
      Yevu/Yovo, nowadays the equivalent of white man in Benin and Togo, is actually a spirit of the shadow described as very powerful (thus, to be feared). And you need power to cross the seas and bring rare gifts, right?
      So the stranger is either defined by his will or by his power (subsequently wealth). In eastern part of Africa, the stranger travelling around aimlessly (without will) is called Muzungu and can also describe a powerful man. In Senegal, Toubab is describing a powerful man too.
      Yet, this assumption has to be confirmed as I don’t know enough about the spirit Yevu. And reading Kwame’s post makes me doubt about ame dzro true meaning. So if you’re still up there, let’s discuss about that… 4 years later!

  12. Solomon Azumah-Gomez very. But…before they became “aye meo”aka cunning people and became “avu” dog and thus: Aye-vu: what were they? A different form of “Ame” I am in a corundum here because my maternal granny is “Yevu” 🙂 Kwame Kpogo, we need you here. Your Ewe is better than mine and more needed here

  13. Solomon Azumah-Gomez why ant you writing.. u put pieces here that often seem like thy will make very important read…

  14. Lol. I have dedicated myself to learning from real writers like yourselves! Me, I love to add, scrutinize and pepper everything with ideas from everywhere.

  15. Solomon Azumah-Gomez why don’t we formalise it into some kind of peer review in order to gain from all angles… I think it will be great to put out a paper peer reviewed by brains like yours

  16. Grandmother Africa is peer review oh! I will consider only for Grandmother Africa. You guys are doing a great job and I will contribute.

  17. I cannot claim to be an expert on the Gbe language but I am blessed with a unique advantage of being able to speak a variety of the dialects. One thing I can say with surety is that our ancestors spoke with a lot of wisdom. For instance the word Avu(dog) used in the following words gives an indication of the hypocritical (for lack of a better word) lives of dogs. They can be man’s best friend in a moment and turn on him. (A)yevu (for the white man) which everyone already talked about, Gbevu (people whose behavior does not conform to societal norms), akplelevu (gluttons) etc.

  18. Now, I believe (without any proof except the meaning of the roots of the words) the white man used to be called (ame dzro) in the beginning because the were different, came from a different place (dzronyigba) and brought gifts that enticed our ancestors (nusiawo le mia dzrom). But something changed eventually hence the labelling of this particular amedzro as ayevu.

  19. What is even more compelling is the ability of our ancestors to differentiate between an albino ( gen le So si =accidentally dropped by God Sogbolisa) who our ancestors believed were still in the process of being created and an ‘accident’ happened versus the whiteman.

  20. First, thanks to @Dade for managing to get Kwame here. @kwame thanks for explanation. a lot are now clear. I’m glad we are able to call on each other like this.

  21. I have not had time to read the whole article (because I have been engaged in this MP vs the EC Boss) but allow me to make one quick point.

    1. There is a Ga word for a stranger – MƆKPƆŊ – jeee mɔkpɔŋ ni. He is not a stranger.

    2. The word you used, GBƆ actually means a new person in your house. He could be a relative, a stranger or even a refugee but each of these has a specific word.

    3. Ga word for refugee is ABOBALƆ – eba bɔ abo. He has come to seek refuge.

    4. Ga word for a guest is SARALƆ – eba sara mi. He has come to visit me.

  22. Apologies again, Iam using german key board so I have to creative with my African letters. This is interesting, and it’s exactly what should happen. Yes Akosua M. Abeka, I will shelve what IAm preparing as next instalment and get deeper into this… and I think a word by Narmer Amenuti, on why we stopped writing and recording, I think that is also becoming relevant here. I’m getting more hyped up on this now. I hope we would have been able to get some funding or derive our earnings from this so that we can dedicate our lives to it. I had this debate before writing. Thanks to Nii Amu Darko for the clarification. I ve been made to understand there is mofon, which someone called a bad person and another said it meant new person. then came mokpon which they claim could be anyone provided that person is a neutral party to an ongoing situation, innocent person or the likes. So the logical question that I follow with is: can this apply to someone from next door or really to a complete stranger?
    It is important to note that with all the groups I’ve listed, debates like this have ensued and informants have felt held back to say for sure whether similar words mean and denote strangeness (not stranger) as it would in English, German or wider Eurocentric context.

  23. Audu Salisu Mɔfɔn is a bad person 100%. No other meaning of that word. Mɔkpɔn is a stranger 100%. But language is language, we have metaphors which expand the meaning of words beyond their ordinary use. Are you the only stranger in Accra or Rome does not actually mean you are a stranger in Accra. We all know what it means. So Mɔkpɔn can also be used beyond its ordinary usage. That does not change the meaning of the word.

  24. As for this one Nii Amu Darko, this is Ga! However, what is the root of MƆKPƆŊ – I have only seen this in the Ga Bible through Jehovah’s Witnesses. I never thought that the “LƆ” suffixed to “SARA” and “ABO” were official conjugations. But it makes my day this early morning.

  25. Solomon Azumah-Gomez One word can have several meanings in Ga.

    GBƆ can mean a new person, weave, plait, carve (create)and reduce (especially in weight from illness)

    Let’s stick to GBƆ as in carve or create

    Human being in Ga is GBƆMƆ. MƆ is person. So GBƆMƆ is carved or created person.

    KPƆŊ – Strange

    MƆKPƆŊ – Strange person = Stranger

    LƆ as a suffix converts a verb into a common noun

    Examples Tsɔɔ – teaches, tsɔɔlɔ -teacher; laa – sings, lalɔ -singer

    • Thanks for continuous education… but its gets complicated. In this case is gbalo a story teller or a prophet because many Gas use it as prophet, or can it simply mean both?

    • Gbalo as a standalone word is a prophet. Sane gbalo or sane talo is a story teller. The temple is called Gbatsu – prophesy room or room where divine proclamations are made. This is different from solemotsu which is a church building. The interesting thing is Gbalo is not used to describe an office. It is used to describe a function.

  26. Interesting comments on falling out of God’s hand (white man) vs. in the process of being created by God but a mistake happened (albino). This would also make for an interesting discussion to add to the piece on language and foreigners.

  27. Very much enjoyed this read on power differentials between colonizers and the colonized. What I find a bit ironic is the author’s statement that: “the relationship between the colonised and the colonial power is characterised by power differentials, in which the onus of truth and justice is placed fully with beneficiaries of colonialisms. Their dominance as the norm and their prevailing culture as the custodian of truth and world order are impossible to match.” And then the author goes on to mention Marx, Fichte, Schiller and Hegel, Kant, Kiesewetter, Mao, Clausewitz, and Nietzsche as philosophical talking points. To his credit, he also discusses Diop, but there is no small irony in the African once (or yet still) colonized framing most of the wisdom and theory in this piece from the philosophical musings of the Europeans once (or yet still) colonizers. This seems to be proof that the author’s assessment of power differentials are very real, even in how the author himself frames truth and theory.


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