The Mis-Educated Than His Ancestors, the METHA, has a very strong affinity for claiming to have done everything cultural, or traditional, all by himself. If not by himself then he knows who did it by name and by calling and he also knows exactly when it was done. Take a traditional dance for instance in Ghana and ask the METHA about it, and he’s sure to pin the dance to one group of people, who invariably are the only ones he’s seen perform the dance.
Which may be understandable. Except that the Metha now writes his opinion in books and he does not present them as opinion. Rather, the Metha presents his sentiments as though they were facts. Most are falsehoods. The Metha book-writer today will claim he’s done research here and there, but his research about cultural norms, history and African tradition, almost always cannot be corroborated by the facts on the ground. Take any book written by a Ghana historian about a village you know very well and the opinion presented in that book cannot germinate into facts in the soils of that very village. Never.
What then does the Metha know? What is he truly an expert in? Let me illustrate the point with a specific example. When you ask the Metha in Ghana what is the dance called Gomé? You will come away with an answer like this: It is the ancestor of another dance called Kpanlongo, and it originated with the Ga people of Ghana.
This kind of answer is both false and dangerous, that is if you know Gomé and Kpanlogo. First, there’s not one form of Kpanlongo – there’s Bukom, there’s Nungua, there’s Tema and so on. All different styles. But this is not even my point.
Second, and this is my point: consider the meaning behind the claim that the Ga of Ghana originated the dance ensemble called Gomé. Problem is that you don’t have to travel more than 200 miles to know that this is false. Gomé is Ga alright. But it is not only Ga, the Yoruba-Ewe too have Goumbé. Same difference. Which makes the attribution to just one group or subgroup disingenuous, or something even worse—dangerous.
Even the language called Ga today is not only spoken by the Ga people in Ghana. There are various groups of people—not Ga—who live not more than 200 miles away from Accra, in another country, who speak fluent Ga. Yet, the Metha mis-understands this rich complexity of Africa culture, history and traditions. He does not make way for a new historical framework to address this particular complexity.
The Metha continues to mis-understand his own history. He proceeds with utmost pomposity to bend, deform and write about African subjects so they fit neatly with the narrative frames of European culture, history and tradition, which he has been spoon-fed in colonial missionary schools.
There are Ghanaian scholars who believe, and who accept as fact, the very notion that Talking Drums are Ghanaian. In fact, some scholars will gawk at the idea that not only Twi-speaking peoples of Ghana use Talking Drums. If you made these sycophants aware of the preponderance of Talking Drums in many varied West African Cultures, just for instance, they will simply insist that others—the other ethnicities they either don’t know or are not fond of—may have appropriated the Talking Drums from only one place in Ghana.
Which brings me to the Kente Cloth about which many Ghanaians are proud. Rightly so. However, Ghanaians act as though this fabric and the techniques for weaving this fabric originated with certain groups in Ghana—particularly the Ewe or the Asante, depending on the taste of politics. Which is also false and dangerous. It simply didn’t. In fact, the various Kente fabrics have been shown to have existed for much longer than the very villages claiming to have originated them.
Worse, some strange Ghanaians have accepted as fact, a certain fable that a man from one village learned how to weave the fabric from a spider weaving a web in a certain forest, without understanding that the entire point of fables is to teach children—not grown-ups, but children—certain valuable moral lessons like simply paying attention.
Which is what the Metha lacks—simply paying attention! Nonetheless, the Metha proceeds with his attention deficit, no matter, to make cardinal mistakes, often cutting and drying up his own history, culture and traditions in a manner that only serves to appease his need for a recognizable isolated exceptionalism with his European missionaries. Why?
(Image: Young Women in Kente at a Puberty Rites Ceremony, Ghana.)