The president of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo, once boasted, chest-out and all, that he had never eaten a very popular Ghanaian dish called Yor-ke-gari (beans, palm oil, gari and fried plantains). This was, perhaps, his silly attempt to paint the idea that he had never been poor.
Or that he was born into riches. Yor-ke-gari is a more accessible dish than Jollof. Obviously, some prominent members of the ruling elite in Ghana hold dear certain primitive sentiments that are difficult to explain away.
Still, as dismissive and disparaging as they are about certain parts of Ghana’s culture, they cannot be expected to maintain and defend the “rich” parts they purport to enjoy.
The Mis-Educated Than His Ancestors, the Metha, believes that Jollof, for instance, and the eating of Jollof, is here to stay forever. So, he does nothing to preserve it. He does nothing—he thinks of nothing and implements not one policy in his own lands—to maintain the eating of Jollof for his own children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Has the Metha ever considered, some 500 years hence, how posterity might enjoy a complex dish like Jollof? This is the sum of the Metha’s foolishness. I shall demonstrate it. The Metha that is reading this essay will immediately conclude that this is about Jollof or about Yor-ke-gari. This is because Jollof is all that the Metha understands. Yet, this essay is only, in a tiny part, about Jollof. The rest is about Bantu Culture and the preservation of it.
All over West Africa, the Metha is struggling to come to terms with the responsibilities that his culture demands. He struggles with the concept that culture is a social contract machined for self-preservation and civilizational sovereignty—over land and resources. The Metha is not aware, or rather, he refuses to accept that the word “culture,” no matter the language it is spoken in, has always been a metaphor, albeit an imprecise one, for invoking a sense of obligation towards his own community and thus a tool for his own preservation.
The Metha, the new imposter African Elite, has refused to nurture the classical communal buffers vital to maintaining and preserving the land and its resources for posterity. How can he guarantee that some 500 years hence, his great, great, great grandchildren too will enjoy Jollof? No, he cannot guarantee it. How? He has no plan for it! Why? The Metha has simply lost the culture that guarantees such things to posterity. In fact, he has become the sole agent of cultural subversion in Africa as he apes around barely blurting out the gibberish of western, European neoliberalism.
Let’s get to the brass tacks. What do I mean by neoliberalism? In particular, I refer to the insidious idea that somehow rugged individualism, gender (in-)equality, class (in-)equality, ableism, feminism, diversity and the rest of the rainbow diversity clouds trump the crucial essence of culture. Which is that culture, is much like a military, a social structure designed for the achievement of a specific overall purpose—mainly the preservation of land and resources of a group of people. What will be the point of the religion of Vodun to the Ewe of West Africa if not that the Ancestors designed it as a tool to maintain and defend Ewe lands and their resources?
Culture is not built, or designed, no matter how spurious the social construct might seem, to be inert. Which implies that neoliberal ideas are not in themselves objective ideals. They are not without intent. That is, they too are social structures designed to achieve specific goals—mainly colonial goals of land and resource exploitation in the colonies! In fact, neoliberal ideas are nothing but a set of socially engineered steps that are designed to spread over land and space throughout varying lengths of time, for the ultimate, colonial appropriation of indigenous lands and resources. Don’t get it twisted.
The goal of an African Elite is first to identify such colonial and neocolonial threats (adversaries, opponents and competitors) to our sovereignty—over the land and our resources—and to design a culture that is fit to not only maintain the territorial integrity of the land, but to counter and defend us against such non-linear colonial stratagems, and to defend our posterity against all possible (neo-)colonialism. This requires the building of layers of fortifications.
A proper African Elite, like a proper military general staff, is concerned with incentivizing the various groups, men and women, children, families, villages, the rich, the poor, to subscribe to something much bigger and higher than themselves in order to guarantee the land, the watering holes, the rice seeds, the tomato seeds, the expertise and the peace needed for farming and cooking to maintain Jollof as a viable option for posterity.
The building of social structures, called culture, then requires intellect and foresight to spawn the correct ideology, narratives or propaganda, sacrifice and a healthy dose of romanticism in nationhood. The fractal organizations of the family, the village, the town, the traditional area, the private institutions, the universities, the religions, the customs, the rituals, the dances, the languages, the laws, the shell companies and even our NGOs abroad are to be designed and sharpened like army knives to serve one and only one purpose—to guarantee national sovereignty over time and space. Such fortifications, hierarchical and layered, are vital to the organizational structure of culture.
However, among the Metha ruling elite, they take supreme interest in only leading their people astray. The Metha seems to accept the modern neoliberal rephrasing of progress—abstract, fugacious and esoteric—over the traditional understanding of the national material struggle over resource sovereignty. The only reason the Metha accepts this rephrasing is mainly because he is lazy and he refuses to rise to the challenge that is required to wrest our material sovereignty from the European colonial terrorists. The Metha has, by all indication, given up on the national struggle to achieve international and geopolitical material parity with other powerful nations.
And so the Metha mimics the masters of his own mis-education to the extent that he has become part and parcel of his colonial master’s buffer for a revolution against imperialism. He attends missionary colonial schools, graduates from colonial colleges at home and abroad and becomes saturated with not liberation, but neoliberalism.
Such neoliberal ideas—such as the new culture war about which sex organ should be surgically paired with which breast implant—grant the Metha Intellectual, yet Idiot, the latitude to act out his laziness while pretending to fight a material revolution for the masses that he partly hates and partly despises.
So long as post-nationalism, and with it the more general and vague neoliberal idea of post-structuralism—of a world without norms—are deemed alternatives to the struggle against colonial resource deprivation of African states, the Metha reckons that he can bury his head in the sand and expect his Euro-American Storm of African Resource gorging and exploitation to pass him by unscathed.
That way the Metha envisions himself as an international animal, capable of simultaneously living in the South of France, amongst marauding prostitutes, and in Accra, amongst the Kenkey sellers, both at once, affording him the luxury to contemptuously dismiss radical nationalism as not a viable option for the struggle against European land and resource grab in Africa. The life-style that the Euro-American Corporation bestows on the Metha and the demands of the Metha’s mis-education enable him to act as an intellectual, yet an idiot.
No matter. The question that the traditional African Intellectual now grapples with is how to counter these metastasizing colonial forces of post-structuralism with a potent retooling of Traditional African Culture capable of first, philosophically defeating the non-linear war of European exploitation narratives of Africa, and second, equally capable of materially restoring and defending the material sovereignty of African lands and resources. The price we pay for an organic Elite Class has nothing to do with (in-)equality, but everything to do with the investment necessary to hone great minds who can craft our cultures for our material preservation.
(Image: Yor-ke-gari, or Gobe: Gari and beans can be served with ripe plantain, fried or boiled yam, pear, boiled egg or fried fish.)