Kotey scribbles: Phobia

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Must you defend what belongs to you with your life or must you take away the life of the others helping to make your inheritance better?

Currently, it is a bad time to say ‘fi’ when a South African inflicted with a xenophobic condition dares you to, when he’s staring at you in his homeland with a machete in the right hand and a gun in the left. I mean you go see your ‘gbee naabu’.

Permit me to sway you from the fundamental content of this piece.

Recently, in my beloved country, the country closest to the centre of the earth, we witnessed the burial of a queen mother. The display of rich heritage at the grounds couldn’t have been better and I felt really proud. The part that got me confused was people claiming ownership of the occasion as solely theirs, and failing to acknowledge that all that, actually, was displayed at the funeral grounds belonged to and came from all over Ghana. Some comments I read from others against other ethnic groups are not fit for me to reproduce. But please, take nothing away from the Ashanti. It shows how powerful their kingdom is and how they are revered.

Also, somewhere in Nigeria, the division between the North and the South is more real than the demarcation of their state borders. However, I must hasten to add that since the visit by Lee Kuan Yew in the mid1900’s, there has been a significant improvement. Nonetheless, a survey conducted among African countries in the early 2000s showed that 91.6% of Nigerians feel much stronger ties to their ethnic group than their nationality followed by South Africa with 78.3%. In other instances, we can talk about the Tutsis and Hutus of Rwanda or the Nanumbas and Kokombas of Ghana but time no dey.

But in the midst of this finger pointing and name tagging, I find a common ground where we all unite: the ground of discrimination, of racism and of tribalism. The difference is that one is followed by a barbaric act that leaves fluid possessed with red blood cells on the bodies of others (I am not downplaying the cynic actions being carried out by our Southern brothers.)

All over the African continent, children are told by their African parents not to marry from particular tribes, not to travel to other places, not to even speak their own language. We cannot pretend to love others whiles we hate the very people we live with. We must breed love and sense of belonging to respect the decisions of others whiles acknowledging their rights. So if the South Africans ask why they should stop this preposterous act of slaughtering humans, the answer lies in one of the music by Wanluv the Kubolor “I be human being just like you.”

The situation in South Africa can only be prevented from happening if the ideology that xenophobia comes with is fought and it cannot be done solely through the use of guns and imprisonment. Ideas can only be conquered with ideas. It is the same for all others who discriminate against some people because they are not from the same place or speak the same language as they do.

My brain has tried to restrain my fingers from typing anything in relation to the happenings in the southernmost part of Africa but at the moment it seems my fingers are in a comfortable lead.

I would like to end with the words of Lee Hsein Loong, Singapore Prime Minister: “The world is a diverse place. Nobody has a monopoly on virtue or wisdom and unless we can accept that and we prosper together and cooperate together, accepting our differences. Differences in values, differences in outlooks and differences in what we see the goals of life to be” we cannot progress.

My name is Kotey and I have a dream that one day we shall have a united Africa. Maybe not immediately, but definitely.