When I first started writing my blog it was just to keep my 3 friends up to date with my life in Ghana. When I saw that a few more people were actually reading my stuff, I was very cautious that maybe I may be coming across as a bit of a bitch coupled with a lot of arrogant.
I kept on writing, because I love writing, and I have a lot to say, and I love the fact that other people are enjoying my no holds barred prose. So although I was quite taken a back, I wasn’t surprised when finally someone called me the A word. It didn’t actually hurt me that I was called that. Perception is reality after all, this person can only base his opinion on what I wrote. I didn’t get annoyed when point by point, this person gave his opinion on the points I made in my particular blog. After all, this person has as much write to give his opinion as I have to write mine, it is a public forum, and we are covered by the freedom of speech.
What I did get annoyed by, was the fact that one particular sentence mentioned ‘You African’s’, like say what now? For so long, black man and women have fought and died, for the right to be seen as equals. Furthermore, even though we are in the world of political correctness and peace and love, let’s face it, we just don’t talk about it, but we are still fighting for the right to be seen as equals.
Now from the history I can remember, it started off with the big bang. If we are to go by the theory of evolution, we all started off as cave men. It was the Greeks who taught the Europeans ‘civilisation’, and then there were many battles between the Europeans to see who was top dog. The Battle of Normandy saw the French kick the English arses, there was the Battle of Waterloo between the British, Dutch, Germans and whoever else, and then when they were tired of battling each other, they went to invade other ‘new worlds’. When they got bored, with killing each other and finding new countries, they then decided to ‘civilise the Africans’.
Now we Africans, we were fine in our corner, we weren’t troubling anyone, but the white man came to tell us that actually, they were better than us and they were going to take our gold and minerals, our land and trade our people, in return they would give us gun powder and tobacco to kill ourselves with. They then showed us a picture of Jesus Christ. A white man with green eyes and long brown hair, he was the lord our saviour and saved us from our sins. What we didn’t know then, was that this chap JC was actually born down the road in a little town called Bethlehem, and he looked more like us than them, but how were we to know, we were just minding our own business, doing our thing. From then on we were made to know that we would never match up to our Caucasian peers.
Fast forward to the year 2013, ok, so technology has moved ahead, infrastructure has improved and our mobile phones are now smart. Just because we Africans are not as advanced as Europe, America or even South Africa, it doesn’t mean that we are not capable of doing so. If an expat comes to Africa, the idea is to pass on the knowledge that he has learned so that ‘we Africans’ can fend for ourselves. Just because we don’t know at this point, it doesn’t mean that we are dumb.
Now let’s move onto big multinationals and the treatment of staff. I get that when a young white chap who did a two year management trainee in a multinational is given a lot of money to relocate to Africa for a short term. However, if that person working in that company gets sick, why is it that he is entitled to better health care benefits than we African? Have we travelled back to 1940s America? When Frank Sinatra travelled with the Rat Pack to Las Vegas, they would all perform live on stage and entertain the same audience. Yet, Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin would enter through the main entrance. Meanwhile Sammy Davies Jnr would be expected to enter through the service entrance, through the kitchen and up the back, because he was black.
In any organization, we are not expecting the same salary, however the position, would warrant the same salary as its peers. The healthcare benefits, would be the same across board, because the benefit is per company not per individual. That’s the way it is done outside of Africa, so why isn’t it done in Africa.
I understand that David Cameron has devised an ‘incentive’ to encourage immigrants to go back to their country. A bus, with a sign saying ‘GO HOME OR FACE DEPORTATION’, I come home, and I am told that I am not entitled to complain about how I am being treated because I am an African, and I should understand that being a non-African entitles me to certain privileges in my home. I am told that even if my skills and experience match my non-African colleague, I am being complacent because I didn’t come here as an ‘expatriate’, and I am being ‘short-termist’ (still didn’t’ really understand what he was trying to say, but I think that was his point).
We don’t like to use the word racism, we don’t like to sound complacent, but the fact is, it’s still out there. There are people out there, by virtue of colour will paint you black (excuse the pun) but chose their language in a way that makes it sound that there are other underlying factors which are holding you back. But sometimes you just have to call it out like it is, it’s not nice, but that’s the reality. Over twenty years ago, a young black man died in UK, his name was Stephen Lawrence. After he died, they bought out the McPherson report, it was accepted that there was institutionalized racism, it was accepted that had he been white, the case would have not dragged on long as it did. Laws were changed, the culprits were re-tried, and then everyone patted themselves on the back, and convinced us that racism had been dealt with.
Maybe it will make you feel better to say that, maybe it would make you feel better to say that blacks/Africans, are complacent and that’s why they are held back. For us in the know, it is far from dead and we still have a long way to go.