The Ewe Heritage Defined (Part Four)
In Nietzsche’s book called Thus Spake Zarathustra, the author recounts the story of a courageous tightrope walker who straddled a rope, much to the admiration of spectators. Unfortunately, he tripped and fell to his death. If we add this tragic end of the tightrope walker to the fate of the transcended prisoner in Plato’s allegory of the cave, we conclude that the Seers work is necessarily dangerous. In Plato’s parable of the cave, the trancender who broke the chains and saw the beauty of the real world returned to tell his story. But the cave prisoners only heard his gabbled voice because of the echo within the cave. They had hung in there in chains and gazed at the wall of silhouettes for so long, and so they could never understand the message of the one that returned with the truth. What they could hear were sounds unfamiliar to their ears. Maybe the transcender was lucky that the prisoners were in chains, otherwise they would have given him poison to drink….. I will give a clue of Part Two of my writing (Wuda, My First Ewe Friend) to help the readers to interpret the subsurface meaning of Part Three of “The Ewe Heritage Defined”. After all, literature is not only about plain meaning, but also about the deeper level meaning. 1. For every quality attributed to the typical Ewe, find commensurate attribute ascribed to the typical Asante (in the same narrative). 2. Think of all the charges leveled against the typical Asante and analyze how the article subverts each of them. Take a paper and write out the charges, and find facts to support their denial. 3. Think of the true meaning of the doghead (An anagram and false religion will help you unravel the symbol’s meaning). (As a clue, read all Asante’s comments under the article. One of them came close to unraveling the riddle. You can also assume Kofi Sarfo as a trope of his tribe, and compare his friendship with Wuda to that of Osei Tutu and Okomfo Anokye). Meanwhile, enjoy excerpts from my old writings to have a view of my hatred of ethnocentrism. Militating against the fine idea of ethnic diversity is the canker of ethnocentrism-the pseudo-scientific idea that any group can ipso facto be naturally superior to another. The significant difference in skin color and physical appearance between Blacks and Whites could and did lead to notions of White superiority. Using the White skull as a standard, charlatans subjected Blacks to craniometry, and judged our race according to how our skull size compared to that of the typical Caucasian. Although totally unacceptable, this may be understandable because Whites are so physically different from Blacks, and their scientific and economic successes often lead to false and misguided notions of natural superiority. Conversely, our own checkered history in global scientific knowledge often leads to questions about our status as co-equals in the global village of ideas and creative inventions. I can understand, though totally disagree, with a white person’s racist attitude against a black person; but ethnocentrism among Blacks grossly nauseates me. Biological sciences affirm the notion that all humankind are essentially equal, and that exposure to knowledge and culture accounts for why some are more inclined than others to achieve greatness, power and wealth. Therefore, there is no justification for the notion that some groups are naturally more superior to others. Indeed, if the best representatives of all the races and ethnic groups in the world were subjected to the most extreme suffering and deprivation, their responses would be the same degree of savagery and depravity. Alternatively, if all resources of learning and thinking were made available to people of any race and ethnicity, the outcome would be the same degree of skill, talent and achievements. Therefore the defining variable in mental development is “opportunity” which establishes the most legitimate intellectual differentials in the cognitive abilities of groups and individuals. Before 1957, the nation Ghana did not exist. Like every nation in Africa, it was crafted out of a collection of independent tribal states arbitrarily put together by the foreign conquistadors . This method of crafting nations was nothing new in Africa and world history because the very concept of nationhood necessarily implies a collection of tribes culled/forced from far and wide to become part of a union at different intervals of time. From the beginning of time, the basic logic in nation building is that a core group attracts to itself many other groups to enrich its culture and centers of power. It is in the context of all these background facts that Ghana’s first president, soon after the nation’s independence, deemed it fit and proper to concentrate on the formal boarding school system to boost the African personality and to merge the tribes under one great banner of nationhood . Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s vision for Ghana was the elevation of the confidence of the African and the unity of the people under the banner of the nation. Nkrumah’s vision of nationhood made philosophical sense because without unity, no country can claim nationhood. If ignorance makes people show greater allegiances to tribes at the expense of the nation, then the survival of the nation is under serious threat. For a country to be a nation, her people will have to subsume ethnicity under the aegis of the national interest. The present conflicts amongst the tribes, though so far verbal, are a testimony that our country comprises nations within the nation. In effect, we of this generation have repudiated the concept of nationhood with our ethnic animosity and undermined the very tenets under which the nation was forged. There are clear explanations to the phenomenon of ethnocentrism. Firstly, it is the mantra of non-achieving persons. For example, the Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan attracted desperate individuals trying to bolster their depressive feelings of low esteem through the crude imposition of natural superiority on the system. In other words, ethnic bigots advocate a short-cut to recognition, knowing fully well that their ignorance and laziness will not allow them to compete on a level ground, and that they are doomed to remain at the lowest levels of the society forever unless they make unsubstantiated claims to natural superiority. After all, that one can be freely acquired; one doesn’t have to work for it! Secondly, ethnocentric individuals are psychologically challenged persons with dual-personality syndromes that lie at the root of their hypocrisy, logical incoherence and contradictory existence. Consider that most ethnocentric people are devoutly religious, and yet they substitute the universal teaching of love inherent in all religions for hatred of others. As a result, they create hell for themselves here on earth while looking up in the skies for a future heaven. Consider also that these people, by carrying years of animosity in their hearts, evolve into emotional beasts of burden whose mental development is circumscribed by the inability to adjust to societies or get along with others. As a result of the stress they put on the brain, they forever remain dwarfs in analytical reasoning and creative cognition. Their very existence is a contradiction because while most claim to be patriotic citizens, their attitude towards nationhood is at best nihilist. This is simply because a nation cannot exist without the unity of its discrete groups, and therefore there is no nation to love if one repudiates the very essence of nationhood. It is therefore a paradox for one to talk of being patriotic while remaining ethnocentric. Another psychological issue with ethnocentric persons is that they tend to be reactive generalists. Their hatred of a tribe may have been triggered by a certain member’s offence against these individuals. Because they are unable or unwilling to admit to the uniqueness of every individual, they react by persecuting whole groups and stereotyping them according to the single isolated experience with one member. To the parochial mind of a typical ethnocentric, one bad example represents the group, and the group represents the one bad example. Thus, the thinking process among ethnocentric individuals is one dimensional, since they are unable to grasp concepts holistically. Because of this, they are easy victims of what I call the transformative power of their enemies. This is a term I coined to describe the situation where individuals, in desperate desire to be vengeful, become carbon copies and puppets in the hands of their enemies. In other words, they are as bad as their enemies because they do exactly what their enemies do; and they are puppets in the hands of their enemies because their enemies control their emotions by triggering their negative behavior. Ethnocentrism represents the single most absurd national outlook still persisting among Ghanaians. Fifty-three years after independence, we should be talking about lofty ideas and grand inventions. That we are still caught up in the ethnocentric mesh implies that we have not even begun to see ourselves as one nation. The mouths of our best citizens are still dripping with denunciations and calumniations against our fellow Ghanaians. We strain at the gnats in the eyes of our siblings while daily swallowing the great ethnic camel. Wherein lies progress for the people who have not yet begun to see themselves as one people? Whoever wants to interpret my writings should do so in cognizance with the foregoing contexts and the following beliefs which inform my views on ethnocentrism: The first is that it is too easy to demonize others whenever we allude to them in generalized terms. Whenever we think of a group in the abstract, we make it easier on ourselves to wish death and genocide on that group. The best way to consider any outsiders to our tribe is to think of them in individualized and particularized terms. Think of any Ewe or Akan you personally know and ask yourself whether you truly hate that person to the point where you will wish him dead. Your ignorance will come to the limelight when you discover that you do not have any such enemies in your life. Why then do we write bitter things against each other as if we are ready to slit our throats? My third belief is that the best way to assess the quality of a tribe is through its best citizens, not through its worst. We betray our illiteracy when we make individuals the trope of the tribe and cut the tribe down by the foolish actions of those individuals. Rawlings does not represent Ewes, and Kufuor does not represent Akans. Ewes and Asantes are represented by the best of their cultural heritage and the most creative of their citizenry, wherever those may be found. My fourth belief is in regard to the phenomenon of intrinsic and subconscious desire which we unconsciously share. It will surprise the hardest core tribalist here that in the recesses of their hearts, there is a deep groundswell of desire for peace and harmony amongst the tribes. Indeed, there may lurk within many hearts a sublime and subconscious admiration for those they love to hate. If in doubt, study the comments under any truly objective article seeking to bring unity and harmony amongst the tribes. Study the respect for those who initiate constructive dialogue in this theater of cacophony! Our souls are yearning for peace and harmony on ghanaweb, but we are simply rejecting the heart-beat of our common wishes. That is why we are full of praise and respect for those that feed this thirst of peace and harmony and reject the harmful hatred of the tainted ones. We must not be among the tainted ones. My final belief is that we are all wearing masks on ghanaweb, that is why we can easily write callow and callous texts and get away with it. The extent of our responsibility for what we write here vanishes with the daily change of variant monikers. If we are merely able to say what we say because of our variegated masks, we are archetypal cowards. The test of the integrity of our thoughts is that when we think them privately, we can, and are able to state them openly. If, under the color of our monikers, we disgorge filth and mouth discord, we are the chiefs of all cowards and the most ignoble of all hypocrites. I find it disappointing when our innermost reasoning passes through the mesh of bigotry and disguises itself as historical record or philosophical thought. We have no compunction for this bizarre illogic perhaps because no-one will ever find out that we are responsible for the trash we write here. We are a nation of good and intelligent people. There are many here who have done nothing to shock the national consciousness as the renegade siblings. There are those that look on the nation with pride and eschew corruption wherever it is found. There are those who are free from moral turpitude and maniacal jabber. There are those who want the nation to rise as one, and her people united in spirit, marching forward from prosperity to prosperity…..These are the best citizens by whose noble character the tribes must be properly defined. These are the true Ghanaians; these are the true humans; these are our true siblings. In their most private moments, they have never entertained the thought that there is a tribe that is inferior to theirs. In their subliminal thoughts, they have never entertained any ethnocentric notions. They are not waiting for excuses to spill ethnocentric chatter. They are the true representatives of their tribes. The reward of the true representatives of every tribe is that their thoughts will be recalled and quoted by generations to come; his ideas will be sustained and his views revered by those yet unborn. Out there, there are many of these genuine representatives of the tribes ready to take back the discourse from the hate-mongers on ghanaweb. They are not Akans; they are not Ewes; they are not Northerners. They are the true Ghanaians. Like Kwegyir Aggrey’s eagle, we are busy eating in a hencoop. Overnight, we can soar high and jettison the flotsam and jetsam in our lives- those ethnocentric habits of death eating at the entrails of our being. We are like blind wayfarers on a quest for our destiny’s keystone. Each tribe carries a piece of the secret code that solves the puzzle of our lives. Behind us is the great wasteland of missed opportunities, harboring the earthquakes of yesteryears, the tumultuous upheavals of the days gone by. Before us, the dense evergreen forest of hope. All around us is the vast deceptive mirage. Together, we walk the meandering trajectory to the great oasis, our hands clasped in each others’, our feet in lock-step. We trudge the winding paths in slow motions, each of us a vital link to the other. Thus we complete our existential chain. We work together, we dream together, we think together, we see together, we guide each other and inspire one another towards yonder hope, wherein lies the progress of our country-one nation, one people, one destiny.
Source: Samuel Adjei Sarfo
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