The 'Shithole' in perspective

Oscar Trinity.jpeg The writer, Oscar Bimpong

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 Source: Oscar Bimpong

I wrote an article titled the positive side of Donald Trump after he won the election because his journey to the presidency was a matter of self belief. However getting power has showed too many negative side of him and one of the most damaging is his recent description of Haitians and Africans.

There is a Ghanaian proverb that states "only the fool points at his origins with his left hand". For example, this means that do you deny where you come from because it’s a village? Meaning you have to be proud of where you come from. If you hate where you come from, then obviously you cannot be proud of your identity. Embracing your challenges and working hard to overcome them no matter how difficult it is the way forward in life. That is to say that, it is obvious Africa has its own challenges but does that makes them live in a sh*thole as proclaimed by Donald Trump, the 45th president of the United States.

For some of us who have had the privilege of living abroad for some time now knows that this so-called American and Europe dream that many Africans yearn to be a part can be a serious myth.

I have been a regular visitor to my native country Ghana the last decade and I’m fully convinced that Ghana is a progressive country. Many young Africans are doing better than their so-called counterparts living in Europe and America. This is a serious hard truth. I remember in 2008 I arrived in Ghana with four of friends from Europe around the same time. All the other four came back with their Master's Degree looking for a job and I was the only one that had a business in place. So I integrated into the system from day one engaging in my business. However, it was very tough for four of my colleagues as getting a job weren’t that easy. It took them from six to fifteen months for all of them to get a job. Some started with jobs they didn't like, but at least it kept them going as it did pay the bills. Though it wasn't easy initially, there was one thing I learnt from them and that was they were not going back to Europe so the only option they had was to survive in Ghana.

I was, therefore, the only one that returned back to Europe after three years.

Fast forwarded to October 2017 when I visited Ghana for my maiden STEPOUT Summit and I decided to visit all four friends. Words cannot describe what I experienced. They were all having very good jobs now, the mansions they have built for themselves, the SUVs parked, their small businesses on the side and their poise to achieve more kept me thinking till date. Also, other friends and colleagues, I have had the opportunity to meet were in a similar situation. This is not to say that there are no challenges in Ghana but this was just to let me understand how the country has moved forward the last two decades and I can say the lower middle class in Ghana are doing exceptionally well.

I then compared the achievements of my friends in almost a decade to most of the people living in this overhyped Europe and America where life is on autopilot and many works so hard and very long hours just to service bills. A world where you have almost everything but can potentially be poor and not happy because it is a ‘vampire system’ that is based on indebtedness to survive not even talk about thriving.

For example, if someone is living in a nice house in America or Europe, it is either a mortgage or its rented. In Ghana, they build their own house. Majority of people living in Europe and America when driving a nice car is on finance whilst their Ghanaian counterparts buy it in cash. This goes to show that there is a paradigm shift and I believe the opportunities are now shifting to Africa.

Therefore this statement by Donald Trump is a silent operator that defines Africans in the diaspora as well. That is the black man works so hard but finds it difficult to move forward on the corporate ladder in the diaspora. This ‘sh*thole syndrome’ is the barometer that measures the non-progress of many Africans living in Europe and America that passionately works harder to succeed in an environment where they are less appreciated. In certain circumstances, your colour is an obvious disadvantage, your accent disqualifies you in certain sensitive positions and your appearance can stamp the word NO on your forehead no matter how good you are in what you do. That means many institutions in this Europe and America have categorized Africans living in diaspora in a special sh*thole that affects their progress. This is not to say that some Africans are not breaking through in diaspora but we are talking the scale of the breakthrough.

Therefore self-belief sometimes has eluded some young Africans that are doing well because of the brainwash of what I call the ‘Europe - America better life syndrome’. For me, I believe Africa is the new first world. The opportunities are endless and I call Africa the Virgin land of untapped opportunities.

No one is smarter than what I call the new Africa. The young African today is not naive but knowledgeable with a strong passion to succeed. I believe this Sh*thole conversation is just a wake-up call for us to get out of that sh*thole limiting our beliefs. My problem is that if you accept this stands by DT and decide not to do anything about it as an African, then that means you are indeed in a sh*thole.

The fact is the gun crime, racism, mass shooting, rape, homegrown terrorist, gang culture etc is a lifestyle of the American, yet they are still proud of their nation. Why can’t we also be proud of where we come from amidst the challenges we are facing?

This is not to say Africa does not have any challenges. Its challenges are enormous but I believe that there is hope as we are not where we were two decades ago. Some of the leadership in Africa is also not helping. However, does that makes us live in a sh*thole? I believe when we dwell on the positives, the synergy created can lead to more positive vibes that can take the continent to the next level.

For me, I don't accept personally anything negative that a third party tags me with. Why would I accept someone calling my identity sh*thole in spite of any challenges that I’m going through? I believe you become what you accept. So for those Africans saying Donald Trump is right, he is right and that is the hard truth, but on the flipside, it's not the best way to show great leadership calling a whole continent sh*thole. We expect better from him and young people want to experience exemplary leadership, not the one that establishes conflict and confusion. My advice to all Africans backing DT is to do something about the Sh*thole that we are in. We all have a role to play for us to get out of this sh*thole. If you continue to live in a Sh*thole without doing anything about it makes you a Sh*thole yourself.

Do your part for us to come out of this sh*thole instead of accepting this derogatory statement from a man who I see as very insecure in all things. Let's look at the positives happening on the continent to inspire hope for the future. As for me, I will do my part to continue to work harder to get Africa out of that Sh*thole. I will, therefore, entreat you to do the same. Remember together we stand, divided we fall.

Let's be the best we can be as Africans.

Be proud of Ghana, be proud of Africa.


Remember it's possible if only you believe.

Author: Oscar Bimpong

Email: info@oscarbimpong.com

Columnist: Oscar Bimpong
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