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I just recently finished the 6th book in Dr. Maya Angelou’s autobiographical series. It was so readable; I finished it within hours. Good heavens, Dr. Angelou’s mastery of the written and spoken word makes one want to write something! Alas, as I was reading, I came across this line in her book “A Song Flung up to Heaven”, a statement attributed to Vasumzi Make a South African Lawyer and Political Activist and second husband as follows: “that she (Dr. Angelou) was one of those African Americans who found something in Ghana, and always had a soft spot for Africans in general and Ghanaians in particular”.
Here is an African American woman, educated through her life’s experiences instead of an institution of higher learning, a talented Writer, Actor, Director, Professor, Poet (wrote “On the Pulse of Morning”, which she read at Former President Bill Clinton’s inauguration in 1993) as well as many other works and notable poems; a woman who knew the “Who is Who” of the African liberation struggles, the Giants of the Civil Rights movement including Malcom X, and Martin Luther King Jr., “Who is Who” of African American Actors and Writers Guilds; one who has traveled the world over, yet her love affair with Ghana is not second, not even to her own country United States. From her writings about her experiences in Ghana, one can sense this sincere fondness of Ghana, even to the point of having declared herself an Nkrumaists and having wept for Ghana when Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was deposed in the coup of 1966(see “A Song Flung up to Heaven”).
Dr. Angelou has even written a children’s book (Kofi and his Magic) where the main character was a seven year old Ghanaian boy. Dr. Angelou loved and trusted Ghana so much that she had allowed her then Nineteen year old only son Guy Johnson to remain in Ghana with her trusted Ghanaian friends to complete his university education at Legon, whereas she returned to the States. Dr. Angelou’s love for Ghana was a result of her having immersed herself in the fabric of Ghanaian life as she vividly described in “All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes”, having been an Assistant Administrator at Legon, and also having worked for Ghana Broadcasting Corporation and The Graphic Times from 1963-1966.
Incidentally, I started reading “a Song Flung up to Heaven” on the day the United States Embassy in Ghana released a precautionary warning to its citizens regarding the upcoming verdict by the Supreme Court to resolve the impasse of Ghana’s election 2012 . I wondered to myself, what would Dr. Angelou think about the current state of affairs in Ghana? I wondered if she still followed affairs from her once “adopted” homeland. I know that Dr. Angelou is now frail in body, being 85 years young as they say, but no less frail in her superbly creative mind that coins the written word as it if it could only have spilled from the depth of her spirit. I wondered if she had visited Ghana in the last 20 years, what would have been her impressions. How would she have described the slow but sure transformation of Ghana since she left in 1966? Would she be proud of Ghana today?
In what ways would she be proud I wondered? I can bet she would most be proud of Ghanaians for their peacefulness in the midst of a historically violence ridden West African region. She would be proud that Ghana had become a safe haven for refugees and not the creator of refugees due to political and social violence. I think she would applaud Ghana for that, among many things. I myself, albeit a harsh critic of the sometimes sordid political discourse and deeply rooted corruption that had grown and festered among the Ghanaian populace, am subtly proud of the land of my birth for the peace it has maintained since coming out of a history of oppressive coups and military leaderships into a relatively stable multi-party democratic state. Ghana now has a satisfactorily growing economy, even better than the West in some respects, and is seen internationally as a beacon of democracy in West Africa.
Ghana is inching towards middle income status, a place where in yester years one was either part of a very small elite class or part of the overwhelmingly underclass. There is now emerging a sizeable and distinguishable middle class who are building and owning modern homes, driving modern cars, taking advantage of every technological advancement availed them and educating their children in both Ghana and abroad. I bet Dr. Angelou would be proud; in fact very proud of the slow but sure path that Ghana has embarked upon to lead her people to greener pastures; perhaps from Marah to Elim or from Egypt through the wilderness and now on its way to Canaan.
I also wonder how Dr. Angelou would feel if she were following the vitriolic and politically charged environment that has accompanied Ghana’s elections in the 4th Republic’s democratic and multiparty rule; the vitriolic tribal sentiments expressed by political leaders in the media, in an attempt to divide and conquer for selfish political gains. I bet she would be deeply disappointed! Although she was well aware of the tribal nuances that plagued Ghana in the 60’s when she was there, and about which she wrote; I am almost certain she would be appalled to know that today, Ghanaians intermarry more than ever, yet are more ethnocentric and tribal than ever because of political machinations.
I bet Dr. Angelou would be very sad and perhaps even come to the verge of weeping yet again, at the thought that the destructive ideology of “me or nobody else” attitude of Africans in general, and politicians in particular, could be a primary cause in pushing Ghana to the verge of chaos, if care is not taken. GOD FORBIDS! As a Ghanaian by birth, I worry for Ghana’s stability as that day August 29th approaches! I worry that although the majority of Ghanaians are very peaceful and tolerant, enough animosity exists in the hearts of a few “evil tares” among the “wheat” in society who could diabolically manipulate “green eyed” and desperate youths into doing something untoward and uncharacteristically Ghanaian, leading to possible destruction and mayhem in Ghana. GOD FORBIDS!
Therefore, in the spirit of Dr. Angelou’s admiration for Ghana and my own undying love for that good land, I am urging all our brothers and sisters to exercise wisdom and caution leading to, and after the declaration of the verdict by the Supreme Court. I urge ALL to seek peace and pursue it with all diligence. I urge ALL to let the Spirit rule over their flesh and to “love one another because as the Bible says, love covers a multitude of sins”… I urge the Youths in particular to remember the famous words of Osagyefo Dr. Nkrumah that “your nation Ghana is free at last” and to march “forward ever, backward never!
Finally, and especially to the Ghanaian Youths; VALUE YOUR LIFE! VALUE THE LIFE OF OTHERS AND THE INFRASTRUCTURES OF GHANA AND DO NOTHING TO BRING DESTRUCTION TO OUR MOTHERLAND!
IN THE FAMOUS WORDS OF DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, “I HAVE A DREAM”, THERE SHALL BE PEACE IN GHANA!
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