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Opinions Sat, 14 Dec 2019

To our returnee brothers and sisters; some vital tips to avoid being scammed in Ghana – Pt. One

Ghanaians are kind, courteous, considerate, compassionate, and God-fearing. They would hate for any visitor to come to any harm or experience any unpleasantness.

Most Ghanaians would be glad to yield their beds to a stranger, and sleep on the floor, expecting nothing in return, except for that deep never-to-be commercialized satisfaction of helping someone in need.

The majority would go out of their way to take you to your destination if they sense that giving you directions alone might lead you to an undesirable outcome. However, like in all societies, there is always a minority of bad nuts to look out for. As our brothers and sisters in the diaspora return to the land of their ancestors, in this year of return, they must exercise some needed caution.

You may wish to be guided all the time by these three mantras:

1. “Expect the best, but be prepared for the worst,” and

2. “If it seems too good to be true then it probably is,” plus

3. “You can be bitter or be better – choose to be BETTER,” plus

Always remember the majority of Ghanaians are kind, God-professing and compassionate people who wouldn’t hurt a fly – well, except for the odd mosquito and trouble-seeking housefly – but there are SOME, a small daring, criminally-minded, and not-so-caring minority that would behave like blood-suckers to prey on any unsuspecting victim – including visitors and returnees.

So, here are a few critical things you need to bear in mind, during your return, to avoid any unpleasantness or disappointments.

1. APATHY AND SEEMING LACK OF EMPATHY FROM YOUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN GHANA: As you visit the Slave Castles, Forts, and Dungeons, and experience some of the deepest emotions, with many questions about Slavery and the Slave Trade, please don’t get angry if your Ghanaian brothers and sisters do not seem to realize, empathize, or sympathize. Don’t personalize the fact that people living around the Forts and Castles do not seem to care about the horrors represented by these huge European-built structures in their communities. They do not hate you. Most simply do not know.

Many of the people you’ll meet in Ghana are simply ordinary citizens with no formal education, not enough knowledge of the history of the slave trade to appreciate the full impact and implications of this centuries-long horror.

Many are poor fisher folk eking out a living on a day to day basis. Many are unwitting victims of the slave trade who have simply not been told or taught what really happened. Some of the educated ones may have encountered many slave narratives and may have become somehow jaded about this matter.

Some may have chosen to file it away somewhere so they wouldn’t confront the horror. MOST IMPORTANTLY: the Ghanaian educational curricula have been negligent so far, in teaching about slavery, the slave trade, and its ongoing impact on the Ghanaian society. So, please, do not get angry at your brothers and sisters who don’t seem to feel your pain. They mean no harm, in reality.

2. DON’T BUY THAT LAND – NOT JUST YET: Yes, you’ve returned to the motherland. You have done what your parents and grandparents and their ancestors just didn’t get the chance to do. You’re among “your people” and for a moment you’re just a man, a woman, a lady or a gentleman, and no one tags you as a “black” man or a “black” lady. You don’t live in a “black” neighborhood.

In fact, there is no “black” to define you anywhere in the Motherland. (Quite paradoxically too, because of your lighter skin and slim nose and facial features, some of the little locals start calling you, “Obroni” or White person – to your dismay, miscomprehension, and incredulity.) This is a feeling the locals – who have never travelled to the Whiteman’s lands – cannot fully appreciate. Your head is filled with liberation. Your heart is light. Your soul is experiencing some levity. YOU BELONG HERE. You could live here.

It’s exhilarating, intoxicating, and amazing. Then, you encounter a suave, smooth-talking, and good-looking Ghanaian man (and it’s usually a man) claiming to the son of the King and a cousin of the president, and offering you land (maybe on the seashore, for a fraction of what you paid for that SUV back in the US. PLEASE, DON’T GO FOR IT. Don’t part with any monies yet, please. You may be offered documents allegedly “proving” the land and the deal is legit or kosher– DON’T DO IT.

PLEASE, BE WARY, BECAUSE THERE ARE TOO MANY PEOPLE WHO SELL THE SAME LAND TO SEVERAL DIFFERENT PEOPLE. So, what do you do when you wish to buy land in Ghana? That would be the subject of a separate and detailed post. But here are a few quick things to check:

1. Contact the Association of African-Americans in Ghana

2. Engage the services of a “reputable, credible, and highly-recommended” realtor and lawyer if intent on purchasing land from the get go or onset.

3. Just rent and relax for now … DO NOT RUSH INTO A LAND DEAL – NO MATTER HOW APPEALING – IN GHANA.

4. Take a year or two to test the settlement plan or business idea

Just don’t part with any monies yet. Don’t fall too easily for any scams. HOLD ON AND JUST ENJOY THE MOMENT FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH. TAKE YOUR TIME.

3. DON’T FALL FOR, “I WANT YOU TO BE MY WIFE”: In Ghana, I am fully convinced that if you’re a beautiful and attractive woman, it is often the daring but not so truthful who would make a move on you. You’ll not be easily approached by the decent and honest ones. I believe the decent men are usually reserved, tongue-tied, taken, or … you name it.

The rough, cavalier, and carefree ones are probably the ones who would approach a returnee sister and try to woo you. “I want to marry you,” is as cheap and as common as a candy in a Dollar Store in the Bronx. PLEASE, please don’t fall for it. Accept the compliments and praise but give your heart some breathing space in the Motherland. LOVE CAN COME LATER. TRUE LOVE CAN ALWAYS WAIT.

Yes, some sisters (and brothers) can find and have found true love in the Motherland, but there are also stories of heartache, hurt, and dashed dreams. So, if he’s proposing to you within 12 hours of you meeting him, just step back and ask, what happened to his girlfriend or wife of last month? Do you know this person enough? Do you know some of their friends and family? Are you sure?

Columnist: Ben Dotsei Malor