In a psychology class, it is an abomination to remind the tortured of the torture they received in the hands of the torturer. It is not nice to keep reminding the men whose dreams and goals you shattered how you shattered their dreams and goals. Not only does it worsen the mental state of the tortured men and yours, it further widens the already widened reconciliation gap. In law courts, a defendant guilty of perpetuating evil and injustice shows remorse, and not defiance or mockery. With reasonable remorse, the plaintiff could withdraw the case and the judge may soften the punishment for the crime. Remorse has the potential to heal the plaintiff, the potential to heal the defendant and society while empathy is built and there is a loud peace. This is human and logical.
In 1983, an executive order for the expulsion of illegal immigrants was signed by Shehu Shagari. Like Donald Trump’s war on illegal immigration, we expelled those who got here illegally, mostly Ghanaians, with the excuse of making Nigeria first. They were stealing and hoarding jobs and even touts that roamed our streets complained of Ghanian teachers taking jobs meant for them by virtue of citizenship. Qualified Ghanaian and African doctors were also guilty of stealing jobs meant for uneducated Nigerians. We found crude oil some years before the time, cash poured in but things were getting harder. One of our leaders under the influence of petroleum spirit once bragged that spending money is our problem not acquiring it.
We were swimming in the ocean of wealth and our African brothers, with bad, equal, good and better education tried to get paid. They weren’t involved in stealing or some shady deals. They weren’t troublemakers or trying to conquer us. They simply tried to offer a honorable service in return for material and immaterial values. They did fine until we tried to make ‘Nigeria Great Again’ and chased them out.
As they left our country they packed their wares in the popular bag now known as Ghana Must Go. They have gone and today the expulsion has not made any economic or cultural capital. They left to develop their country and we didn’t even make Nigeria First. What happened was that those in power made themselves first, their tribes and allegiance second and we are in fourth place wondering why we can’t fill the gap in third place.
Ghana Must Go is Hate Speech. Ghana Must Go is not a metaphor to be proud of or added to our poor rich lexicon but we were proud when we added it to the Nigerian Vocabulary. Jobs were cut shot, families lost emotional, mental, physical and financial bearing, rather than show remorse or empathy for our deeds we are making sure the burn never stop hurting. The Ogbanje and Abiku are gone but we keep invoking their spirits. The child packed property and departed but we are still obsessed with the bad pen name we gave him, the bad pen name that symbolises defeat, troubles, rejection and failure. The child is faring better now but we are still stuck in the past in thoughts and leadership.
We are still mocking and ridiculing him and at the same time we complain about poor tags given to us by others. When we try to chat with people from the West and they treat us like that nonexistent Nigerian Prince, we are hurt. We are hurt by bad western tags but we gave our brothers a similar tag. Names matter. Words matter. Etymologies matter. Joking with injustice ought not to be tolerated under any circumstance. We raped these people, bruised their egos, tore their body and spirit and made it abnormal to empathize. We gave those bags the Ghanaians left with the name ‘Ghana Must Go’ and till this day it has not changed.
The etymology of words tells a lot on the message they carry and convey. We have been laughing at Ghanaians who left and passing the hate speech to the next generation. When we say Ghana Must Go in reference to that bag, we are telling them that we are not sorry. We are telling the man who lost his mind when he was sent packing that his life means nothing to us. When we make fun of these people who added to our economy, culture, and improved us we are showing how crude we are. When we call that name we are showing the inhuman side of us that shouldn’t grace the front page. Like men with psychosis, we are proud of our mortal sins.
What we take as national conflict is often personal interest and conflict. For example, the US invaded Iraq searching for nonexistent nuclear weapons to nail Saddam Hussein because the government of Bush thought it wise to do so. It was simply a case of Bush attacking Saddam but it was interpreted as the US attacking Iraq. The administration of Barack Obama moved into Libya using NATO and the rebels as willing tools and the American people thought the tyrant in Libya was their problem. The interest of the people who make countries run is usually different from the interest of those who run the country. The masses simply want to see positive change in their lives but the people they elect to see to these positive change are interested in personal goals and fulfilments.
So, the leader, or president, starts something and convinces the ignorant masses that he is after their interest when he only cares about his personal agenda. They join him and protest the cause thinking they are together. He uses them and when he succeeds and their fortunes don’t change he looks for another distraction to keep them busy. That is what happened with Nigerians and the Ghanaians that were asked to leave. After they left, we didn’t get better but got worse. We didn’t improve on those structures their unholy presence rendered useless. We didn’t improve on human rights. Our educational system didn’t get better.
We simply joined our clueless leaders to wage a war of personal interest. If they were sent packing so our lives experience improvement, why didn’t we experience improvement from the men who showed them the door? We were simply distracted and conditioned to focus on a foreign enemy so that the enemy at home could have some peace. We were given the illusion of love. If they wanted to make us first, the most important aspect of us, the reason we can relate–our lives, would have been shown enough respect but we got torture instead. Subsequent regimes and administrations after that upgraded us. From treating Nigerians as second class domestic animals to treating Nigerians as wild animals. The illegal immigrants were culpable.
Ghana Must Go is Hate Speech! Ghana Must Go is hate speech! Ghana Must Go is hate speech!!! I’m trying to tap into the power of repetition because you can’t tell what works here anymore. Ghana Must Go is Nigerians own (subtle) Xenophobia but because we don’t see immediate loss of lives like we see in South Africa, we don’t think it worthy of attention. This is the stuff that propels the actual killings on the streets of South Africa. Those dumb people in South Africa who kill their fellow Africans didn’t get there in one day. They got there through the repetition and acceptance of stereotypes and tags. They got there by the assimilation, processing and regurgitating of hate speeches.
The thoughts were formed before the actions were executed. They sharpened those swords on sharp words and when their cup ran over, they spilled blood on the street. Today, it is not unusual to find Nigerians and Ghanaians having a battle on Social Media. We deploy warriors to find out who’s more savage on Twitter and Facebook and the loser leaves with a black eye. The hate speech is getting to us and we too dumb to change path, unfortunately. Ghanaians came to Nigeria to help themselves and help us in the process but we chased them out, mocked them and built on our failure. We are still piling up the fence of our divide and on the diplomatic front trying to extend a handshake.
What is the role of the ECOWAS and AU? Ghana Must Go Bag symbolizes and encapsulates that lack of seriousness, attention to humanity, empathy, sound knowledge and rudderless leadership in Nigeria. We make fun of those who are sick, make it a culture and when we are sick everyone makes fun of us because it is the culture. We make fun of those we hurt, make it a culture and when we are hurt, everyone makes fun of us because it has become the culture. It is easy to make fun of Ghanaians who lost families, jobs, dreams, peace, etc., because we have found humour and fun in everything. Even mad people don’t find humour in everything.
By Rey Alaetuo,
The author is a conscious Poet and healthcare professional living in Lagos, Nigeria.
Courtesy: Mortal Poet.