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Opinions of Thursday, 10 June 2010

Columnist: Mensema, Akadu N.

Crucible of Chinese Studies: Our Short Memories & Tortured Histories

*By Akadu Ntiriwa Mensema, Ph. D.

**Dedicated to Dr. Ephraim Amu; Prof. A. Adu Boahen; Prof. Kwame Arhin; Prof.
Francis Agbodeka, Prof. M. A. Kwamena-Poh; Prof. R. Addo-Fening; Prof. Kofi Asare
Opoku; and Prof. Ama Atta Aidoo for their stellar resuscitation of Ghanaian
histories and cultures.

“The Chinese Embassy in Ghana on Thursday donated about 600 books to the University
of Ghana towards the introduction and study of Chinese language in the country. The
books, which cover various aspects of ancient and modern China, range from
philosophy, history, politics, economy, culture and arts, religion, sports,
medicine, geography and tourism. Dr C.K.N Badasu of the Department of Modern
Languages of the University received the books on behalf of the Authorities and
expressed gratitude to the Embassy for the support” (MyJoyOnline Friday April 30,

Our Ghana is lost
Our worrying signs of blackness
Lost in the hands befuddled elites
Who ask no questions
But have all the appalling answers
Vampire thievery elites
Educated vultures hovering
Hovering over foreign carcasses
Scavengers of foreign used materials
Prey on discarded histories of hegemony
Anything foreign is better
Better than our local worldviews, ontology
So now we have Chinese Studies
While Krobo, Guan, Ewe, Ga
Dagbani, Konkomba, Denkyira
Nzema, Sefwi, Bono
Asante, Fante, Agona
Akuapem, Akyem
All are being lost
Lost in the curricula of life
Of curricula of mummified atrophy

We have had hegemonic English
French, German
And now Chinese
Outsiders learn our histories
To preserve their constructed hegemonies
We learn their histories to hate our histories
Yes, the English
The French, Americans
All have done so
Learn our histories to demonize us
From their home-grown perspectives
To promote their racist epistemologies
To promote their hegemonies
To promote their careers
Specialists in Africa studies
Pathfinders of African Studies/Histories
Pathological studies carved in deceit

Hurray hurray now come the Chinese
The Ming, Qing, Song, Tang
Now we have Chinese Studies
Confucianism, Legalism
Oracle bones, the Great Wall
The Yellow River and rice
Bronze material culture
Eunuchs in the service of emperors
Sanguinary despots
Of human sacrifice
Of ancestor “worship”
Of footbinding women
Of the Chinese Revolution

These foreign histories, cultures
All will eclipse, overshadow
Our tortured histories
Of enslavement, colonialism
Of the postcolony, Neocolonialism
Of our short memories of fratricides
Of our tortured histories of exploitation
And so we forget about Acheampong
Kutu’s Operation Feed Yourself
Of the bastardized JJ Rawlings
Of his rags to riches history
Of limpidly sad eyes of Liman
Liman’s stoic peace wrapped in dissent
Dissent hatched by JJ Rawlings
Nursed by the socialist thieves
Of the Kofi Awonoors
Ahwois, ET Mensahs
Kwesi Botchways, Tsikatas
Educated thieves in incandescent robes
Robes besmeared with Socialism
Eye kanea eye hann
Of rags to riches histories
Histories of so many thieves
Of the Sekyi-Hugheses, Kwamina Bartelses
Ahwois, PV Obeng, ET Mensah, Tsikatas
Obed Asamoahs the mattress banker
Oh! So many tortured histories

We now have Chinese histories, cultures
Poor souls, poor Ghanaians
To assuage our painful past
Catapulted to the heavens of elitist riches
Paradise lost in swaggering
Of swaggering in used clothes
Of swaggering in used cars
Of swaggering in used underwear
Of swaggering in tired ideas
That have subsumed our histories
Of enslavement of European domination
Of postcolonial recklessness
And now we have Chinese histories
Histories that would assuage our pain
Of our anemic thievery-addled state
Of our unrequited love for foreign things
In the paradise of our hollow worldview

*Akadu N. Mensema, Ph. D., is a nationalist Denkyira beauty. She is a trained oral
historian cum sociologist and Professor in the USA. She lives in Pennsylvania with
her great mentor and teaches Africa-area studies at a college in Maryland. In her
pastime, she writes what critics have called “populist hyperbolic, satirical”
poetry. She can be reached at