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Opinions of Thursday, 8 February 2007

Columnist: Allotey, Henry Kpakpo

Independence: What Your Teacher Did not tell you

In 1957 The British Empire had one of the most, if not the most sophisticated arsenal in the world; she was a super-power in every sense of the word. The Empire earned money from dozens of colonies all over the world. Let us face it-they could have bombed us back into the stone-age if they wanted to. For reasons best known to them they chose to succumb to our demands for independence. It takes a certain degree of naivety to assume that the granting of our independence was based on some high moral standard that dictated that self rule was better than colonial rule. Lest we forget, these are the same folks who saw black people as less than human, sold slaves and raped slave women for more than two hundred years. They even tried to use biblical texts to justify some of these atrocities against the black race. Anyone who has visited The Cape Coast Castle will see the irony of their teachings in the proximity of the slave dungeons to the church; they saw no link between the inhumanity of slave trade and their religious convictions. It was amazing how they could do business without any sense of morality whatsoever! The history of how Britain had dealt with rebellious colonies over the centuries is inconsistent with the line of thinking which suggests that they had our best interest at heart. The United States had to defeat them in the American war of independence in order to win their freedom. The question is: Why didn't Great Britain use their military might to keep us in the British Empire? Did they suddenly start seeing the essence of freedom for the natives? Did they truly believe that we were ready for self-rule? Did they ever dream that some day they would have to give away The Gold Coast to the so called NATIVES?

In our educational curriculum, we are given comprehensive socio-politico-economic reasons why we became independent. Our great men did a lot to accelerate the independence process, but that will be discussed at a different time; at the moment we will like to examine why the British acted completed out of character. Whatever you were taught in school was just an abridged version of the long story. The reasons given in our text books-mostly written by Englishmen- do not adequately explain why the British decided to give up such a viable colonial business venture.

As a punishment for the vanquished ( After the second world war), among other measures taken to weaken them, Germany was also forced to give up all her colonies in Africa. The booty was shared among the victors as spoils of war. If colonization had not been a lucrative business this act would not have constituted a punishment!

For starters, the 'colonial' business was not a charity. The crown made millions of pounds from her colonies and like every business profit dictated its continuity and eventual life-span. In the beginning there was gold, diamond, manganese and other sources of income for the colonial masters. The colonies also served as a viable market for foreign goods. After more than two centuries of colonization these resources were in the last stages of depletion; it was becoming less profitable year in and year out. There came a point when it became clear that in a few years'

time the British government might have to subsidize in order to make ends meet. Since this situation was never anticipated the colonial government did not know what to do. In reality they saw our demands for independence as a way for them to become independent of us. Crushing us in a war would have meant that they would have had to use their own resources to rebuild a country they had nurtured in the first place. This made no sense to them; it was cheaper to let go.

The British knew that we could not be possibly prepared academically for self-government because the educational structure they designed for us was not intended to create leaders; the best a native could become was either a priest or a clerk. At the back of their minds they knew that we would continue to need their leadership and technical expertise so they would be back as expatriates. Kwame Nkrumah aptly saw this ploy and named it neo-colonialism. They were right because the expatriates are still around fifty years later. The colonial masters-whose mother tongue was English-knew that independence was just an empty word because we were bound to depend on them in other more important ways. They had control over the content of our education so in essence they had control over our minds. Our examinations were graded in London for a lot of reasons that we took for granted. They trained us to think like them. We saw a new Ghana and they envisaged a New Britain in West Africa.

Over the years they brainwashed us into talking, thinking and even dressing like them. It was considered uncultured for an educated person to wear African cloths in public. The change was so subtle that we embraced it wholeheartedly. Some of us were so "brofolized" that we modified our names to sound British believing that it would give us more respect.

Kwame Nkrumah dropped his birth name, Francis Nwiah, as a personal protest against this vicious de-culturalization.

The colonial masters, were white supremacists who, believed that one day we would come crawling back to them like the proverbial prodigal son. As members of The British Commonwealth of Nations they hoped to monitor our eventual failure in a few years. Well, fifty years later we are still going strong and they are still waiting for us to give them an S.O.S. call.

Now think about this: If the whiteman, on arriving in our continent, had come to meet a desolate land with no gold, diamond, silver or fertile soil would they have stayed? Colonizing any group of people is wrong, immoral and demeaning. Who gave them that 'divine'

right to be be masters over us? Do you have any idea what would have happened if we had gone there first?

Chances are that they would have shot us on sight and kept our women as sex slaves. They came here without visas but they demand good reasons from us before they give us visas to even go and play soccer let alone migrate. Well, we demand a retrospective visa for your first visit!?

KPAKPO ALLOTEY
NEWARK N.J.


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