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Opinions of Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Columnist: Sarfo, Samuel Adjei

Our Responsibility within the Democratic Dispensation. Part II

The Inherent Stupidity of Ethnocentric Bigotry

By Dr. Samuel Adjei Sarfo

Attorney and Counselor at Law

It is not possible for even God to cure the inherent retardation of those who adhere to the prejudices of ethnocentrism. But it should suffice for us, as voters, to ignore them as the chief idiots of our society. Because it should be a matter of great mystery to all right-thinking people that in a society of the same race in which the only identifiable difference is in language, there are those who claim to be superior to others by dint of this narrow differential. In Ghana, traditions and cultures are morphed, and intermarriages are rampant to the extent where originality of ethnicities have long attenuated. As a result, it should be easier for our society to integrate into one, without reference to so-called tribe or even ethnicity. For under the circumstances, these terms constitute artificial typologies with which we daily impede our progress and unity as one nation, one people with one destiny. After all, there is no known racial or even ethnic taxonomy based solely on language. Thus language differences cannot form any basis to classify the genetic make-up of the typical Ghanaian who ethnically and racially belongs to the Black race.

And this artificial nomenclature is the more risible because in our designation and characterization of our own brothers and sisters as inferior, we reveal and reenact primordial ignorance and optical illusion to people of other races who have no difficulty seeing all Blacks as one people, even if it is for the purpose of denigrating us or emasculating us or even enslaving us. Thus we are the only people that have concocted a laughable classification to divide or describe ourselves, whereas outsiders do not accept or even recognize as scientific the very basis of our typology. There will never be a time in developed countries where you can fill out equal opportunity forms with any space for your African language. We are all either Blacks or African Americans.

And we have encouraged disrespect for ourselves by first disrespecting ourselves. Remember that our most educated scholars and politicians still eyeball other categories of our people for calumny just because of some imaginary blood flowing through their veins on account of their languages, whereas there is no different blood flowing through the vein of an Asante or Fante or Ewe or Dagomba. And the whole concept of nationhood is again diminished by the conduct of our leaders who constantly make references to our divisions, and not our unity. There are also those who, for some unknown reasons, do not make so much noise on account of their achievements in life but rather go all out to boast of their immutable characteristics. There is some rationality in lauding triumph in the face of great vicissitudes, or victory in the face of daunting odds; but how can a person assert pride from his immutable origins or even hereditary history? And if this type of attitude emanates from people we call our leaders, then where is the nationhood of our nation? And the foolishness of these enlightened few is evident in the fact that they think they can still court the masses to their side by alienating others through their bigotry. To this extent, these dunderheads are trying to achieve the impossible mathematical feat of realizing multiplication by subtraction. These same social class go to church and make obstreperous declarations of their love of God and their wish to see peace and harmony among all humankind. They also, in some bout of pan African patriotism, call for the unity of the whole continent while harboring at home extreme resentment for their fellow citizens. They also wax lyrical about their love for Ghana, its national culture and the hospitality of her people. They are also the loudest in condemning racism and xenophobia elsewhere, or chanting the slogans of national unity when they forget themselves. These are thus minions of incipient folly and hypocrisy of the gargantuan kind.

So we can completely consign into the bottomless pit these so-called educated goons who drag the umbilical cord of their ethnocentric prejudices wherever they go, making sure that their voices are muzzled in the prescient discourse of our times. We should not hesitate to label them for what they are: veritable monarchs of the regime of idiocy.

But in doing this, we must not allow the more subtle ethnic engineers to get away with their subliminal prejudice against other groups. This class of people are those who react to ethnocentric prejudices or statements with far greater ethnocentric prejudice. These people are daily trolling the media sites for foolish ethnocentric statements made by others in order to pour oil on them and to spread the fires of hatred among the people. Thus, when someone makes any negative comment against another ethnic group, these people respond by making a sweeping response that implicates the offenders’ whole ethnic group. Instead of admonishing that individual and educating the person about the beauty of unity, they will make the offending person an archetypal representative of his or her people and call on his traditional chief or political leader to apologize on his or her behalf, blowing up his faux pas as typical of his language group.

And here, the offence of a single person is perceived as the generational offense of his group. Ironically, any exceptional achievement by any individual within his group will not be viewed as a representative performance of his group, and might even be seen as an exception to the common prejudicial defect ascribed to the larger group. So the preference to see prejudice as individual weakness is not sufficiently attractive to us; rather, we aim to expatiate, expound, expand and extend the prejudicial comment to milk it for our own political or ethnocentric purposes. In this sense, we are in no way working to unite the nation, but rather dividing it up on the pretext that a whole group are accountable by association to what its single member has misstated out of sheer ignorance and congenital stupidity.

And by succumbing to this typical chicanery and thereby harboring hatred and suspicions amongst our people, we deviate from our responsibility to advance the cause of unity among our people and therefore play to the gallery of the greedy politicians. We make ourselves instruments of national destruction if, due to this farcical trick upon our minds, we take the decision to vote against the capable ones and for ethnic considerations, decide to keep in office those who can only rule when the nation is sorely divided, or when there is prejudice and venom of group against group, or when one sordid statement is twisted and turned into a group mantra in order to calumniate, contemn and condemn other groups.
I have said elsewhere that in voting for our leaders, there is only one standard to observe: and that is the question as to who will best represent the interest of the Ghana project. Is it the present government comprising a group of hard-nosed immature, corrupt and inept individuals bent on duping the nation? Or is it at all possible that there is a better alternative elsewhere among the other parties? If the question is simplified like this, the issue of ethnocentric prejudice will take a back seat, and no moronic antics or termagant foolery will serve as subterfuge to detract and distract us from making the right choice of our leadership.

Samuel Adjei Sarfo, J.D., is a practicing attorney in Austin Texas. He writes the weekly column, “Thoughts of a Native Son” for Ghana’s New Statesman. You can email him at