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Opinions of Sunday, 9 July 2017

Columnist: Rockson Adofo

The self-humiliating Ghanaian hospitality

The Ghanaian hospitality is renowned worldwide. Any foreigner that comes to Ghana commends the people for their hospitality and goes away with the knowledge of, and appreciation for, the Ghanaian hospitality which is unrivalled the world over, I should think.

However, is our excessive kowtowing to, and overly submissiveness in rendering service to these foreigners in acts of portraying how kind and protective the Ghanaian is to the foreigner, the constitution of what is the Ghanaian hospitality, not detrimental to the Ghanaian themselves?

There is absolutely nothing wrong about being kind towards your neighbour, especially, a foreigner. Nonetheless, the Ghanaian goes extra miles for their kindness to be misinterpreted for weakness if not stupidity, by the very person he/she is being hospitable to. This is where my worry lies.

In an acclaimed proverbial statement, it is said, “Taking my leniency to be my weakness”. When you become overly lenient, people do take it to be a sign of weakness on your part. Therefore, they decide to take advantage of you. Evidence of this is not far fetched when we consider the current untoward attitudes by the Chinese immigrants in Ghana towards the Ghanaian natives.

In all that the Chinese are doing to us, spoiling the country’s ecosystem through unrestrained illegal surface mining (galamsey), obstructing the education of the youth in Central region by their mushrooming illegal gambling machines springing up in every corner of the region to entice the children not to go to school but to steal their parent’s money to do gambling, etc., Ghanaians still prostrate to them, rendering unqualified service to them in what is a reflection of the adorable Ghanaian hospitality.

A Ghanaian in Ghana will take sides with a foreigner against his/her own fellow Ghanaian regardless of the circumstance. This is where I do not get it. Our West African neighbours, the Nigerians especially, upon all their criminalities and disrespect towards the Ghanaian, we still support them in the exhibition of our Ghanaian hospitality. This is the more reason why the Nigerian sees the Ghanaian as weak, stupid and amenable.

Every Tom, Dick and Harry, wants to take advantage of the Ghanaian all because of our unregulated culture of hospitality. In the name of, and upholding, hospitality, the Ghanaian will lie low or flat to be walked over by a foreigner.

How often than not has a foreigner, especially those with businesses in Ghana, not abused the Ghanaian with impunity? Many years ago, I read that in Kumasi a Lebanese sawmill owner poured boiling water into the ears of two of his Ghanaian night workers caught sleeping. A Lebanese or a Syrian restaurant supervisor recently dipped the face of a Ghanaian female worker in the restaurant into a blender of pepper. In all such instances, the overbearing Ghanaian hospitality coupled with the obvious judicial corruption made the prosecution of such culprits a complete joke. They are practically set free; an indirect indication of the Ghanaian being a second class citizen in his/her own land.

When we come abroad, the Ghanaian unlike the Nigerian may not want to help their fellow Ghanaian but rather sabotage him/her. This is seen in workplaces and in the open society. Honestly, I find this character of the Ghanaian weird.

Is it not said charity begins at home? Why can’t we help ourselves as fellow Ghanaians but would rather choose to help foreigners more than we would help a fellow Ghanaian? Our renowned hospitality may amount to pure stupidity and self-humiliating if we cannot support a fellow Ghanaian more or in the same way as we will support foreigners found within our midst.

By this expressed view, I am not calling on Ghanaians to turn against foreigners or to be less receptive towards them. No! I am rather calling on Ghanaians to render equal service to their fellow Ghanaians as they do to foreigners that they come across. This contention of mine is buttressed by a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. that goes as, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that”.

Finally, Ghanaians need to re-examine themselves by changing their unhelpful attitudes if indeed we want to prosper as a people and a nation. Until then, the attainment of our collective wellbeing will not be forthcoming but stuck somewhere in the sky unreachable by us. To end this, let me emphasize the point I am making with a quote from former US President Barack Obama. He said, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek”.

Let us change our Ghanaian mentality, hospitality and ways of doing things without which achievement Ghana as a nation will labour hard but will still be stagnant with her citizens continually suffering humiliation and deprivation.