“Shared History” and Decolonising the #RoyalVisitGhana

Last week British successor to the throne, Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, more popularly known as Camilla, came to Ghana for a four-day visit. The tour was part of a 9 day West Africa visit with stops in not just Ghana, but the Gambia and Nigeria as well.

Britain was heavily involved in the transatlantic slave trade which greatly affected and weakened what is now Ghana, subsequently tightened its grasp through bloody wars with the local kings and leaders, especially the Ashanti kingdom. In 1874, the protectorate of Gold Coast was proclaimed and until 1957 when Ghanaian freedom fighters negotiated independence, the British flag flew over this land and Gold Coast people were killed, exploited, and without basic rights. Hence, a state visit from the former colonizer with such a power imbalance infused history is symbolically important and interesting to study – and discuss, see info on an event below!

With this background, I was shocked and outraged when I saw the UK in Ghana facebook account discussed the visit with the words “celebration of a shared culture” – how is this bloody past equal to “a shared love of Ghanaian music”? Since when?


But was later informed of the major billboards around town which had President Akuffo Addo and Prince Charles on them along with the text “Shared History, Shared Future”, a message that both omits and distorts reality and hence insults the intelligence of Ghanaians. What is shared about being exploited? What is shared from one entity exporting its language, education system, religion at the expense of the other? What is shared if one nation colonized the other?

A Facebook friend also pointed out that the shared future, propped up by an acute need for trading partners for the UK ahead of the automatic (Br)exit from the EU next year…


And there were other things:


As Ghanaian artist Fuse ODG complained in this video and Satirist Machiavelli drew something only Ghanaians can understand…

Now, this is not just Britain’s doing. Ghana has to think harder in how it positions itself when power visits. Look at the Benin traditional leader asking Prince Charles to return stolen goods, for instance. Or is there a gain to Ghana (or the Ghanaian elite?) for playing along I do not understand?

Come discuss tonight Saturday 10 Nov at Libreria at 6.30pm!

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Magnum Ghana Cocoa – Ice Cream for the Europe Market

After having had my blog hacked into last week, my blogging time was eaten up (a suitable expression for this post!) by changing passwords etc. While I am on this topic, if you haven’t changed your blog’s password – or email password for that matter –  this year, do it today!

Anyways, now I am back with a snack!

In Europe, they are at this time celebrating the yearly return of the sun and good weather. And what always comes with nice and temperate times…?

Yes: Ice Cream. This year, the celebrated Magnum kind of ice-cream-on-a-stick has created a Ghanaian version with Ghanaian chocolate! This follows the trend of chocolate as a more refined sweet. These days, people are specific when they want chocolate – they might want a certain brand (Valrhona is supposed to be one of the best), a certain cocoa percentage (70% cocoa melts in your mouth, 80% and above can taste bitter, although preferred by some) and maybe even a specific country of origin for the bean (say Ghana or Ecuador).

Magnum UK describes the Ghana ice cream in this fashion:

“For chocolate connoisseurs.Bite into its cracking milk chocolate made with specially selected cocoa beans from Ghana.”

The phrase “specially selected”, makes me smile but still it is good news and possibly even nation branding that Ghana is mentioned together with “connoisseurs”, however still the question is: When will we in Ghana also take part of that value added?

The ice cream is also available in Sweden where they add the information that the rest of the ice cream has a hazelnut flavor. So when I go there next month, I plan to have a bite!

Anyone tasted it yet?

Pic: Borrowed from Ida.


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“Unsustainable” Student Migration or a Gold Mine?

Yesterday’s news of UK immigration minister Damian Green talking of student immigration being “unsustainable” and suggesting changes to the visa laws interested me. Why?

  1. My research is on student emigration out of Ghana and many Ghanaian students end up in the UK. I know personally that many of them stay on (21% according to the Home Office).
  2. Green’s speech was based  on interesting numbers showing, among other things,  that the number of student visas issued increased the last years  to 362 000 in 2009. Meanwhile, the official story has been that because of terrorism it is harder to get a student visa today compared to 10 years ago.
  3. The “unsustainability” according to Green is in the UK! A country which has a 12,5 billion pound education industry,  according to the National Union of Students in the same article.

Other voices from the blogosphere includes Sara Mulley/leftfootforward.org who writes:

It seems that we must ask: what is the Government worried about?  There seem to be two main concerns. The first is entirely legitimate – it seems likely that some abuse of the student visa regime continues, despite the measures taken by the previous government. This may be a particular issue with visas issued for courses below degree level (which account for up to half the total), and with visas issued to smaller colleges and institutions.[…]

Their other concern is about total net immigration to the UK.  Rising student numbers is one of a number of factors making it harder for the Home Office to meet its target of reducing net immigration to ‘tens, rather than hundreds, of thousands’ a year.  […]

Although rising foreign student numbers increase net migration figures in the short term, most student migration is temporary, so it’s not clear what the impact is in the longer term.

I have seen some evidence in Ghana that to apply for  a visa as a student it is a strategy (mainly because all other routes have closed). I think it supports my theory that courses below degree level account for a big chunk of these visas.

Blogger  Mark Hillary suggests that

The UK is an attractive place to study. English is the language used for study and daily life, and even though the universities charge non-EU students a lot more than Europeans, a British education remains good value compared to American colleges.

Mark’s comment reminds me of something I once read about the intangible value of the use of English to the UK which manifests in sales in dictionaries, literature and education.

The migration might be unsustainable. But much more likely, student migration is a gold mine for Britain (and its effects highly complex for developing countries, if now anyone cares about that).

Photo credit to the Guardian.

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Ghanaians in Ghana Can Vote in the UK!

Ghana election give your vote
Borrowed from GiveYourVote.org

“While many Ghanaian farmers struggle to fight poverty, the staple rice is American, water is sold through Dutch companies, telecommunications are run through the UK, and Ghanaian tomatoes fail to compete with heavily subsidied European counterparts. A vote in a national election alone is not enough to give Ghanaians a say in the processes that decide this.”

This is the motivation between the interesting initiative Give Your Vote offering UK citizens to give their vote to a citizen of Bangladesh, Afghanistan or  – yes, thats right, to a citizen of Ghana!

How to vote in the UK elections?

First read up on the BBC election site, then learn more about the Give Your Vote /Use a Vote for Ghana initiative and finally, vote by text message! Text your name, location, and party of choice (LABOUR, CONSERVATIVE or LIBERAL DEMOCRAT) to +233241561918 or visit a UK election centre in Accra on 30th April.

Read more: Give Your Vote website, the Independent, the Guardian, Ghana Web/Diasporan News.

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