Tokumbo

So I have been thinking. To start with, thinking about all the little baby boys and girls born outside Ghana – mostly in the United States and the United Kingdom. Those babies that mothers and fathers carefully calculate for them to be born outside the birth countries of their mothers and fathers. I have been thinking of them, wondering whether in the rush to secure their futures, we are hampering ours. How, you ask? Well, how many of these babies can become presidents when they grow up? Will they be Ghanaians or Americans? Or will they be both?

They might be both. And that is straightforward if they don’t have political ambitions. But if they do, they will be cut off from running for the presidency of the countries they come from. Dual citizenship does disqualify a person from running for the office of president in Ghana.

What they feel, however, may not be straightforward. Emotionally and psychologically, what will they be? Will they feel more Canadian or more Ghanaian? Will they like to be associated with their Nigerian heritage because it is fashionable or will they feel that they need to distance themselves from the craziness of Africa and claim to be from America? Or then again, they might feel loyal to their ancestry, feel frustrated at having been robbed of the chance to feel a part of something that is theirs by right, and they might lash out.

Perhaps they might feel grateful, extremely grateful to their parents for snatching them out of the unpredictable world that is Africa to give them a chance at life that is full of logic and perfectly natural expectations, a head start at success and achieving the American dream instead of being one of many unemployed who hustle their way through a hostile environment with leaders who are not done amassing wealth for themselves let alone to start feeling sympathy for those poor unemployed youth.

I think about these babies. I have to think about them. Because from out of them, I feel we might have a saviour. Will we be losing out on this vast network of brains, resources and experience because of laws that we have made and are making? What makes a person qualified to lead? Yes, birthright is something. But is that all? History has shown that the aristocracy has not always been right. Is the system going to allow them to take up the mantle of leadership and make the change we want to see?

Then there are those who were born under the sunny African sky but left the continent for reasons probably justified. I think about those kids and adults, too. After all, who are those who led the African Continent to independence? Who fueled the Pan Africanist Movement? They were from the diaspora, they were those who had gone outside and had tasted and seen something better. They came back with a burning desire for change. To change things. And they did.

But are we going to let them have that chance now?

There is the touchy subject of those babies that were neither ‘lucky’ to be born outside nor go abroad. What of their toil and hustle? Is that to be for nothing? Is it to be snatched up by those “more equal than others”? When South Sudan became independent, a lot of the diaspora were tempted to go back to help make a change. And they did go back, only to return outside again. Why, you might ask. The “Home Boys” told them they had first dibs; outsiders couldn’t come in and take the first pick of available positions of power and influence. No, those who had been at home and had fought would have to be rewarded first. Well, let’s see how that works out for South Sudan.

How does one measure potential? I am not sure about that. But I know the effects of lost potential. And it is expensive. How do I know that we might not miss the chance to have a great leader like Dr. Nkrumah from the number of squirmy babies born in the diaspora? I don’t. But I know how much we would have lost had we not given men like him a chance to shine. I guess that is what I am talking about. A chance to shine. I barely get it as a Ghanaian living in Ghana. But are we going cut off an entire people because they were not born or bred on the continent?

Right now, they are singers, artistes, fashion designers who add spice to our culture with a unique mix of Africa and non-African. We like their style because it is different. Take for instance Lupita. We love them and love their work. In Ghana, they are sometimes called the Ahasporans; people who have set their faces like flint, hustling through the web of a system which defies the definition of a system. They have and have given us the best of both worlds. I didn’t start out to write an article in praise of the “diaspora” or the “returnee”. But who knows how these things turn out?

I think that there will be a time when it’s not de rigueur to be American or European.  I think that it is okay to have our babies in cold climes. But I also I think that when the time comes, it should be okay for a baby born to Ghanaian parents in the UK to become the president of Ghana. Not everyone will agree with me but that’s all right. You see, the sun is going down on election season in Ghana and I keep looking at what has become of us. Leader after leader and I have become a bit desperate for something different. This is me trying to widen our options.

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