no human being is an alien on earth: borders must go!
today is exactly 50 years since the aliens compliance order was issued in ghana.
the abominable ”aliens compliance order” was issued on november 18, 1969 by kofi abrefa busia forty-nine days after his conservative progress party government was inaugurated. it led to xenophobic attacks and the cruel expulsion of people who were branded as “foreigners” — majority of them nigerians who had lived in this part of the continent for many years. it was fundamentally a conservative approach to solving the economic quagmire ghana found itself in during that period. many of these “foreigners” lost their livelihoods and in the process, their lives. it is estimated that over three million people were deported from ghana.
“what experience and history teaches us is that people and governments have never learned anything from history, or acted on principles deduced from it. — georg wilhelm friedrich hegel
history is not capitalism’s friend so five decades later, facing a more glaring economic crisis and growing inequality, we are eager to prove hegel right that “we learn from history that we do not learn from history.” once again the importance of history and its interpretation cannot be emphasized enough. growing inequality in the global south is a direct manifestation of the evils of colonialism, the free-market, and years of imperialism but one should not expect conservatives like busia and akuffo-addo to make that connection. the liberal utopia that busia dreamed of is finally being actualised by his ideological descendants, and it is bringing with it what liberal economic theories have done to the masses across the globe. growing inequality lead to both trump and brexit, and the misinterpretation of the causes of economic inequality is what has led to the many xenophobic attacks on people who are branded as “foreigners” in england, the united states, south africa e.t.c.
when fellow africans are branded as ”foreigners“ in africa then you know that conservatism is in full swing and history hasn’t been kind to kwame nkrumah. what is happening in ghana now can also be traced to the euphoria surrounding the election of kofi busia’s ideological descendants — akufo-addo and the new patriotic party. many traders in markets across the country were so elated by the outcome of the 2016 general elections that after it was clear that akufo-addo had won they immediately reduced the prices of their goods. to them a business-friendly candidate had been chosen as dictator for the next four years; thus, all their economic problems were going to be solved. three years down the line it is clear that their small businesses have no future under trickle-down economics. ghanaians are often told that the economy is growing, however, this growth is never felt by the masses because capitalism only works for the few people at the top and this is directly responsible for the growing rate of inequality and insecurity in ghana leading to xenophobic attacks on nigerians who operate small shops in suame, abossey okai e.t.c…but this isn’t just happening in ghana , the global force of capitalism and its ill effects are being felt even on mars with the continued search for habitable planets while billionaires launch cars into space. the migrant crisis coupled with concentration camps, the rise of ultra-nationalism and fascism are all characteristics of capitalism’s accelerated decay.
another “phenomenon” that must be looked at is what i grudgingly call “ghanaian exceptionalism”. this loose idea of “ghanaian exceptionalism” is akin to “american exceptionalism” and it fundamentally means that ghanaians consider themselves superior to citizens of other countries. many ghanaians speak condescendingly about people from other african countries routinely. for years ghanaians have been branding themselves as some sort of innocuous, peace-loving moral agents who are teflon to abhorrent behaviour. this idea is, of course, a myth created to market ghana as an investment destination in the name of free-market competition. mainstream media leads the charge in this “branding” effort basing their assumptions on the several electoral processes that have been largely “successful” but nevertheless accompanied by violence on both sides of the ruling class. if the people who call themselves ghanaians need evidence of their history of violence they should look no further than the many instances of beatings inflicted on people who are alleged to have committed crimes — some of these instances of “mob justice” have even led to deaths with the perpetrators going unpunished. eighteen years ago, in a posh residential area in takoradi, a medical practitioner suggested that another human being be murdered simply because he was allegedly caught trying to steal. a couple of years ago in another instance, someone was brutally murdered right in front of the market circle branch of societe general bank for allegedly stealing a cellular phone. another instance that’s fresh on my mind occurred at the effia nkwanta nurses’ quarters where someone alleged to have stolen a small pack of noodles was beaten and taken to the effia nkwanta hospital where he was pronounced dead by a medical practitioner who in a very cold tone proclaimed that the alleged “thief” deserved what he got. the point of these examples is that ghanaians are far from the angels they brand themselves to be and there is no justification for these actions because people wouldn’t steal if they had a righteous opportunity to take care of themselves.
according to an oxfam report on extreme inequality in west africa:
• compared to other regions on the continent, west africa has the greatest number of countries with more than 30 per cent of the population living on less than $1.90 a day. the top one per cent of west africans own more than everyone else combined in the region.
• five of nigeria’s richest men have a combined wealth of us$29.9 billion – more than the country’s entire national budget for 2017. however, about 60 per cent of its citizens live on less than us$1.25 a day, the threshold for absolute poverty.
• in ghana, west africa’s second-biggest economy, one of the richest men earns more in a month than one of the poorest women could earn in 1,000 years. In the decade ending in 2016, the country added 1,000 us dollar millionaires while nearly one million more people were added to the poverty pool.
• west africa countries lose an estimated $9.6 billion each year through corporate tax incentives offered to multinational companies. this would be enough to build about 100 modern and well-equipped hospitals each year in the region.
• inequality is also rife in the provision of public services such as education. women from rich families in mali are 15 times more likely to have received a secondary education than women from poor families. an estimated 70% of the poorest girls in niger have never attended primary school.
• in nigeria, women constitute between 60% and 79% of the rural labour force but they are 10 times less likely to own their own land than men. they represent only 3.5% of the population owning farmland in the country. this level of inequality has negative impacts on women, including making them more vulnerable to gender-based violence.
• while a small but growing group becomes fantastically rich, a clear majority of west africa’s citizens are denied the most essential elements of a dignified life like access to quality education, healthcare and decent jobs. yet the west african governments are much less committed to reducing inequality than all other regions of the african continent.
crime is a diagnostic feature of capitalism. capitalism being the idea that a few people deserve more than they need while the masses never have enough to live on. tis a system that thrives on unemployment and if employed — slavery. which basically means that though people are employed they are paid meagrely — wage-slavery; thus, the capitalists keep making profit while the people who do the actual work struggle to provide for themselves just as the capitalist states of europe and the united states paid compensation to former slave owners after the abolition of slavery while the former slaves received more punishment. the growing crime rate in ghana is one of the effects of unemployment — a corollary of imperialism whereby unfair trade practices has put not just ghana but many african countries in deplorable conditions. the real crime is that capitalism deprives africans the full benefits of both human and natural resources, and the state only exists to support capitalism, therefore, the ruling class cannot imagine beyond paying themselves huge salaries while the masses struggle to make ends meet. so nigerians are not the problem, the problem is that many people’s material conditions have not seen any significant improvements for the better parts of fifty years. to put it bluntly, people are hungry.
if it had any purpose, capitalism like the nation-state has outlived it.
as carl sagan observed in cosmos “national boundaries are not evident when we view the earth from space. fanatical ethnic or religious or national chauvinisms are a little difficult to maintain when we see our planet as a fragile blue crescent fading to become an inconspicuous point of light against the bastion and citadel of the stars. travel is broadening.” the climate crisis and the migrant crisis are telling us something and it is time for us a species to listen and engage each other in an honest and scientific conversation about a world of free access. the dream of a harmonious society i.e. a stateless, classless, moneyless society presents itself as a better alternative, if not the only.