Imagine if a generation of African children were raised with smarts and cultural pride? What would our future look like? Are we the change we seek? Read these inspirational words by Esi Cleland-Yankson
We must remember that a lot of our cultural beliefs come from people who did not know our way of life so saw what they did not understand and thinking the worst, pronounced it evil.
Then because our people have been illiterate, they also believed whatever the white man who had books told them. Even though our forefathers knew our local things could not be evil, when their children who supposedly knew better came home and told them our language is bad, they accepted it. School was supposed to be where you went to become smart. Unfortunately, school has become where you go to lose your confidence in yourself.
When you lose your confidence, it happens first in the mind, then it starts to manifest physically. The way it manifests physically is that physical things like your name, your language, your hair, your skin, your way of worship, your way of governance, your way of instituting family, your way of promoting things, your knowledge, evidence of creativity, everything goes along with it. We really must reclaim our birthright.
Imagine if I had just heard the name Komfoekuwa and rejected it because I am a Christian and Christians are not supposed to have anything to do with Komfo. Imagine if my family had not given me the gift of speaking my mother tongue? Imagine if my school had forbidden me to learn how to read in Fante. Imagine if my school had not had a prize for excellent Fanti students which I would win and, therefore, continue to have faith in my language. Imagine if I did not like my father in law and so rejected the name he gave to my daughter? Imagine if my father had believed that girls should not be educated? Imagine if my mother had not taught me to be responsible for myself. Imagine if Smith College hadn’t given me a scholarship to enable me to learn how to think critically. Imagine if I had not liked Ghana so I went abroad and decided not to return. Imagine if someone hadn’t set up an engineering company that could use what skills I had acquired abroad and be able to pay me a comfortable living wage in Ghana? Imagine if all I had ever known in my life is good infrastructure so could not exist in a place without flowing water and dependable power? Then my baby would now be called Wallace Redding. And she would only speak English instead of Naana Komfoekuwa who will speak English, Ewe and Mampruli and have incredible self-assurance because she knows that everything about where she comes from is good yet misunderstood.
So many things have to come together to get a leader man. Everyone is capable of leadership. But for that to happen, they need to be enabled. We have work to do!
Esi Cleland Yankson is an entrepreneur, a writer, a mother, and a kindred spirit of mine, in my head anyway…
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