Ghana’s history is important for every Ghanaian especially for educational purposes but also as a general source of information for everyone.
Indeed, it is important for every Ghanaian, including Ghanaians of foreign descent.
Ghana’s history is not complete, in many cases blurred by one sided information partly because there is not much research done in archeological ways in Ghana and Africa (other than on the history of human development) establishing correct information on how people moved from Southern Sudan to West Africa and Ghana.
Secondly, it is because our sources during early European establishment and colonialism where one sided.
Our, Ghanaian side was only verbally transmitted and we all know how verbally passed messages can be purposely or by mistake, changed.
The Encyclopedia Africana was set up and meant to be an original from “our” African/Ghanaian sources but ended up (in my opinion) in an also “blurred” version, doing exactly what white history had done by now giving the black, but mostly black American version of the history of Africa and Africans all around the world. The “truth” must be somewhere in the middle. We know the truth lies in the eyes of the beholder.
My article is not whose version of our Ghanaian history is true and/or right or wrong.
With the Title: We Are Ghanaians And Part of Ghana’s History, I rather refer to the complete absence of non-colonial or not to former Ghana’s Gold Coast related foreigners who established themselves as Ghanaians long time ago.
There are groups of Ghanaians of foreign descent from before and after independence in Ghana, the probably most known by the average Ghanaian are the Lebanese and Indians.
But besides them, we had and still have smaller and larger communities of Dutch, Greek, Swiss, Portuguese and Italians. I personally know Ghanaians of each of these communities.
To the best of my knowledge, the first group that started moving to Ghana were the Swiss who came to Ghana with the Basel Missions laying the foundation of the Presbyterian Church.
After that, the what we call today the Lebanese came. Although the first of them came already during the occupation by the Turkish of Syria, (over 100 years ago) so there are actually Syrians and later Lebanese Ghanaians.
The Indian community mostly entered Ghana after the independence and splitting British India into India and Pakistan (east and west). Large communities of non Muslims in the new Pakistan were forced to leave their country and fled not only all over India but also to Mauritius, Seychelles, Madagascar but also to Ghana and other west-African countries.
The Portuguese and Greek established themselves as traders and seafarer related businesses, Italians in construction, Jewelry, farming business and the Dutch in trade and agriculture.
Many of them feel more Ghanaian than a citizen of the country where their fathers, mothers and/or grandparents are from. Most of them don’t even think about starting a life somewhere else.
I am a Ghanaian of Dutch descent and not only do I love life in Ghana but I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else in the world.
Many of us have only Ghanaian Citizenship and the ones who have dual Citizenship are keeping their foreign citizenship only because of hardship with a Ghanaian passport to obtain Visas to travel freely.
I have a Lebanese friend, with (Ghanaian born) Lebanese wife has 2 sons born in Ghana. They both studied abroad but as soon as they return to Ghana they buy Kenkey and Waakye from a street vendor.
My own Ghanaian daughter, Djifa, born in the Netherlands travels with suitcases full of kenkey, plantain, shitoh, Neat fufu, beans for Waakye including Kpokeke to return to Bulgaria where she studies. When I return after a trip abroad the first thing I want my wife to cook is Fufu. (immediately after my first kebab), just because we are Ghanaians.
Many great and famous local companies are setup and mostly still owned by Ghanaians of foreign descent: MTN, SILVERSTAR, INTERPLAST, WIENCO, MELCOM, METRO TV, MG PHARMA, NISSAN GHANA, PIZZA HUT, MAXMART, HOLIDAYINN, HARLEQUIN, and many others.
Nigerians and South Africans have become Ghanaians in the recent history of between 15 to 20 years ago.
The latest groups of foreigners are Chinese and some Eastern Europeans, mostly attracted by gold mining.
All together, one would say Ghana has a vibrant “foreign” community.
However, mostly the news about these “new” Ghanaians is negative news, when one or more people from their community misbehaves and immediately the whole community becomes a media target. Good news about “us” is mostly limited to donations of our communities to Ghanaian society.
I agree there are rotten apples among the new Ghanaians, who are (just like indigenous Ghanaians) abusing employees, who are a constant money drain to our economy and who are not doing much in Ghanaian interests.
But the vast majority of “new” Ghanaians have played an enormous role in the development of Ghana, in the creation of employment in Ghana, in the development of Ghanaian exports and logistics, in the development of consumer goods and services and many other things.
We are just as important to Ghana as Ghana is to us. And yet until today I have not found anything about us in Ghana’s history after independence. WHY ?
The writer, Nico C.M. van Staalduinen, is a columnist with African Entertainment
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