Blackness

The capitalist will offer any gift to his labourers except the gift of freedom from the bridle. It was not the intention of the slave buying nation to grant citizenship to the slaves after bringing them to the new world. The intention was to put them to work until they died. 

Citizenship and equal rights was granted (in principle) as a last resort. The founders contradicted themselves through the preamble of the constitution by claiming that “All men are created equal” and this made them feel guilty. Abolition of slavery was a test of the human conscience. The truth is they don’t want you there. Any wonder that they shoot and kill black people for no real reason. 

When a white leader oppresses or imprisons a black man without moral justification or without due process of law, the black man is simply asked to forgive but if a black leader oppresses or imprisons a white man, they rally all the European people in the world and demand compensation for the oppressed whites. They consider their lives worth thrice a black person’s life.

Meanwhile the neo-colonialists continue to turn a blind eye to the fact that Ian Smith’s racist government stole lands, killed many native Africans and imprisoned Robert Mugabe for 11 years during which his son died. Maybe we are a foolish people, but the world must acknowledge the black race’s capacity to forgive – as Soyinka has said earlier.

What is “Positivity?”

What do people mean by positivity? Offering half truths? And hoping for the best outcomes. There is an objective reality that is much different and independent of thoughts and feelings. Different cultures have different truths but one cannot live in all cultures at the same time. One lives in only one society at a time and therefore the universally acceptable morality within such a society applies. What one feels is one’s truth but only as regards “the self” not the external world of matter.

I have encountered many people present nefarious ideas as “truth” simply in the name of “positivity”. Whoever teaches that the universe conforms to our thoughts and feelings must test his or her assertions by writing a job application, put it under his or her pillow and simply wish for a job. It’s an experiment. Or wish to travel from one location to another and then suddenly, since the universe conforms to our wishes, one’s destination is brought to one’s doorstep, thus saving one from the arduous journey. It’s another experiment. I’m sure the proponents of “positivity” or selective truths will oppose such logical applications of their own philosophy. So what then do they mean by “positivity?” Must we dilute or sugarcoat the truth? Is that not immoral? Could the scribes not have simply said that Stephen died after being stoned? Why did they write that he fell asleep. Sleep is completely different from death.

I’m a realist and I believe that in order to be sure of what’s happening in every single aspect of our lives we ought to perceive our social world with as much realism as possible. Our consciousness has to be as clear as a flowing stream. It’s the only way to perceive the whole truth to the bottom and there is some comfort and inspiration in finding the whole truth – both positive and negative.

Speaking with high school graduates about career choices

I was invited to speak to high school students, many of whom have recently graduated and are not sure what kind of university programme to study or what to do with their lives. In Ghana it’s very common to see talent go waste. So ofcourse I was happy to share my knowledge and experience. I had not prepared any notes so I spoke generally about education and work and told them to ask any questions they have.

Speaking about graduate and undergraduate programmes at the university where I work.

Explaining the importance of following one’s passion. Nothing beats passion. 

I explained to them not to only focus on certificates but rather they must also focus on the transformation of their minds. Certificate gives validation but hard work brings success.

Here I think I was getting a little carried away but it was necessary because the ignorance in this country is frightening. There was a question about parents deciding for their children what programme to study. I answered the questioner whether he will be happy studying what his parents want him to study, he said no. Then tell your parents what you are passionate about, I told him; otherwise you will get your degree but will not be able to make maximum use of it.

I think the gentleman in white was telling me about his passion for biology and hereditary. I told him to read, read and read about genetics. As long as one aims at knowledge, one cannot escape reading.

Closing chat: Find what you love doing and build a career around it. You can decide to dabble in a lot of things but you can’t compete with another person who has the passion, has got the relevant education and is fully focused on the one thing he or she is good at. Success is not by chance. 

At the end, I was happy to hit the nail on the head. I think it was a productive discussion. Sometimes one has to go out there and share his or her knowledge with others. If only one person among these youths listened and followed his or her heart, I will consider my job as a humanist done. They say when the learner is ready to learn a teacher appears. That’s all folks.

At the museum 

I visited a museum this week where an exhibition was being held. It was called the Museum of Science and Technology. I knew some of the artists who exhibited and I was happy to see them again. 

By the way, what is the role of art in society? To excite, inspire, communicate or provoke change? Enjoy!


I really liked this ink sketch of a girl carrying yams. It was done in I think 1940. I like the crude and original look of the work.


Another indigenous theme of ‘pouring palmwine’. I think the beauty of painting lies in a certain sensitivity of the artist that translates into capturing everyday activity in an exceptional form.


Market scene. Ghanaian markets are very overcrowded and this artist captured that perfectly. Actually it was done by a very renowned painter who I read about in my art history class in high school.


Pencil drawing by a younger artist. I think the subject matter here is beauty. You can clearly see differences in themes between the young and old artists.


Indigenous clay masks. These look like they are singing.


Clay Sculptures – possibly ancestral figures


Another sculture. I like this one, his eyes are partially closed and he does look like a politician I know.


Dyed fabric depicting a fat woman. In Ghana, gaining weight and looking curvy is trendy.


A model of a ship


At first I thought these were live snails crawling up to the ceiling but I realised they were shells glued by the artist to the pillar and the ceiling.


British colonial relic. It must have been used in WW1.

This is the entrance to the Museum of Science and Technology. Happy weekend to especially you. You know yourself. That’s all folks.

Beauty and Truth

It’s not only beauty but truth also lies in the eyes of the beholder because one man’s fabrication is another’s fact and vice versa. However, truth differs from beauty in that it is very ugly. I’m not sure if these two can ever cohabit. Beauty occurs where there is symmetry and ‘organisation’ whereas truth only emerges when organisation breaks down. 

Could truth be the opposite of beauty? Or a precursor to it. It appears truth can only be defined and searched for within a specific context which is why some argue that there are no universal objective truths. Beauty on the other hand can be universal but I have never experienced truth where there is unaccidental beauty.

Love of self

Those who have love in abundance do not normally base their love on reason. They love almost spontaneously because they derive some happiness or fulfilment from pouring their hearts out to others. The most impotent and fruitless form of love so far is selflove. It is without friction, as a result it’s like cold ashes and produces no flames. By self love I mean seeing and being concerned with only oneself in the universe.

African Concept of Human Personality

In this post I shall briefly explain how our African ancestors conceived of human personality and personhood. First of all, our ancestors were ideologically both creationists and evolutionists. They believe that the supreme God (Mawu) and his servant gods created the universe and everything in it. Man was created as an imperfect being and kept in a cave. Initially he could not speak but could only growl or make grunting noises like an animal. With time man emerged out of his cave and acquired human qualities such as bipedal locomotion, speech, thought, reason, conscience and virtue etc. This implies that the earliest man was probably a hominid. This concept contrasts sharply with the Christian creation story at Genesis 1, where everything was said to have been created almost instantly and perfectly. How then do we explain genetic defects such as premordial dwarfism, hunchbacks etc. and when I was Little I knew a man with twelve toes and twelve fingers. I bet all this people will wish they were not “perfect.”

Within African setup, when a baby is born, he or she is considered a non human visitor until after eight days. If the baby dies before the 8th day no funeral was held and no one was expected to cry or weep. The idea is that the baby is an animal – comprising pure ID (Instinctual Drives in freudian terms) and not fully human yet. Within the child’s ID is the mother’s blood, the father’ spirit and a soul from God. So the child is formed by three components coming from three different sources. The child’s life, as he survives and grows, is perpertually animated by these three factors. When he or she grows old and eventually dies, he loses the blood and spirit which he acquired from his parents but his soul is not lost. It returns to Mawu (the Supreme God) who is believed to dwell beyond the stars. The servant gods that dwell among the people and take possesion of animals, trees, rocks and rivers are never called “Mawu” but rather “Trorwo” meaning deities.

Please note that the practices described here are carried out by the Ewe tribe to which I belong. Different tribes have different ideas and practices though the differences are not very drastic. Also there are two forms of African personality: Indigenous African personality lived by our ancestors and contemporary post colonial personality emphatically espoused by Kwame Nkrumah, Leopold Senghor, Julius Nyerere etc. which stems from indigenous roots. 

Contemporary Paintings

I visited an art gallery very recently and felt the influence of Europeanisation even on African art. I didn’t feel a deep connection with our arts anymore. Although these visual artists seem very creative, only few retained indigenous African themes such as libation, warfare, hunting, weaving, farming, fertility etc in their paintings. I think the appropriate term for these paintings should be “Europeanised paintings.” But maybe I’m wrong. It could also be that the artists are focusing on commercial appeal. Whatever the issue is we cannot blame the artist as he or she is simply mirroring society. The images have been added below for your viewing pleasure.

I think these are fishing boats at the shore.

Landscape

Abstract 

African woman (notice the backside)

This depicts an annual deer hunting festival by one of the tribes in Ghana. Can you see the live deer on their shoulders? 

Trio women feature a lot in paintings by Ghanaian painters. I don’t know what the obsession is with a woman’s backside. Almost every painting I saw depicting a full size woman showed the back of the woman. Maybe it’s true that Black/African men love women with big booty. Personally, I can’t say I care about size of booty.

This is a ghetto scene

Another abstract

Metal Figurines (drummers)

Looks like cubism. I don’t know what you see but I see sorrow.

Fabric, I think it’s hand woven.

African women are known to be very hardworking and I think they must be depicted as such not just making faces as seen in the painting. Our art has moved from communicating essence to simply communicating pleasure or evoking emotion…… And who is this guy in the shot? 

O it’s me.

This is the entrance to the gallery. The name of the gallery is Nubuke Foundation. They have been commited to preserving and promoting art in Ghana for over ten years and they always offer a friendly and warm environment for all visitors. That’s all folks.