Last week, I moved all my stuff into storage and left London for Ghana.
Over the next few months, I’ll be playing the sociologist and doing a deep dive into coloniality as a primary site of conflict in the struggle for liberation and self-actualisation.
I lived Accra, Ghana’s capital city, for some months when I was on my gap year in 2008. My journaling, email mailouts and blogs from that time tell of a young woman excitedly immersing herself into the culture of her heritage, yet experiencing much frustration at the gap between my previous independence in the UK, and the social codes I was expected to adhere to in Ghana.
Since then, I’ve visited in 2009, 2011, 2014 and 2017. Each trip has highlighted a different issue on which to muse regarding the Republic’s social and economic progress (religious dogmas, mental enslavement, under-development, oppression of women et al.).
This year, I’ve been preoccupied by the violent clashes we’ve seen between Ghana’s political and religious elite and the LGBTQIA+ community. For obvious reasons relating to my personal identity, this is deeply distressing. I’ve been following the situation with concern since January, and reckon that our community is being condemned with such the vigour correlates to the type of educational establishments within which Ghana’s professional class, religious leaders and members of parliament were educated.
For me, the pervasive and insidious tools of oppression used to bring about dominance and subordination in Ghana are closely related to the hierarchies of power and privilege in the UK. And since the publication of this Guardian ‘Long Read’ on the prominence of the University of Oxford PPE degree, in February 2017, I’ve spent much time thinking about the obvious similarities between the elite schooling systems in the UK and those here Ghana.
From 1821 until 1957, modern-day Ghana was a British Crown Colony called the Gold Coast. All existing indigenous cultures were invalidated as Imperial rule was decreed – knowledge production and labour markets, along with social codes regarding interpersonal relationships, were now aligned with what was deemed acceptable and correct in Britain at the time. And so, the colonial project saw the British public school system transplanted directly onto Ghanaian soil. This has led to the dominance of Western ideologies which maintains a cultural hegemony that oppresses and marginalises all but the elites.