I remember in high school and college never learning about Africa. It was never really brought up in history class, talked about in relation to literature, or mentioned other than to talk about weird charities. It has been really fascinating to learn more about the history of Africa, mainly West Africa, from a Ghanaian perspective. One big point of contention is the ever present rivalry between Nigeria and Ghana.
If you see a Ghanaian say the word “Nigerian”, you will notice a slight snarl and a characteristic head shake with tongue clicking. Calling someone a Nigerian is a pretty bad insult in Ghana. No one likes Nigerians and no one is quite sure why. Ghana and Nigeria went back and forth through the decades, trading off prosperity. Nigeria found oil wealth earlier, but squandered it and left its citizens struggling. Ghana had its share of coups and bad times in the 70s and 80s, but many Ghanaians went to work in Nigeria during the oil boom.
And now for a truly fabulous cultural lesson, I give you the ubiquitous Ghana bag.
I have at least 4 of them, ranging in size from enormous to suitcase size. These sturdy plastic bags are easy to find in every village across Ghana. People use them as luggage, packing items for market, storage, and looking fashionable with Hannah Montana’s image splattered across your bag. There is a secret to these bags though.
In Ghana, we call them Ghana Gucci bags.
In Nigeria, they call them Ghana Must Go bags.
Back in the 80s I believe, Nigeria forced over 1 million Ghanaians out of the country. Kicked them out. I guess they wanted domestic workers to have the Ghanaians’ jobs. Sound familiar? So, how did the Ghanaians get all their crap home? These bags.
Ghana shares a lot of traits with Nigeria. It is really a pity there is so much animosity between the two countries. Ghana does have one leg up on Nigeria though, Obama picked us not them! And we will continue to hold that over all of Africa’s head for eternity.
If you want to read more about the history between the trading off of deportations, check out this resource: http://sites.davidson.edu/cis485/?p=3349