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From “Slave Trade” To Terror Trade: How African Leaders Sell Their People For Favours

If I am to apportion blame, I will put 95% of the blame on Africa for the slave trade. The Europeans may be responsible for only 5% of the atrocities committed in that period. The reason?

Three weeks ago I visited Fort St. Anthonio in Axim. The magnificent and highly fortified fort is more than 500 years old, but it is still stronger and is sure to last longer than most of the buildings government built last year with millions of the Ghanaian tax payers’ sweat. The strength of the building after five centuries was, however, where my admiration of that colonial monument ended.

The fort is a cruel reminder of the worst form of man’s inhumanity to man. Fort St. Anthonio is one of the forts and castles that once housed African slaves prior to their shipment abroad. The tour guide narrated the cruelty of the wicked Dutch Governor Gomez, who physically tortured the slaves and sexually abused the women. He showed me the open space where hundreds of slaves were subjected to the merciless vagaries of the weather as they awaited their transportation. The cells, the dungeons and the tunnel of “no return” still serve as a stark reminder of how human beings endured treatment that cannot be meted out to wild beasts today.

I once visited the Cape Coast Castle with some school mates and one of us, after listening to the harrowing tales of cruelty meted out to the slaves remarked: “If you listen to these stories you feel like stoning the next white man you see in the street. But we still worship them.”

Why do we blame the White man for the slave trade? Why do we still think Europeans owe us compensation and apology? This mentality is the reason Africa is not seeing the real progress it needs. We tend to blame everyone else, except ourselves. Who is guilty of the slave trade?

If I am to apportion blame, I will put 95% of the blame on Africa for the slave trade. The Europeans may be responsible for only 5% of the atrocities committed in that period. The reason?

No single slave would have left the shores of the Gold Coast (now Ghana) if the chiefs and people had not been willing to sell their energetic young men and women. Even if European slave raiders used brutal force to capture the slaves, the local people could have ambushed and killed them before they reached the shores of the Gold Coast with the slaves. Our ancestors were great warriors. But they were more willing to fight one another than unite and fight the colonial masters. The few kingdoms, like the Asante Kingdom, which stood up to the colonial masters in wars, had to face their fellow blacks who fought alongside the Europeans.

That betrayal of the collective interest of the Black race continued after Independence. The likes of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah who were serious about African unity, development and the industrialization of the continent made a grave mistake by focusing on the white man as their enemy. They forgot that the most evil and treacherous enemy was within. They realized, rather too late, that some of their kith and kin were more comfortable having the white man rule over Ghana than one of their own as long as their individual interests would be served.

When the first generation of hot-blooded zealots who won independence for Africa left (or were forced to leave) the political scene, a set of stooges more willing to win favour from the world’s Super Powers took over. The first generation of African leaders were mostly overthrown with the help of the Super Powers. The African leaders who came after them wanted to be in the good books of the super powers. Majority of them were (and are still) corrupt. And they needed the blessing of the “big boys” who would protect them in times of need.

The “big boys” only offered such protection or the assurance of it on certain conditions. Their nations had interests in the wealth of Africa. And they had willing collaborators to help them deplete such wealth.

From the unsophisticated traditional rulers in the Gold Coast who traded energetic young men and women for booze to the elite politicians of 21st Century Ghana, the story of the African leader has not changed. Greed is their creed, and they are prepared to sell their nations for favours.

If you understand this philosophy, you will have no problem understanding why the President John Dramani Mahama of Ghana decided to accept two terror suspects who were detained in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba in America for 14 years against nationwide outcry and condemnation. Interviews granted by Ghana’s Foreign Minister and the Interior Minister have revealed that they knew very little about the deal. The Minister for Justice and Attorney-General is reported to have told a journalist that she did not know about the deal, but she is denying ever making such statement.

And I hope you are not one of those who have fallen for the lame reason given by our President for accepting the terror suspects. From leaked intelligence reports, one of the suspects poses very high security risks to us. There is no report that shows that these two have been cleared of those risks. The American Congress has passed a law banning ex-Guantanamo Bay detainees from entering the US. The people of America have vowed not to accept them on their soil. Why Ghana? And if government says there is no reasonable ground to suspect that the two men were ever involved in acts of terror, then why is the national security monitoring their movements and phone calls? Were they humanitarian workers prior to their arrest and detention?

It is also unfortunate to say we are accepting them on the basis of compassion. We would only be exercising compassion if they were homeless or stranded. If the suspects were cleared and released by America, why are detaining them in Ghana? Why don’t we allow them to live anywhere in the world they choose to? Our President has endangered the lives of Ghanaians by bringing the attention of terrorists on us. But they claim its part of our foreign policies to help other nations who need help.

What is our foreign policy? If you strip the term “foreign policy” of all its technical jargons, you will be left with “national interest abroad.” Apart from deciding on where to beg, the foreign interest of most African governments is often how to win the favour and support of the powerful nations.

If two 90 year-old Americans and 200 15 year-old Ghanaians were drowning and the American President had the opportunity to save either of the two groups, I am sure he would first think about his citizens. If the Ghanaian president were also faced with the same option, he would think of saving the two Americans in order to win the favour of America.


That has been the pathetic thinking that has shaped our foreign policy. We sell ourselves cheaply and turn around to blame others for our woes. Last year about 50 beggars with the ignoble description of African heads of states assembled in India under the auspices of the India-Africa Summit. We shamelessly accept descriptions like the UK-Africa summit, China-Africa Summit, Canada Africa summit etc., but we still have problems when some describe Africa as a country. Because of greed, our leaders hand their resources to these countries and turn round to beg.

The Indian government announced afterwards that it would give Africa loans worth $10 billion over a five-year period. Meanwhile Africa loses more than $50 billion dollars every year through illicit financial flows from the continent. These illicit flows are facilitated by the so-called leaders of our continent through fraudulent contracts and senseless tax holidays and trade agreements.

Last year about 50 beggars with the ignoble description of African heads of states assembled in India under the auspices of the India-Africa Summit.

Americans who created the Guantanamo Bay will not risk taking any of the ex-detainees on their soil. But we claim we are compassionate. By this action, America has eaten pepper and we are suffering chest pain. And this is not the first time we are risking it all to please the Super Powers.

When the Chinese invaded our country and destroyed our water bodies in search of illegal gold, our government announced a programme to flush them out. National security, the police and the military were deployed. A few hundreds of them were deported by the immigration of Ghana. There were reports that the Chinese government was not happy with the action. A few weeks later, the government asked all the security personnel to withdraw from the operation.

Had we flushed out all the “galamsey” operators from the illegal mines?


So why are we withdrawing the security agencies?

To please Beijing.

What happened afterwards?

The Chinese are back again. With the support of local chiefs and politicians, cocoa farms are being destroyed to make way for illegal miners. Indeed, we have a compassionate government and President.

The decision to risk our nation in the case of the Guantanamo two has also exposed the hypocrisy of this government. This is the same government, which said in 2010 that Ghana would not be part of the proposal by ECOWAS to use military intervention in Cote d’Ivoire in order to restore constitutional rule and forestall an imminent war in that country. The government said we would be opening ourselves up for enemies who could harm us. Former President Mills, whose deputy is now President Mahama, said at the time that we “should mind our business.”

This is the shameless hypocrisy of our government. When our next-door neighbour’s house was on fire, the government said we should mind our own business. But when a distant “friend” desperately wants to fulfill a political promise, our government endangers the lives of its citizens and explains that we are members of the international community.

Mohammed Bin Atef is said to be a high risk detainee
Mohammed Bin Atef is said to be a high risk detainee

Many reasons have been assigned for the reason to risk the security of our nation for the two toxic parcels from Guantanamo. The American government has denied any financial exchanges. But monetary gain is not the only reason President Mahama would take such risk.

The willingness of nations such as Ghana to risk it all to serve the interests of the powerful nations does not make them learn from their mistakes. Our elders say if a man is stung by a bee, he does not set out to destroy all beehives. But since the wars in Vietnam and the Gulf regions, America is yet to learn the lessons of this wise saying hence the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. America should have known that it was easy to arrest and detain people in Guantanamo but how to get rid of them was going to be the problem.

America acted like the iron-plated throat which granted passage to a sharp knife without thinking about how the fragile anus was going to expel it. Thanks to leaders like President Mahama, their work has been made easy. And they will never learn.

I oppose this deal not because I hate America. I oppose it because I love Ghana more than America. I oppose it because if Barack Obama attempted to accept terror suspects from Ghana, Americans would impeach him and subject him to a psychiatric examination.

I oppose it because I know my president and his government do not act in my interest. The corruption, the shady contracts and policies that disadvantage the ordinary Ghanaian but enrich the ruling class are reasons I don’t trust my government. I oppose it because common sense teaches me that this decision is not in the interest of Ghanaians. The Americans know it. And my President knows it. He did not want to offend America.

But he should have learnt the wisdom of our sages of old: For the fear of offending others, a man may swallow phlegm, but no wise man will swallow poison for the fear of offending bystanders.


The Writer is a senior broadcast journalist with Joy 99.7FM. His email address is [email protected]


Written by PH


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  1. Leviticus 18:24 – For The Almighty Father himself is “war-time” & you this sacred scripture he has allowed it to be clearly indicated that they are being driven out of the land for “DEFILEMENT”

    “Ghana Next Time Just Say No Okay” because clearly this has been a problem since the your knowledge of the release of these two & that they would be headed in your direction allow your minds @ leasry briefly to be set @ ease of other countries that will host releases : Nationally Bosnia Destination France date of release 12-18-16, Nationality Afghanistan Destination Afghanistan date of release 1-17-09 Nationality Ethiopia Destination United Kingdom 2-23-09 Nationality China Destination Bermuda 6-11-01 Nationality yemin Destination spain (agreed for acceptance of another 4) what is the difference between some of these countries with one in particular being a known power-house (china) ? There mouth dosen’t continuously run as yours has continued to with blasphemy against the leaders of their countries which is why this information has to be researched and looked up….

    Furthermore I as a person of color never asked for reperations of any sort for I see it as blood money & my forefathers blood cannot simply be bought off that easily – there’s is a personal debt that the father will be coming to collect !

    Now as for an apology well ” your dam right” one would be expected since these hypocritical liars have used every moment to gloat about “blacks” always & I do mean always looking for a handout every chance we get buh I feel that it’s time that we take their minds back to The Head right act of 1619 & The Homestead Act of 1864 in order that we may help them cut the bull shit !

    As far as slaves being taken captive even Israelites from biblical times took them & guess what our father allowed until we learned to find our brains and figure out as a people why…case in point we allowed ourselves to become defiled by hoping in bed with non other than Satan & we have been paying the price ever since & from the looks of things Satan has been attractive to many because they have been quickly trying to knock us out of the way to sleep with this creature theirselves (spiritually speaking if your mind can fathom that)…

  2. You are being used against each other please rubuke Satan I know now that Lybia wished that they had, no more Gaddafi right along with no more freebies Americans did not even have it as good as lybian’s & now look hatred has saw their president dead ! Cherish what you have because many await the day that vjts gone for all you know they could even be praying for it that way you can go back to truly being controlled in what they refer to as ” The Right Way”

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