Home Entertainment Elizabeth Ohene: I can breathe in this article

Elizabeth Ohene: I can breathe in this article


It felt own. As I watched the breath ebb out of George Floyd below the deliberate excess weight of the knee of the uniformed white police officer on his neck, I felt the asphyxia myself.

That human currently being battling for breath on the road of Minneapolis could have been me, could have been my son, could have been any of my lots of cousins, my nephews, my nieces, my schoolmates, or their children, could have been any of my a lot of friends or their young children who dwell in the United States of America.

My brain went to the many people I know, Ghanaians and other Africans who have gone to a great deal of difficulties to deliver their youngsters to universities in The us. My intellect went to the variety of moments I have imagined I must publish about the tragedy of the youthful abilities Ghana is shedding just about every working day to the United States for the reason that numerous of our shiny young people decide on to remain there following completing their instruction.

My mind went to the selection of people today I know who had prepared journeys to The usa to attend the graduation ceremonies of their little ones or grandchildren and COVID-19 experienced blown away their options.

I know quite a few of people younger people whose achievements in prime universities should really be celebrated and who had followed the footsteps of other Ghanaians that we have shed and who now sort section of the crucial tech sector that creates the prosperity of The us.

That having difficulties physique which managed to carry out the “I cannot breathe”, below the fat of the policeman, could have been any of them.


My brain went to the Ghanaian I met in New Jersey back again in 2013. He lived in Brooklyn and spelt for me the epitome of the hardworking, industrious Ghanaian adventurer.

The tale of how he acquired to America, the journey from the Ashanti heartland to Egypt, to Kuwait, via other unmentionable spots and last but not least to The usa, would make an epic film.

At the time I fulfilled him, he had a likely business as a freight forwarder and I was impressed by his push and honesty. He was ever so happy of possessing created it to The usa and wanted to go again property to Ghana a single working day as a productive male.

My intellect went to the quantity of Ghanaians I satisfied in an upmarket resort in Manhattan very last September, who had been doing the job there as chambermaids and waiters.

Just about every 1 of them had a heartbreak story a feckless associate who dissipates the tricky-acquired income they bring household, their recurring nightmare of seeking to establish residences back again in Ghana and the revenue they deliver home under no circumstances likely into what it is intended to do. They had been all putting their small children through college and had wonderful hopes for them.

That battling overall body, underneath that white policeman on the road of Minneapolis, could have been any of these women or their small children.

My brain went to the quite a few black American good friends that I have, to the sheer range of Africans in the diaspora who acknowledged President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s invitation previous 12 months to arrive and go to Ghana, and who created our 12 months of Return this kind of a roaring success.

That 12 months of Return would seem these types of an age back, but only six months in the past the information was entire of African-Individuals professing their African heritage, boasting their Ghanaian heritage.

We all accepted that the African continent would advantage from the interest, the knowledge and enterprise of the Africans in the diaspora. We all approved that black men and women in The us would have an simpler time and would be revered far more if the mom continent was seen to be thriving and Africa shed its image of poverty, starvation and conflict.

Four hundred several years following the start off of the transatlantic slave trade, the future of the descendants of the slaves and the descendants of the men and women from between whom the slaves came was inextricably connected.

The Africans on the continent and the descendants of the slaves in America may not like each individual other, they may not be keen or ready to see any marriage with each individual other, but the relaxation of the environment does not see them as diverse all of us are black and that is all that issues.

And at the time you are black, and in the United States, you are a applicant for getting wrestled to the ground by policemen and the rest of the story will be dependent on how fortunate you are on that specific day.

That is why the George Floyd working experience is own and I sense the whole weight of the 400 years of hatred and disrespect on the experience and knee of Officer Derek Chauvin.


The only answer that I can locate lies in our creating Ghana and the relaxation of Africa work. There is a generation of younger black folks growing up in The united states these days who are the little ones of the Ghanaians and other Africans who were accidental immigrants to the US in the past 50 years.

They do not have the gain of the self-self-assurance that will come from being introduced up in Ghana and simply just remaining Ghanaian and not getting to offer with staying black or whatsoever colour. They will be sucked into the black American data.

We dare not acknowledge this narrative and I consider the earlier 3 months of the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced an prospect that we could use.

All those Ghanaians who have residences and other attributes in the US, the Uk, Dubai, or where ever the preferred places are for rich Ghanaians to buy house, would have recognised that when it came to the true crisis, all those people qualities were of no use to them.

All all those who rely on going overseas for their clinical complications would have realised that when it came to the genuine disaster, the only hospitals available to them were these in Ghana.

All those who experienced private jets at their disposal or were being on business flights each and every other 7 days would have realised that when it came to the real crisis, the only places obtainable to them have been their villages that had no bathrooms.

All individuals youthful medical doctors who had decided to go to the US and function in their hospitals since the hospitals below in Ghana did not have the hottest equipment and gadgets would have realised that when it arrived to the serious disaster, our wellness services could increase to the situation.

And perhaps all individuals younger couples who go to such lengths to make sure that their toddlers are born in the US of A, so those youngsters will have American passports and “better opportunities”, will recognise that their expensively born and beloved little ones are George Floyds who “can’t breathe” less than the knee of Officer Derek Chauvin.

Becoming black is own.

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