Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Motherboard - I am from Ghana and I don't sell bags of water

Anyone who has stayed in Ghana long enough will realize majority of Ghanaians and the authorities governing them are disgusted with the Sakawa problem just as much as any foreigner is. Sakawa is an off-shoot of what started as 'advance-fee fraud' or 419. This phenomenon has gradually grown into a lucrative engagement for some young people in Ghana. Advance fee fraud or 419 is reported to have originated from Nigeria and is gradually creeping into other parts of of the West African region.

It is obvious the Government of Ghana has made several attempts to nib this canker in the bud by putting measures in place. These measure I believe have gone a long way to reduce the prevalence of Sakawa. Because of the activities of these black sheep, Ghana has been blacklisted on several websites. We would therefore welcome any helping hands which intend to assist us in our crusade against the Sakawa culprits. Such assistance obviously doesn't include distorting facts and telling half-truth. In Thomas Morton's post on CNN, he created a couple of blunders. After reading his articles on CNN and motherboard.tv, it was still unclear to me what the writer wanted to achieve with that particular post.

Blunder 1
...there are dirt roads leading past the brand-new, gold-columned presidential palace, and it seems 1 percent of the country is blowing their country's GDP at bars with $50 cover charges while the other 99 is selling bags of water at stop lights

I doubt I'm part of the top percentile blowing Ghana's GDP, and I certainly am not selling bags of water at stop lights. This clearly means the author must have turned blind eyes to the many legitimate business men and women in the country who were in one way or the other contributing to the development of Ghana. Ghana is one of the most democratic nations in Africa, we have enjoyed a relatively stable political era since 1992. We have structures in place to ensure corrupt leaders don't squander the moneys raked in by the hard working workforce. Is the presidential palace really gold-columned? It is a bit weird a foreigner knows more about my country than I do!

Blunder 2

The Ghanaian government likes to boast that their unemployment rate is in the single digits ....The actual unemployment rate for 15- to 24-year-olds hovers between 25 and 30 percent
Unemployment rate as we all may know is technical figure that represents not the number of people who are without jobs but rather the number of individuals who have been without job for a particular period of time, and have made or are making a conscious effort to find jobs within that period. For me therefore it is no wonder that governments everywhere in the world hide behind this definition to produce numbers that paint brighter pictures of their economy. If Ghana is a culprit then all countries round the world are too.

Blunder 3
Now, as we discovered when we went to Ghana with our video cameras, not only is Sakawa the country’s most popular youth activity and one of its biggest underground economies, it’s a full-blown national phenomenon

Sakawa is gradually becoming a problem we all need to devote our resources to if we intend to put a stop to it. It can say for a fact though that Sakawa is not the country's most popular activity in the country! I bet there are more Chelsea fans than Sakawa folks in Ghana.

Blunder 4

Just as I expected, the post missed a solution. Looks like Morton flew into the country, discovered this problem and left our shores without proposing a single solution. It is easy to identify problems, what is more difficult if coming up with solutions that can be implemented.

After watching the video and reading Morton's post several times, I still ask myself, 'did he intend to help us in our fight against credit card fraud or he only wanted to paint a black picture of a country which thrives to achieve excellence among its peers?'

By this post I would want to throw a welcoming hand to the writer and his team, to come up with suggestions that will rid Ghana of Sakawa. We hope for a better Ghana as much as all visitor do. We need all hands on deck!


Nana Fredua-Agyeman said...

Interesting and well written. I say that what he wrote could be written by any computer program, programmed to select words which have been used to describe Ghana and stringing them together using basic rules of English.

Anonymous said...

Hahaha...the cartoon is just too mcuh! Complete with a Payay take away pack! Hehehe!

Sakawa would not be a problem if there weren't so many ignorant & greedy people in the West ready to fall for these mostly obvious scams.

If that was too mean, then stop with the economic exploitation (unfair trade arrangments, etc) of African countries then maybe we'll be btter equipped to fight these battles.

novisi said...

my rejoinder to your rejoinder:

to be frank with you i was really thrilled by this article by Morton for it's 'easy-escape-routes'. there's hardly much that you can hold the writer to. i think he was rather witty! and I think that the problem people have with him are due to perceptions steeped in the age-old 'us against them' kind of thing!

now, i have never been bothered about why i should bother about sakawa. and i don't think any govt should be bothered about it.

Blunder 1 ...the writer said "it seems..." and that is a mere generalization. he did not say his statistics are factual. so let's be fair to him. and those columns of the presidential palace do look 'gold' somehow. he did not say that the columns were built with gold.

Blunder 2 ...he did not say the unemployment situation in Ghana cannot been seen elsewhere. he was simply speaking to the Ghanaian situation as he appreciates.

Blunder 3 ...exaggeration to make reading even more hilarious. you have not provided us with verifiable statistics to prove that there are more Chelsea fans than sakawa boys. same for that writer. see what i mean? it's exaggeration!

Blunder 4 ...identification of problems are part of solutions. if you don't identify any problem you have nothing to provide a solution to.

but i love the cartoon is fabulous.

Nana Yaw Sarpong said...

great one here man. Good to tell those ignorant morons that they can live in the 3rd century!

Nana Yaw Sarpong said...

Sorry I came back. I think Novisi's analyses are lame and comfortable. He refuses to see real intent in Morton's bastardising article about Ghana. Of course anyone without evidence would write loosely, but should we let that go?

Edward Tagoe said...

@Nana - Morton supported his article with a video, which I guess must have given it some credibility. As I mentioned in my post, I am just as surprised at the exploits of these Sakawa gangs as much as he is. I however would not paint Ghana black just because of a bunch of greedy lazy internet freeks.

@Anonymous - Thanks for liking the cartoon, I got it from a friends wall on facebook, I'm sure he is not the original producer though. I do think though that despite the 'economic exploitation' we have no moral right to dupe innocent tourist who are interested in exploring some unseen parts of the world.

@Novisi - Very well said, no being bothered about the sakawa scare makes me remember the ''di wo fie as3m chapter'', when it got to the worst, Ghana became the home to which the Ivorian refugees turned. The next time you attempt to buy something online and you realize Ghana has been blocked, you might begin to show some interest in curbing this canker.

@Nana Yaw - Looks like you are taking this issue a bit too personal oh :)

Anonymous said...

...and the uncle Tom a-- nigga finds the article thrilling... smh. Africa is in deep s--- with youth who behave like the generation before us.

Abena Serwaa said...

Nice one Edward! I like the way you take the Motherboard article on. What worries me about the article is that it is one of the few windows to Ghanaian youth culture for the rest of the world.
If it is presenting a distorted view full of half-truths, what reflection does it give of Ghanaian youth? As you rightfully said, Ghanaian youth are probably more into football than anything else.. Have you posted a link to your article on the CNN comments under the article?

Kotibotor said...

"Motherboard - I am from Ghana and I don't sell bags of water"

Of course not... everybody knows you sell it in sachets

novisi said...

Edward, the 'di wo fie as3m chapter' can be interpreted in different ways! it's a proverb and i'm no fun of proverbs because they generally provide leeways for fantasy instead of concreteness.

maybe I did not make my point good enough. so i'd just attempt to make some things clearer. The internet is being governed by human beings and what we have on the internet is just a 'virtual enactment' of same age-old human activities.

So if i attempt to buy something online and i realize Ghana is blocked, that would not make me bother about sakawa (as in blame sakawa for that blockade, etc). What that would make me bother about is the fact that human beings are still acting lazy when it comes to dealing with issues.

if you block a whole nation from transacting business through some medium like Internet because of a thing like sakawa then you might as well block air-traffic from nations where cocaine is transported. I don't see any difference b/n that and apartheid which was rationalized by attributing criminality to some group of people (blacks). and that for me is laziness. imagine that Ghana decides to stop Nigerians from entering Ghana because some Nigerians have been found to have committed armed robbery in Ghana! or that Fulanis are prevented from coming to Ghana because some Fulanis have engaged in raping Ghanaians. or that black Africans are attacked and killed in Libya because some black mercenaries were spotted.

I think we can do better as human beings instead of buying into such slippery roads stereotyping.

MIghTy African said...

Chale, Edward, more respect. Going to post this.

Edward Tagoe said...

@Unlce Tom - Thanks

@Abena - Very good point. I havent yet posted a link on the article, I think I should. In fact I am gonna do just that right now :)

@Kotibotor - Some sell water in bottles oh, you forgot to mention them.lol

@Novisi - That is how the world is, such things can't change just because of what you believe in or don't believe in. Some nations will be required to get visas before they travel to some destinations, others would only need their passports. It all depends on the history of that sample.

@Abocco - Thanks for sharing my article boss.

novisi said...

Edward, the world as it is today has undergone so many transformations. indeed I'm looking forward to the day that all human beings anywhere would stop making some people kings or queens or royals and be having 'royal weddings'!!!

So just as you attempt to correct some impressions created by this guy (which I'm not against but just want a 'fair-play') so too I'd not give on calling for changes to some status quo that is not good.

have a nice weekend. regards.

Qalil.com said...

Love the article.

Isn't it always interesting how corruption and swindling is viewed in different places?

I think the more Sakawa is exposed, the less likely people are to be deceived.

calling rates to Ghana said...

Great article....!!!Nice to know about new things with helping concept.