Credit: Emmanuel Asakinaba
Ghanaians are renowned for their welcoming and hospitable nature, especially to non-Ghanaians. Never mind that we may dislike one another and show open discrimination amongst ourselves, we wholeheartedly get out of our way to please non-Ghanaians, sometimes to a fault!
Reports abound about how foreign businesses regularly win government contracts over and above their equally competent Ghanaian colleagues; about how expatriate workers receive much higher remuneration and emoluments than their Ghanaian colleagues for the same work done with the same qualification; about how foreigners are spoken to with courtesy while fellow Ghanaians receive verbal jibes every now and then from receptionists; about how Chinese illegal miners are shielded while local ‘galamseyers’ are arrested; about how even prostitutes choose foreigners over Ghanaians…
The Ghanaian is so downright hospitable that the proverb which says “one must not swallow his or her cough for the fear of disturbing others” does not apply to foreigners. We are all too ready to swallow our coughs in as much as it is to please foreigners. In the midst of fellow Ghanaians, the same Ghanaians are likely to cough his/her lungs out.
In fact I have stifled many coughs to please non-Ghanaians. See , only yesterday, I ceded my browsing slot in the Volta Hall Café to a Togolese who spent hours on end typing a 150-word email ( as I realised later, she spent several of the hours looking for something she called “asanshapo” ) But, I didn’t get angry that she had asked for five minutes. I didn’t even show any signs that she was wasting my time. And when she was done, I bade her good bye with a broad smile.
But there is this cough that I think as Ghanaians we must not suppress: the phenomenon of foreign children begging on our streets. Or to put it in proper perspective, foreign children, especially Nigeriens, harassing people into giving them money. They would hold your hand or tug at your clothes or follow you all the while requesting insistently for money.
Now it is quite clear that the children don’t come to the streets on their own accord; their parents put them up to it. These parents usually lurk around and observe their children in action. There is no doubt that this is child abuse since the children are put at the risk of being knocked down by cars and are denied an education. They could also be easy targets of child abduction.
Child begging should be the last things we should indulge our foreign friends because it can have a devastating effect on the typical Ghanaian child who does not engage in begging (even though they serve as guides of some disabled people who engage in begging.)
Senegal recently cracked down on child begging. But only after it had wreaked havoc of alarming proportions! As Ghanaians we must cough as loud as we can even if our foreign friends will take us as being unwelcoming or hostile. Once the police arrest the children, their parents will come out of their hide-outs. They should then be dealt with as diplomatically as possible (we can’t be harsh on them; they are our friends) but in the end, barred from unleashing children on Ghanaians.
But to start with, I will stop giving money or gifts to them. And maybe give them a stern look and whisk myself free next time a child beggar holds my hand to ask for money.