The Plight of the Culturally Impoverished

The purpose of this blog is to celebrate creativity, fashion, the arts and beauty. I have , however, woken up this morning with the bitter taste of bile in my throat. I am bit sickened by what happened yesterday in the world of sports. As much as Ghana’s Black Stars World Cup loss to Team USA yesterday hurts me to my very core, the loss is but  a mite in the collective cause of my dolor. Let me start by congratulating Team USA on their win. In football, he who scores wins, and score they did. Kudos. But after the USA won, what did the international American airline, Delta, tweet in celebration of the victory? This appalling photo*:

delta

 

Where does one begin to address the sort of promulgation of stereotypes that this ill-thought-out tweet represents? A giraffe? In Africa? You don’t say! Delta flies direct from JFK to Accra, Ghana’s capital city, a number of times a week.  I wonder when their wingspan once grazed the neck of the  the elegant creature as they landed anywhere in West Africa. The idea propagated by this rhetoric is one of Africa as one homogenous and wild wilderness: a pan African Serengeti is how Delta chooses to think of it; land of grass and more grass and a giraffe at dusk.  Giraffes are beautiful and we would be delighted to have them as Ghana’s oriflamme if we had a single one roaming our land. I saw my first, and only, giraffe at the London zoo. Such unmitigated ignorance continues unchecked because people with the means refuse to enlighten themselves. The refusal to do so is an admission that we do not matter, or in the words of  the character Colonel Olivier in Hotel Rwanda, “We think you are dirt…You are not even a nigger, you’e an African”. That this sort of stupidity (I really thought for about 2 minutes for a better word; there is none) should be displayed by an airline: a symbol of travel, the purpose of which is to broaden one’s horizon and deepen one’s cultural coffers, is truly bemusing.

I was not the only bemused person yesterday though. A certain Mr. Matthew Futterman of the Wall Street Journal wrote an article that was published prior to the match asking “Who is Ghana and why can’t the USA beat them?” His opening paragraph:

Of all the possible nemeses in world soccer, the American national team is haunted by a team from an impoverished West African nation with a population less than one-tenth the size of the U.S.

The irony? Ignorance is utterly unbecoming of someone so privileged. You see, Ghana may be an “impoverished” nation but Mr. Futterman and Delta are poster children for  a class they that  should be christened the culturally impoverished. Of all the possible things germane to the actual sport of football that Mr. Futterman could have chosen to open his article with, he felt it a propos to question  how a nation of nothings could possibly stand toe-to-toe with a land as vast and wealthy and as populous as his?  He goes on to state that Ghana’s resume does “not necessarily scream “giant-killer’ “. Anyone who knows anything about football knows that the USA is not considered a giant in the sport by any stretch of the imagination. Ghana playing the USA, no matter how much Mr. Futterman would like to imagine it so, is not a David-and-Goliath-esque battle. Mr. Futterman, however, must find it unfathomable that there is any arena in which the United States would not be considered a behemoth. He must also find it impossible to understand that patriotism is not endemic to the USA; that as Ghanaians we love our country with same fervor he does his and that insulting us will breed backlash. One has to wonder who the truly “impoverished” party is here, when one has all this wealth and development at one’s fingertips yet is still  living in a mental Heart of Darkness. What I had to say to Matthew Futterman and  The Wall Street Journal, I emailed directly to him  before the match. It is also reprinted below. Mr. Futterman’s worst offense is not disservice he does The Black Stars, Ghana or Africa, but that which he does his own team and country by promulgating the stereotype that all Americans cannot see beyond their own nose, which I personally know is not the case.

Mr. Futterman,

I could not even read past the first paragraph of your bloviating article asking how “an impoverished nation” could be the nemesis of the grand old USA. Mr. Futterman, I am a Ghanaian who lives in America. I love this country.  People who write like you, however, make it difficult to to convince international onlookers that not all Americans are myopic and fatuous.

Please explain why the GDP of Ghana has any bearing on the talent, assiduousness and determination of its players and bears mentioning in your exegesis? Characterizing us as an obscure, “impoverished”, dot on the planet reeks of Conradian bias and small-mindedness and betrays your superiority complex. Would you rather your nemesis be a country more befitting of the USA because they fall under the same umbrella of wealth and prosperity? Perhaps you would prefer Germany as an arch rival? Then Mr. Futterman, I fear you have no idea what “sport” is or means.  And you certainly do not know what football means either. If you had ever been to Ghana–and Delta flies direct from JFK mind  you– you would understand what the sport of football means to us and the embodied knowledge of the sport that our country proudly possesses. You need not even take a plane. Travel through a book, or Google, I challenge you.

This is not the time for me to hash out Ghana’s football credentials as it is beside the point. It is anybody’s match tonight but it is my ardent hope that Black Stars are comprehensively victorious in order to shut you up and give you pause. You do your team and your country a great disservice by displaying such blatant snobbery.

Sincerely,
Natasha Nyanin

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars”– Oscar Wilde.

For all our hardships, for all the disparity in wealth and well-being,  this– football– is the one way in which we, as Ghanaians, collectively dream. All of us are looking at the Stars.

*Delta issued a tweet apologising for being ignorami**

**No, Delta, an ignoramus is not an animal found in Africa

Here, Delta, I made a better collage for you: took me about about 2 google clicks and one minute. You’re welcome!

IMG_20140617_074005

 

About Natasha

Word- and dough-smith. Girl in search of "the illumination, that ecstatic flash, from which truth emerges".

61 comments

  1. Read…for filth. I support you 100% on this.

  2. Sophia

    Well said. Embarrassing (again and again).

  3. Patricia

    Awesome Post!

  4. Kakra

    Fantasitc! Very well put! if America is good at anything, its good at being ignorant. All the comments made by Delta, Mr Futterman and Ellen Degeneres proves how ignorant the “Great” United States really is!

    • Dear Kakra,

      I am glad you agree that ignorance is not bliss. Let’s be careful, however, to not fall into the same trap as the Deltas and Matthew Futtermans of the world and paint with one broad brush. There are so many things America and Americans are indeed VERY good at and it is indeed a great nation just as Ghana is.We must remain “anti-stupid”, not anti-American, in our parsing of the situation. I am so thankful that this post and the many other people who raised issues on twitter and beyond are stirring debate.

      x
      Natasha

  5. Kareem

    READ THEM GYAL!!!

  6. Pingback: The Plight of the Culturally Impoverished

  7. Asalamalakum

    Bullshit. You are bitchmade and butt hurt because the US beat Ghana in the way they did. Kick Rocks

    • Uc

      SHUT THE FUCK UP YOU FUCKING PIECE OF SHIT! Butt hurt means what? The US is never not now or ever great at Football. It is called Football everywhere else in the world because that is what it actually is.

  8. Hilda

    So proud to call you my country woman right now! God bless ya!

  9. Americans are just so Myopic, Ellen’s tweet is also another one…it is just sad that in this age and time we still have to deal with such level of ignorance.
    Great reply there, I couldn’t have written any better if my nation is described with such degrading words.
    http://www.molarabrown.com

  10. Chelsea

    Yes girl!!!!

  11. Gilamonster

    not anti-American but anti-stupid! it’s really tragic that a WSJ writer can’t get out of the Cool Runnings mentality..

  12. I read your response to Mr. Futterman on IG, and nearly burst my seams with approval and pride. You are spot on in your analysis of the issue, and kudos for not staying quiet. Too many of us do. And may I also say, you have impeccable style!

  13. Reblogged this on Wanderings in Uncharted and Charted Places and commented:
    I haven’t blogged in a while *insert shamed smiley here* but I’m reblogging this post from The Ecstatic Flash because in her latest post, she has taken on a topic that I’m passionate about. We must all endeavor to learn more about the world around us so as to speak intelligently and with compassion and sensitivity about familiar and unfamiliar cultures. When we choose to reduce nations and peoples to a singular story, or in this case, photo, we do ourselves and our subjects a disservice and promulgate ideas and stereotypes that in this age, should not exist as prevailing narratives. That is the point.

  14. Amina

    I’ve been to Ghana, and I wouldn’t say it’s a great country. Like so many third world countries it still has a great deal of poverty and the middle class is basically nonexistent. You are either dirt poor or well to do. I do admire how Africans and Afro Caribbean take their education seriously and find a way out of generational poverty. Without the United States and other developed european countries most Africans would have nowhere to educate their children with a valid degree that would be accepted in most countries.The continent of Africa still has a long way to go. #JUSTKEEPINGITREAL

    • Fair enough, Amina. Truth is sometimes a personal thing. Ghana and Africa have miles and miles to go developmentally. The word “great” however is subjective. If you are defining great simply as equitable wealth and prosperity, then yes, Ghana is not great. If you expand your definition of great to mean hardworking, loyal and passionate citizenry (for e.g.) then one might beg to differ. Actually there are many people who have degrees issued on the African continent who are doing amazing things there and abroad and their degrees are certainly accepted the world over. I came to the US with a full year’s worth of science credits simply based on my high school education. Now is is this access to education equitable? Certainly not. Is there corruption and stupidity in Ghana and Africa, you bet you bottom dollar. The issue however is, just as I hate to see the US characterized in a myopic way, I hate to see that done for any other country. I appreciate your honest sentiments as I always stand for #keepingitreal as well. Thank you for taking the time to read and share you insights.

      x
      Natasha

    • Qart

      Like seriously?
      “Without the United States and other developed european countries most Africans would have nowhere to educate their children with a valid degree that would be accepted in most countries.”
      Another display of ignorance.
      For your information, I am a Ghanaian living in the US and I obtained my degree in Ghana, which is very much recognized here. As a nation, we still have a long way to go I agree, but your assertion that getting an European or US education, is the only way to get a degree that is recognized is completely bogus. I can choose not to get a US degree and I would not be any worse off because of it.
      Keeping it real, you are not. Far from reality, yes. Get an education.

    • J

      Dear Amina,
      If that’s really your name it should be revoked from you. Are you kidding me? As Natasha clearly stated, since when does athletic skills and in this case soccer playing ability have anything to do with GDP? If it was then we wouldn’t even be playing this world cup in Brazil. This is the soccer world cup FOOTBALL, not a geography, wealth management or population analysis hence Mr. Futterman or whatever is name is should have stuck to Football statistics not given us a rude and highly unnecessary GDP lesson. But seriously do I expect any better from an American writing a FOOTBALL article ? NO! After all they call a sport they play 99.9% of the time with their hands football. BUT I DID EXPECT BETTER FROM YOU, I THINK YOU GOT YOUR EDUCATION IN AMERICA RIGHT? SINCE YOU SO READILY COMMEND AMERICAN’S EDUCATION SYSTEM, THIS TIME I THINK THEY LET ONE SLIP THROUGH THE CRACKS. GO. BACK TO. SCHOOL. THEN COME BACK AND READ THIS BEAUTIFUL ARTICLE AGAIN.

      ME DA WO ASE ( THANK YOU)

  15. qwuasi

    @Asalamakum,
    atypical Uncle Ben citizen. Stay on your statue.

  16. Kofi Boakye

    Haha! Of course she is hurt (she already said that). Every Ghanian would be hurt after the loss. But OMG you… LOL… and your comment… it just gives you away… SMH. Hopefully, when you reread (assuming you do) and rethink about the article on a future date, you’ll actually see wisdom she is putting across (It’s not for everybody though. I understand if you don’t get it)

    • Kofi,

      Thank you for pointing out that the true point of the article may have been missed by a previous commenter. And as for hurt, I am hurt paaa. 🙂 Haven’t felt this way since Nadal lost the Aussie Open final to Djokovic 😉

      x
      Natasha

  17. Aaaaand BOOM! Cut and print!

  18. Events like these bring out plethora of ignorance on social medias. Americans are usually at the forefront.

    • Malaka, thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts. I wish that the few Americans who do this did not sully the reputation of the country as a whole. I know so many compassionate and open-minded Americans. It pains me to see the narrow-minded ones overshadow those that deserve the attention.
      x
      Natasha

  19. Awesome post, Natasha I LOVE you for this…..may you live long!!

  20. Tara Myers

    Well said Natasha, I too wish that some could keep from spoiling our reputation with the rest if the world!

    • Thank you, Tara. One cannot know everything but one can at least make an effort. So many do. Then a few bad apples spoil the bunch.

      x
      Natasha

  21. ubuwan

    Awesome post. Loved it.

  22. This was a wonderful post. I didn’t even here about this Delta Twitter incident. I love that you (and a larger community) held people and/or corporations accountable for ignorant, biased statements.

    • immigratingwithapurpose,
      The internet at large to Delta to task. One can only hope they are paying attention. Thank you for your kind words

      x
      Natasha

  23. This is the sheer stupidity and disrespect of the so called western counties when it comes to issues relating to African countries. To most of them Africa is a country even to the learned. This I can also only discribe as stupidity. I am a proud Ghanaian currently living in Germany and have to, at certain points, educate even professors, yes you professors!
    How best can you describe this?

    • yogilegend,

      I understand your frustration. It is our duty to educate those will listen and to be educated ourselves about the world around us. Kudos to you for speaking up.

      x
      Natasha

  24. @Asalamakum,
    Fill in the blank space
    If you don’t know and you don’t know that you don’t know the you are a ____________!
    Come again Mr. Ignorantus!

  25. George Festus Mensah

    Awesome peace! Now I feel ayt that someone responder to this insane article and post. Way to go girl.

  26. Mawuli

    wow well said

  27. Kojo

    Great post… It was a pleasure to read. Question, would you opinion about Mr. Futterman’s article change if he were making a statistical argument? That is, one would expect countries with smaller populations to have on average, a smaller pool of talented players… and poorer countries to have fewer resources to spend on training talent. Of course, even if this is what he intended, it was nevertheless an unconsidered argument –statistically flawed because he didn’t control for the likely fact that Ghanaians spend a lot more hours playing football, on average, that American’s probably do.

  28. Sorry but Africans are just as ignorant about America as we are of them. The high ground taken here is just another example of cultural ignorance directed toward a low-paid corporate employee disguised as intellectual superiority.

  29. Antoinette

    Well done Natasha. A well written piece about the ignorance of many.

  30. POW! Well said! I’m glad you spoke out!

  31. Love Kyei

    Well said!!! The display of ignorance is just ridiculous!!

  32. Digg

    I wonder if Mr Futterman has finished picking up his jaw from the ground?

  33. Mark

    Excellent. Well said.

  34. danbrok

    A win by the Black Stars would have made your article painful to read by any American, nevertheless i read every letter of this and i love it… Americans are not just ignorant but educated illiterates. most people dont know whats happening outside their state

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