A quick apology, I haven’t posted in a while since I have been busy with all sorts of fun stuff, including the aforementioned costume designs for a holocaust memoir which has been rewarding but trying, to say the least. But don’t let me bore you with details of my personal life, on we go.

Ghana is an ethnically and thus culturally diverse country, and most Ghanaians usually identify with their tribe and hometown before their country, although there is also a pretty strong sense of national identity in West Africa and the wider world. When I speak about culture, I speak of both the national identity of Ghanaian and the internal identity of being Fanti or Ewe or Asante or Ga and how the population (especially the metropolitan population) has adapted to and assimilated all the different cultures it is made of. Ghana has also had foreign influences for a pretty long time, and these influences have also made their mark on the society and helped shape it into what it is today. The country is truly, in many ways, a melting pot.

Where am I going with this? I do feel like this diversity is not represented in our films and our stories, especially the English-speaking movies. In my opinion, various tribal identities and cultural values should be asserted in movies to not only give a more realistic picture of everyday life but also to educate younger people and foreigners who do not know as much about Ghana as Ghanaians. In doing this, a writer and director must be careful to be respectful of each tribe, because a badly written script could promote elitism among tribes and cause unnecessary tension. In comedy, good-natured fun can be poked, but even if the point is to be shocking, the director must exercise caution. We are a good-natured people but we can take offense easily.

It is quite possible to include Westerners, Asians, Middle Easterners and other Africans who have been assimilated into our culture in our stories; the trap most filmmakers and storytellers fall into is relying on the identity of these “foreigners” as foreign as a form of appeal, and not as having been assimilated into Ghanaian society and culture. One thing that annoys me sometimes is seeing white girls used in local music videos, especially poor quality ones, as if the presence of an “obroni” will somehow make the video better. At the end of the day, all the artist winds up with is a bad video with bad dancing (for they often can’t dance) and nothing to show for it. The increased fame of Majid Michel who has Lebanese heritage has less to do with his acting skills and more with the color of his skin (but we shall delve into the subject of acting on a later date). Shoot me but fair-skinned actors and actresses have about triple the chance of success. Case in point: Nadia Buari. Then again, these are personal opinions.

What I would like, is for these people to be represented in a way that educates the public about their heritage: the heritage of the Lebanese people in Ghana, the heritage of Ghanaian Indians, Ghanaian Filipinos etc. When did they get here? How did they establish and maintain such a strong presence? How are they different? How have they become the same?  Think about it, how much do you know about the history of the Lebanese in Ghana? Any other major non-European group?

It is my dream that we learn to explore and celebrate our diversity in our stories.


One Response to “Multicultural”

  1. True talk. This past weekend, I had a conversation with a Pacific Island woman who was excited to find out that I am Ghanaian. She lived in Ghana for a brief period and she was telling me how much she loved it. She continued to share that in her home land, people LOVE watching Ghanaian movies and drama and how much they learn about Ghanaian culture and living through those movies. I could have died at that moment. To think that the purpose of portraying a “world” perspective in our movies rather than a typical Ghanaian reality in order to make it more marketable is more than pathetic because when we do get our movies out there, what we show is what we teach the world about Ghanaian culture. (Head bowed in shame…)

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