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Accra: Village, Slum or City?

Woke up this morning to see this article floating about on twitter. In this article, Eonline reporter  Alyssa Toomey writes, “The handsome boy-banders visited the impoverished village of Accra and took to Twitter to detail their eye-opening experience.”
From what I can surmise, Comic Relief (responsible for Red Nose Day)  brought One Direction to Accra. Lord knows which parts of Accra they sent them to, but hey, they saw a slum or two.
This is what one member had to say about his trip:
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Hey Niall, thanks for visiting my country (even though you only visited Accra) and thanks for wanting to help those who are poverty stricken but here’s some thing you need to wise up to. Poverty is everywhere, even in your beloved United Kingdom. How is it that you managed not to notice that “poverty is real” before you visited my “impoverished village of Accra”?

In response to the article and the tweets from Niall Horan, GH twitter had a field day. Aside from tweets like mine which expressed outrage, a lot took to humour to voice their displeasure.

This one from Wanlov the Kubolor had me laughing my butt off!

 
I can’t blame One Direction.  They’re kids, really and hey, I can understand to some degree how in all the excitement, the band members could have tweeted like they did.  You can never see poverty and walk away untouched.  You’d have to be a cold bastard for that.

My beef is with the article on Eonline and thus, with  Alyssa Toomey. Ms. Toomey apparently failed to do her research before posting the article.  Even worse, the article either did not go through an editor, or her editor was an ignoramus. Accra is not an “impoverished village”. So I asked Niall, One Direction and Eonline to please tell Alyssa that Accra is not a village.  None of them bothered responding but that’s to be expected.  I tweeted at Alyssa herself asking her to edit the article and deliver an apology but received no response. I didn’t really expect otherwise.

While others rant on about whether or not Accra is a “modern city” and complain about the “dirt” etc, I would like to make myself very clear.

A village is defined by my common dictionary to be:

  1. A group of houses and associated buildings, larger than a hamlet and smaller than a town, situated in a rural area.
  2. A self-contained district or community within a town or city, regarded as having features characteristic of village life.

Accra is very much an urban area, no matter what people choose to say about it. It is larger than a town. Perhaps the slum that was visited could be described as a village but my Capital City of Accra truly fails to meet the description of a village.  It is a CITY! I do not understand why the word village has come to mean in some people’s minds, “a dirty group of mud houses with animals roaming freely about”. Please! Not every village comes with complimentary death and squalor. Accra has a huge problem with sanitation and we need to get our people to stop throwing their crap in the street but just cuz some so called “villagers” have relocated to Accra from the rural areas etc does not mean it has become a village.

Every city the world over has its share of poverty. I don’t really care about the author tagging Accra as impoverished.  Hey, if she thinks hotels like Movenpick Ambassador and La Palm Royal are signs of impoverishment, that’s her problem. I can take her behind Dekalb in the Bronx or walk her through Harlem and show her some poor people. Would she like to call those places villages too? Even in Memphis, I saw squalor.The abject poverty I have witnessed will not let me attempt to fool anyone that we do not indeed have impoverished sections (and a lot of them) in Accra.

My problem is with western media always needing to portray Africa as a poverty ridden “country”. They blatantly refuse to show the progress we’re making. Growing up, I studied geography and read a lot so I knew most of the states of America and of course, that the Britain was a teeny weeny Island etc. It was all drummed into my head, whether I wanted to know it or not.  So how come Western kids do not know that Africa is a continent? How could Alyssa Toomey not have checked facts on Ghana and thus not know that Accra was our Capital city?

Later on in the day, I discovered that the article had been edited and the insulting phrase taken out. I feel better, knowing that at least one more person out there will think twice before writing about my homeland in a derogatory manner.  I don’t care if you tell the truth about my country.  Talk about the poverty all you like (but talk about yours too and maintain the balance) but please do not make the mistake of belittling us.

To celebs like One Direction who love to do charity work, kudos. Your hard work is really appreciated but please for the love of all things Holy, do your homework. Don’t mar the good work you do with ignorant comments.

My final two cents is meant for all Ghanaians. Can we fix up our city? Please? Accra is a health hazard and it’s time we cleaned it up. We have town and country planning.  Why are their codes being ignored? Why are people dumping rubbish wherever they feel like? And what do we do about the mass exodus of people from rural areas to our urban centres? How long has that Slum at Korle Gono been in existence and what has been done to take care of it?

Until we make strides to improve things and better brand our nation, we will forever have ignorant impressions running around about this country and the rest of Africa. Let’s work together to paint a better picture of our homeland.  It’s the only one we have! 

God Bless Ghana!

~Daixy~

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