September 13, 2020

Sports Letter from Africa: Behind Ghana and Nigeria’s love-hate affair



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In our sequence of letters from African journalists, Ghanaian writer Elizabeth Ohene looks on the fraught relationship between Ghana and Nigeria, which underlies essentially the most up-to-date tensions over the closure of some Nigerian-owned outlets in Ghana.

We leer them as too loud, and abrasive and chaotic and we judge they judge they’ll outsmart everyone, especially Ghanaians.

They judge we’re too submissive, no longer very trim, continuously punching above our weight and nothing upsets them extra than Ghana defeating Nigeria, in anything else.

The Ghana-Nigeria competitors has been around for as prolonged as each countries bask in existed.

When I used to be a shrimp of 1, there used to be a Nigerian in every town and village in Ghana.

I went to college with them and there used to be the Nigerian woman – “Mami Alata” they bask in been called – who sold everything and you might per chance per chance wake her up during the evening to capture three cubes of sugar.

The Nigerians bask in been especially visible in the retail alternate sector and in the diamond mining cities.

The two countries attain no longer portion borders, but it indubitably has continuously felt love we did. That we’re separated by Togo and Benin has never indubitably mattered – we indubitably feel love we’re neighbours.

Clearly, something to attain with the two countries being English-talking and British colonies in the midst of French-talking countries.

Till independence, we had the equal currency and airline, and the equal apex court docket settled all judicial matters.

There bask in been traditional wearing competitions between our Achimota College and their Kings College.

I do know of 1 lasting marriage that came out of these wearing conferences.

Then in 1955, came the 7-0 thrashing by Ghana of the Pink Devils, as the Nigerian nationwide soccer team used to be called in the intervening time.

It’s far the stuff of legends, and for years, it hung there in the relieve of every dialog, every argument, inner most or nationwide, between our two countries.

image copyrightGetty Photography

image captionNigeria gained independence three years after Ghana, marking the occasion with mammoth celebrations

Then Ghana received her independence in March 1957 and our Nigerian cousins received theirs in October 1960.

This did no longer indubitably feel appropriate – for many Nigerians, they bask in been bigger and can bask in received their independence before petite Ghana.

They might per chance per chance per chance per chance be bigger, but on the time, Ghana felt and used to be richer than Nigeria – before oil used to be stumbled on.

Sports Mass expulsions

We kept up the neighbourly rivalries and friendships.

Then came the Development Occasion authorities’s Aliens Compliance Give an explanation for of November 1969, which ordered all undocumented aliens to leave Ghana.

Even supposing there bask in been Togolese, Burkinabes, Ivorians, Nigeriens and varied West Africans in the nation, Nigerians, mostly ethnic Yorubas from the south-western states of Nigeria, formed the massive majority of the foreign population in Ghana then.

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image captionThe expulsions of undocumented foreigners by Nigeria in 1983 led to chaotic scenes at border posts

About a of them had been living here for years and bask in been into their 2d and third generations. It felt love the exercise used to be aimed at Nigerians and their journeys home bask in been no longer gratifying.

Then oil came to Nigeria and as they grew to become rich, Ghana’s economic system collapsed and from around 1974, the exodus to Nigeria used to be on.

College professors, architects, engineers, carpenters, masons, tailors, hairdressers, maidservants and our faculty rooms bask in been emptied of all academics from kindergarten, major, secondary and tertiary.

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media captionJollof rice: West Africa’s culinary king?

Whereas you occur to bask in been a Nigerian household of any price, you needed to bask in a Ghanaian nanny, a Ghanaian maidservant, a Ghanaian cook dinner, a Ghanaian gardener and your kids bask in been prone to bask in a Ghanaian trainer in faculty or as a inner most tutor.

Then in 1983 the Nigerian authorities introduced the expulsion of all undocumented aliens.

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image captionThese roughly plastic bags are quiet identified in West Africa as “Ghana Need to Trail” bags

Since Ghanaians constituted the massive majority of the aliens, it felt love this used to be aimed at Ghanaians.

The unofficial name for the exercise, and for the plastic to find that the determined departing Ghanaians old to carry their possessions, grew to become “Ghana Need to Trail”.

It used to be no longer a gratifying trail relieve to Ghana. We bask in been at our lowest ebb and we bask in been mocked mercilessly as we shopped for loo roll and cooking oil to make a selection home.

The Nigerians would never admit it, indubitably, but it indubitably did indubitably feel love the damage of the Ghanaian 1969 Aliens Compliance Give an explanation for had been at closing assuaged.

Sports Diplomatic stand-off

Progressively, we went relieve to constructing a relationship, on account of we indubitably couldn’t attain without each varied.

The West African regional organisation, Ecowas, had reach into being in 1975 and because the two major English-talking countries in the neighborhood, we wished each varied to attain things work.

image copyrightAFP

image captionNigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari (L) and his Ghanaian counterpart Nana Akufo-Addo in happier times at an Ecowas assembly closing year

Things bask in been stable for as prolonged as we recognised their “seniority”. That we bask in been the center-broken household used to be firmly established.

They brought Ghana to a end in 1982 by stopping the particular terms for promoting us oil. We went to beg, and it used to be restored.

Nigeria’s leader in the 1990s, Peculiar Sani Abacha, despatched a suitcase tubby of $2m, some allege $5m, to his Ghanaian counterpart Flt Lt Jerry Rawlings.

Within the early 2000s Ghana’s President John Kufuor went to gaze Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo to sing him the Ghana Police Provider had 100 automobiles to its name and Nigeria gave us automobiles for our police.

However we remained a fave destination for their rich and renowned, and so that they send their kids to college here in Ghana.

The Shadowy Stars furthermore did no longer generally play essentially based mostly totally on the script and each once in some time, defeated the Tidy Eagles, as Nigeria’s nationwide soccer team bask in been now identified.

Primarily the most up-to-date tensions between the two countries are being blamed on bilateral alternate variations.

There might per chance be a law that restricts foreigners from retail alternate – and Ghanaian merchants attain no longer need the Nigerian merchants in the markets.

Sports Ghana’s law and essentially the most up-to-date crisis:

  • Foreigners in Ghana can’t plug petite stores, but they’ll beget wholesale firms or varied agencies wherein around $1m (£782,000) has been invested
  • The law is intended to present protection to smaller native merchants and these working petite industry love barbers or beauty salons, but is no longer continuously enforced
  • Market merchants bask in infrequently taken the law into their very beget fingers, which brought on the authorities to attain an audit of stores in August and shut some Nigerian-plug stalls
  • Foreigners married to a Ghanaian are exempt from the rules – as are these in a industry partnership with a Ghanaian

As the alternate ministry are trying to acquire to the bottom of things, matters bask in assumed diplomatic dimensions.

The Nigerian federal data minister has spoken some sturdy phrases.

The Ghana data minister has issued a comprehensive rebuttal.

The Nigerian foreign minister has been busy on his Twitter account complaining about “the forceful closure of the outlets of Nigerian merchants in Ghana” and ascribing causes for the closure.

Our foreign minister felt her counterpart had overstepped the tag and summoned the Nigerian high commissioner to her place of work to sing her some different, straight phrases.

The speaker of our parliament stepped into the fray and invited the speaker of the Nigerian Rental of Representatives to Ghana.

He came with a convincing delegation and after four days of conferences he pronounced that “the teach at hand is on the complete a misconception and misinformation”.

There bask in been stories in the Nigerian media that Nigerians beget pretty just a few the constructions in the esteem ingredients of Ghana’s capital, Accra, and which might per chance per chance be factual.

image copyrightGetty Photography

image captionGhana desires to present protection to the jobs of smaller merchants

They are talking relating to the desire of Nigerian banks in Ghana and there are suggestions they bask in got ample economic muscle to squeeze us where it hurts.

The Ghana retail merchants might per chance per chance no longer bask in 100% make stronger amongst their compatriots about looking out the Nigerian merchants out of the markets.

Attributable to, love the “Mami Alata” in days of yore, the Nigerian dealer would stop open for one would-be purchaser and no longer pack up for 3 days to head to a funeral.

We are all keeping our breath and the sensation is per chance we have to quiet be taught to attain without these cousins of ours.

However we’re yet to be taught how the tongue learns to attain without the teeth.

Sports Extra Letters from Africa:

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