Last night thanks to my mother ( who loves the show) I watched the first live show of this years Ghana’s Most Beautiful.
For years it’s a show that’s both intrigued and confused me; at first I thought it was a beauty pageant i.e. the name, but later realized it was supposed to be a cultural pageant.( I still don’t get why it’s not Miss Tourism/ Culture).
But that’s besides the point.
I’ve never really followed it much but the few glimpses I had of it I was impressed with how the contestants knowledge of their culture, and even on occasion I picked up a few lessons here and there.
It was even more encouraging to see traditional leaders involved, thereby validating its cultural significance and their presence also meant contestants had to be careful to get their stories right. It gradually became the go to pageant for all things traditional.
Personally though, it still seemed like most of the contestants were looking for a career in front of the camera, seeing how much acting was involved; but that didn’t change the processes they had to go through nor did it take away from cultural display and education the audience received weekly.
There’s a lot of our culture that’s lost, mostly because it’s not being taught or passed on and also because our generation and others before us haven’t been as interested.
So a show like this is an important way to preserve and pass on a would be lost history and culture.
So last night as I sat down to watch with my mother I eagerly wanted for the contestant from the central region, seeing as that’s where I’m from. #TeamFanti
Her eloquence wasn’t hard to miss, and she was poised and commanded the audience’s attention.
However one statement she made almost took away from her near perfect delivery.
She stated with pride how , and I paraphrase, ” Fantis had the first contact with the Europeans”, and even went on to talk, again with pride about about our european last names.
Like we were almost superior to the other regions because of our association with the Europeans, their willingness to “trade” with us and how they preferred us to other tribes.
This nativity is what set the tone for the transatlantic slave trade in west Africa and colonization in the first place.
But my name is also a reminder of the atrocities my ancestors faced at the hands of Europeans and how we pretty much OPENED the door and let them in.
The statement she made only reinforced a colonial mentality some of my people continue to hold onto till this day.
And don’t get me wrong, we can’t and shouldn’t run away from our history because it’s a part of who we are as a people; but if you’re going to talk about history, ensure its one we can learn from and not one that glorifies our mistakes.
And unfortunately that’s exactly what her statement did.
But to be fair this isn’t entirely on her; there’s a lot about our history we don’t know or understand and even the little we’ve been taught in school just doesn’t go in depth into some of these hard conversations.
And I that’s supposed to be the whole significance of this show; and why contestants are expected to do extensive research before their presentation.
Which is why I’m glad one of the judges prompted them to name their sources for the audience whenever they made a presentation.
Because like it or not, a lot of the people glued to their TV sets are equally ignorant about their culture(including me sometimes) and seeing that this has become a learning curve for all of us, it’s important that we get the facts right.
Sadly when I shared my sentiments over her comments on social media some of the responses reinforced my point that many cared very little about our history, and we’re unwilling to learn from it.
They were willing to overlook such a serious blunder because to them it wasn’t as important as the contestant winning.
This is why some people would still buy something made in China of inferior quality over that made in Ghana because it’s supposed to be better; it’s why foreigners are treated with much more respect by certain people over their own.
The examples are endless.
So you understand that promoting the idea that we FANTIS were special because of our close ties with Europeans only means we still believe them to be THE SUPERIOR RACE.
If you don’t get the danger of that statement and the implications of it then I’m afraid we’re all in trouble.
Our history is already whitewashed and there’s a lot we’ve lost because of a lack of proper documentation etc.
But if we can help it, the little we know should be preserved and passed on with facts as something we can learn from.
Now it’s important that people not take this out on the contestant I singled out, if anything she’s given us all something to think about and learn from.
And to BAABA my Fanti sister, please make m all Fanti’s proud by proving that we can take a negative and turn it into our favour.
There’s so much more to us as a people than our colonial past and I’m confident by the end of the competition you’ll leave people in love with our culture and history.