Palm Wine Joint

OPEN LETTER TO JON BENJAMIN: You Gon Learn Today

Jon Benjamin

Your Excellency Jon Benjamin, the former British Ambassador to Ghana,
I call you Ambassador and not the other title because I don’t believe in the Commonwealth. Ghana is insulting our Founding Fathers and spitting on their grave of the people who lay down their lives for this nation by being a part of the Commonwealth of Nations. The Commonwealth of Nations is just a platform for dying Great Britain to stand on and tell itself, “Back in the day, we were so great, we stole from all these people, raped their women and forced our culture on them.”
BTW, Mr. Gbekor, the Senior Housemaster of St. Peter’s when I was there, used to tell us, “you only add ‘Great’ to your name if you think your name is not great in itself.”
Last …, you know what? I don’t remember what day it was but it was a day of the week last week, you DM’d me on Twitter.
On said day, a Twitter user, @ApstLukeGentle, said he wanted you to be made a Ghanaian citizen because “Charlie u be too much”. You responded by saying you were happy with your current citizenship. I replied by jokingly asking you to enjoy your citizenship and Brexit chaos since in Ghana the only chaos we have is Obinim being on TV. I only said that because of your obsession with Obinim and the Christian faith. Your DM was your response to my comment. You responded by calling me a fool and a coward. Boy, if I was a coward, will I respond to you insulting my country?
That was not the first time you’re calling someone a coward on Twitter. I remember when Anas Aremeyaw Anas’ Number 12 documentary came out, you commented on it. A Ghanaian on Twitter responded by asking you what your thought about corruption in English football. I don’t follow European football but apparently, in 2016, there was a scandal involving English football administrators, similar to the one Anas uncovered at the Ghana Football Association. The Independent called English football “rotten to the core”. You never tweeted about the English scandal but had your twitter fingers on fleek when Kwesi Nyantakyi’s happen. A Ghanaian tweeter pointed that fact out and you responded by calling him a coward, hiding behind his Twitter account. BTW, Google says there’s another football scandal in England involving sexual abuse, different from the one mentioned above.
H.E Jon, you spend all day on Twitter making negative remarks about Ghana and when you are called out on your bullshit, you reply by calling said person a coward hiding behind his Twitter handle or tell the said person he has 4 followers. Even the King of Clout-chasing, Tekashi 6ix9ine doesn’t do that.
I’m just curious. Why are so obsessed with Ghana? Ghana is not the only country you have served in. We are even the country you have served longest in. You never speak on any scandal that happens in the “Great” Britain. Is it because you are afraid you will lose your job? Why do you go haywire when someone mentions your country on your page? Is it because you are afraid you will lose your job if someone tweets a negative truth about British on your page? Do you put your fear on people by calling them, cowards?
In your DM, you asked my full name. I wanted to reply before you blocked me. That’s why I wrote this open letter.
“Full names” are an inherited culture. Surnames were not a requirement in Ghana especially for members of a royal family, just like it is with the British royal family. Actually, I was given my surname just before the coming into force of the 1998 Children’s Act, which required all children in Ghana to have surnames.
When I was born, my dad had been indoctrinated to believe European names were Christian names. Actually, Europeans names were forced on Ghanaians through Christianity and School. Ghanaian parents will take their kids to school and a white teacher will tell him his name wasn’t complete without a European one so he/she was given one, by the teacher. Ghanaians who converted into Christianity were told their conversion wasn’t complete without changing their “traditional” names to “Christian” names. Because of that, many Ghanaian, who don’t know this history, came to accept European names as Christian names. My dad didn’t know the history, at the time, so gave me the European name, Anthony, because he was, still is, a Christian.
My mother’s family, who were Muslims, gave me the Arabic name, Zakaria, to reflect my Islamic heritage too. My father’s family also gave me the Dangme name, Asantey.
It sounds Akan, I know. It’s because my clan is made up of Guans and Ashantis who joined the Dangmes to fight the Ewes and Ashantis and were rewarded with the Ada chieftaincy. Even though we are Dangmes now, we still have Ashanti and Guan names to reflect our ancestry. So my name was Anthony Asantey Zakaria, no surname. I didn’t need a surname because I was a Royal.
My grandfather died in 1993, 3 years after I was born, leaving his children nothing but his name and wisdom. In 1997, to his honor and to obey the incoming law, my father added Owura-Akuaku, my grandfather’s name, to my names and took away my given Arabic and Dangme names. It became my surname.
In 2000, when I was old enough to understand what my father has done, I added those names back to my names on my exercise books, not in my documents. When I was bold enough to confront my father, I did and we both agreed to allow me to add my native name. My teacher refused to allow me to add my other name(s) to my school documents.
When you ask me what my full name is, I don’t know the answer to that question. My name is Anthony Asantey Zakaria Owura-Akuaku but my documents say Anthony Owura-Akuaku. Nenebi is my identity, it means Prince. I prefer to be called by just that name. That’s why I told you that’s my name. I have nothing to hide.
People my age don’t care enough about diplomacy. When we are creating a Twitter account, we are not being cowards by using the name we want to be called, we are being true to ourselves. I grew up in my time where I respect Cardi B more than I will ever respect you. It’s more about who our role models have been that the ideas your brain has created in your head about why we don’t use our “real names” on Twitter.
Number two. In the Ghanaian society, we have what we call “House name”. People have names they are known by domestically, which is different from the names on their document, which may be different from their nicknames. In my Grandma’s village, I have a different name, which is my Ewe name. When a chief is enstooled or enskinned in many Ghanaian societies, they are given different names. I don’t know my grandfather’s name. I have never heard anyone call him by it since I was born. That’s how little name in Ghana. That is to say, your name is not a blood covenant that you must hold at all means. Names are just suggestions. So when a Ghanaian kid creates a Twitter account, he is not being a coward by “hiding” his name, he is just suggesting to people what he wants to be known as.
Okay, I’m a Law student so let me end on pseudonyms. Does using a pseudonym make one a coward. Twitter is a micro-blogging platform. Blogs are literary works. Literary works give their authors some copyrights. Right to privacy is copyright. One can exercise their right to privacy by using a pseudonym. Exercising one’s right doesn’t make one a coward. Does it, Mr. Diplomat? Is J.K Rowling a coward?

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