Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Vitriol of a Foreigner

Two kinds of people go to ‘foreign’ countries – visitors and bigots. For far too long, the creative aspects of the life of Africans (and Asians and Native Americans and Native Australians, etc) has only been studied as Anthropology, while the Euro-American way has been studied as Art.

I have always wanted to meet blogger Holli, but she’s frankly not worth a second of my time. To be very honest, I wish the people over at ‘Immigration’ would keep a strict eye on her status and see her off as soon as it is time.

Why am I saying this? There was a street festival last weekend at Jamestown (an old settlement of Accra). It is not the most densely populated part of Accra (contrary to Holli’s lies). I will leave it at that and ask you to make the time to compare different accounts of the festival for yourself.

First, puke on BIGOT Holli’s vitriol here.

Then, luxuriate in GHANAIAN Nana Kofi’s pictures here.

Finally, ruminate on 'EXPAT' Graham's riposte here. (I know him and he's a GENUINE 'visitor')

Do Holli, Nana Kofi and Graham describe the same event? Yes. But one’s description is sick, bigoted, hateful and dishonest. How I now value the saying about a picture being worth a thousand words (and also an attempt at 1000 fair and honest words - Graham)


  1. Damn. I have never seen you go this hard at someone.

  2. Anonymous19 July, 2011

    You tell her, NY!

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. @ lady Jaye:

    I had to do it. She did not really think through things before putting up that post. Of course, it is her opinion. I respect her right to have that opinion, but I do not respect her opinion. And up here is my opinion of her opinion.

    @ Anon:

    Thanks, mate.

  5. Anonymous19 July, 2011

    Fair point NY. The comparison speaks for itself. You got a tad sentimental though when you mentioned the 'immigration' people. It is not a good idea in any country to use them as a threat.

  6. Wow! I just read her review and it is as if she went there looking for anything she could complain about and chose to focus on only the negatives. I enjoyed Nana Kofi's post (as always) and I'm glad there are other perspectives of this festival for those who care to look for them.

  7. Fame as a writer? ... Is that what Holli is seeking? Seeking followers to whom she can peddle lies to in order to increase her circulation? You African Poverty Story Monger! Find another stick to prod us with, that job has been taken by western media.

    The situation in James Town is bleak, that is true, but to use a day of sunshine in the lives of others to power your own solar powered 'poppycock' is taking it a bit too far.

    What is art when you are hungry Holli?....something to live for.

  8. Anonymous19 July, 2011

    This is the most useless account of jamestown i have heard in my entire life. one thing you have to learn of which i can see you clearly lack is open mindedness. In ghana, you dont need a lot of money to have a wedding infact our traditional weddings are nicer and full of rich culture than the western one. Also jamestown is not the poorest place in Ghana. Look i have been to the states and seen street beggers fighty for food in a trash can and you talk about jamestown like America is Heaven. I was at the festival and i think it was interesting, nobody is forcing you to stay in ghana if you think it bothers you so much to see black people and children pack your stuff and leave. I didnt know racists will come so close to actually coming to an african country and attending african events...

  9. I agree with most of what you've said... I was equally irked by the post on Holli's blog - the abject-poverty lens, and postulation that poverty and the arts are mutually exclusive. Love, love love NKA's post! However, I'm not sure about blog etiquette, but I think there's a bold line between critiquing one's opinion and one's person. Bigot, is harsh!

  10. Anonymous19 July, 2011

    Bigot is mild

  11. @ Anon 2:

    you're right. on the score of 'immigration', I apologise to readers for introducing it into my post.

  12. @ Sankofa:

    i guess we're reminded of the critical danger of relying on only one source of information.

  13. @ KFC:

    spot on. holli is seeking self-glory in her piece which as also targeted clearly at anybody who is gullible and ill-informed. i'm not sorry for calling her a bigot - her narrative is so full of hypocrisy and patent condescension (unfair or inaccurate or corrupted with motive or dishonest in every single case).

  14. @ Anon 3:

    You've told her already!

  15. @ Yeh:

    Dearest friend, I must disagree with you on this. Bigotry can be seen as much from opinions as from acts. Even though once does not create a pattern, I will not sit idle for Holli to denigrate my country ten times with her jaundiced views before I label her. Bigot is apt!

  16. @ Anon 4:

    And here was I saying it was apt. 'Bigot' is mild, huh?

  17. I think this isn't the first time I am hearing of this so-called journalist in the news. Well, what can one say than to leave these individuals to their deeds. Those who know will always see them for what they are, fraud.

  18. Anonymous19 July, 2011

    We grew some teeth! We grew some teeth!

    So I find that there's a lot of positions to be taken and defended here.

    What jumps out most strongly at me is the fact that Ghanaians are defending Ghana. Yes, lips have finally rolled back and teeth are firecely bared. Freedom of speech always but be prepared for the backlash from your free-reign tongue on another's too-often-relegated culture.

    I am taking up the battle cry (Ahem...even though...errm...I was nowhere near Accra this weekend). Aluta continua!

  19. A huge contrast from the other blogs I've read on the same event. Such a shame, really.

  20. Nana, Holli really only saw what she wanted to see and what she expected to see - and more is the pity for that. The potential, the vibrancy, the history were all lost on her even before she got here and long before she wrote this piece.

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  22. ..And the pictures. WTF was that? 2 old and un-related pictures?? That's just disgusting.

  23. Hi Everyone - this is Holli, the accused bigot. I must say that I am amazed at all the venom spewed at me over my opinion of the festival.

    Firstly - though it might not help in this forum - since everyone's opinions are clearly formed - over one blog post! - I am not a bigot.

    I've been in Ghana for over 15 years. I married a Ga man and lived in his family compound for 5 good years. My half Ghanaian son Nii Kpakpo would laugh to hear someone call his mummy a racist. He knows me, he loves me.

    Since I know my background and my intentions, i will not be hurt by all the hateful comments.

    I also agree that it is great to see Ghanaians defending Ghana.

    However, I visited the event, which many of you did not. So for those who were not there, it's not fair to judge my observations.

    Next - I DID see the obvious and glaring poverty in Jamestown. the Ghanaian government has posted articles on this, claiming poverty is endemic in the area, and so on that point, if anyone is denying it, they are living deluding themselves.

    For me to be struck by the irony, the juxtaposition of what was marketed as a street festival - starting at 10 am - and what what existed on the groung - by noon - is not something to attack me over.

    I would love for these festivals to work, to prosper. I just didn't see it. I saw a lack of organisation, unsafe areas for kids, people doing their laundry and bathing the kids by the roadside. I talked to a woman running an NGO - who was highly concerned about the lives of the kids of Jamestown. She was Ghanaian. I concurred.

    I think everyone is trying to portray a much too rosy view of things, at the expense of what exists in terms of true brutal poverty in the area. Glossing over the issues that face Ghana today. It was my opinion piece and only that.

    All the things that have been said about me as a result are just unfortunate. But unlike what I've seen in the Ghanaian blogosphere since then, i do not believe in attacking a fellow blogger for their opinions. So I won't.

    Nana Yaw, if we do meet, I hope you will be more open minded than you have been in this vicious attack. I think you will be surprised about the girl behind the Ramblings.

  24. @ Holli:

    Be big and mature and accept the crassly distasteful excess of your blog post. You are just bullshitting with your justification (both here and on your blog).

    You make silly excuses for using dated pictures. Laughable. You did not feel comfortable taking your camera into Jamestown. Do you even realise you are giving further insults? Didn't scores of people take their cameras there? Couldn't you have been honest to describe the pictures as dated?

    We are ill-impressed about your specious justification.

    About me (a blogger) attacking you (another blogger), do not for one moment think you will receive any special treatment because we are both bloggers. You disrespect the country that has accepted you for 15 years so crassly and unfairly, and I will point it out to you. It is a hollow defence to say your son half-Ghanaian.

    Since you have used word yourself, your post (which, from your justification, is a reflection of your mindset) is racist!AND IT IS A SERIOUS BREACH OF THE CONSTITUTION OF GHANA (the supreme law of our country).

    People do not need to have been in Jamestown last Saturday to see the innate racism in your words. Are there not hundreds of pictures on the internet to expose the falsity of your account?

    Look to it. It is the messianic syndrome/complex. The "White Man's Burden".

    Be big and apologise or shut up already.

  25. To Everybody:

    It was very dishonest of Holli to go to Jamestown (clearly) on a crusade to highlight their poverty but pretend the whole time that she was going to the 'Chale Wote' Street Art Festival. Heck, the title of her post even has the festival's name.

  26. Do you honestly believe that by shouting from the rooftops about your 'affiliations' with Ghana you can be vindicated for 'Poverty Mongering' on your blog.

    If you do, then you still do no realize what it is you have done.

  27. @ Everyone:

    The hollowness of Holli's defence that she has a son with a 'black' man still haunts and offends me.

    It reminds me of the governor at the Cape Coast or Elmina Castle who would rape the slave girls brought up from the dungeon below and still ship them off as below-human property the very next morning. If the ship was late and the slave girl got pregnant, she would be released to the township.


    Oh, another point. I accused Holli of bigotry. Bigotry can be religious, intellectual, class, cultural, ethnic etc. Why did she settle on 'racial'?


  28. Holli needs a nice warm friendly Jamestown HUG! And I hear the generous Jamestown folk won't even charge for the hug :-)

  29. WoW! I've never seen Nana this pissed.
    I read all the posts and the difference is clear. Sadly, Holli's post reminded me of a lecture I attended three years ago. The American professor said "it is sad that most foreigners fail to appreciate the beauty in AFrica and only focus on the ugly". Holli's pictures fit in the latter category.

    Need I say more? I think you guys are all right to be mad at her. Heck, I'm mad at her. However, please find it in your BIG hearts to forgive her. After all, we are a loving people..

  30. Anonymous21 July, 2011

    I read Holli's article and took the opportunity to read through her blog. Although I believe the article in question, unfortunately cast Jamestown and Ghana in a very negative light; i don't think she's a bigot. At worst, I think Holli as an expatriate still has quite a bit to learn about Ghana. I believe that the root of racism and bigotry is ignorance. As Oprah says "if you know better you do better"

    In any case, even if she were a bigot or racist, the best way to deal with such people is to firmly show them love but refuse to compromise on your position. Hatred is never the answer so guys, as offended as we may feel by this article, let's tone down some of our language and try to be civil towards her. Let's not forget the effective non-violence Struggle of Ghandi and Dr. Martin Luther King.

    Cheers to all of you on your good work

  31. Anonymous22 July, 2011

    Well, I'm glad there were other people to document this event. Poverty in Africa is no news to anyone, that doesn't mean there shouldn't be fun. I skimmed over her post but read her comments on Graham's blog, and I still can't figure out what her goal was, but what-ev. I love the pictures from the other blogs, wish I could have been there.

  32. Hi All - thanks to the second last and last anonymous commenter for seeing that even if everyone didn't like my post - which was never intended as a journalist's account of an event - there is/was no need to make vast, unwarranted and completely false accusations and false assumptions about who I am, what makes me tick and what has kept me in Ghana for many years.

    I admit my view of the event - my experience there - was negative - and I admit that I went with a pessimistic view. But all of this does not detract from others' experiences there. It definitely does not make me a racist or a bigot. The accusation by Nana that I am somehow comparable to a slave owner who raped women is absolutely over the top, personal insulting and unwarranted. I chose to give birth and raise my son in Ghana. I learned local language and respect the culture and people who embraced me. I outdoored my son with the entire Ga family that has become my second family, and one blogpost or the nasty remarks of all those on this site that decided to jump to massive conclusions, can take that away from me. Sadly, everyone was willing to read far too much into what I wrote and extrapolate an entire persona out of it that does not exist. I do love Ghana, but I say it like I see it. I am a writer and not a journalist. I write about how I feel about things, and I do not pretend to know it all, to write news or be accountable to everyone.

  33. Anonymous22 July, 2011

    Ghanaians are always ready to pull the RACE card. Poor Holli... I think the verbal attack is way too much. Holli was just giving an account of what she experienced or what she saw on that day. I am sure she is entitled to her own opinion. A question to Nana,Would you have reacted the same way if Holli wasnt caucasian?

  34. Anonymous22 July, 2011

    The first sentence in above comments is more than sufficient reason to dismiss it. Come back when you know anything about Ghanaians. Lesson 1: We do not waste our time with obviously ignorant tools.

  35. Hi All - Nana Yaw and I had a helpful chat this afternoon on his site. I believe we have come beyond all the negativity on both sides. I apologized for having caused bad feelings through my writing and he has agreed his emotions might have gone too far. I will write what I can to clarify on my site this weekend, but I hope we cannery up and put an end to the wild misunderstandings :-) IN PEACE. Holli

  36. Anonymous23 July, 2011

    "An eye for an eye, and soon the whole world is blind." My dear Holli, I am surprised that after all these years you do not know we in Ghana do not like being criticised. The closer you are to the truth, the nastier, more personal, emotional and subjective the response you will get from us. It is not what you said, but how you put it accross and the time you chose to address certain issues.
    I believe an Arts Festival is not the time to point out the short-commings of our nation. But attacking you at this "gutter level" will not help. Maybe if Nana Yaw had taken that second he felt would be wasted, to read through your blog he would have realised the James Town report was not your usual way of writing and he could have ciriticised and questioned you OBJECTIVELY. Sadly, most of the writers display the attributes they accuse you of. You then made the mistake of defending yourself by describing the efforts you have put into trying to assimilate and be "more Ghanaian". Sadly, we might openly applaud you for such efforts. But in our hearts, you remain a foreigner. I "feel you" because even as a Ghanaian, I am extremely critical of my country and my people. Until we learn to accept criticism, to admit that there is a whole lot we could do better and to stop blaming others for our mess, we will never advance as a people or a nation.
    We all have our opinions even on bad days. If you want to appologise, then to the organisers and to the people of James Town for your being biased on that day. Next time, don't grace such nastiness with your time. Also don't expect and appology for the unwarranted personal attacks. Even though you constantly hear "sorry" in Ghana it is an empty word. Generally we do not appologise, we just pretend nothing happened. Chin up and keep writing!

  37. Anonymous24 July, 2011

    " The last commentator is clearly not Ghanaian. Probably an American impostor. If you couldn't stand criticism, Nana, you would have taken down some comments. Well done for ignoring the recent comments and moving on already"

  38. Anonymous24 July, 2011

    I agree. Probably the same ignoramus from six comments ago thinking length would somehow cover empty-headedness. Crawl back into your hole, troll.

  39. Some nasty stuff posted here, it's a cryin' shame. Ask yourself if you would be attacking her with such vitriol if she was a black Ghanaian non expat? Be honest. My mantra--go after ideas not people and not perceived groups. Right now the same idea is perceived quite differently depending on who utters it (and thus the stereotype of who that is and how it colors it). I dream of the day when the idea will stand on it's own and be independent of origin bias perception. Peace, bro'.

  40. Coments only posted after approval eh? Welcome pov's different from your own do you? Uh huh.

  41. Lylo, don't be silly. I allow all comments. For practical reasons of legal liability (such as libel) my blog is set to review comments posted 2 weeks or more after the post came up.

  42. Jesus! Hmmm..My conclusions from the reactions...
    1.There is no corruption in Ghana
    2. No one but Ghanaians have the right to comment on Ghana
    3. Jamestown is like Beverly hills


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