If only we could learn from the Chinese

By Jennifer Kim Essel

We are a funny people here. Sometimes, we are almost like clowns. To make it worse, we don't even realize it. Yes, we Ghanaians, if not Africans! ...And yes, think deeply!

We laugh and mock, sometimes, we even display disdain towards the Chinese people and their global cultural brand. We can’t even attempt to deny it.

For instance, we here regard any piece of article originating from China as ‘cheap’ – and in our ‘civilized’ minds, ‘cheap’ is inferior…cheap is bad…not for us.

We hardly appreciate any gift of Chinese origin – even from our loved ones. It is not uncommon to hear some people say to you ‘ I need you to buy for me a gadget for my birthday or for Christmas, but I don’t want a cheap Chinese brand’…

In fact, we make effort to avoid any product – Chinese. For us, such Chinese products are only for those who cannot afford the ‘NATO ITEMS’ or the ‘superior popular cultural products’ – the poor folks!

If we are not clowns, then we are confused. How can we here in Africa reject cheap substitutes from China and clamor for Western items, only to have the Westerners themselves scrambling for cheap Chinese goods?

Have we hesitated for a second, to ask ourselves why President Donald Trump or Barack Obama will make an extra effort to be in good terms with the Chinese leader at a time when Beijing is a tight ally of Moscow, Washington’s cold war enemy?

In my books, it is because the Chinese have succeeded in making themselves indispensable to the global village with a global Chinese brand – the cheap and affordable brand. No nation can do without the Chinese. Even the Europeans are beginning to patronize the Chinese. The Chinese products are cheap because of cheap labor but not because of poor quality. If only we could produce similar cheap products in Ghana, our local currency will be more famous for the right reasons.

China will, if it already hasn’t, take over the world political – economy in the present future. It all started from a Chinese cultural revolution that was begun several years ago by their visionary and culturally conscious leaders.

The attempts at cultural revolution by the Chinese failed severally but with persistence and clarity of mind from the Chinese leadership and people, they made it. The Chinese succeeded in making anything they ever need – and more – in China.

But what are we doing here in Ghana? In Africa? we are naively mocking at cheap Chinese goods, and yet, even our matches we use to light up fire in our kitchens come from Indonesia. Even as we wallow in our chronic poverty, we still feel pretty expensive in our minds.

Double sadly, we are happy about our ‘choice’ and content to be stuck as ‘universal consumers’ of other people’s goods with alacrity – including of course, the same Chinese goods we reject when we think we can afford alternatives from America and Europe – insofar as they are not priced ‘cheap’. How much more naive can we become?

If only we could learn from the Chinese cultural revolution, we would be way ahead of our time, and we would have a global cultural identity!



Columnist: Sacut Amenga-Etego