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“Ghana Must Go”: the atrocious history of Africa’s famous bag

BY: Augustina Naa Shika Coleman

The bag popularly known as” Ghana Must Go”, is a mattered woven bag and has cube lines within, usually used to keep clothes or belongings here in Ghana. It can be found in mostly two colours like red and white, blue and white and few other varieties.

There is a history behind the name given to the bag, Ghana Must Go”. History has it that in February 1983 millions of Ghanaians were deported from Nigeria back to Ghana. When returning to Ghana cheap mattered woven nylon chequered bags were used by the migrants to move their items back to their country hence the name,
“Ghana Must Go”.

In February 1983 the Nigerian Government asked Ghanaians to leave the country. Over millions of Ghanaians were deported from Nigeria hence the “Ghana Must Go “mantra. This had all began when the then Prime Minister of Ghana Kofi Abrefa Busia in 1969 enacted a law which was the Ghana Aliens Compliance Order, where about three million Nigerians and other African migrants were asked to leave the country. This was due to the percentage they formed in the population at the time. In the 1970s most African countries were attracted to Nigeria based on the oil and resources the country had. But around 1983 the Nigerian economy had become unstable hence, politicians wanted to curb the situation by expelling all immigrants. These had triggered when the then President Shehu Shagari issued an order to expel all undocumented migrants from West African countries which were about 2 million people, mostly Ghanaians.

Ghanaians had to pack their belongings into trucks and other vehicles to flee back to their country. The route to Ghana on the West passed through Benin and Togo. But due to a Coup, the then President of Ghana Jerry John Rawlings had closed borders crossing to Togo. Togo also then shut its borders. Once the migrants reached Benin there was no way for them and had to remain at the port of Cotonou, whiles finding a boat to Ghana. The Ghanaian migrants got stranded for a week before Ghana re-opened its borders and Togo also did the same.

“Ghana Must Go” was a painful experience for Ghanaian migrants at the time . The name was given to the bag for that reason, the year 1983 was also a year the country had experienced its worst famine which led to bushfires and food production had reduced drastically. The bag is still used and purchased by most Africans. The name of the bag symbolizes painful memories of Ghanaians, and I would like to ask must we change the name of the bag?

It looks like Ghanaians have moved on as this painful past is now a sign of simplicity as students and travellers alike use this bag to transport their valuables.

Source: Adoanewsonline.com

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