Abraham Attah has been the topic of conversation lately in trending Ghanaian topics after presenting an award at the 88th Academy Awards, making history as the first Ghanaian to present at the Oscars, and also winning ‘Best Male Lead’ at the 2016 Independent Spirit Awards for his role as Agu in the hit film ‘Beast of No Nation’. The young actor has also received global praise. Unfortunately, not all of the feedback has been positive and not everyone is eager to celebrate the success of the 15-year-old street vendor turned award-winning actor. It is one thing to receive backlash and negative criticism from outsiders but when the venom is spewed from home it is something completely different.
Part of the reason I believe young Mr. Attah has been receiving backlash from some Ghanaians is simply because he is a child. I have been in deep thought and greatly disappointed in the unfortunate incidents, unnecessary and belittling comments that have taken place so far this past week. In fact, it has me wondering why, as Ghanaians, is it so difficult to support one another?
Let us go back in history and identify the role the Ghanaian child has played in Ghanaian history. Oh wait a minute, I’m sorry! They have not been given the chance to play any roles. That’s right! They are ‘just’ children after all. Ask yourself these questions, when was the last time a child star received an award in Ghana? When was the last time a Ghanaian elder valued the opinion of a child? Part of the Ghanaian culture has always placed children at the bottom of the totem pole. We do not value the opinion of our young people. Instead of encouraging them to speak up we tell them to hush and keep quiet because they don’t know anything. As if adults know it all.
Children are among the brightest people in the world! They see the good in everything and have not been tainted by the stresses and pressures of society. They are honest and pure in thought. They are fearless and like to experiment. They possess all of the qualities, which allow them to be innovative, creative, and to push beyond boundaries. When you really think about it, children are natural born leaders and with a little support and encouragement, they can become anything in the world. You can also learn a lot from a child.
So if you want my opinion about why some Ghanaian’s are bitter about young Mr. Attah’s win, it is simply because he is ‘just’ a child. We forget that when children feel lost they do not have a sense of belonging and, therefore, feel abandoned. We hope these negative comments do not cause Abraham to flee his hometown of Ghana.
In one of my favorite songs by the late and great Whitney Houston, she made this powerful statement:
♪ I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be ♫
And we couldn’t agree more! Keep on keeping on young Mr. Attah we are beyond proud of your accomplishments at such a young age. This is only the beginning of your great journey.
Author: Akosua Akyere, threesixtyGh writer