What does this bag have to do with Ghana and Nigeria?
Who doesn’t know this bag?
You use it to pack clothing, laundry, things to put in storage, practically anything. I’ve seen these used for travel luggage. They retail for a few pounds here in the UK. They are fondly known as “Ghana must go” bags (Side note: I wonder if Ghanaians find the term offensive?) If you’re either Nigerian or Ghanaian, you will be WELL aware of this stripy plastic bag. It even became a designer bag for a spell. The Ghana must go bag got its name from an unfortunate set of circumstances affecting the Black Stars and the Super Eagles.
Ghana was one the first West African countries to gain independence from British colonial rule in 1957. Nigeria later became independent in 1960. The independence of Ghana made it an attractive destination to emigrate to for Nigerians. Ghanaians did the same, emigrating to Nigeria during this time.
More specifically in the 1970s, there was some economic difficulties in Ghana. With the discovery of oil in Nigeria around the same time, it made Nigeria a good place to go in search of greener pastures. Nigeria quickly became a fast expanding economy that the Nigerian labour market was not equipped enough to serve alone. The gap was filled by workers from various professions coming from Ghana.
Unfortunately, good things don’t ways last forever and by the 1980’s, with the collaspe of the oil boom, the prosperity that came with it had dwindled and Nigerians faced economic hardship. Someone needed to be blamed and unfortunately, the Ghanians were the ones blamed. It was said that the Ghanians living in Nigeria at the time were involved in crimes such as armed robberies and were taking all the jobs from the Nigerians.
On the 17th of January 1983, a law was enforced (it was already in place and had not just been created) by then Nigerian president Shehu Shagari made it compulsory for all foreigners to leave Nigeria within a few days or risk being forced out.
Up to two million people (mostly Ghanians) were forced out of Nigeria in only a few days. People were forced to pack their belongings in a very short space of time.They had to pack as much as they could into cars, trucks, basically whatever was available and tried to get out.
The main way home to Ghana from Nigeria was through the neighbouring countries of Benin and Togo.
Imagine the sheer amount of people travelling at the same time, it would have been total gridlock.I can only imagine what a difficult time it must have been. Because they had such little time to pack up and leave, they began using the striped plastic bags (which are actually made in China) to pack their belongings. This was how the bag got its name.
Next time you see the bag, you will know its history
Until next time
Memoirs Of A Yoruba Girl
Special thanks to following links for helping me write this challenging post 🙌
Posted on October 2, 2016, in All Things Nigerian and tagged alien expulsion order, black people, colonialism, emigrate, emigration, Ghana, ghana must go, ghanian, immigrate, immigration, memoirs of a yoruba girl, naija, nigeria, poat colonialism, post colonial, sub Sahara, sub saharan, west Africa, west african, yoruba. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.