On Sunday, February 28, Ghanaian child actor Abraham Attah had the distinguished honour of presenting an award at the 88th annual Academy Awards in Los Angeles.
Even before that, Abraham received several international awards and a ton of international fanfare for his portrayal of a child soldier in the acclaimed movie Beasts of No Nation.
Unfortunately, as a people who have a difficult time being happy for those who have achieved or been blessed with more than we have, Ghanaian media personalities have been looking for something to criticise Abraham for, and they found it in his English.
Rather than play up the significance of a Ghanaian, a teenage first-time actor at that, presenting on the world’s biggest stage, some Ghanaian media presenters instead focused on tearing him down.
Radio presenters Jay Foley of Live FM, Lexis Bill and MzGee of Joy FM chose to ridicule Abraham for getting some of his English words and sentence structure wrong during his acceptance speech for the Best Male Lead award at the 2016 Independent Spirit Awards.
Though Lexis Bill later apologized for his bad taste, it’s incredible the extent to which jealousy causes us to look at each other with hostility, even when looking at a boy from Ashaiman.
Contrary to what Jay Foley and the others did, Ghanaian actress Yvonne Okoro showed Abraham the love you would hope everyone would on her Instagram page:
Just a few days ago, Sarkodie achieved another international accomplishment for Ghanaians when he addressed students at the prestigious Harvard Business School in the US. At least one writer, Osarfo Anthony, attempted to downplay it as not such a big deal, causing hiplife legend Reggie Rockstone to come to Sarkodie’s defense.
Young Abraham was not blessed with the education we should be providing our children, or the economic stability to make the most of those educational opportunities anyway. It’s completely understandable that his English is less than perfect. What is less understandable, remarkable even, is the performance a child from Ashaiman with no acting training was able to deliver, a performance that brought so much to so many that it got him not only invited to Hollywood’s biggest award show but to present an award there in front of the biggest names in the acting world.
Some will argue that a few Ghanaian media personalities being critical instead of praising shouldn’t be taken as a bad reflection on us all. And by itself it isn’t. But the fact that the jealous criticism comes as no surprise to us is what goes to show that we all know today’s culture is one that tears down more than it builds up, and that’s something we all need to work to change.