‘The Slaves’: Its Relevance And Meaning To The Present Development Efforts of Ghana

It is a fact that Ghanaian creative writers of all genres of literature has contributed immensely by their writings to the developmental process of Ghana since Ghana’s independence from British colonial rule on 6th March, 1957.

It is in the light of this fact that one sees “The Slaves” written by Mohammed Ben Abdallah, the renowned Ghanaian and African playwright as very important in the present Ghanaian situation.

It is also of much interest to note that creative writers of all countries in the world; past and present and for that matter, the future are watchdogs of their societies as prophets or seers who by their natural talents or gifts as writers do forsee the needs of their societies and write to propagate for the progress advancement and development of their societies.

Conversely, creative writers by their writings do observe immoralities and vices prevailing in their societies that may hinder and jeopardize the smooth progress and development of their societies to bring about decay and stagnance against the laws of nature, write to admonish their fellow citizens to desist from these immoralities and vices in order to ensure the survival of their societies for development and prosperity in conformity to the laws of nature; as there is no vacuum or stagnance in nature.

“The Slaves” relates to the present problems in the Ghanaian society after Ghana’s independence. It espouses implicitly and explicitly admonition against colonial mentality and influence on present day Ghanaians, that had emanated from the Slave Trade business of the past. In fact, the Slave Trade dealt a deadly blow to the personality of the African, and made him to think of himself comparatively as inferior to the whiteman!

It is a fact that, many Africans on the African continent today do ape and imitate the European way of life and doing things which unfortunately, are incompatible and inharmonious to what the African natural environment and cosmology provide.

The ordinary African is mentally enslaved and for this reason, he sees the whiteman and Europe as the haven of knowledge, englightment, development and prosperity. In this way, the average African despises himself and look up to the whiteman as his superior master, who can help him to solve all the problems pertaining to his life for his survival and advancement.

By brief synopsis, “The Slaves” is set in a dungeon at the Elimina Castle in Ghana where Africans who had been captured as slaves in slave raids in the hinterland were awaiting for export in ships across the Atlantic Ocean to America and other slave dealing nations of the world during the seventeenth and eighteen centuries; when the lucrative Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade business thrived.

The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade business dehumanized Africans on their own soil as human beings and rendered them seemingly inferior human beings to Europeans as their slave masters.

By its plot structure and development “The Slaves” reenacts; the horrors and evils that characterized the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade across the Atlantic Ocean as recorded in the history of the human race.

By critical analysis and evaluation of “The Slaves”, it can be safely established that the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade business was indeed a curse to Africans rather than blessing.

It is therefore wrong and devoid of reason for present day Africans to be mimicking Europeans and depending on Europe and European styles of living as the sine qua non for the development of the African continent today!

This is the exact picture today on the African continent, which unfortunately is denying Africans of a fast development of their richly endowed continent, as the greatest naturally endowed continent among the rest of the continents in the world.

Although, character development in “The Slaves” is not deep,however, Abdallah succeeds in the plot development of the crises, climax and resolution in a convincing manner.

Cruelty and hatred constitute the overriding theme; as Abdallahseems to pose the question; who is to be blamed for the slave trade? Is it the whiteman or the blackman? The answer to this important question is controversial, and may be subjective or objective as is evident in the following extract dialogue from the play:


Ah, ah, Baba No!Whiteman will buy you! Yes. He will take you in a big boat to his country; if you get there alive, he will sell you to another whiteman who will make you to sweat so that he can live like a king. But the whiteman is not guilty in the first place.


How not guilty?


Who took you away from your homes – your wives and children – ? (To the priest) your grandchildren sold you to the men who brought you here? Tell me. Answer all of you.




Yes. Who man? blackman! Your own brother blackman!

The foregoing piece of dialogue is simple and self-explanatory for one to draw a conclusion on the subject of the Slave Trade which turned rational human beings into carnivorous wild beast!

The message inherent in “The Slaves” is very significant and crucial to the total emancipation of present day Africans from the clutches of psychosis of imperialism and colonialism, which Europeans perpetrated against Africans during the period of the Slave Trade.

At present, Ghana and for that matter, Africa are making genuine efforts to experience realistic and meaningful development and prosperity that will be on the same level to that of Europe and America; and there is the need for all Africans to break loose of this hitherto European way of thinking mentality and doing things to the African way to conform to what the natural environment and cosmology of Africa provide.

Anything short of modern Africans trying to get back to their natural roots for their progress, development and prosperity will only create impediments and a hinderance to their cause to free themselves totally from European mentality and influence. Africans must be on their own and independent in their efforts to advance forward in knowledge enlightment in order to experience development and prosperity.

At the moment, Ghana is pursuing the Ghana Beyond Aid Agenda in her developmental process. This is in the right direction in the context of Ghana’s continual efforts to become totally independent to achieve economic prosperity and development.

A systematic critical analysis and evaluation makes “The Slaves” relevant and meaningful to Ghana’s present efforts to move fast forward in development and prosperity.

By virtue of the message of “The Slaves”, I state categorically that Ghanaians and for that matter, Africans can learn from the message of the “The Slaves” that can greatly enhance their striving now to break loose of their hitherto colonial and European mentality to help them to become more self-reliant than looking up to Europe, America and elsewhere to experience economic growth, development and prosperity.

In conclusion, I state with conviction that “The Slaves” is a significant, relevant and meaningful play that impacts positively on the mentality of Ghanaians and Africans; and consequently, conscientize them to rely solely on themselves in their present efforts to experience economic growth, development and prosperity.

Total self-reliance and non-dependance on Europe, America, and China or elsewhere is a sure guarantee for Ghana’s and Africa’s achievement of a realistic and meaningful development in the 21st Century of the human race. And Ghana and Africa have the great potential for the achievement of this ideal in this modern times.

By Michael Akenoo

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