The Story Behind ‘Ghana must go’

It is obvious that many do not know the history behind the name given to this spacious travelling bag, which comes in different sizes and used to be coloured in had red and blue pattern but now has many other creative colours.

Many are quick to assume that ‘Ghana must go’ is a brand name for the bag not knowing that the bag was actually tagged. The reason for this tag did not just come from naming the bag but because of the history attached to it.

During the regime of Shehu Shagari, the then President of Nigeria, an order was given by the government that every foreigner without authenticated traveling document should leave the country or face the law. Which was prompted by the robbery attack of the vice president who were mostly migrants.

Then, Nigeria was booming with the discovery of crude oil that makes the economy grow, which attracted many outsiders who were majorly West Africans and Ghana had the larger percent of foreigners in Nigeria, about a million.  This decision was easy to implement following the enactment of Aliens Compliance Order in 1969 by the Ghanaian government, in which most Nigerians there were forcefully evacuated back to Nigeria.

It was a tic for tac, for Nigerian government.  This made Ghanaians living in Nigeria to begin to pack their load in order to leave for their country. In the process of doing this, due to the large population of the Ghanaians, the demand for the no name, red and blue patterned bag was very high.

Unfortunately, there was a delay in the evacuation of Ghanaians due to the closure of border in Benin and Togo, which is the pathway to Ghana, and this was due to an attempted coup the previous year, Ghana’s president Jerry Rawlings had closed the main land crossing with Togo to avoid the sudden arrival of over 1 Million people. Togo then also shut its borders with Benin.

This made the Ghanaians to be trapped, meanwhile Nigerians were already agitating for their departure, thereby naming the rushed red and blue bag ‘Ghana must go’ so that they could pack their things and leave the country.

This is not the only scenario were the bag has been attached to a social group, similar situation also occurred in USA and Germany. Other names for the bag include ‘Chinatown tote’ which is what it is called in USA. In Germany, it’s called a ‘Tuekenkoffer’ which translates to ‘Turkish suitcase’, and in Guyana, it is known as a ‘Guyanese Samsonite’ probably because of how strong it is.



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