When I think of Ghana, several vivid images come readily to mind. I think of the exquisite beaches and the fishermen bringing their haul onto the shores to be sold. I think of the verdant green hills and mountainous countryside and the incredible fresh fruit that is so abundant. I also visualize the energy of its cities, particularly the capital, Accra, and its modern buildings, its busy roundabouts and the stately Independence Arch and its marketplaces bustling with activity.
But giraffes? Not so much.
Somehow that is the image of Ghana that was uppermost in the minds of the good people at Delta Airlines. The airline’s tweet celebrating Team USA’s victory over Ghana in the World Cup seemed oddly, well, tone deaf, particularly for a carrier with daily service between the United States and Ghana.
Delta decided to use images to add to its celebratory tweet, showing the Statue of Liberty to represent the United States and, on the adjacent panel, a giraffe to depict Ghana. Yes, they really did!
I have to say, I have made numerous trips to Ghana in the last few years but, so far at least, I have never encountered a giraffe. There may be one in the Accra zoo, I suppose.
Not surprisingly, the tweet drew an immediate and forceful response from people who accused the giant airline with insensitivity and even rank ignorance.
It seems that there are still folk who will associate Africa, no matter how developed and modern the country, with wild animals.
The gaffe did produce some interesting responses on Twitter. “Can't say I'm too surprised Delta doesn't know where giraffes live,” one man wrote. “They think Atlanta is on the way to everywhere.” Another wrote: “Giraffes are not from Ghana.” And yet another stated flatly: “thats racist lmao.”
In the end, Delta responded with its own apologetic tweet. “We're sorry for our choice of photo in our previous tweet,” it said. “Best of luck to all teams.” It was certainly the right thing to do. But now, maybe it’s time for the airline’s executives to spend a little time seeing the sights of Accra and other parts of Ghana on one of their flights in order to gain a little perspective and appreciation of what this lovely West African country has to offer.
Follow Jonathan Hicks on Twitter: @HicksJonathan
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(Photo: Delta Airlines via Twitter)