“Robb And Zorro Are All Mentholatum!”

When we were growing up in the 1960s, TEA was the generic name for all beverages prepared with hot water. Probably, this has not changed much. So people talk of “coffee tea,” “milo tea” etc. Indeed, in a current advert on ‘This way Chocolate Drink,’ a landlord doubled rents after accusing his tenants of refusing to give him some chocolate for his hot water “to make tea.”


Similarly, Pepsodent has been the primus inter pares of toothpastes although Signal, Colgate and others were/are available. So one heard of “Signal pepsodent” and “colgate pepsodent” etc.


Like tea and pepsodent, in the world of soothing balms for aches, Mentholatum was the name for all the others like Robb and Zorro. One I will never forget is Thermogen simply pronounced “tomogin!” I wonder if the manufacturer added pepper to it. When a little was first applied on me for a childhood prank, it felt like fire!

So, in the 1970s when a colleague asked if I had Robb, I told him I did not have Robb but I had Zorro. He immediately asked me to bring it, as “Robb and Zorro are all Mentholatum,” not realizing the hilarious effect of his use of the balm names.

“The value is the same”

A popular Ghanaian terminology is “the value is the same.” In comparing similar things, it refers to form being often more important than content. So whether it is “milo tea” or “coffee tea” or indeed “tea tea,” the value is the same in that, it is a hot beverage.

Like beverages, balms and toothpastes, Ghana has over one-hundred tribes! We cannot all come from one tribe, but we are all Ghanaians.


I wonder maybe absurdly, if any Ghanaian, before he/she was born, made any input into his/her birth. If not, why should the accident of where a Ghanaian is born be the basis for conflict? Does it matter which regional capital or village one was born? Indeed, in some countries, one’s home-town is where one is born. There are no trappings of tribe!

Ghana passport

I daresay if it were possible, some Ghanaians would have chosen to be born in more exotic places than Ghana where tribe is not an issue! So why the fuss about where a Ghanaian comes from? Whichever tribe one is born into, the value is the same.

That is why we carry passports of the Republic of Ghana. I am yet to hear of any of the exponents of tribe/tribalism say he/she carries the passport of his/her tribe.


Again, for the achievement-conscious Ghanaians with scant respect for others of lesser achievement in their estimation, as Denzel Washington said, it is not so much what one achieves in life that matters, but how such achievement lifts society up!

It is what legacy one leaves behind which is important.

Hitler, Mussolini, Iddi Amin etc certainly had relatives. How many proudly claim their ancestry with them? While some names are etched in gold not only in Ghana, but all over Africa and the world, some will only be remembered for negative reasons.


South African President Ramaphosa recently asked his countrymen/women to join the worldwide acknowledgement of South African DJ Master KG’s song “Jerusalema.” Meanwhile Ghanaians are busy tearing one another apart in all fields and directions using intemperate language. We even denigrate our own while extolling the virtues of non-Ghanaians!

Chaka Ssali

In a TV programme early 2020 soon after the death of former Kenyan President Arap Moi, veteran Ugandan broadcaster Chaka Ssali interviewed two prominent Kenyans. Appalled as they were with President Arap Moi’s bad human rights record, they did not slander him to the whole world. They strongly condemned him for that, but in very civil language. They did not declare other countries’ presidents greater than him.

Chaka Ssali concluded the interview with the humbling question “Who is Perfect?” The story of those who accused a woman of adultery and demanded she be stoned, being asked to cast the first stone came to mind. Nobody could!

Probably, we all have skeletons in our cupboards! So, let’s show humility and stop pontificating!


Attacking persons/tribes is not good for Ghana. We went to secondary school with Ghanaians from all parts of Ghana. In our sixties and seventies now, we are solidly bound as brothers and sisters. We argue passionately at meetings but never about tribe. We simply don’t know it.

As President Ramaphosa projected Master KG’s“Jerusalema,” let us project Ghana.

For, whether our tribe is “Robb-Nzima,” “Zorro-Gonja,” “Tomogin-Ewe” or “Mentholatum-Ashanti,” “the value is the same” ………Ghanaian!

As Chaka Ssali asked, “who is prefect?”

Fellow Ghanaians, WAKE UP!

Brig Gen Dan Frimpong (Rtd)

Former CEO, African Peace Support Trainers Association

Nairobi, Kenya


Source: Brig Gen Dan Frimpong (Rtd)/ dkfrimpong@yahoo.com


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