Shirely Ayorkor Botchwey Is Right On The Money!
By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
In the wake of the Wikileaks leakage on Ghana which has a lot of prominent government and public officials making arrant fools of themselves, as well as seriously tarnishing the image of the country, the New Patriotic Party’s minority spokesperson on foreign affairs, Ms. Shirely Ayorkor Botchwey, suggested the best antidote to stanching this ongoing national contretemps; and it is the imperative need for the establishment of a special school on diplomatic protocol for citizens entrusted with Ghana’s national security (See “Women, Alcohol; Tricks Foreign Diplomats Use – Pelpuo” Ghanaweb.com 9/7/11).
Curiously, in the same article in which Ms. Botchwey’s rather savvy admonishment was reported, which was sourced to Citifmonline.com, it was Deputy Majority Leader Rashid Pelpuo who was accorded prominent play. Quite amusingly, the former Sports Minister did not have much to say that was either very meaningful or constructive, except to lamely fault “foreign diplomats” for using women and alcohol to draw their Ghanaian counterparts out on our national secrets.
To be certain, there doesn’t appear to be much left of our national secrets, after the extensive leaks by Wikileaks. What is uncomfortably clear, however, is that by and large, Ghanaian leaders and journalists are decidedly not a very smart lot. In fact, in the recent past, I have soberly observed that if a ship were to dock at the Tema or Takoradi Harbor today, with an American flag flying over it, and the captain promised any Ghanaian interested in doing janitorial service or emptying chamber-pots for superannuated Americans, President John Evans Atta-Mills may likely be the first citizen to embark.
Needless to say, almost not a single Ghanaian reported by Wikileaks to have had occasion to open up to an American diplomat has had anything laudable to say about either our country, at large, or other key players of our national political culture. And yet, hilariously, many of these snitches are the same people who are also quick to call the opponents of President Nkrumah CIA agents and traitors! Interestingly, in the equally grim matter of the assassination of Togo’s President Gilchrist Olympio, there is credible evidence of Mr. Kwame Nkrumah having collaborated with the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency! The greatest African, you say? Hell, my foot!
Maybe somebody with conscience ought to remind the rest of the nation that the raging Wikileaks scandal is a landmark event that far surpasses Kulungugu and/or anything verging on the patently apocalyptic that has occurred in our country since March 6, 1957. Morally speaking, the Wikileaks scandal easily reduces the most recent Japanese tsunami to a mere child’s play. It cringingly reveals for Ghanaians and the global community, at large, what many of us have always known but have been too embarrassed to readily acknowledge – which is the fact that the postcolonial Ghanaian personality is both morbidly and mortally afflicted with a kind of self-hatred that reaches far beyond mere inferiority complex. Neither is plain stupidity rhetorically adequate to encapsulate such fit of ineffable self-hatred.
And just why does Mr. Pelpuo think that it is the fault of any foreign diplomat, Western or Eastern, that Ghanaian leaders are so easily “tricked” with alcohol and women? We think we know the answer; and it is the plain and lurid fact that, by and large, Ghanaian leaders are too engrossed with their own individual needs and those of their kin, clansmen and cronies to be able to reason in terms of the greater national interest.
Interestingly, such pathological self-centeredness was not always our collective national agenda. For example, between 1969 and 1972 when Dr. K. A. Busia served as Ghana’s Prime Minister, perhaps the finest of his kind, there was introduced into the elementary school curriculum a course titled “Civics,” which systematically educated Ghanaians about the rights and responsibilities that come with being a member of a modern polity or civilized society. Together with History, Civics was my best subject. In fact, on one’s terminal report card, History and Civics shared the same data-entry box.
Today, however, one would be hard put to find a Ghanaian school pupil who has any remarkable familiarity with the functional concept of Civics. In fact, not quite awhile ago, I even suggested the statutory renaming of the National Center for Civic Education (NCCE) after Prime Minister Busia, the great scholar and educator who founded the latter institution. I also suggested the reintroduction of a reinvigorated Civics course into our elementary and high school curricula. For, it clearly appears to be the woeful lack of a viable sense of a collective national identity and citizenship that is to blame for the unpardonable Wikileaks scandals.
*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is Director of The Sintim-Aboagye Center for Politics and Culture and author of 22 books, including “Dr. J. B. Danquah: Architect of Modern Ghana” (iUniverse.com, 2005). E-mail: email@example.com.