Birthday notes on why I don't pull punches

Happy Birthday Cupcake Celebration Message 160558421 File photo

Fri, 28 Jan 2022 Source: Isaac Ato Mensah

As I enter into birthday mode, it is time to share a bit more about myself with our favourite readers.

Some say I am a “fake writer”; that I do not exist.

Others still believe some people have been writing for me.

I do not begrudge them; they’re not alone in that belief; my friends/acquaintances may be puzzled that an introvert could be so blunt.

At age 22, I was asked at 24 hours notice by Reverend Father Joseph Egblewogbe, then assistant parish priest of Martyrs of Uganda Catholic Church, Mamprobi, Accra, to deliver in his stead a scheduled talk/lecture to about a thousand “fellow parishioners” on the theme “Christ - Our Way to Life”.

I borrowed ideas from Pope John Paul II’s publications on “material consumerism” and blended them with the writings of social/humanistic philosopher Erich Fromm, whose ideas contained in the book “To have or To Be” still influence my outlook on life.

Later a listener remarked that he got the impression someone prepared the lecture for me just because I announced that I wanted to stick to my prepared text and read from it.

On this blog alone, I have to date published at least 260 peer-reviewed papers.

My critics say “but these are not academic papers”.

In any case, what is an academic paper if it cannot help us think, reflect and solve daily existential problems such as a scenario whereby a random visitor arrives at a private university’s gate without an appointment and is denied entry to the campus?

About four years ago, a respected friend and government appointee addressed me as follows, “The most dangerous people in this world are those who do not want any money - just like you”.

While I have friends in government, some have at various times purported to be emissaries urging me that I should stop writing.

Apparently the assurance is that then there will be many money making opportunities for me.

But, what have I got to lose in this world?

What have I got to gain from unprincipled behaviour in this backward and annoying country?


Reflecting on my life this birthday month, I discovered that one Jia Jiang who had appeared on Ted Talk with a presentation “What I learned from 100 days of rejection” made a whole business out of his being rejected.

Whatever we are doing here has a scientific focus, for, as my mentor has maintained: “Skepticism is the shortest/quickest route to science.”

When I first met my mentor, I saw not only someone whose ideas resonated with mine, but realized that I did not know anything; there was/is a lot to unlearn, learn and relearn.

“Owula feemo, jeee shwemo nii ni,” my mentor often intones in Ga.

To wit, “To be a gentleman is no (Banku and tilapia eating business)/ child's play”!

As for the charge of “arrogant”, “too known”, “Mr Know It All” and “disrespectful” levelled against me, it has come up even in my own home, so no worries: It is the ghana way when the Dunning-Kruger types cannot get you to subscribe to a decision passed by the majority based on sheer unenlightened behaviour or misinformation.

I maintain and cherish a radical independence; I love the pursuit of knowledge.

Now I can say confidently with my mentor, “No one can employ me”.

But how then do I feed myself and my dependents when I am no heir to any property/assets or a trust fund?

My mentor again: “Their ignorance is my food”.


Our writing business teaches those so inclined - and there are many of such people - how to identify, think through and solve problems because that is what they need beyond the pass grades and certificates - a blue ocean strategy/opportunity in ghana.

In this article alone, at least the following concepts have come up for those who love what we do:

1) social/humanistic philosophy;

2) the need to stick to a prepared text whether speaking extemporaneously or reading;

3) what a peer reviewed paper is;

4) whether universities are public spaces or not beyond their ownership;

5) skepticism;

6) the Dunning-Kruger effect;

7) whether dissenting from a majority opinion makes one an anarchist;

8) blue ocean strategy; and

9) material consumerism.

To fully understand the themes in this article alone are perhaps enough of an academic exercise for the next few months.

And on occasion when my punches hit hard, are they not in order in the face of ignorance and dishonesty - the twin pillars at the entrance to the temple of the Amen Corner?

As a mere mortal though, I can never be perfect, but surely, “to instruct the ignorant is a spiritual work of mercy,” says the Catholic catechism.

Finally, “The scientific method is a way of life; there is method to my madness,”.....and of course as you know that is also from my mentor; hence let us move forward together in Faith and Hope - and with Charity.

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Columnist: Isaac Ato Mensah