Opinions Mon, 5 May 2008

Defaming the Departed Soul

Typically, Ghanaians do not criticize the dead even if such individuals were cantankerous and would not have a single monument, or a grandchild named after them.

The routine has been that the individual?s good traits are lifted , preferably in a eulogy.The reason - you should not say bad things about the dead, or? punish? anybody twice.

It is further explained by another fact, that people do not want to revisit sour/bad memories as a way of respect to and mourning with the bereaved family.

With this as a base line reference, I find it odd, how Dr. Sipa Yankey, a former official of Ghana?s Finance Ministry would assert the judgment that convicted him to a two-year jail term in 2003 was written at Ghana?s seat of government in the ?Castle?, and handed over to the late Justice Dixon Kwame Afreh, a respected judge who presided over the case.

Regretably, Dr. Yankey, Kwame Peprah and others went to jail for "willfully causing financial loss to the State". Kwame Peprah, for instance, is a great human being, a politician whose doors were opened to every Ghanaian irrespective of a political leaning. Knowing him, I must admit, that his principles and contribution to governance in Ghana are enviable, and I was, indeed, deeply distraught by his incarceration, so was Sipa Yankey who served Ghana in many ways.

Nobody should dream of going to jail, because confinement, apart from its related health problems, tortures the individual mentally. It also explains why many people become bitter after serving their sentence, especially when the "time" served is seen as a mere punishment rather than rehabilitative.

In the same way, we cannot question how the law takes its course to punish people "found guilty" as seen through the lens of our learned judges.

It is for these reasons that I doubt the authenticity of Dr. Yankey's criticism.

That Sipa Yankey is an intelligent man is true. He presents himself as more than a gentleman, those who know him can attest , that he is a gentleman, a dependable intellectual asset for Ghana.

But his recent low point has been the attack on Ghana?s judiciary, and attempting to discredit the late Justice Kwame Afreh who sentenced him.

If someone had prophesized 10 years ago, that Dr. Yankey would make such an allegation against one of Ghana?s most respected judges, I would have challenged that submission. How could I have associated Dr. Yankey with unproven facts?.

I am guided, seriously, by just one engagement I had with him in 1995. That was when I decided to write an article to highlight the plight of Ghana?s banana farmers, high demand for banana around the world, the world?s banana trade scenario, how the European Union quota structure was affecting Ghana?s banana entry to European markets, and the need to explore intra-Africa trade to market the fruit. I interviewed Dr. Yankey to give his standpoint on the issue.

And I still remember detailed information provided ? evidence/documentary proof of government?s response to the problem, and how for instance, the farmers were being assisted to market the fruit in Southern Africa and Libya.

Against this background, I am surprised, how Dr. Yankey could not provide any documentary proof or substantial information on his own wrongful sentencing alleged to have been crafted at the seat of Ghana?s government, and handed over to a judge.

I cannot question Sipa Yankey?s credentials as a law luminary, finance /economic planning expert, and the very best kind of a gentleman, but his castigation of the late Justice Kwame Afreh, and the present government of Ghana, must be condemned with the force it deserves.

But who should be shocked by this revelation when we are all aware, that politics is still a self-righteous indignation, periodically motivated by assumptions, lack of facts, clarification, and lies.

These attributes alone should allow us to pardon Dr. Yankey, especially when right-thinking people know that a gentleman of his kind, the aura of purity and protection he acquired during the P/NDC era would not have made it easier to respect the law, let alone accept a jail term, mortal as he can also be.

Ghanaians should dismiss his accusation as purely political, an election year gimmick designed to confuse voters.

Indeed, people who accuse the dead as epitomized by Dr. Sipa Yankey's ranting are just bitter, falsely stregthened by a superfluous leverage of immortality, a clear call of what no individual can prevent even when "death dies".

What Sipa Yankey thought of, as in case of people well connected to a government in power- they perceive themselves as ?untouchables?.

I strongly believe, that it is even past the time when these people, including Sipa Yankey ?purge themselves of the nightmares of the past?- Andy Awuni, Press Secretary to Ghana's President got everything right.

-Ato Aidoo, formerly of the features desk, Daily Graphic, Accra, Ghana.

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Columnist: Aidoo, Ato