Ghana’s first president was widely known to have either enrolled into or taken a remarkable number of doctoral-level courses, though one renowned University of London professor who had made his acquaintance had no recollection of the exuberant and talkative Mr. Kwame Nkrumah’s having been a critical thinker of any formidable dimension the way that Dr. Joseph (Kwame Kyeretwie) Boakye-Danquah, for example, was known to have been awarded an academic excellence medal for having distinguished himself as a phenomenal student of the philosophy of the mind and logic at the same university some twenty years before.
But Nkrumah, perhaps desperate for an earned doctorate, would flaunt the half-dozen, or so, honorary doctorates awarded him by several Eastern-European universities and one or two on the African continent. He may even have commandeered one from the administrators of the University of Science and Technology, originally named after himself and later renamed in the wake of the military putsch that unseated him on February 24, 1966. Today, that institution has reverted back to its original name, obviously in fitting recognition of his quite remarkable achievements as a politician both at home and abroad.
In many respects, Mr. Kwame Nkrumah (formerly Francis Kofi Nwia) strikingly recalls Mr. Donald Trump, the presumptive presidential nominee of the U.S. Republican Party, or vice-versa. Both men appear to be morbidly afflicted with the megalomaniacal bug of having their names and images imprinted on nearly every landmark or object with which they have or have had any form or semblance of contact or intimacy.
The difference here, though, is that the Scottish-German-descended Mr. Trump has an inordinate penchant for stamping his name on properties and landmarks which he has personally worked hard to acquire as a real-estate entrepreneur, by making use of all the loopholes available to business moguls here in the United States, whereas Mr. Nkrumah had an equally pathological penchant for imprinting his name on public property, largely built or constructed with the Ghanaian taxpayer’s money, primarily because as the elected leader of the country he felt inalienably entitled to fashioning the collective identity of the country after himself.
The preceding appears to be what started all this morbid obsession with honorary doctorates on the part of many a latter-day Ghanaian politician. There is a funny aspect to Mr. Nkrumah’s legendary romance with the “earned” honorary doctorate which any knowledgeable visitor to the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum in Accra cannot lightly gloss over.
I wrote about this nearly a decade, or so, ago. There is a black hardcover-bound manuscript in the mausoleum, which at the time that I visited was closely placed near the original casket in which the mortal remains of the “Osagyefo” had reposed when they were flown from Rumania, where he had expired on April 27, 1972, to Conakry, President Ahmed Sekou Toure’s Guinea, where he had sought asylum in the wake of his overthrow.
In our time, we have witnessed former President Jerry John Rawlings receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and the Tamale-headquartered University of Development Studies (UDS). There may be a couple of honorary degrees conferred on Chairman Rawlings whose count I may have missed.
And then most recently, President John Dramani Mahama was widely reported to have been the recipient of an honorary doctorate from the University of Aberdeen, also in Scotland. I also recall Oxbridge alumnus John Agyekum-Kufuor being resplendently honored by his alma mater, though I don’t quite remember whether such honor included an honorary doctorate or not.
And now, we are being told that Mr. John Kudalor, the Inspector-General of the Ghana Police Service, was recently awarded an Honorary Doctor of Psychology by a U.S.-based higher educational institution by the jolly name of Dayspring Christian University. As of this writing, I had not Googled to find out precisely where this Dayspring Christian University was located on the map of the United States of America.
From the following caption of the news article announcing IGP Kudalor’s honorary doctorate, namely, “Police Boss Gets Doctorate Degree [sic] from ‘Fake’ University,” I promptly decided that it was probably not worth the search, since the thrust of this column was, after all, far less about the authenticity, or otherwise, of Mr. Kudalor’s doctorate than it was concerned with the fact of the apparently inordinate penchant of some Ghanaian leaders and politicians for unearned laurels.
Besides, we were informed by the author of the news article that Dayspring Christian University was listed among the names of higher educational institutions in the country not accredited by the Ghana National Accreditation Board, and thus not recognized as a legitimate degree-awarding institution.
Most of all, I was fascinated with the subject of Mr. Kudalor’s honorary doctorate because of his recent autocratic pronouncements on the democratic rights of Ghanaians, especially the leaders of the political opposition, including the IGP’s categorical and publicly stated decision to summarily shut down all social media networks in the country in order to prevent other non-Electoral Commission sources from calling the results of the country’s November 7 general election.
As of this writing, the United Nations was reported to have roundly condemned Mr. Kudalor’s intended anti-democratic action. If the recent announcement by Mr. Cephas Arthur, the Director of Public Affairs of the Ghana Police Service, of the awarding of an honorary doctorate to Mr. Kudalor was intended to further boost the academic and/or professional credibility of the IGP, then it clearly appears that this strategy has grossly misfired.
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