General Nunoo–Mensah Is Perfectly Right

Sun, 24 Nov 2013 Source: Sakyi, Kwesi Atta

By Kwesi Atta Sakyi

It is simply amazing how most Ghanaians these days hate to accept the truth. In this age of growing Christianity and proliferation of churches in Ghana, the truth has become a rare commodity. There seems to be an inverse relationship in Ghana today between the explosion and growth of the church on the one hand, and speaking the truth on the other hand.

The more the churches grow, the worse most Ghanaians become when it comes to matters of standing up for the truth. Is church going a mere pretence, a time-filler and killer, or a last resort place of solace for the desperadoes? What is truth? People say truth is relative. Is there a universal metric for measuring truth? Can we say truth is factual, real and incontrovertible? We have abstract truth obtained from logic, reasoning and factual reports. It is true that the earth rotates on its axis from the west to the east, whilst the sun rises in the east and sets in the west.

It is true that 2+2=4. Truth is anything which can be proved or substantiated with verifiable facts. If people make an assertion that there is corruption in Ghana among the ruling government, can they prove it? Truth is anything provable by practical experience, reflection and the logic of induction and deduction. Sometimes, we make wild assertions based on baseless assumptions, perceptions and presumptions. Sometimes, pursuing the truth is like chasing a mirage in the desert, or trying to catch the wind. Truth is relative, because what was true many years ago, may not hold water or ring true today, due to advancement in technology, which may unearth new knowledge

New knowledge creation leads to discarding old and long-held axioms, principles and traditions. Eternal and everlasting truths can only be acquired by spiritual advancement, for matters of religion are faith-based, subjective and unprovable in our scientific method ways. This is why it is simply amazing that despite the explosion of churches in Ghana, the penchant for some Ghanaians to lie has taken the ascendancy, especially in the media. If you are a Christian and heavenly bound, then worry less about the perceived or real corruption around you, for corruption in the end consumes its victims.

On 16th November 2013, in Takoradi, at the Prize and Speech Giving Day Ceremony at Archbishop Porter’s Girls’ Secondary School, Gen Nunoo-Mensah delivered another boom statement, this time directed to the vociferous, irresponsible and incorrigible media in Ghana, whose major preoccupation now is dabbling into political issues which they know next to nothing about. They exaggerate, distort, contort, fabricate, manipulate, manoeuvre and engage in political hyperbole. Some radio broadcasters exacerbate issues by blowing them out of proportion, hoping to gain political milage for their preferred political parties or to placate the ego of their paymasters.

Agony now is tuning in to radio stations in Ghana which all day long, are choked with cacophonous chaos, and deafening din of people who talk endlessly in circles, accustomed to hearing themselves chatter on, no end, ad nausea, amidst insults, innuendoes, insinuations, aspersions and unpalatable verbiage and vituperations. They feed the unwary listeners with media theatrics, half-baked truths, sensationalism, and they depart from their remit of educating, entertaining, informing and sensitizing the public about pertinent public issues . Most of these media folk or chaps are young adults who are brimming over with youthful impetuosity, exuberance and sophomoric braggadocio. They are greenhorns who lack experience in debating national issues. They may know little about professional ethics, or if they know at all, they engage in what is derogatorily called journalese or gutter/yellow journalism.

Many of these do not know that as media personnel, they should refrain from peddling rumours or hearsay, that they should research the news behind the news, or engage in investigative rather than speculative journalism. If they lack role models, they should tune in to some other stations abroad to acquaint themselves with best practice. I single out some good ones such as Kwame Nkrumah Atikese, Jesse Opare Saforo, Joseph Amankwatia, Anas Amereyaw, among others.

Against the truth, they bury their heads in the sand like an ostrich, and vend what they think their listeners or readers or viewers want to hear or read or watch. They play to the gallery, as it were, knowing very well that they are doing Ghana a disservice. These are the bad citizens in the Fourth Estate of Ghana who need close marking by the security agencies and media monitors. There are now in Ghana many passive, perverse and bad citizens with seared consciences. The active, good and public-spirited and rational ones are very few and far in between. But I know they will one day rue their actions. It reminds me of some old Akan highlife tune, ‘Wo aya a, aya a af3re’

How can we reverse this trend and breed many more good and active citizens? Do we need transformational, turnaround and visionary leadership? Can we build a better Ghana if most important positions in government are peopled by tribesmen and party cadres? Where is the all-inclusive government which was promised in the pre-election period? Why does President Mahama populate government and cabinet with only northerners?

Why should we ask for debt cancellation of 8 billion dollars in the year 2000, only to end up now in 2013 with a colossal and whopping national debt of 23.4 billion dollars, forming 53.2% of GDP? These are weighty issues to be deliberated upon and discussed sanely, not with insults. The culture of wanton insults is causing a wilting of our national psyche, and causing irreparable damage to our moral fibre as a nation. What legacy are we leaving our children? Did our forebears and predecessors raise us on insulting elders and our leaders?

Some of our media people and politicians talk before they think. The aim of a thorough and sound education is to empower people to be civilized, urbane and to cultivate a high sense of decorum, with responsibility for our actions and interactions through critical thinking. Critical thinking requires us to weigh the pros and cons of our actions, the means by which we attain objectives, the impact and consequences of our actions on ourselves and others, the costs and benefits of our actions in the short and long run, the political, economic, social, technological, ethical, ecological and legal upshot of our actions and inactions, among others.

Critical thinking comes about only through wide reading, patience to listen to the views of others, ability to tolerate and respect the culture of other people, respect of oneself and others, self reflection, among others. Socrates once said that ‘the unexamined life is not worth leading’. Self-examination or introspection is part of critical thinking. It all boils down to temperance. Alexander Pope once wrote, ‘a little learning is a dangerous thing …’ Yes, Ghana has now become a dangerous place to live in because of having many people with a little learning, such as some of our media personnel who observe no professional ethics, as they have become rumour-mongers and gossip peddlers. These are the ones General Nunoo-Mensah was referring to in his speech last weekend at Archbishop Porter’s in Sekondi-Takoradi.

This is why many people in Ghana today cannot wait to see Nana Akufo Addo’s introduction of free quality SHS education in Ghana, should he win the 2016 elections. Until then, let us give the current government the peace of mind to carry through its mandate by putting a stop to wild media reports of unproven high levels of corruption in the government. It is the de facto and de jure government, take it or leave it.

We Ghanaians are too gullible and talkative. We talk so much that we waste previous time from morning till evening talking. Are we a nation of talkatives? Remember, Britain some time ago was dubbed a nation of shopkeepers, but that seemingly opprobrious epithet stood them in good stead to mind the trickle in and dribble of pennies to become a nation of immense human capital wealth.

I suggest we should no more call Ghana Ogyakrom but Kasapoololand (Land of Talkatives). Useless chatter in Ghana on radio, TV and street corners was perhaps what General Nunoo-Mensah was referring to. I sometimes wonder why the old retired soldier prefers to talk instead of walking his talk with action, such as descending heavily, military-style, on the media rot.

The General has rather donned on the hat of a civilian referee, by whistling for fouls on the touch line. I think the time has come for the powers-that-be to descend on the media rot by applying the hot stove treatment of instantly punishing recalcitrant media personnel without much ado.

In the 1970s, I started teaching in elementary schools in Ghana and I did not spare the rod, the way my teachers did to me in the 50s and 60s. Some sections of the media need the rod for them to fall in line and stop the rot. The General recently put it mildly in civilian parlance, ‘if the kitchen is hot, leave it.’ Yes, the kitchen may be hot when the food is cooking, but leave it and go hungry? No! We need all hands on deck in Ghana to build our beautiful Ghana, under the Better Ghana Agenda (though some people pooh-pooh it as Bitter Ghana Agenda).

In Nkrumah’s days in the 60s, we heard the highlife tune, ‘Work and happiness, yes, we must confess, Yes, you must do your best…. for beautiful Ghana, Ghana. Sons and daughters, and workers of Africa, let us unite, wherever you are a a aa a a etc’ The General must have blown his top or hit the roof when he said so. However, I know the General is a fine gentleman who now prefers to shoot from his mouth instead of from his hips or shoulders.

Who says Generals are apolitical? Man is a political animal, apologies to Aristotle, as after all, a general also has feelings and aspirations. General Nunoo-Mensah is a Military Intelligence Capo. He knows his onions when he airs his views. The man is about to hit 80, yet he has his wits about him. Incidentally, I attended the same Middle Boys’ School which the General attended, though he completed 13 good years ahead of me in the early 50s and his classmate became my class teacher in Primary 5, and again my headteacher and mentor in the 70s.

The General’s father’s house is just behind my mother’s house in Winneba, but I have never met the man in flesh and blood, nor set my sights on him, except I know his father, brothers, cousins and nephews and nieces. Despite this affinity, I stand objectively to proclaim the truth that what the General said in the past few days and months is true. Perhaps, he needed some tact and diplomacy in his first boom. I guess Generals do not economise the truth or sugarcoat their commands.

In conclusion, readers on ghanaweb forum will bear me out that I have taken a break from writing because of heavy load of work at my workplace. However, the fact remains that our media houses in Ghana leave much to be desired and this irks me no end.

What with the uncalled for insults, media cacophony, sublety of making mountains out of molehills to deceive the public, among others? All these show a high sense of moral decay, indiscipline and retrogression in Ghana. Nation-wreckers want to derail and distract the government from its noble objectives. There is a Fante proverb which says, ‘Ebo wo tu abor a, eta wo yamu’, which translates as, ‘if you deny your anus free reign to flatulate, you end up with the flatulence exploding inside your tummy.’

Is it also not like the analogy of Sofo Muoko? You dey tink you dey do Obodo Ghana bad su tey, but ibe yourself you don kuku sheat ooh, oga! Abi, emabi nu oo, ebi mpa mi oo! Eshe kupo! Omo daadaa ni. Aburo gidi gonn ni. Ebon, kosi nkoko, kosi walaha. Abi, shesh3 oti poju owa emi ooh. Shubon, nitoripwe, t3l3t3l3. Adura owa ni. Ami oo. Obodo Ghana, omo Ghana, I throway salute ooh! The Fantes say, ka w’ano paado, which means, ‘Shut up’. I took a recess but I am back. I dey kampe. I dey kul33 and b3r3k3t33 on ghanaweb. Please somebody go tell my Cousin Paa Kwesi dat I don com back ooo . Eshe.

As for me, I will urge our General to continue admonishing, counselling and cautioning us, because we need the wisdom of the old before they pass on with their treasure of knowledge. We have General Mosquito, General Buffalo Soldier or Ecomog Soldier, among others. I think General Nunoo-Mensah can be dubbed General Gadfly or General Talking Machine, or General Taliban (humour). LoL!!!

Contact: kwesiattasakyi449@gmail.com

Columnist: Sakyi, Kwesi Atta