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Paa Kwesi Mintah – Ghanaweb Hobo, Dare-devil forumer, and acerbic critic?
By Kwesi Atta Sakyi
23rd July 2013
If there is anyone on Ghanaweb that contributes to Ghanaweb and who contributors dread so much to encounter, that critic is no other person than my own Cousin, Paa Kwesi Mintah. I have not yet met the guy who claims he is a surgeon, plying his trade in Big Apple (New York), and sometimes he stoops so low to do some dishwashing at the famous Sylvia’s Restaurant in New York.
He calls me Cousin as we all hail from Winneba in the Central Region of Ghana. He belongs to the Tuafo Number 1 Asafo Company, while I belong to the Dentsefo Number 2 Asafo Company, so naturally, we are sworn bitter enemies. He attended Winneba Urban Council School, while I attended Winneba Methodist Middle Boys' School. My mother lived at Ponkoekyir, a suburb of Winneba, where Paa Kwesi’s uncles and aunties live. Paa Kwesi claims he lived somewhere near the current University of Education, South Campus, an area called Domeabra (Lomnava) or Mbrobamu. I lived at a place called Ogyaye, sandwiched between two popular suburbs called Adansi and Kormantse.
While I went on in 1966 to do teacher training for four years at Komenda College, I do not have any clue yet where my cousin went to do his secondary education. All I know is that, cousin has dabbled in many things and he is au fait in English, poetry, sociology, you name it. One area I seem to have an edge over cousin is my speciality of Economics. I also read a lot of Public Administration, Psychology and Political Science.
Cousin Paa Kwesi Mintah comes across as a polyglot and a polymath. At one time, he volunteered to translate my Fante write-up into Eskimo/Inuit and Japanese. Cousin seems to be pro-Muslim, as at one time, he tried to dissuade me from quoting biblical verses in my write-ups. He also hates my making references to authorities in my write-ups such as J.J. Rousseau, Hobbes, John Stuart Mills, Adam Smith, Montesquieu, Thomas Robert Malthus, among others.
Sometimes, I wonder what sort of university cousin attended, and whether he came across words or phrases such as plagiarism, academic rigour, and intellectual property theft, among others. Cousin seems to have the last word on any topic under the sun which is published on Ghanaweb. He accuses me of being a listologist as he writes that I am fond of giving too many examples without doing analysis. Is cousin aware of Comparative Studies in many disciplines, especially Sociology? If you cannot define your phenomenon or give examples of it, forget.
That is what John Locke stated about the rigours of scholarship, and what the proponents of the Theory of Knowledge advanced in their Scientific Method paradigm. People like Karl Popper, Lakatos, Weigenstein, Thomas Kuhn, among others. Cousin wants me to be original without quoting anybody in my write-ups. Has he forgotten what Isaac Newton said long ago that, ‘if I have seen further than other men, it was because I have been standing on the shoulders of giants.’ It is not for want of scholarship or showboating that people write without referencing but because of ignorance and laziness.
Paa Kwesi Mintah (I wonder whether that is a pseudonym or sobriquet) baffles me and intrigues me no end, because he can write pages upon pages as rejoinder to my articles, purporting that I have told many lies in my articles. Sometimes, he will overdo it. I presume that he himself lacks knowledge in the Social Sciences. Besides, some of the things he is at daggers-drawn with me are my own opinions which are subjective and therefore they cannot be factual, let alone lies. The one beef I have against Paa Kwesi Mintah is that I have never ever come across a single article written by him and posted on Ghanaweb.
His own speciality is being an acerbic and unremitting critic par excellence, by taking on writers and contributors and sending them to the washerman or the cleaners or tearing their work apart. Paa Kwesi Mintah always complains bitterly about my long articles which sometimes pisses him off and he advises me to shorten them. He is also cross with me if I write in Fante. If I was his wife, I should complain that he is a nagging husband, though I do not infer gayism here. Far be it from that.
Paa Kwesi Mintah always taunts me when he thinks I have boo-booed and he says I should stop for him to administer some lashes, which reminds me of the mid-60s when one teacher of mine in 1963 used to scare us with caning, what he termed 'colossal coolerlems at the posterior!' Paa Kwesi accuses me of being alarmist whenever I reflect on the political disquiet in our dear Ghana. He chides me if I complain about abusive language and insults on Ghanaweb, saying that I should allow people the freedom to air their views.
Sometimes, I wonder if Paa Kwesi Mintah supports anarchy or he is in support of chaos-theory or diastrophism. Paa Kwesi often charges that I always want to be praised for what I write. Hmmm. A little flattery is not bad, since every man likes flattery. What is important is to show some diplomacy and tact when criticising. Sometimes too, Paa Kwesi is generous with praise and he would nudge me on to go on and write a book or novel since he says I am good at it. Hmmm. Is Paa Kwesi Mintah ambivalent?
Well, I admire his honesty on those occasions but on other occasions, Cousin Mintah lies more than anything I know of. Paa Kwesi Mintah sometimes makes bones about almost everything I write. He forgets that we see things from different perspectives, and that I am entitled to my own opinions. He would painstakingly catalogue scores of points which he numbers as lies in my opinions expressed in my articles. I sometimes wonder whether Cousin Mintah would rather have us all see things from his own tainted glasses. However, being clansmen, I tolerate him in a civil manner and we plod along nicely without ending up in a brawl or fisticuffs.
Initially, I did not understand him and took him for an agnostic adversary. But with time, we grew to understand and respect each other, that we are all made of different moulds, thus we could not express the same opinions or present the same facts in the same way. Cousin seems to have lived a better part of his life in New York, just like me in Nigeria and Zambia, yet he often pontificates that Ghanaians are happy; there is no political unrest and disquiet in Ghana, blah, blah, blah. That I am an alarmist and pessimist. Well, I happen to have my better half in Ghana with my children schooling there.
Thus, I have my feet firmly on the ground on terra firma in Ghana. Cousin Mintah's head, ears, eyes and all may be in the air or in the clouds as he may be deluding himself about realities in Ghana in a phantasmagoric euphoria, about the ideal country he left behind somewhere in the 60s. Many times too, Cousin has had no good word to say about Ghana, especially in the area of sanitation and improvement in Accra.
Cousin is always thinking about a stinking and litter-laden and litter-sodden Accra, filled with teeming flies feasting on festering sores or lurking around decaying carrion of mangled dogs, cats, pigs, goats and other domestic animals which had strayed into the streets of Accra, and been run over by careless speeding drivers. In the world of Cousin Mintah, would anything good come out of Accra (Nazareth)? I do not understand Cousin why he is unduly unpatriotic and not being a good ambassador of his own country.
I am sure if Cousin ever encounters some whites in Sylvia’s Restaurant in New York, (and he says he encounters many Nobel Laureates there) who are planning to direct their holiday adventure to Ghana, he would promptly protest vehemently and direct them to go to Spain, Italy, Greece or some Mediterranean country, rather than pitch up in his hate-love beloved Ghana. Cousin once bragged to me on Ghanaweb that he rubs shoulders and hobnobs with Noble Laureates at Sylvia’s Restaurant in downtown New York. It was to rub it in for me to know his academic prowess.
This is why I have an axe to grind with Cousin for not coming out with a single Noble prize, despite his gargantuan exploits inside the theatres and operating tables of New York hospitals, where he had plied his trade as a surgeon for donkey years. I am sure Cousin’s nimble fingers and wonderful sutures could rival those of the legendary Ben Carson of Johns Hopkins, SDA Church and conjoined Siamese twins separation fame. Cousin Mintah chastises me no end for being a fugitive Ghanaian teacher, who needs to quickly return to the hearth at home in Ghana and help revamp the waning educational levels.
I wonder sometimes why the pot should call the kettle black or why he sees the speck in my eye and fails to see the log in his own eye. Is Cousin Mintah so hypocritical as the Pharisees who Jesus condemned as walking white-washed sepulchres? Cousin Mintah taunts me sometimes by saying that If I am stranded in Zambia, he is ready to donate a ticket to help me go home. Haba! Cousin should go home to Winneba to establish his dream private university and employ me as the new Vice Chancellor, with him as the Chancellor or President.
I have great respect for Cousin Mintah for all the pains he takes to read my articles in a religious manner, and then to take me on point by point, as if answering comprehension questions in those halcyon days in the 60s and 70s. I have a few questions to ask about who my Cousin Mintah is, and I shall be happy for him to address them in this forum. I also invite forumers to volunteer information on my Cousin Paa Kwesi Mintah, who appears to be a big enigma to me.
I have scoured many sites on the internet to know more about my elusive Cousin, but I have always drawn a blank. I am sometimes of the opinion that my Cousin is a big sleuth or internet spy, working for some big outfit, since my geek Cousin knows how to look for me on the internet. The questions I want to address to Cousin Paa Kwesi Mintah are these:-
1. How old is he?
2. Is he married with children? Is his wife African?
3. When did he leave Ghana?
4. When was the last time he visited Ghana?
5. Which secondary school did he attend in Ghana?
6. Which universities did he attend in the USA?
7. What was his thesis for his PhD?
8. What courses, apart from medicine, has he done?
9. Is he a polymath and a polyglot?
10. Is he a Muslim or Christian?
11. Which political party does he root for in Ghana? Is he an NDC diehard Akatamanso foot-soldier, or Osono Kokoroko Kukurudu Blue NPP?
12. What motivates him to bring out the prolixity and prolific writing style?
13. Which societies or clubs does he belong to? Is he a Rotarian, Lion, Freemason or Odd fellow?
14. Which professional bodies does he belong to or is he a fellow of?
15. When is he relocating to Ghana?
16. What is his take on the unending chieftaincy dispute in Winneba between the Gharteys and the Ayirebi Acquahs?
17. When will Cousin form a political party in Ghana to contest the presidential elections?
18. Did Cousin do Fante in school in Ghana?
19. Which books and magazines are of interest to Cousin Mintah?
20. Is Cousin Mintah on greencard, pension, and is he planning to retire and live thereafter in the US?
21. Will Cousin give me permission to set up a Foundation in his name for forumers to contribute generously towards, to enable him relocate to Ghana and to set up his dream university?
22. When is Cousin going to oblige us the privilege to read his novel based upon his sojourn abroad?
Cousin always harangues me when I try to be creative and come up with an article such as, My Wonderful Dream about Ghana, published on Ghana web sometime in April. Cousin always taunts me by asking which Zambian beer brew I am imbibing to give me all those weird creative ideas. He also asks me which Zambian leaves I have been smoking to come up with my write-ups.
Cousin Mintah should know that I have never smoked anything in my life of six decades plus. For beers, I drink lagers, my favourite being Castle Lager, though occasionally I try the others such as Mosi, Heineken, Peroni, Windhoek, Ohlsson, among others. When I was a young man, I used to like spirits such as gin (Bramsco, Lawyer, Lions, Gordons, Beefeater) and sometimes brandy. Even though beer swells the tummy, I think I am stuck on it and I drink it abstemiously, since I happen to have a lot of work to do, such as marking, tuitions, writing, officiating at social functions, among others.
I have never been to the USA and I once went to the UK in 1973 for a conference which lasted 10 days. I am wondering when Cousin Mintah will send me an invitation to visit him at Big Apple, or when he will set up a rendezvous for us to meet in Ghana. I have grown very fond of Cousin Paa Kwesi Mintah, even though I have never even seen his photo on the internet.
I wonder how he looks like. He tells me he is aging and his eyesight is getting bad so I should not torture him by writing long articles. But doesn’t Cousin use reading glasses or contact lens? Cousin always admires my poetry. He is the only one on Ghanaweb who is enthralled and enthused about my poems and he surely go to lengths to do me an appreciation.
Yes, he surely does, of which I dearly and sincerely cherish for his constructive criticism. Every time I post a poem, he is the only one who cares to give an exegesis. Sometimes, very scathing, and suggesting a lot of changes. I wonder whether Cousin knows about poetic licence or free verse.
But my Cousin seems very learned. At one time, when I paraded my academic credentials after my name, he griped and said that what would those other contributors who have no academic credentials do. I thruway big salute to Cousin Mintah oooooooo!. He has been quiet lately, and off Ghanaweb radar. We are missing him terribly. Can someone plead with him and coax him to return, for I am back for him. Whaaam!
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