Interpersonal Animosity and Your Role as a Ghanaian!

Wed, 2 Sep 2009 Source: Pryce, Daniel K.

I weep for Ghanaians – and Africans – every day, not because there is something innately wrong with the people who find themselves within those geographical boundaries known as Ghana – and Africa – but because we are plagued by a trait that is so unnerving and disconcerting: never wishing others well no matter how much of a difference they make in our lives. Perhaps, the ragtag systems of governance that continue to bedevil the African continent have imprisoned us with the manacles of bitterness, narcissism, and hopelessness; perhaps we just love to hate those who are more successful than the rest of us; perhaps we just hate ourselves because of the continent's potpourri of social and economic problems. So, is there a way forward out of all the animosity around us?

Not a day goes by without the oft-repeated assaults on our sensibilities on pro-Ghanaian Internet portals, and many of us are, indeed, not guiltless. In fact, some people would call for fire on others if they truly could! In His infinite wisdom, however, God has chosen to limit the metaphysical powers of humans, which, undoubtedly, is a very good thing. Can we actually imagine what would happen if we could turn one another into mice, or, worse still, vapor? The world would, in fact, be a terrible place to inhabit if the preceding were even remotely possible.

There are very few professionally trained, media-affiliated journalists who publish articles on pro-Ghanaian Web sites, which means that the majority of us are, essentially, lay, or freelance, writers, so the fact that we now find so many articles – basically, a mélange of nation-elevating ideas – on the aforesaid Web sites, especially on Ghanaweb.com, is unquestionably a testament to the burgeoning democratic and egalitarian values that we have come to embrace. And to say that we all appreciate the enthusiasm of some Ghanaians to share their nation-advancing ideas on the Web would be an understatement; indeed, the proverbial two-heads-are-better-than-one aphorism could not be more appropriate here.

That said, may I ask why we tend to accept the message but disparage the messenger? Why the callousness and ruthlessness we put on display, just because we do not like a particular writer, although his or her message may have made the most sense? This negative attitude has forced many fine writers, essayists, and versifiers to quit the daily discourses on pro-Ghanaian Web sites. Perhaps, the naysayers are muttering right now that they do not care, but the truth is that we must all care: when some of the brightest and smartest citizens permanently quit these discussions meant to improve the nation's political and socio-economic conditions, our society ultimately becomes poorer for it. And do not dare to call these people wimps, for wimps they are not! They simply are Ghanaians who have come to abhor the vileness of their fellow citizens, thus preferring to stay away.

The sardonicism, hostility, and personal attacks that are now so pervasive on pro-Ghanaian Internet portals are actually symptoms of low self-esteem, anger at the socio-politico-economic system, and the inability to engage others in a meaningful manner. The medley of invectives and vituperations is simply perceived by readers as "noise," which means that nothing is transmitted to the readers. So long as these messages – unwarranted insults and pointless excoriations – are laden with filth, even the best of suggestions would be ignored. The fastest way to dissuade abuse is to ignore the abuser, but I will admit that it takes a special person to look the other way. But if many have done it, why not us? We certainly can too! Perhaps, we can all try this basic rule: If our young children suddenly walked in on us, will we be comfortable enough to allow them near our personal computers? If the answer is no, then whatever we have on the screen is indecent.

It is nothing but a dearth of rationality when we attack others in cyberspace as rat-feces eaters, simply because they do not agree with our parochial positions. It is simply a mark of disingenuousness when we refer to other Ghanaians in cyberspace as cat-meat-consuming idiots, simply because they do not embrace our philosophy, or political ideology. It is simply nauseating to call someone a feminist, simply because she refuses to be dominated by a man – the sort of senseless male domination that is common to the African. It is an act of calumny to insult the Asantehene, simply because we disagree with what a person, supposedly an Asante, has written online. It is imprudent to lump Jerry Rawlings with all Ewes, or John Kufuor with all Asantes, simply because of a perceived ignoble act by either ex-president. And it is certainly nonsensical to ask someone to go back to Togo, simply because we oppose the ideas that this person, supposedly an Ewe, has espoused in cyberspace.

We get up on Sunday mornings and wear our ethnocentric beliefs on our sleeves to church – God's triumphant church! No wonder we are having a hard time proselytizing and winning souls for Christ, including fellow Ghanaians with dialectal dissimilarities, since we cannot see past our own biases. As I mentioned recently, who among us, if we suddenly faced a life-and-death situation at, say, a funerary event and were required to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on another Ghanaian, would be fiendish or sadistic enough to ask of the ethnic origins of the dying person before springing into action? Please, think about the preceding statement for a few minutes!

Let us renounce the bigotry and embrace one another, so as to move the nation forward. Let us respect our shared, albeit differing, positions on issues, for not even siblings or couples agree on everything. If the best we could do is hurl invectives at others, so as to silence them, then we have taken the dead-end road of notoriety and folly, neither of which fosters good relationships. Let us give up the insults and engage in constructive analyses and criticisms, irrespective of who espouses a differing opinion. If, for example, my actions were driving others away from online discussions necessary for moving Ghana forward, will it not be a wise move if I examined myself and made the necessary changes? Anything less and I am no better than the egocentric, paranoid individual who sees nothing wrong with his own prejudices and faults, but sees everything wrong with others' aberrations and shortcomings.

The writer, Daniel K. Pryce, holds a master's degree in public administration from George Mason University, U.S.A. He is a member of the national honor society for public affairs and administration in the U.S.A. He can be reached at dpryce@cox.net.

Columnist: Pryce, Daniel K.