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“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity”—Martin Luther King Jnr.
As a devout Muslim, who performs the five daily salat (prayers), I kneel and prostrate everyday. I'm sure my Christian brethren also kneel regularly in the course of prayer. But many of us may not clearly remember the last time we were compelled to kneel down as a form of punishment. Trust me when I say I do.
It was exactly twenty-nine years ago, July 4, 1988 to be precise. The date was etched in my memory because it was my birthday. I was in Form 2 in Benkum Secondary School at Larteh.
My crime was that I wasn't walking briskly after the bell had been tolled for break over. An overzealous Form 5 student, who felt insulted by my attitude, instructed me to kneel down and I obliged.
It was a very sunny day. Soon I started sweating as the sweltering heat began to show its prowess. My knees were also not spared of pain as they were mercilessly pinched by the gravels on the ground.
After about twenty minutes of enduring the heat and pain and the embarrassment that came with the punishment, I decided to free myself of the predicament and damned the consequences. Seeing no one in sight after looking left and right, I stood up and walked quickly to the classroom.
The senior could not hide his anger when he saw me later in the day. He furiously ordered me to continue the punishment since his order was still in force. Inspired by my survival instinct, I decided to tell a lie. Not even the explanation that it was one of the teachers who saved me from the punishment could calm him down.
Realizing that he was hell-bent on punishing me, I boldly told him to follow me to the teacher to confirm my story. I did not know what did the trick, but I'm sure my boldness could have played a part. That was how I saved myself from my last kneeling wahala.
My kneeling wahala may be a distant a memory, but that of Larry Saint, a journalist with Rivers FM, is very fresh. He was, just last week, compelled to endure the kneeling wahala for three hours under the scorching sun. His crime was that he had the audacity to open his konkonsaic mouth to criticize some traditional rulers.
Reports have it that the traditional rulers were angered by his criticism and therefore decided to summon him. Being a law-abiding citizen, he readily responded to their call. But unknown to him, the traditional rulers had missed their secondary school days and were longing to relive them. Hence, their decision to make him kneel under the scorching sun for about three hours.
His wahala did not end there, as he was handed over to the police for a crime that did not even exist on our statute books. As I write, the bloke does not even know his fate in respect of his job at the radio station. I wouldn't be surprised if the radio station is manipulated by unseen royal hands to terminate his employment.
Well, that is Dr. Kwame Okro's land of birth for you! A land where chiefs gleefully relive their secondary school days and go about ordering people to kneel down. The Omanhene may have shown the journalist his krakyepowers. But what he does not know is that such acts tend to put the chieftaincy institution into disrepute.
If only such traditional rulers would learn from the wisdom and patience of Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II. The overlord of the Ashanti Kingdom is one ruler who has been insulted, denigrated, maligned and defamed. But one is yet to hear him cough on any of the spurious allegations.
As recent as last week, his detractors were seen lacing their dancing shoes to dance their hearts out to celebrate a so-called money laundering allegation against the revered King. They were, however, stopped in their tracks as the money laundering allegation turned out to be a big hoax. How disappointed his detractors were!
Once again, the revered King's silence was louder than any word he could have uttered. Thus, aptly proving the saying, “Silence is golden.”
Without a doubt, we are a people who love and revere our traditional rulers. But there is no refuting the fact that the actions of some of our traditional rulers tend to question the generally held belief that our traditional rulers are wise. I say this again, what a great institution it would be, if all our traditional rulers learnt from the wisdom and patience of the Asantehene!
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