Opinions Sat, 23 Nov 2013

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Rumor-Mongering in a Rancid Culture

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

I have been out of the country for nearly three decades. When I was joyfully shipping out - at the beginning of Mr. Rawlings' infamous reign-of-terror - she was barely 15 years old. Perhaps a secondary form two or three student. She was just about the same age as the children of former President John (Kofi Diawuo) Agyekum-Kufuor. Which really does not say much, in terms of whether, indeed, she ever had a torrid or whirlwind affair with Ghana's retired "giant" Bwana.

To be certain, what has made this rumor have such perennial staying power, for whatever it may be worth, is the long-held perception that like an average Ghanaian politician, Mr. Kufuor has an extreme difficulty zipping up the fly of his pants. Not that it is anybody's damn business. As far as I am concerned, and I have scripted the same on occasion in the recent past, what Mr. Kufuor does with his "hot-dog" or "rocket," my preferred terminology, is none of anybody's frigging business. Unless, of course, those trading such rumors and the detractors of the premier emeritus could forensically sustainably point to the profligate spending of the Ghanaian taxpayer's money in flagrant prosecution of the same.

And thus far, nobody that I know of has presented any credible evidence pointing to this end. What is darn pathetic is the fact that the proverbial average Ghanaian does not seem to have any remarkably advanced beyond the primitive stage of rumor-mongering as prime grist in place of a serious conversation on rapid national development. You see, in a totalitarian regime, such as eerily prevailed under Chairman Jerry John Rawlings for nearly two decades, rumor-mongering was perfectly legitimate, in the crippling absence of administrative transparency. For there existed no other legitimate alternative to the kind of genuine discursive culture that is the life-blood of a functional democracy.

The irony here is that under the 8-year tenure of the Kufuor-led New Patriotic Party (NPP) government, Ghanaians witnessed and experienced the most liberal democratic culture since the shortlived era of Drs. K. A. Busia and Hilla (Babini) Limann. We can, of course, quibble over certain aspects or quiddities of the foregoing landmark eras. But as I have on occasion intimated, President Kufuor, for the most part, is a victim of his own success. Besides, I am far less concerned about whom the former president may have flouted his conjugal fealty with, than how the laudable path on which he set the country's economic development could be revived and further enhanced.

I also painfully know that this cannot be done by capriciously and cynically declaring a 10-percent pay cut of the salaries of five- or six-dozen cabinet appointees, including President John Dramani Mahama and his arch-lieutenant, Vice-President Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur. But it is, paradoxically, a laudable propaganda tack. After all, who could do soon have forgotten the Chinery-Hesse Committee's gratuity farce scandalously concocted in the waning weeks of 2008?

What amuses me almost to no end, though, is the apparently new-found love, even fiery obsession, for the healthcare of the country's at once most productive and vulnerable - our womenfolk by President Mahama. His "kindly" gesture, to make a remarkable dent in the way and quality of healthcare delivery in the country, ought to be backed by a "big-minded" comprehensive and preventive national policy.

As for whether, indeed, Ms. Gifty Anti, the locally renowned television news anchor and media personality, ever forged a conjugally unorthodox bond with Mr. Kufuor, as the former felt compelled to vehemently debunk recently, is absolutely of no moment (See "I Never Dated Prez Kufuor - Gifty Anti" MyJoyOnline.com/Ghanaweb.com 11/21/13). Let's leave this aspect of the private lives of the rich, powerful and famous to the vintage successors of Bob Cole, Opia, OD and the likes. By all means, let's reserve a space for the vicariously cathartic in our national life. It is integral to the expression of our humanity.

Then also, after all, hasn't it been often said that the wealthy and successful invariably provoke the ire of the disgruntled and deprived?


*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

Department of English Nassau Community College of SUNY Garden City, New York Nov. 21, 2013 E-mail: okoampaahoofe@optimum.net ###

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

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