He is always a delight to listen to, even when one does not completely agree with some of his analyses on the postcolonial African condition. He can also be easily misinterpreted, for the former Makerere University political scientist was a professor of English Literature long before he became a political historian.
On Thursday, August 23, 2007, Ghanaians were privileged, once more, to have the Kenyan scholar deliver the seventh of the ongoing Golden Jubilee Lecture Series, which was hosted by the Ghana at 50 Secretariat and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Regional Cooperation and NEPAD (i.e. New Partnership for African Development).
Unfortunately, the exact gist of the distinguished lecturer’s presentation, vis-à-vis the deportment, and conduct, of the leaders of the opposition National Democratic Congress appears to have been lost on the Ghana News Agency reporter who relayed the same (Ghanaweb.com 8/23/07).
According to the anonymous GNA reporter, Professor Mazrui had lauded the purported “moderation of the opposition” as well as the NDC’s alleged “restraint” as constituting an enviable virtue in Fourth Republican Ghanaian politics. No observation could be more ironic. And in all reality, the renowned author of The Africans: A Triple Heritage, both the monograph and its accompanying television documentary, likely had not witnessed the fire-and-brimstone “moderation” that characterized the parliamentary conduct of the so-called National Democratic Congress during the past year’s debate on the Representation of the People’s Amendment Bill (ROPAB), a legislative measure which had originally been introduced into Ghana’s National Assembly by the same parliamentary operatives of the NDC. Now, it turns out that this legislative instrument had been cynically and opportunistically introduced by the Rawlings-led NDC in a raw bid to milking Ghanaian-born residents abroad in exchange for absolutely nothing!
Indeed, had he critically examined the sophomorically provocative conduct of the Bagbin-led NDC parliamentary apparatchiks, Professor Mazrui, doubtlessly, would have delivered quite a different verdict on the conduct of Mr. Rawlings’ pit-bulls. He would, for instance, have noted the fact that the recent celebration of the June 4th butchery in Somanya was tantamount to a veritable declaration of war on contemporary Ghanaian democratic culture.
In sum, it goes without saying that if any major camp on the Ghanaian political landscape has graced our national political fabric with “moderation” and “restraint,” it is unmistakably and indisputably the leadership of the ruling New Patriotic Party.
In any case, knowing Professor Mazrui for the astute scholar that he has long distinguished himself as, the subtext of his message – or its actual meaning – was implicit. And it was this: The Ghanaian opposition had better conduct itself with moderation and restraint, if the country is to advance beyond the ramshackle condition bequeathed it by Messrs. Rawlings and Atta-Mills.
What piqued my interest more than any other aspect of Professor Mazrui’s lecture, titled “The Brain-Drain and the Dual Diaspora: Post-enslavement and Post-coloniality,” was the Albert Schweitzer Distinguished Professor of the Humanities of the State University of New York’s bold honesty in accurately dating the inglorious history of Ghana’s brain-drain to the era of President Nkrumah’s Convention People’s Party regime.
On the latter score, the consistent and mordant critic of CPP dictatorship poignantly noted that “Kwame Nkrumah’s Preventive Detention Act was one of the major causes of Ghanaian intellectuals feeling unsafe and unwanted in their own country, and thus being forced into exile” (Ghanaweb.com 8/23/07). The putatively foremost proponent of Pan-Africanism on the primal continent would also set the tone of anti-intellectualism for other African leaders to follow. And so in a critical and indisputable sense, observed Professor Mazrui, the African Show Boy was a pathetically flawed personality of extreme contradictions whose schizophrenic policies Ghanaians and the rest of their continental African neighbors continue to suffer.
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