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Opinions Sat, 1 Feb 2014

Please, Help Me Out On Ahoofe’s Pomposity

By Cletus D Kuunifaa

While Ghanaians are blazing the trail in academia, constructing knowledge, churning out ideas and turning them into workable solutions, we have one bigot as content as a Community College teacher at Nassau Community College in the United States. He so relishes his daily trash write-ups on Ghanaweb with pomp for which I’m sure he equates them to academic excellence and scholarship…eehh? Not only do readers abhor his style of writing as coming across as bombastic (use of big words, a string of synonyms, rehashing same words), but discerning readers equally find him bereft of sound logical reasoning and then question sometimes his modus operandi in those pieces. So, after going through with pain some of his trash articles, I came to the conclusion that he must be an individual full of hate, full of envy toward the people of northern extraction and the Ewes. I have very good friends from his ethnic extraction for whom I respect to the hilt and I am utterly sorry should I be construed as being offensive to their kinsman in this rejoinder. I hope my friends will understand and forgive me. After all, the popular Akan proverb goes that “Efie biaa, Mensah woho”

This Ahoofe guy characterizes me as per his opening sentence, “He styles himself as Cletus D. Kuunifaa and claims to be affiliated with Long Island University (LIU-Post) in some sort of nondescript capacity that is best known to himself” Let him understand that the journey in academia is long and tedious and mine is not different. Perhaps, his was or is even longer. I last checked, I think he went through a couple of colleges too. I remember the one in Peoria, a suburb in the State of Indiana and a host of others.

Anyway, from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) to the University of Ghana, Legon, then from Purdue to UWM and LIU Post, it is unnecessary to be beating your chest and throwing your legs and arms in the air for people to know your academic exploits. But, to suggest that I am a freeloader on Ghana Government Scholarship is total nonsense, absolute nonsense. My academic exploits in the USA has been as a result of hard work and competence. Let it be put on record that I have never received any Ghana government funding for my studies here in the US. Not a pesewa! He then referred to an article I did which had the caption, “The throes of Ghanaian PhD students in New York: President Mahama to their rescue?” and retorted, “… had him earnestly begging President Mahama, who was then visiting the New York Metropolitan Area, to call an emergency meeting of all Ghanaian graduate-school dropouts resident in the United States, particularly those in the Tri-State region (of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut) and solemnly undertake a full-footing of their tuition bills, in exchange for a promise by these shameless freeloaders to promptly return to Ghana shortly after their graduate studies, in order to redeem themselves by serving in the government of the so-called National Democratic Congress (NDC). And so I pretty much appreciate where this "conscientious Mahama pit-bull" is coming from” Folks, here lies the link and conclusion to that article for your own judgment, “My judgment is that, all PhD programs are relevant and what is of outmost concern is how to apply what we learnt to improve the status quo back home? Chatting with these students the last time I infer they are in various stages of their programs, ranging from; Information Systems to Knowledge Management, from Health Policy to Information Policy, from Social Work to Management and of course, from the Sciences. We need these guys back home to partner in economic development. It is against this backdrop that H.E President Mahama must give a listening ear to the plight of these PhD students, who are in an academic limbo as a result of circumstances beyond their control.”(http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/features/artikel.php?ID=285882) None of these guys is a graduate-school dropout nor a freeloader as purported by Mr. Ahoofe, and I wish to express gratitude, on their behalf, for the useful comments that came from some of you, very insightful pieces of advice, (by) which some of the affected students were able to use to source for funding and would be completing their programs on schedule. Let’s keep this spirit of brotherhood as Ghanaians abroad. Thank you guys! I do think that the number one aim of most students pursuing their courses abroad and especially in the USA, has always been to get a world-class education here in the USA and to put into use those skills in Ghana, and thereby help to address pressing institutional and humanitarian issues. “You bloom where you are planted, and you give back wherever you can” according to Professor Martin Michelle, the Augusta Baker chair in Childhood Literacy at the School of Library and Information Science at the University of South Carolina, Columbia. Guided by this aphorism, the important thing is to let your academic achievement impact community and country, after all isn’t the motivation to pursue higher education hinged on using those skills acquired to help your country? That is the reason why I doff my hat for great personalities like the founder of Ashesi University, Mr. Patrick Awuah, Professor Frimpong Boateng, Professor Yaw Nyarko, Dr. Felix T Dery, Dr. S.K Bemile (and the list goes on) for their selfless devotion to uplifting Ghana. These individuals have impacted community and country through their academic exploits in a way that must suggest to us to not waste precious time on trivialities and insensibilities on Ghanaweb. Ahoofe, if he only has the welfare of our country at heart, as these above mentioned patriots, must think about an idea, develop it, try it and it might work very well in Ghana. Or better still, he might want to help introduce the Community College concept in Ghana.

Ahoofe then went ahead and talked about English. How dare he talk to me about English? As a matter of fact, I am yet to engage him in a conservation to hear him speak English to ascertain his pronunciation and pass him to proceed! Perhaps, Mr Ahoofe is not aware that I am a product of St Francis Xavier Junior Seminary and, if he were resident in Ghana, he would have been kept abreast of the prowess of that towering institution in the Upper West Region. He even had the audacity to talk about grammar and said: “I simply mean grammatically sound English of the kind that can be readily understood by even a reasonably intelligent high school graduate” Well, as a Community College teacher in the USA, he knows too well that he is dealing with students, who more often than not do not make the grade to the regular four year Colleges. So, after graduation from a Community College, they receive what is called an Associate Degree. Most of them would always transfer to the regular four year Colleges long before they receive their Associate Degrees, which are way lower, of course, in pecks to a Bachelor’s Degree. Folks, the US system of education is one of the best in the world, because it affords individuals the opportunity no matter the age to reach one’s potential thus bridging the academic gap and being able to acquire some skills to be considered for work.

Now, as a language and an information professional, I take exception to grammatical errors. The corrections effected by Mr. Ahoofe do not hold as far as grammatical rules are concerned.

Ahoofe’s correction: “Not all political jabs must be responded to and [,] indeed…” In this sentence, I am surprised that he questioned my use of the comma after “and”, whereas he employed same in his rejoinder. Take a look at his sentence: “The last and [,] perhaps, the only article of his that I have read was much better than this cipher…” It strikes me that this man is clueless about the use of the “comma” and “and” as an English Lecturer. He then stumbled on my use of the phrasal verb “Penned up vs. Pent-up” feelings. Ahoofe needs to consult on his construction of past tense of words. Being familiar with both the British and the American system of spelling, I am worried about how the use of “penned up” could be confusing for the target audience. But, what is of essence in the use of this phrasal verb is grounded on interpretation. Alan Cruse, the author of “Meaning in Language: Introduction to Semantic and Pragmatics” posits that “meaning is interpretation” and I do not intend to guide Ahoofe through Semantics especially on what constitutes meaning in language?

And he continued goofing and said, “I also don't know what kind of Upper-West regional language or dialect…” and received correction from Olesu, who commented on his error. Olesu said, “Point of correction, Mr. English Lecturer, your sentence should rather be phrased, “I don’t know what kind of Upper West regional Languages...” Yes indeed, the use of “kind of “connotes many. There is a lot to talk about grammatical errors in his piece, but let me refer folks to another article published same day and captioned, “Bon Mots from Speaker Sekyi- Hughes” by this guy. (http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/artikel.php?ID=298920) Ahoofe is such a fein, not a fiend, so addicted to the use of the Thesaurus that he does not even bother to check on proper grammar usage before blurring the words on Ghanaweb. “Bon Mots?” Really? Perhaps he does not understand that in the French Language, the noun must always agree in gender and in number with the qualifier. So, that sentence should have read, “Bons Mots from Speaker Sekyi- Hughes” He then wants to know whether I am “an honest and progressive-thinking Ghanaian…” Of course, yes I am. Thank goodness we live in an IT age, and the article that I did touching on the throes of Ghanaian PhD students attracted comments from fellow Ghanaians across the United States, who gave suggestions and pieces of advice that turned out to be of tremendous help to the affected students.

Yes, I am Mahama lap-dog. Yes, I am his pit-bull, and I am willing and ready to support him to deliver on his mandate to leave an unparalleled legacy for posterity to judge. So, this malaprop should keep to his malapropism, but as far as the English language goes, writing simple English to be understood by many is the hall mark of communication. Ahoofe should, however, beware of his anti-Semitic ranting and raving on the media platform not to be cited for and dragged to an International Court of Justice on the grounds of hate speech.

Cletus D. Kuunifaa, Long Island University, LIU Post, New York. Can be contacted at dipnibe@yahoo.com or Follow him on twitter @ckuunifaa

Columnist: Kuunifaa, Cletus D