Opinions Fri, 22 Apr 2016

Political opportunism in Ghana

Politics in a democratic environment is not actually about the "ideal truth" as most of us wished for but about the "real truth".

The ideal truth in a democratic setting, posit on the premise that the political sense of the individual is mature, logical, capable of understanding and informed enough, on the decision of choosing politicians to deal with the issues of determining the nature of the law, for the necessary dimension to their cultural transformation, regardless to the prevailing circumstances of the electorates. The big challenge to the ideal truth is, its philosophical nature.

The real truth in a democratic setting, posit itself on the premise that the political sense of individuals in relating to choice of politicians, to deal with issues of laws, in allow the actualisation of cultural transformation, depends on what the majority believed to be the truth, based on their prevailing circumstances. Thus the real truth is as good as the assumed or made up truth, believed and accepted by the people.

This is even worse when a nation is at its low level of the developmental stage, where the laws of the state are being overshadowed by superstitious based religious and ethno-tribal laws. The circumstance of the electorate determine the real truth while the ideal truth remain s distant dream.

Politicians in Ghana are easily accuse of being opportunists, for inclining towards the real truth, in place of the ideal truth. In fact the ideal truth are considered as academic and illusionary.

The ideal truth in a democratic setting makes it very easy to highlight all the fundamental right of all citizens and blame the authority of the day for intentionally avoiding its responsibilities, when the politician are actually dealing with the real truth.

Indeed politics in a democratic setting, is ideally about the transformation of life of a people by the transformation of their laws, on the mandate of the same people.

The ideal of democratisation of politics are premised on the fact that culture is a dynamic phenomenon and every individual of a mature and sound mind, is an equal stakeholder in the prevailing cultural setting. This then follows that if culture have to keep up with development, since cultures are basically the same globally, all stakeholders must have equal say on the process of relating with the law that leads to the transformation.

The contention here are, what determines the need for cultural transformation and what should be use as the yardstick for measuring such need? The answers to the above lies in our ability to agree on whether cultures are globally independent of themselves and cultures are incapable of serving as the base of threat or hope, to others cultures? The fact is cultures are basically the same globally and are globally interdependent in this relationship. This adds up that cultures posse the ability to easily transform themselves through adoption and innovation, to survive better, than the less dynamic ones. Since cultures globally are interrelated, vulnerable cultures suffer to the advantage of the more sophisticated ones, every conscious culture is religious about transformation.

The above form the basis for the wisdom around which the evolution of democracy built up, since cultural transformation could be a matter of life or death to some people. It is out of the desperate need to provide the most effective means of cultural transformation that the uses of the ballot box, than the bullets, was invented.

The traditional approach to custodianship of a group's culture is through an autocratic rule, where leadership starts by the use of brutal force, to establish a form of dynasty. The church, the Islam, entho-tribal establishments, nationalism and racism, were all once the mediums of introduction and sustenance of dynasties for cultural custodianship. Subsequent custodianship of the law were by hereditary, blood lineage, royalties which continue beyond generations until other gangs succeed in overthrowing the establishment. The newly instated establishment claim their legitimacy to reform, only to end up as the start another dynasty, leading to another round of brutal and bloody replacement.

Each ruler justify their legitimacy by reference to one form culture or tradition that need their personal custodianship, for the necessary cultural transformation to take place. The longevity and brutality of most rulers, are justified under the guise of cultural transformation.

Some make such claim as personal as possible, enough to make them assume the status of god with a divine right to the custodianship of the law and therefore the culture. These individuals assume the power of determining life and death of fellow citizens, by the use of the law and the preservation of the culture.

Such individual go to any extent to perpetuate themselves beyond generations, until a desperation for the replacement to the group leadership, resort to physical violence in forcing the existing authority of law to relinquish its position, for a new group or individuals to effect their own version of cultural transformation.

The challenge here is, lives are lost, the new laws are imposed, regimes become unpopular as their popularity wain in no time and the consequential transformation ill explained.

What follows these kind of transformation is, it translate into a seed for another uprising and serve just the will of the few. Tension builds up, suspicion increase and draconian laws find their way into the statues books, than real transformational laws, in helping to clamp down on opposing views. Cronyism and nepotism become the means of differentiating the in-groups from the others. A cast system of a sort emerge to identify and safeguard the interest of the loyalists, against others.

Violence begetting further violence, frustrate the whole effort. Emotions than rational become the basis of sustaining or opposing a culture, and stake-holding becomes s minority issue, with majority marginalised, while most live as oppressed and suppressed.

The biggest challenge the transformers of mediaeval European state faced were around the definitions of culture and tradition. The transformers struggled with the fact that oppressed and suppressed majority is counter productive to national development. Thus the need to do something about marginalisation, to liberate cultural transformation.

The transformers need to effectively come up with definitions that allow them to democratise the process of transformation and make it all inclusive. This means, all those responsible for the custodianship of the law, must be clearly identify as the very ones who are also responsible for cultural transformation of the people.

Further probe into the concept of law then expose that laws are made, carried out and interpreted. The probe exposed that the maker of the law can also be the executor and as well the interpreter, to make the same person the only one responsible for the custodianship of the culture and therefore the determinant of transformation. Almost all medieval rulers enjoyed this status and this is still prevalence in the ethno-tribal and religious establishments of the modern day Ghana.

The whole challenge in mediaeval Europe then turn out to be around the definition of culture and tradition, when the two concept were subjected to close analysis. Sociologist and anthropologist propounded several definitions to give meaning to the word culture.

Almost all the definitions were basically the same while the one adopted by a people affect their transformation differently. So the one accepted by a group determines how such group goes about the challenges of cultural transformation. In fact of almost 145 definitions, it is very difficult for any of them be refer to as wrong. The definition a society chooses is however very fundamental to whether the people will end up as the slaves of their culture or masters of their destiny.

The most popular of the definition is "culture is a way of life". Simple as this definition is, it is very limiting in the context of reference to law, as a tool for cultural transformation. By adopting a definition of culture, as "a way of a peoples' survival, that make them survive better, as determine by their prevailing environmental circumstances", it allowed the proponents of democratic governance to make cultural transformation the business of every member of the group and a dynamic phenomenon. The definition recognising culture as a dynamic phenomenon means, culture is sensitive to change in its environmental circumstances. This further means, all culture strive to respond to change in time, place and space, by adjusting accordingly.

The definition then exposed that the business of law making, must be the business of everyone and subject constant review for the necessary adjustments, in allowing cultural transformation to take place.

Democracy is however challenged by contentions between the ideal truth and the real truth. Since politics is actually about the real truth than the ideal truth, and democracy is primarily the politics of reasoning by number to control the means of law making, execution and interpretation, than the use of brutal force by violence, the ideal truth becomes a challenge of its own.

Institutionalised platforms like the church, enthno-tribal establishments, Islam, nationalism, idealism and all sorts of inclinations, were develop to address the contentions between the ideal truth and the real truth. These platforms, used as political mediums, to project the ideal or real truth, for the advancement of cultural transformation. Superstitious means were invented by these establishment to make ideal truth assume the nature of real truth or the other way round.

Finally, the ideal truth provide solution to fundamental transformation but normally difficult for people to accept them as achievable. The real truth on its part deal mostly with non fundamental transformations and cosmetic in nature.

If you choose to attack those providing cosmetic solutions to fundamental challenges and calling the opportunist, please take a closer look at the electorates, to know why they are getting what they deserve. Yes, democracy is about cultural transformation by the mandate of the majority of the people through the transformation of their laws. You only reap what you sow. A good democrat step gently where fools trod. Since it is not about what is ideally right but what the people accept as right, you might end up at the stake for being less wise.

Democracy is not just about martyrs but about how real we are with situations!!!

Kofi Ali Abdul-Yekin

Chairman ECRA (ECOWAS Citizens Right Advocates)



Columnist: Abdul-Yekin, Kofi Ali