Opinions Thu, 21 Mar 2019

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RE: Beggars in uniforms at Kotoka International Airport

I write in response to a certain piece of ill-conceived misinformation that is making the rounds on facebook and on other social media platforms titled “Beggars in Uniforms at Kotoka Airport”.

It is quite clear, and I presumably say so, that the author of such material is a novice and an amateur in reporting events or issues. Let me tell you why. I ask, would anybody in their right senses, say that the United States of America (USA) is a country that is entirely populated by hooligans, thugs, societal deviants and gun-wielding murderers, who comfortably walk into any school or public place and sporadically open fire on whomever they please?

How about saying that everyone in Mexico is a hardened criminal, owns and wields sophisticated weapons, is in one trouble-making cartel or another and that the entire country is such a jungle, where no good exists? If such flawed, handicaped thoughts and strings of ill-fated reportage are indeed anything to go by, then how do we reconcile them with the coveted achievement of the tenacious Biological Scientist, Dr. Eva Ramon Gallegos and her research team, who has discovered a therapy that eliminates 100% of Human Papillomavirus (HPV), the virus that causes cervical cancer, which is among the top medical causes of death in the world today?

You are trying to figure out why I mentioned Dr. Eva Ramon Gallegos right? Well, she is MEXICAN! This remarkable result of her 20-year research will change the face of medicine, especially preventive medicine for cancer treatment for a very long time, especially as her cure does not do any collateral damage to the human body and is therefore said to have “no side effects”.

So, you see, it is abundantly clear that, if we were to go by the flawed, generalized hypothesis of ‘no good’ in Mexico, it would swallow up Dr. Gallegos’ priceless achievement for the good of all humanity. And to be clear, such achievements cut across every nation, organization, community or society in one form or another. It is therefore clear that making such blanket statements is old-fashioned, irresponsible and a recipe for chaos.

In fact, God had to delay the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in order to allow Lot and his family to get out of town because they were the only righteous family in those two God-forsaken cities. Similarly, God destroyed the rest of humanity and all other living creatures on earth in the days of Noah, the Prophet, but spared the lives of Noah and his family and all the animals that were their guests and cotenants for that matter, in the ark for those 40 days and 40 nights.

Certainly, there is always some good, even in the worst situation as I have amply demonstrated above. If you see ‘some staff’ asking for ‘tips’, that does not give you the audacity to lump all staff together and put such a ridiculous tag on them because you are prosecuting a certain selfish agenda! Sustainable progress or personal achievement in any organization does not come by running others down in order to get you up.

In fact, it is a sign of weakness, insecurity, foolishness and childishness! This is just so dumb! In a publication in the Daily Graphic dated 8th March, 2019 titled “Tourism’s enemies: KIA’s beggars in uniform”, how can you so unprofessionally write that “I am one of the latest victims, actually not I, directly but a close relation who had not been to Ghana in more than a decade….” Rather than helping your case, the way you said it has exposed you so badly: “I am one of the latest victims, actually not I, directly…”.

This totally negates the whole assertion that you have made. In just a single breath, you claim you are the victim, then you change over so quickly and cunningly to say it is rather a close relation? It makes nonsense all the claims that have been churned out there to deceive the unsuspecting public. It is apparent that the writer is at war with their conscience, knowing deeply that what is being reported and written is false or at best, overexaggerated and skewed to favour their paymasters and yet, their carnal mind is defying the truth by marring the reputation of these gallant officers who work tirelessly in making the country a safe haven for you to live, work and enjoy with your loved ones. So absurd!

Now, look at an even more disgraceful reportage in the very first paragraph “They all have cars, own a plot of land and either own a house or have building projects that are at various stages of completion”. Who, in their right senses would think and talk like that, except for selfish, parochial interests? The question is: doesn’t an officer working and being paid salary have the right or deserve to live providently, live the principles of thrift and living within one’s means, and so on, which would automatically lead to a culture of saving and planning for their future and that of their families?

Is this not abundantly clear that there are sinister minds and hands amongst the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) and the Ghana Airports Company Limited (GACL), who are diligently seeking to drag the reputation of officers in the mud? If you are jealous of their progress in life, why not rather humble yourselves and be taught the principles of success and progress in life, instead of making useless, baseless accusations for selfish gains? Therefore, my point is this: yes, there is bound to be the occurrence of some officers receiving tips from travelers (whether requested for or received without asking for), but I also know that many travelers willingly give these tips to the officers.

By the way, what is wrong with receiving tips? And just in case you have never heard this, giving and receiving tips in the USA, Europe and other countries is very normal! In the USA, "Tips are a big part of compensation for waiters and waitresses, who average $12 to $17 an hour in tips compared with $4 to $5 an hour in wages, according to the National Restaurant Association. Those are median figures, so servers at busy or upper-end restaurants can do much better."

Further, we learn that, "In a few nations, including Canada, Mexico and India, tips are expected. In many European nations, service is included in your restaurant bill. If so, there wouldn't be an obligation to pay more, though some customers still leave small, single-digit tipping percentages. (Tipping also can make sense for activities like carrying luggage)."

"In still other nations such as Australia, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Brazil and Japan, tipping isn't common. That's also true of China, except for tipping tour guides, which is expected." From the above, one can see that tipping is widely accepted worldwide and interestingly, in some cultures or restaurants or in the delivery of certain services, it is almost compulsory to tip!

I suggest that before you condemn, criticise, seek to disgrace or destroy someone's hard-earned reputation, think twice. Ask yourself, would I feel good if same was done to me? When you jealously guard what belongs to your neighbour, you invariably have yours protected too; therefore, good comes to us when we do good to others. And of course, we can wholly agree with Marcus Antonius that “the evil that men do lives after them”.

May I also suggest that you amend your ways, and in doing so, repair the wrong that you have done by retracting and apologizing to the KIA staff whom you have wrongfully incriminated and convicted in the court of your opinion, where your paymasters are the panel of judges. And just in case you think we are novices, we know about your facilitation and enticement white-enveloped packages dubbed “soli”.

Stop collecting “soli”, stop selling your consciences and report facts that will help build mother Ghana. Let us help to build strong institutions by whatever legitimate means that we can, including reporting only facts and let us remember that it is just one Ghana that we have. Remember also, as journalists (armature or professional) to be guided by the ethics of your profession as the "4th estate of the realm" since your magic-wand power can either make this nation stronger or crash it into oblivion. Perhaps, the counsel in the book of Proverbs in the Holy Bible about information management is apt:

"27 He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit. 28 Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding" NB: The last time I checked the definition of “Extortion” is the practice of obtaining something, especially money, through force or threat A word to the wise, is enough. I rest my case!


1. https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/eva-ramon-gallegos-hpv/

2. The Holy Bible, Authorized King James Version, Genesis 19:12-30

3. The Holy Bible, Authorized King James Version, Genesis 7:1-24

4. Daily Graphic publication on 8th March, 2019 titled “Tourism’s enemies: KIA’s beggars in uniform”

5. https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.usatoday.com/amp/71137254

6. William Shakespeare’s Julius Caeser (Antonius’ speech while addressing the crowd of Romans after Caesar’s murder)

7. The Holy Bible, Authorized King James Version, Proverbs 17:27-28

Columnist: Kofi Bediako Jnr

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