Opinions Wed, 30 Jul 2008

Re: John “50 Cents” Kufuor’s Alcohol-Induced Kasoa Baloney!

Like many Ghanaians domiciled in Ghana and overseas, I was shocked by the indecorous and repugnant verbiage found in an article published by a Nana Biakoye on Ghanaweb.com on July 26, 2008. Captioned “John ‘50 Cents’ Kufuor’s Alcohol-Induced Kasoa Baloney!” and written, most certainly, by a National Democratic Congress (NDC) sympathizer, the article contained such fetid and malodorous language that Ghanaweb.com should not have released it to the reading public. Now, some would argue that our fledgling democratic dispensation calls for unrestricted freedom of expression, but if one of the freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution of Ghana can be abused to this extent, then I am very worried about the unity, cohesiveness and commonalities intrinsically associated with the peace-loving people of Ghana ever since the British granted us political autonomy in 1957.

Paradoxically, the writer of the afore-referenced article had tagged President Kufuor with the nickname “50 Cents” (sic), in regards to the recent wastefulness of our scarce resources on a national awards ceremony, in which scores of Ghanaians and other foreigners were recognized for their contributions to Ghana’s ? and Africa’s ? march toward economic emancipation, among a plethora of other reasons. Nonetheless, to associate the president of the republic with the notorious American rapper, Curtis James Jackson III, also known as “50 Cent,” is truly an insult to the presidency and the highest office of the land.

I am not, in any shape of form, condoning the misuse of the nation’s scarce resources on procuring medals for an eclectic group of personalities who really did not deserve to be recognized, let alone given medals that the nation allegedly spent over a million dollars to obtain, but to demean the president this way depicts poor judgment on the part of the writer. Moreover, it is not true that the pejorative term “50 Cent” was first used by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) to describe John Kufuor, as the BBC’s Will Ross’s July 11, 2008, report clearly stated that it was a Ghanaian journalist in Accra who likened the Ghanaian president to the rapper 50 Cent!

A brief history of the man known as “50 Cent” shows that he was, by age 12, dealing drugs. And amidst a litany of his offenses at such an early age, Curtis Jackson III was once caught attempting to smuggle guns and drugs to his middle school, with his eventual arrest at age 19 for attempting to sell cocaine to an undercover New York police officer. That Curtis Jackson III eventually turned to rap music to gain economic emancipation is a fact, but he is still not without the occasional brushes with the law. Moreover, the fact that Curtis Jackson III adopted the nickname “50 Cent” from a criminal named Kelvin Darnell Martin ? the latter lost his life at age 23 as a result of a drive-by shooting, but not before he had allegedly murdered 45 people in his short but troubled life ? is not worth associating with the sitting president of our beloved nation. Of course, some would argue that the writer gave John Kufuor the nickname “50 Cent” because of the gold-plated medallion he received at the recent Awards ceremony, but such a line of reasoning does not excuse the writer’s poor judgment in employing wild accusations and tawdry language in his piece.

Now, let us get to the crux of the matter. Come December 2008, Ghana will have either John Atta-Mills or Nana Akufo-Addo as president, a fact that no one can deny. Of course, because of the polarization that is typically associated with politics, I expect Ghanaians to be on either side of this ideological divide, even as we head towards the climax of the various campaigns; but we must not forget that whoever wins Election 2008 would have to bring the country together quickly, in order to be able to govern peaceably. Our strong, albeit varying, affinities with different ideological persuasions should not turn us into such sworn enemies that we are ready, at a moment’s notice, to draw blood ? literally ? out of one another!

What justification does Nana Biakoye have to write the following: “…what is more of a curse than having a president who butchers the English language and talks a slot of [expletive]? …what is more of a curse than having a president who constantly has his head in between the thighs of his slutty concubines? …what is more of a curse than having a president who has his lips constantly glued to a whiskey glass? …what is more of a curse than having a president who dabbles in extreme forms of occultism and kills innocent Ghanaians so as to use their blood for rituals?”

A perfunctory analysis of the preceding statements reveals grave unsubstantiated allegations against the president of the republic; these tirades, rants and vituperations would have been impossible to instigate during the ignoble years of misrule by the Jerry Rawlings-led Provisional National Defense Council (PNDC). Nana Biakoye must surely consider himself fortunate in John Kufuor’s contemporary Ghana to be able to launch such invectives against a sitting president without the risk of disappearing in the middle of the night, never to be heard from again by relatives and close associates! As such, a morsel of circumspection on the part of Nana Biakoye ? and others who would come after him to condemn our national leaders ? would go a long way to extinguishing the embers of political tension in the country! Circumspection in the choice of our words is vital for our unity and cohesiveness, Nana Biakoye!

I am not arguing in my piece that this president ? and his administration ? does not have flaws. In fact, nepotism and tribalism have been on the ascendancy in recent times, with a disproportionately large number of the president’s “people” given important positions of authority in government, to the detriment of other groups. The re-appointment of Richard Anane to a ministerial post has, tragically, sliced away at the president’s credibility, as the president, by this singular action, has conveyed to Ghanaians that a certain level of notoriety and a narrowly defined ingeniousness ? not moral uprightness and dedication to public service ? are the attributes vital for holding high office in his administration. We need to address these imbalances and injustices in the system, but we should do so with respect for those we are admonishing. Admittedly, we can drag Kufuor and his cohorts to court if we are unhappy with the course of a governmental action that appears detrimental to the citizenry.

Let us learn to disagree decorously, as we are all Ghanaians with one purpose in mind: to advance our fledgling democracy and to give it the wings to fly until it is fully accentuated. Nana Biakoye, as a bona fide Ghanaian, not unlike the rest of us, has every right to question government policies and the general direction in which John Kufuor is taking the nation; but such questions must be accompanied by a salutary respect for the man the majority of the people have elected to the nation’s highest office. I call on ghanaweb.com and other pro-Ghanaian Internet portals to be circumspect in their decisions as to what is acceptable journalism, in order to spare us the downright perfidy as well as the assault on our collective sensibilities that these kinds of articles engender. If the occasional censorship will help regulate the forum ? and that applies to commentators as well ? then that is, unfortunately, what ought to be done! A thriving democracy is not an excuse to purvey unabashed balderdash!

The writer, Daniel K. Pryce, holds a master’s degree in public administration from George Mason University, U.S.A. He is a member of the national honor society for public affairs and administration in the U.S.A. He can be reached at dpryce@cox.net.

Columnist: Pryce, Daniel K.