Re: 'colonial mentality' of public officials has cost many nations

Mon, 16 May 2016 Source: Kwarteng, Francis

President Mahama reportedly told his audience at a United Kingdom-held summit on corruption:

“Sometimes some public officers and members of the public who know what advice to give in the solution of a problem showed total indifference unless someone in high position intervened…”

Certainly, one is at pains to make sense out of this sanctimonious indictment of public officials and those members of the public—who admittedly knew better but instead chose to do and to behave otherwise—because the statement itself, afore-cited, gives an appearance of internal conflictual tense structure, as “know” in the first half of the sentence and “showed” in the remaining part of the sentence.

Of course we are not implying the sentence is technically “wrong” —per se.

What we are rather saying is that, the “absence” of tense connaturality in the afore-mentioned quote makes for some analytic difficulty, as it were in our opinion as lay students of the English language, in assigning a certain degree of imputative exegesis to what the president might actually be saying.

Or what he may have actually meant by his statement.

We are essentially looking at the logic of interpretation without necessarily paying homage or allegiance to any formal sense, or lack thereof, of tense connaturality. This conclusion therefore frees us from any heavy demands of exegetical and syntactic formality upon our targeted objectives for this essay, as would soon be made clear. To wit, we are as free to do as we wish.

Still, the seeming misaligned sense of tense connaturality in that sentential simplicity does not deny it [the sentence] any critical moments of subtextual meaningfulness and significance.

Rather, its subtext undertone demonstrates an appetizing and appealing moment of unambiguous clarity insofar as one reads the sentence critically.

That is to say, one easily identifiable rendering of President Mahama’s statement, when some present public officials and some members of the public supposedly demonstrated clear instances of indifference and insensitivity towards the pursuit of strategic and tactical objectives of the national enterprise in the past but, apparently, and probably, it does turn out that these same persons have somehow managed to divest themselves of this unacceptable, unappealing cast of unpatriotic political psychology for the betterment of the society in which they find themselves.

Yet we will never dare impute this line of thinking to President Mahama’s conceptual framology of “colonial mentality.” Fela Kuti’s song “Colonial Mentality” probably does a better interpretation job in our behalf. Here, listen to him:


“It is said you are a slave before…

“They have released you…

“But you have never released yourself…


“It is like this: It is like this what they do, they overdo everything they do…

“They think that they are better than their brothers. Is it not like this?...

“It is like this: The thing why blacks are not good because they like foreign things…

“Isn’t it like this? It is!...

“They will turn on the air-conditioning and forget their country…

“That judge will put on a white wig and jail his brothers…

“They become proud of their names, put their slave names at their heads…

“Colomentality, you should hear me now…

Well, President Mahama’s casual paraphrasic rendering of “colonial mentality” puts it as “the lackadaisical attitude of some public officials.”

Here is also what some web portals reportedly attribute to the president (our emphasis):

“He [President Mahama] told the leaders that many people in responsible positions still have the colonial mentality that public money belongs to Government and therefore could be used any how.”

This Orwellian richness of an extravagant language of public diplomacy belies the painful ironies of hypocritical contradictions which we so easily identify with President Mahama’s own government and public officials, even more so because this extravagant language was entirely missing in action in the brochures that accompanied the country’s most recent independence celebrations—causing the country serious if irreversible moments of international ignominy.

In other words, some of the behaviors of President Mahama himself and his government reflect the exact opposite of this school of thought, of interpretation—his speech, that is. An open truth of the matter is that all Ghanaian leaders, possibly with the notable exception of Kwame Nkrumah, have carried this Sisyphean cargo of “colonial mentality” or “colomentality” at one point or another.

But to continue to blame our continued underdevelopment on an invisible visible terminal cancer of “colonial mentality”—without considering the underlying impact of internal contributory factors on our underdevelopment—is the height of moral hypocrisy and stupidity, and to also imply that our “pre-colonial mentality” is morally sacrosanct is to shamelessly demonstrate a terminal psychological cancer of ahistoricism and more fundamentally, a lack of historical consciousness, of projection effectuation, helplessness, and intellectual laziness.

Yet we are also not stuck in a revolving-door dispensation of physical colonialism—though most of us unconsciously are at the stage of mental colonialism—though this is not to deny that our leaders including President Mahama and Akufo-Addo, to name but two, are not stuck in this unshakable context of a calcified colonial mindset.

Worse of all, though, is the fact that many Africans have carried the backbreaking weight of colonialism into the post-colonial stratosphere of our present existence.

Interestingly, we find a perfect display and philosophic symbolism of the “colonial mindset” in the anonymous woman Bob Marley sang about in “Pimper’s Paradise.” Here him:

“She love to party, have a good time…

“She looks so hearty, feeling fine…

“She loves to smoke, sometime shifting coke…

“She’ll be laughing when there ain’t no joke…

“She loves to model up in the latest fashion…

“Now she’s bluesing when there ain’t no blues…

“A pimper’s paradise: I’m sorry for the victim now…

“Pimper’s paradise: Don’t lose track…don’t lose track of yourself…

“Pimper’s paradise: Don’t be a stock, a stock on the shelf…

Yes, the African with “colomentality” lives in a “pimper’s paradise” where he has assumed the split personality of “a stock on a shelf” having lost track of himself.

That is, the African with “colomentality” has gone off tangent when it comes to the praxis of true Afrocentric social, political, moral and historical consciousness.

Then replace the phrases “Don’t lose track of yourself” and “Don’t be a stock on the shelf” with “none but ourselves can free our minds” and one has “Redemption Song.”

In the final analysis, then, President Mahama’s “someone in high position intervened” phrase smacks of rhetorical sophistication in the manner of his boundless capacity for demonstrating some degree of structural sophistication in the specific area of public communication.

In other words, he appears to be distancing himself from the massive cloud of political corruption beleaguering him and his government.

Thus, and perhaps, he is using his rhetorical authority to demonstrably convince his audience that his policy interventions have staved off some of the actions of political criminals in his government.

We can analogize this purely academic exercise on the part of the president to a peculiar language of a stolen metaphor, where the president is applying the technique of astral projection to make his moral case, a case in which the “soul” of his wobbly conscience departs the body politic of instinctive, unrepentant political criminals, by his comfortably perching on the summit of his self-made moral high ground and apologetically looking back on that body politic of instinctive, unrepentant political criminals.

Bishop Obinim and Apostle Kwadwo Safo are more than familiar and comfortably at home with this telltale tall anecdote on the political morality of astral projection, and how the concept is used to charm one’s unsuspecting audience.

It has never worked. And it will not work now. Our eyes are wide open now, and watching!

How much has this “colonial mentality of public officers” cost Ghana?

Please Mr. President, tell us!


On the question of the fight against corruption, it is prudent that we do not get entangled in the frozen battle against the canker—weighed against the hypocritical scale of political equalization.

This is to give more room to the creation of innovative “foolproof” methods and strategies for fighting corruption.

However, it is also undeniable that political equalization has its benefits too and therefore—its sporadic invocation in certain critical situations is and should be justifiably acceptable—equally prudent where it can usefully serve as a benchmark for gauging the effectiveness of bureaucratic performance.

Thus, we shall not cut President Mahama some slack across the board when he said the following:

“It is easy to say that there is more corruption in this regime than that regime; but where will comparison of regimes take us? It won’t take us anywhere.”

Of course, the substance of this bold statement is undeniably true when the benchmark is the Fourth Republic.

The Fourth Republic is a loud epoch of paralyzing impunity, of instinctive criminality or criminal recidivism of a purely political nature.

Using the Fourth Republic as a benchmark for gauging the fight against corruption means ending or minimizing corruption has and will have no end in sight.

Also, putting more systems in place to fight corruption and not allowing those systems to work, as a result of underhanded political interferences and interventions, will amount to practically nothing in the acts of criminalizing and prosecuting political corruption.

The fact of the matter is that we have too many anti-corruption laws on the books, yet corruption is on the ascendency in a way that is difficult to explain.

The Whistleblowers Amendment Bill or the Freedom of Information Bill (FOIB), whichever the correct name is, will not make a positive dent in the anti-corruption battles if the existing laws are not enforced.

Finally, it is not the number of existing anti-corruption laws per se that should serve as the antidote to or remedy for the canker. It is rather commitment to and uncompromising enforcement of those existing that makes the difference.

We cannot emphasize too much the importance of this statement.


The cardinal question of public corruption and the fight against it are not lazy questions for the emotional playfields of political partisanship and political football. They are a matter of life and death, major threats to the very existence of the nation-state.

This, therefore, calls for an affirmation of muscular executive authority and moral leadership in the exercise of presidential prerogatives, privileges and sagacity against unpatriotic actions on the part of members of the ruling class, and their aggregate translation into a serious, bold, powerful and teachable narrative statement of political corrective for minimizing corruption in the body politic.

In this case, the president’s commitment to fighting that social and political disease head-on falls far short of public expectation. More so his challenge to his critics, to provide evidence incriminating members of his cabinet allegedly involved in acts of political corruption so that he can “sanction” them is in order.

But the political or moral question of evidence in Ghana’s winner-takes-all duopolistic politics is rather subject to the automatic ownership of or possession by the highest bidder, the incumbent political party.

This is why the exposure of relatively significant number of corruption scandals seems to have originated with persons or group of persons either sympathetic to the NPP or opposed to President Mahama—for whatever reason(s)—and the direction the NDC is taking the country.

The so-called “create, loot and share” political capitalism of both parties, the NDC and the NPP, does not countenance or encourage patriotic exposure of political criminality by elements within the partisan perimeter of incumbency, hence an imperative need for strategic cover-ups of incumbent political crimes by any means necessary—by diabolical characters sympathetic to it [incumbency].

At best, anti-corruption battles are a cosmetic camouflage and at worst, the pervasiveness of political corruption is not real but a perception.

The government’s commitment to fighting corruption is a conveniently necessary weak one, one primarily dealing with the mere exposure of political crimes—for its own sake—whose source(s) is not usually traced to the NDC itself, whereas criminal prosecution of suspected political criminals becomes a political football of moral inaction and lip service.

This lackadaisical attitude of some public officials towards minimizing corruption tests the patience of moral and political activists. This “lackadaisical attitude of some public officials,” to borrow the president’s phraseology, fundamentally originates from within and not from without.

Let us also not forget that, in this age and time “colonial mentality” is elastically a personal or group choice.


Ghanaweb. “Colonial Mentality Of Public Officers Has Cost Many Nations.” May 13, 2016.

Ghanaweb. “Corruption: Stop Comparing And Leys Fight It—Mahama.” May 14, 2016.

Columnist: Kwarteng, Francis