By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
Friday, November 20, 2015
Folks, almost every Ghanaian Head of State is known for contributing something to the vocabulary feeding public discourse on governance. From the Great Osagyefo to John Evans Atta Mills, the records show that they have in one way or the other said something in a peculiar way to immortalize themselves thereby. Whatever they said might be politically motivated but cannot be dismissed as inconsequential. Some might be coinages or rehashed terminologies given new semantic twists for comic relief or serious political business. I leave you to dredge up some of those instances, even as I remind you of some momentous ones.
Dr. Busia’s “No Court, No Court” vituperation; Gen. Acheampong’s “Yen tua” vow or the “Kalabule” and “Fa wo to be gye Golf” syndrome; Rawlings’ “Anoma antoa, ogyina hor” miscue and “Hand over to whom” quip; Kufuor’s use of “patapaa” and “Sasabonsam” in direct reference to Rawlings’ manner of politicking and “Kufuor Gallon”; and Atta Mills’ “Dzi wo fie asem” retort to the NPP’s condemnation of him for not pushing Ghana into efforts to confront the Ivory Coast’s former leader (Laurent Gbagbo). There are many more, including the “Tweeeeeeeeeeaa” outburst by Gabriel Barima (Ahafo Ano South DCE). These expressions particularize Ghanaian politics as full of nonsense.
Don’t forget what the late Kwame Kwakye added to the equation:
Question: Are you the District Commissioner for Akim Oda?
Kwakye’s Answer: No, I am the D.C. (as if he didn't know that a D.C. was the short form of District Commissioner).
Question: Will you speak English or Twi?
Kwakye’s Answer: What? A man like me in suit, coat, tie over a pair of black shoes to speak Twi? I will SPOKE English!!
Yes, he would SPOKE English!! After all, hadn't the students of Abuakwa State College stricken, struck, or strokenken? Brofo ye dru ampa!!
But he did his work thoroughly as a local politician of the "Verandah Boys" ilk. The hard fact is that such a person entered political office by virtue of his own personal attributes, not that of legacy or any heirloom left for him by an accomplished relative. He rose by his own boot straps, challenging us, the less-privileged ones to do what we can with what we have where we are.
That humble origin is exactly what President Mahama represents; and as he told his critics, he was just a village boy who has risen to become Ghana's President. Even though his father is regarded as an accomplished politician, he left nothing for John Dramani Mahama to pick up in his quest to be what he is today. Unlike him, his detractors in the NPP (especially Akufo-Addo) can hang on to the legacy of their fathers to boast and crave for the Presidency as a birthright.
That is why they undervalue him as a Pepeni who should rather be weeding their cocoa farms or carrying their night soil instead of being in power as the fount of authority. That is why Freddie BVlay would say that if President Mahama were to be in the NPP, he won't become Ghana's President!! Folks, it is beyond nauseating at this point to face such a barrage of calumny. And so, when such opponents insult him anyhow, they set him up to react appropriately as he has done.
Folks, although these issues are just for the laughs in a somber reflection on the kind of discourse about Ghanaian politics, it does throw the searchlight on what is happening in our time today when certain groups of people use words anyhow to undermine others just for political expediency. Currently in vogue is the NPP and its political allies' tagging of President Mahama as "incompetent", something that has rankled him to roar back to them.
He won’t be left out. In responding to the constant haranguing by his opponents in the NPP tarnishing him as incompetent, he came up with a new tag to qualify the rogue politics of the NPP that will for long defy easy comprehension by his detractors. He simply told them that he won't respond to their "rabbit press conferences". Of course, his comment is a direct consequence of their annoying and querulous nature. But what is a “rabbit press conference”?
In circumscribing his reaction in the rabbit metaphor, President Mahama has left us scratching our heads. Why use the "rabbit" as a metaphor to ridicule the effusions of those detractors? Why no other animal but a rabbit, Mr. President? The riddle is thick here!
Do you remember one of Ghana's unsuccessful professional boxers called "Adanko Deka"? In Akan, "adanko" means "rabbit"; and "deka" means "owes" or "is indebted" (if not "in trouble"). Why this boxer chose that name still remains a mystery; but the truth is that his style of boxing was really awkward to the highest degree possible. And it didn't take long for him to be outpointed and forced out of contention. Adanko deka ampa!!
Folks, we all must know what a rabbit is---a harmless herbivore known for hopping, not walking or running as other quadrupeds (four-footed animals) do. It has its attributes. Perhaps, it is in the same category with the kangaroo but differs largely because of many peculiarities.
Here are some of its attributes. Both its fore and hind limbs are equal in size and alignment, unlike those of the kangaroo. The rabbit is harmless unlike the kangaroo that could be vicious. The rabbit procreates faster than the kangaroo and many other mammals and could win any award anywhere in that context.
And the rabbit gobbles its food quickly as its mouth quavers and its whiskers dance around to create a funny spectacle for sore eyes. But it is mostly known for its hopping and huge sexual appetite, leading to excessive reproduction within the shortest possible time.
There are other animals that hop as the rabbit and the kangaroo do. If hopping is their natural locomotive asset, who can begrudge them for using it? But why hop when walking, running, and flying are better opportunities to move around with ease and accuracy? Hopping constrains in many ways and exposes the hopper to danger. So, the rabbit (unlike the hare) has limitations here.
What baffles me, then, is why President Mahama would associate the NPP's constant effusions against him with this poor animal. What is it about the NPP people's talk-talk-talk that warrants their being equated to the rabbit?
If it has to do with awkwardness, then, the riddle may begin being untangled/unpacked for comprehension. And there is much awkwardness there!!
Will President Mahama do us the favour of unpacking this rabbit riddle as he used it in his political rhetoric? That will be a good counter-punch to deflate his detractors, even as they purpose in their hearts to persist in flagging him as incompetent.
Truly, our democracy is producing interesting vocabulary. From "dumsor" to "rabbit press conferences", we are getting somewhere!!
I shall return…
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