By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
Thursday, July 11, 2013
The evergreen William Shakespeare reminds us that in this life, “some (people) are born great; others achieve greatness; and some have greatness thrust upon them”. I don’t doubt the wisdom in Shakespeare’s maxim because it clearly reveals some intriguing aspects of our human existence.
The NPP’s Maxwell Kofi Jumah, popularly called “Kofi Ghana”, says he wants to become a hero. Which of the three pathways (as revealed by Shakespeare) is his? Was he born great? Will he achieve greatness? Or will he have greatness thrust upon him? How? In his own words, he wants to become a HERO (that is, to be great) on account of confronting the government of the day and being imprisoned for it. Thus, he wants to use the route of an ex-convict to achieve heroism. A very cheap and nonsensical shot; not so?
According to him, “all those who suffered political persecution (such as Kweku Baako Jnr., Kwesi Pratt Jnr., and lately, Kenneth Agyei Kuranchie) suddenly became heroes after they were released from jail”. (See http://politics.myjoyonline.com/pages/news/201307/109289.php).
He said he was disappointed that his quest to become an ex-convict on many occasions did not materialize. He said he has made several but unsuccessful attempts to have himself arrested and jailed by the current administration.
Speaking on Badwam on Adom TV Thursday July 11, 2013, Kofi Jumah confessed how he tried on countless occasions to provoke the current administration by accusing them of doing things wrongly with the hope of being arrested so he can grab media attention.
We note that Kofi Jumah is a former NPP Member of Parliament for the Asokwa Constituency in Kumasi and a former Metropolitan Chief Executive of Kumasi, the Ashanti Regional capital city.
I repeat that some (people) are born great, others achieve greatness; and some have greatness thrust upon them. Which of these three gateways to fame and heroism fits into Kofi Jumah’s aspirations? None!! So, what is heroism to him? What will his grabbing media attention as an ex-convict add to the life of the ordinary Ghanaian?
Of course, we acknowledge the historical accounts of politicians and nationalists who rose to fame on account of their being incarcerated by the powers-that-be. Our own country has its “The Big Six” and the circumstances surrounding Jerry John Rawlings’ rise to power as testimonies of what imprisonment for political purposes can lead to. But there is more to the issue than what Kofi Jumah has revealed about his quests.
Over the years, especially since his fall from grace to grass, especially after his own constituents in the Asokwa area dumped him as their representative, Kofi Jumah has been wallowing in the gutter, occasionally surfacing to make stinking utterances that have irked many in the society.
His latest account of his aspirations points him out as a character to be pitied. The examples he cited as sources of inspiration also reveal how narrow-minded he could be. Let’s hear him again: “all those who suffered political persecution (such as Kweku Baako Jnr., Kwesi Pratt Jnr., and lately, Kenneth Agyei Kuranchie) suddenly became heroes after they were released from jail”.
A simple question: Whose heroes are Kweku Baako Jnr., Kwesi Pratt Jnr., and Kenneth Agyei Kuranchie? What is “heroic” about these people for them to celebrate or for the society to be proud of and cited for emulation as a means to advance the cause of national development?
If foolhardiness is the passport to heroism, we would all be heroes in our own small ways. But that is not the gateway to heroism. Heroes make themselves as such through feats that add value to society. Can anybody tell me what values the Kweku Baako Jnrs., Kwesi Pratt Jnrs., and Kenneth Kuranchies have added to our society?
First, we must separate the grain from the chaff. The grain, certainly, is the national ideals that should frame our consciousness and concept of heroism. Ghana has produced “heroes” in many fields of human endeavour and several can easily come to mind if recalled, be they in the military or other wings of the security services, sports, governance, or academia. There are even commendable citizens in other fields such as law, medicine, religion, private business and entrepreneurship, diplomacy, philanthropy, and many more.
Then, the chaff, which is nothing but what it is—a mere concentrated chaff—constituted by a stubborn desire to go out of one’s way to pair an ox with an elephant and expect the ox to overcome the elephant in the battle of nerves. Mere foolhardiness won’t ensure heroism.
I will explain. Both Kweku Baako Jnr. and Kwesi Pratt Jnr. were imprisoned for offences that bordered on political miscalculation. They took on the Rawlings government and suffered the consequences without registering any significant impact on the Ghanaian system. Kwaku Baako worked closely with Rawlings but fell out with him, turning himself into a loud-mouthed critic. Kwasi Pratt was working at the Ministry of Information in the early 1980s and stepped on big toes with his unguarded utterances—and suffered for it.
Of course, I don’t discount the bravado that spurred them on to do what they chose to do when all others were wary of the “culture of silence” obtaining in the country at the time. But what did they achieve in the end? Little drops of water in a mighty ocean won’t make any difference.
Today, both are known as ubiquitous political commentators pre-occupied with daily noise-making on the airwaves, taking on tasks of social and political commentary that they do with unprecedented alacrity for personal aggrandizement. They are predictable—for all that they are and do. No significant impact on the system through such self-serving escapades on radio and their own newspapers—or given publicity elsewhere.
Kweku Baako’s indiscriminate and dogged support for the NPP (even though he still claims to be an Nkrumahist) and all that he did under the Kufuor government to sustain his public image is known. Allowing himself to be used to undercut Rawlings and political opponents through his so-called “journalism practice” stands out as a sore point about him. That is the more reason why he is all over the place, supporting, praising, and defending the NPP’s cause, even in the face of clear evidence to the contrary. No more, no less. Is this person a hero?
Kwasi Pratt Jnr. has also been playing the role of a daredevil for many years now, drawing particular attention to himself through his CJA, the pressure group that was a thorn in the flesh of the Kufuor administration. Then, when the late President Mills took over the administration of the country, Kwasi Pratt turned himself into a big ostrich, burying his head in the sand of “see no evil; speak no evil; hear no evil”. Praise-singing took over and has been so till then, despite his occasional outbursts against what he thinks is not being done well by the Mahama-led administration. Who doesn’t know where his bread is buttered? Is this a hero to emulate?
Now, to Ken Kuranchie. Will any sane person celebrate Kuranchie as a hero for infringing the law on criminal contempt (of court) and promoting indiscipline? What for? Why should any sane person support Kuranchie in his dangerous effort to undermine the integrity of the Supreme Court under the guise of freedom of speech? And this person is a hero for Kofi Jumah to aim at outdoing through imprisonment?
In my many years on this troubled, sickened planet, I have not heard that anybody can achieve the status of a hero through foolhardiness or running a fool’s errand as Kofi Jumah has proposed.
There is nothing surprising for a human being to aspire to become a HERO. After all, heroes are admirable on the basis of what might have shot them to that status in life or in death. But for Kofi Jumah, the choice of instrument for becoming a hero is as strange as his fluffing and flapping around like a headless chicken.
To choose imprisonment as route for heroism in Ghana in contemporary times is the height of madness. Heroes are relevant when the times demand them. And they are more worthy and acclaimed if the act of heroism adds value to the society. Ghana already has too many “heroes” to want to add a Kofi Jumah to the list.
More importantly, could Kofi Jumah not have chosen to become a hero when he was an MP and the MCE for Kumasi? Why couldn’t he use those opportunities to serve society to shoot himself into public reckoning as a hero instead of descending into imprisonment on the basis of an ill-thought-of political move? Is this man really aware of where he is? With characters such as Kofi Jumah, I am not surprised that developing Ghana is more herculean a task than expected. The leadership crisis facing Ghana is not likely to be solved with the kind of mentality that obtains and is confirmed day-in-day-out by the posturing and utterances of public figures. Kofi Jumah is just an example.
As human beings, we are not only political and social beings but we are also gregarious for several reasons, the most important of which is to work together for the survival of our human race; and wherever human beings get together into a socio-political entity, they need leaders to direct their affairs.
Human societies hate being acephalous (headless). That is why leaders emerge to provide guidance, order, and inspiration to help human beings live their lives and separate themselves from other species in the lower kingdom. We are distinguishable from those lower-level animals also by how we think and do things. But we note that primates and other animals share similar attributes. But for what we are, we are expected to always do things to be ahead of them. That is why when some of us behave in ways that threaten to reduce us to the level of those “unthinking” living things, some of us cringe a lot.
Even in the kingdom of animals, heroism is based on accomplishments that endear the “accomplisher” to the hearts of his fellow group members. It is not too difficult to imagine acts that can spawn heroism among the animals. If you doubt it, just take some time off to observe animals in their elements.
Heroism is achieved through positive deeds, not negative ones or those that have negative consequences for society. Unfortunately, the Kofi Jumahs think and act otherwise. And with them in authority, we will remain doomed despite the abundant natural and human resources that our country boasts of. Disgusting!
I shall return…
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