When Will Ghanaian Politicians Grow Up?

Thu, 3 Mar 2011 Source: Baidoo, Philip Kobina

The first generation of Ghanaian politicians can be forgiven for the numerous verbal haemorrhages that set the tone for half century of national political discourse. Some of them were the real McCoy; incredibly larger than life characters. Others were simply ridiculous but colourful personalities with a penchant for wild statements, which some of them still causes a tingling sensation of laughter when it is picked up by a crack comedian even after 45 years when the administration was chased out of office through the barrel of the gun. It is just unfortunate that most of them, without any credible political experience behind them, were thrust unto the national scene literally overnight. Obviously, it is not surprising that as they journeyed through the virgin Ghanaian political wilderness they fumbled like a toddler learning how to walk.

At present we might be sitting at a vantage point with a huge dose of hindsight to judge them and ridicule them for the mistakes they did, however unpalatable, it is important for the health of our political future. It is Alexander Pope, the English poet laureate who wrote ‘to err is human to forgive is divine’. It is really a divine statement but it is also a consolation for the frailty of the human consciousness. It is a subtle preparation for the mind to open the doors to forgiveness, which is not bad philosophically, however, it contains within it the seed for the destruction of the state of perfection that we strive to achieve as human beings.

Most people frown from the idea of telling someone that you are wrong especially when they happen to be in the same camp. And it has its roots from the biblical statement ‘do not judge and you will not be judged’. This statement works fine when we live in an ideal world when the moral antennae of every Tom, Dick and Harry functions perfectly. But that is not the world we live in. We live in a world that people don’t even believe in the book that gave birth to these words. So it is up to us the living to impose the moral standards we share as a community and to absolve oneself of that is an abdication of moral responsibility. What I believe in is judge and be prepared to be judged and for this I am without reservation ready to stick my neck out.

Before I begin my tirade I will like to make it clear that I am not a member of NPP and neither do I share in their political aspiration. I am a political commentator and I comment for the interest of the nation not for any group of people. On the other hand, if you feel the sting of my pen don’t think that I am doing it to promote any party. Now my eyes nearly popped out when I read a piece posted at the ghanaweb captioned ‘Nkrumah should have short J B Danquah’. I was shocked to my bones and I wanted to believe that it was a statement written on a placard by hooligans on demonstration. But it wasn’t; it was made by Bernard Mornah, General Secretary of the People’s National Convention not in a private conversation but on prime time national television on the 45th anniversary of the overthrow of the first president of our beloved country.

Litres of ink have poured out of the pens of talented writers to analyse the bloodletting that transpired between Nkrumah and his detractors and I am not going to spend a minute to add to that. However, I will be burying my head in the sand like an ostrich if I keep quiet over this near juvenile tantrum outburst from a very respectable person in our society. Anybody who can deny the fact that our democracy is still crawling or perhaps, still on a life support machine is not only being realistic but in childish denial. Because if we have politicians spitting fire and venom like if they don’t win an election Ghana will turn into another Kenya during the last electoral campaign what sort of assurance can we draw from the process. It is dicey that is why I am not keeping silent over this.

Quite legitimately we all feel frustrated and wish we could live a decent life comparable to the West with respect to our abundant natural endowment. On the other hand, reality is a hard task master and we cannot escape from the choices our leaders made in the past. It will always hang on us like the sword of Damocles. It is not very comfortable and sometimes in our frustration we want to always blame somebody when even our sex life loses its zest. If after fifty years we look into the mirror and we don’t like what we see the problem is not anybody’s, it is a collective choice we made in the past based on the decisions carved from the beliefs, emotions, aspirations of our leaders leading up to independence and thereafter. It has poisoned our political life, which some of our thoughtless demagogues have exploited over the years to their own selfish interest without a single thought for the country. It saddens me that we still have some of these headless windbags around still causing havoc in our democratic process.

I am going to cite some few examples that do not need any serious introduction to juggle your memory regarding the history of this stupidity. One of Nkrumah’s ministers without portfolio said arrogantly that an idea that was being presented to him, irrespective of its obvious mileage, was not going to be accepted let alone implemented. It makes you want to laugh whether his conscience had fled when the person said that. Acheampong after being worn out by the effects of the 1973 oil shock and debilitating draught picked up a microphone and spewed his guts saying that everybody was blaming him for all the problems of the country and even when the rain was not falling he was being held responsible, which he felt was a bit unfair famously declaring ‘Acheampong Acheampong am I God that I should cause the rain to come down?’ He would have been pardoned, after all he was also frustrated but it was the comment that came after that when he did not realise that the microphone was still hot enough to pick up his comments that he thought he was making in private to one of his henchmen. ‘Do you realise that when I drink a little bit I do spew cabbage?’ He completely forgot the fact that nobody asked him to be the head of state. After the lost decade of Ghana’s political history entered the decade of Rawlings. The 1979 handing over of power to a civilian elected government after three months in power was an electrifying coup d’état, reminiscent of General Washington handing over power back to congress. It was a stroke of genius that dulled the senses of most Ghanaians, which threw most of us on the band wagon. However, I was flabbergasted when I heard the interview in which he was asked when he was going to hand over power? And he replied ‘To whom?’ The implication is beyond this roughly 1760 word article. Where Rawlings left off the baton was handed over to Adu Boahene in my chronology who famously declared: ‘We are taking our country back’ which when rendered in the dialect that he used carries a powerful connotation. He was oblivious of the fact that the country does not belong to anybody but just individual members in one large family.

For me all of these people can be forgiving for what they said but for a fresh crop of politician to be espousing violence 45 years after an event that most of us learned from the history books is abominable and needs to be repudiated. Violence does not achieve anything it only gives birth to more of its kind besides destruction. As I researched for this piece I read that John Boadu a leading member of NPP had already issued a stern warning to Mornah, which goes to reinforce what I have written above.

Whatever happened to Nkrumah is now part of our history. It is an integral part of our national consciousness, which 45 years on should be treated as a treasure trove to be cherished by the current generation and analysed intellectually for the benefit of the country. All that is still being debated and supping our energies dry is who did this and that. We still keep blaming the CIA and their collaborators for engineering the overthrow of the man. Now my question is did the CIA wield guns and march over dead bodies to overthrow Nkrumah or Kotoka, Afrifa and their lieutenants who kicked him out while a broad section of the population danced over his grave.

This sort of thinking and emotional outburst is not helpful to our democracy it belongs in the jungle. 50 years after independence and we still see our political opponents as mortal enemies. I strongly believe that this type of comments should be left for the knuckleheads and dregs of our society who live in backward villages that one has to cross seven rivers to reach not educated people who hold responsible positions like Bernard Mornah. On this momentous anniversary he could have just catalogued the man’s achievement for us to celebrate or tabled a question to give all of us a food for thought. For example, why was it that despite all his effort to move heaven and earth to better the lot of Ghanaians as he saw it fit, yet people hated him to the extent that they were prepared to risk their lives to get rid of him?

To conclude one might be tempted to condemn him as the ravings of a mind that has not matured beyond adolescence. Which I beg to disagree; he is simply filled with bitterness and sadly he wants the nation to vote for his party. What has he got to offer? They say from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. And all that his heart can offer is violence. It is incumbent on us, as we hold the fort, to dissect very carefully and critically all the choices we make now because they are going to reflect and impact on the future generation and 45 years from now a similar knucklehead will light a fuse to exploit a fragile situation. I therefore call on all Ghanaian who believe in the present and future of our democracy to join me in an outright condemnation of this fascist thug who should do the honourable gesture of resigning his post.

Philip Kobina Baidoo Jnr



Columnist: Baidoo, Philip Kobina