Why I write on contemporary Ghanaian political issues

Tue, 15 Dec 2015 Source: Bokor, Michael J. K.

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Folks, ever since I discovered the power of writing, I have made it a cardinal point to add my voice to public discourse on issues affecting humanity. And I do so with much vigour, rhetorical violence, and determination. I have no regrets for pushing my conviction, regardless of whose ox I gore in the process. And I delight in doing so. To those who don’t know it, let me tell them that I have been writing commentaries on pertinent issues since my days at the Ghana News Agency in the 1980s. With time, I have broadened the scope, which is why I won’t be deterred by the vain words of those who consider me as a threat to their political quests. They had better shape up for more because the time is ripe for more writing to be done to unpack their agenda.

In writing opinion pieces, I seek to reach out to readers of varying backgrounds without attempting to bore them with the heavy scholarly humdrum that academic accomplishments entail. Readers of opinion pieces on everyday happenings have little or no regard for theories and propositions loaded with academic jargon and bombastic over-the-bar usages that make no sense to them. They just want to read what they can relate to and make meaning out of happenings influencing their lives. No need for jaw-breaking words commonly used in the 18th and 19th centuries or quaint usages drawn from the Roget’s Thesaurus. I don’t subscribe to that kind of language use or couching of ideas in over-burdening usages. Those who go that way are known. I believe in simplicity, which doesn’t detract in any way from my status.

Those benefiting from my writing are at ease and those hurt by it are chafing albeit fighting more with themselves than with me. And they can’t reach me with their clenched fists. Even if they do so, I am more than prepared for them. Their empty threats and insults won’t dissuade me from doing the yeoman’s job of taking them on for dissection.

As the Kenyan intellectual Ngugi wa Thi’ongo puts it, every writer is a writer in politics; and writing in politics entails ups-and-downs—fortunes and misfortunes. A good writer (a representative or a reflection of good public conscience and morale) should not fear anything and should be prepared to go either left or right. There is no centre (neutrality) here. As the late John Tetegah put it, if you are walking on the street in any city, you either walk on the left or right. If you walk in the middle, a car will knock you down. I have chosen a lane for myself and I walk there, commenting on issues as I deem fit, pandering to nobody.

Otherwise, political writing will lose its value. A writer either condemns or praises—and should be prepared for the consequences. A writer who praises on the basis of morality won’t fear the backlash, which is why many have stood up and braced themselves for the consequences of their writing. And they have emerged victorious. Those seeking to hide and seek end up not going anywhere beyond the spot in the circle that they circumscribe and turn into the fulcrum facilitating their gyration. An exercise in futility, one may describe it.

Those of us who have chosen to bare it all, declaring our dislike for the anathema that we consider to be Ghana’s political woe, have insisted on using our skills to facilitate public discourse on Ghana’s challenges. Those who hate how we write or the issues that we concentrate on wish we were dead; but we are not. Wishes are not horses for beggars to ride.

Why do I continue to write despite all the insults, empty threats, and mere puffs of intimidation? I am just resolute. I have a personal interest h ere too. As a teacher of writing, I know very well that “we write to learn”. So, whenever I write, I seek to learn from that effort, not only from the comments of readers but also from my own assessment of my product(s) at several levels, including language performance. And I don’t spend more than 30 minutes on any of the opinion pieces that I write. As I continue to write, I face new challenges to help me determine how to sharpen my skills, which I like. Practice will also ensure perfection; not so?

A few friends have questioned me on why I continue to write opinion pieces despite the scathing personal attacks by those who disagree with me on issues featuring in those pieces. I have responded by simply laughing everything off. I know what I am about and why I write the way I do. That’s part of me. I have a tough skin and won’t just budge or fold up just because those sworn not to see eye-to-eye with me are at my throat for saying what they hate to hear. I say it as it is, learning from the late South African political activist, Steve Biko, and his unwavering stance: I write what I like!!

Some have foolishly written wrong meanings into my writing to create the impression that I am being paid by the NDC or the Mahama-led administration to write as I do. Humbug!! If I needed any compensation for writing the way I do, I might be among the richest Ghanaians on earth, apparently because there is a lot to expose that will either scare those to be featured into paying me bounteously or whatever.

I challenge those people labelling me as a beneficiary of the Mahama-led administration’s “corruption” of writers like me to provide evidence. Otherwise, I consign them to the corps of lazy thinkers and trouble makers. I write what I like because I think beyond the narrow NDC-NPP trash can!! Before both were, Ghana had been and will continue to be after all those so-called NDC-NPP capos are dead and gone, written off as bad debts, especially after failing to move the country forward!!

Folks, I want to make my position clear on issues that feature in my opinion pieces. Although I have declared my unalloyed support for anything Nkrumah/Rawlings (and by extension, the late Atta Mills, John Dramani Mahama and all others to follow in the tradition), I am not a blind follower of just anything thereby. I have taken on the Nkrumahist/Rawlings factor for critical comment/condemnation if need be. That's me.

I often choose, pick, and comment on anything that piques my interest/curiosity, especially if that "anything" speaks to the cause in which I believe. Don't blame me for it because as a political animal (Aristotle recalled here for emphasis), I cannot stand aloof when major issues affecting life crop up. And as the good old Dante Alighieri puts it, the hottest place in hell is reserved for those who, while on earth, refused to participate in events/issues/discussions affecting humanity. I don't want to go to that place in the after-life and will be active in participating in such events/issues/discussions thr4ough my writings. And there is a lot to do.

For now, those in the NPP want to set Ghana ablaze because they think that their efforts at accomplishing their objective of returning to power are being thwarted by the political/electoral structures. What a massive waywardness!! And that is where I come in to take them on.

On the other hand, the NDC thinks that possibilities for solving the NPP's problems haven't yet been fully exhausted to warrant any recourse to violence and mayhem and that the EC must be given a free hand to handle affairs first. Meantime, the NDC administration is grappling with problems that defy solutions, which adds more fuel to the agitation for its mandate not to be removed. What else could be inviting for comment than these happenings? And why should I not sit up to air my views?

Why should I sit back unconcerned? I won't, which is why I am up on my feet the way I have been all this while. You must do so too if you have any interest in the country's well-being in the future. Democracy has its challenges that we must comprehend and tackle-—only if we are -up-and-doing, not sitting down to be spoon-fed with trash to serve the narrow, parochial, and selfish and damaging interests of those who think that they have a natural birth right to rule us. Aristocracy under a democracy? Dangerous crap!!

And we should make our voices heard so that when we pay our dues to Nature, we will be remembered by those we take to task in our opinion pieces. Whether it will be for good or bad is “our back case” (as my good friends will put it). But, at least, we will be remembered for making our presence felt in this troubled, sickened world.

We are bold people who fear nothing for our personal lives or whatever. We say it as it should be said and wait for those who want to strike first to make the faulty move. And they will end up being last. No amount of intimidation will deter us from doing what we have chosen to do. We will continue to write on pertinent issues and ensure that we are not left behind. Those who cannot cope with us can choose to con and conk themselves.

I am Michael J.K. Bokor; and I approve (of) this message.

• E-mail: mjbokor@yahoo.com

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Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.