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Feature Article of Saturday, 2 February 2013

Columnist: Ayaric, Ghanatta

Lithur, Daannaa and Their Opponents!

Nana Oye Lithur, Dr. Henry Seidu Daannaa and Their Opponents!

When it comes to same-sex issues and rights, most Ghanaians exhibit a rather hypocritical and an intolerant attitude and mindset. The constitution of Ghana states that “the dignity of all persons shall be inviolable”, Article 15 (I).). And the United Nations Charter which Ghana recognizes guarantees fundamental Human Rights for all people of our planet Earth, be they, black, brown, yellow, white, pink, Christian, Moslem, female, male, republican, democrat, liberal, heterosexual or homosexual!

What harm do lesbians and gays do to society, except to themselves if at all? Rapists, sexual perverts, and child molesters are most often heterosexual. What makes me, a heterosexual, think that I can intimidate and force a gay or lesbian to change his / her sexual preference and practice mine? And why fuss and curse a lady who believes in Human Rights, and ask for her rejection as a ministerial nominee, when she clearly states that she does not intend promoting homosexuality (which our laws forbid) but only seeks to protect the rights of gays and lesbians as human beings? Her position is too clear to be misunderstood. Is it a crime to believe in Human Rights, unless the opponents want to suggest that gays and lesbians are not human? They would be quick to say gays and lesbians are not “normal” human beings, but then turn round to preach that we are all God’s children. How interesting!
If anti same-sex Ghanaians believe in God, as they claim they do, they should not abhor and judge gays and lesbians but pray to God to help them desist from the "foreign" practice. And I guess those leading the anti-gay and lesbian campaign in Ghana “believe” in God and prayer, as seen in their titles and the increasing numbers of churches, pastors, congregations and prayer-camps in the country, not to mention other religions and forms of worship. If God does not listen to their prayers, they should leave the right to judge the so-called sexual deviants to The Almighty Himself, and He judges, as He did in the case of Sodom and Gomorrah in the Holy Bible. God also cautions against usurping His right and wisdom of judgement in the words, JUDGE NOT…!
How hypocritical! WE are not protesting that vehemently against bribery and corruption, which is killing the moral fabric of our society and holding back our socio-economic development, as WE are doing against same-sex practice!
WE are not protesting that loud against bad sanitation, filthy streets, waste-choked open gutters or the mountains of waste and rubbish in our cities, especially, as WE are doing against lesbians and gays and heterosexuals who support gay and lesbian rights!
WE are not protesting that resolutely against our pot-holed plagued roads, old and weak bridges, and the failure of successive governments to provide Ghanaians with adequate good drinking water and uninterrupted electricity supply, as WE should be doing!
WE see nothing wrong with our legislators taking very high salaries, allowances and undue privileges while the nurse, teacher, policeman or woman who works more gets far less in salary and incentives!
WE close our eyes to the high rate of unemployment among the youth and say nothing against the trap of despair in which young people are caught as a result of incompetence and sloppiness taking permanent seats in public office!
WE are not as loud on girlfriend and wife-beating, child abuse and the blatant discrimination against the physically handicapped and mentally disabled in our society, as WE should be!
The contents of some recent headlines on Ghanaweb are utterly shocking and disturbing! Chief Rejects Chieftaincy Minister (Ghanaweb/2013/01/02). A paramount chief in the Brong Ahafo Region is rejecting and calling for the rejection of the nomination of Dr. Henry Seidu Daannaa as Minister for Chieftaincy and Traditional Affairs on the grounds that Dr. Daannaa is visually impaired, asserting that it is “an abomination to choose a physically-challenged person to lead a chieftaincy institution….” The “sacred institution…” he thinks chieftaincy is deserves to be headed by “a person without any blemish” or whatever! The chief only came short of mentioning that Dr. Daannaa chose to be visually-impaired, or blinded himself à la Oedipus. Has Dr. Daannaa’s impairment hindered him in anyway except his inability to see with his physical eyes? If the former headmaster of Navrongo Secondary School, Mr. MacDonald, who admitted the young Daannaa as one of two blind students to his school in the seventies (1970) thought the way the paramount chief does today (2013), we can imagine the fate that would have befallen the nominee minister for Chieftaincy and Traditional Affairs. In fact, “the more eyes we have, the less we see”, as Ghanaian Reggae Star, Rocky Dawuni aptly puts the case in one of his songs, I’ll Try. The chief should look for the blemish in the chieftaincy institution itself than in Dr. Daannaa as Minister for Chieftaincy and Traditional Affairs! In which world and century are we living?
The same attitude is being exhibited with regard to the nomination of Nana Oye Lithur as Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection: Oye Lithur Is a Coward, Lacks Integrity, And Must Be Rejected, (Ghanaweb/2013/31/01). If standing up for Human Rights is cowardice, I am yet to understand the meaning of the word, and if anyone is to be rejected at all, then it is the reverend minister cum professor and his thinking. Another headline says Oye Lithur Should Not Head the Children’ Ministry (Ghanaweb/2013/01/02). This is simply paranoid, and conjures up images of the child-eating monster in children’s fiction books. The author of that article also came short of screaming out, Beware, President Mahama and vetting committee members! Oye Lithur will eat your children and all children in the country!
And listen to NUGS, a union that has always been associated with progressive thinking and ideas since its existence: Reject Lithur or Face Demo, (Ghanaweb/2013/31/01). Maybe our students just want to be heard, having been silent on many pertinent issues in the recent past, or they want to flatter themselves that they are “interested” in national affairs. How pitiful!
To think that young people, future leaders, and students for that matter who ought to be open-minded and tolerant find nothing else to criticize than join the bandwagon of retrogressive thinking on Human Rights is simply outrageous! They claim their main concern is protecting the “highly esteemed Ghanaian cultural values and customary laws.” How interesting! Honesty, hard work and compassion are esteemed universal values that are reflected in our culture and customs. How many times has NUGS come out to issue a statement condemning the looting, thievery and dishonesty going on in high and low places in Ghana? Where was NUGS when undercover journalist, Anas Ameyaw Anas, came out with the shocking report and pictures of bribery and corruption and shameless extortion going on at Tema Harbour, robbing the nation of tax money that could otherwise go into improving the quality of education, for example? What about the evidence Anas presented with regard to child abuse in Osu Children’s Home, or the “spirit children” murderers in Bongo? Did NUGS come out to register its displeasure in cases such as the humiliating violation of women’s rights by the Madina abortion “doctor”, or the human-trafficking of girls lured into slavery in Bahrain? And I guess worse things are still to be uncovered in these areas. The least said of the NUGS threat, the better. Suffice it to say it is, “…rebellion rushing down the wrong road, storm blowing down the wrong tree…the youth them just turn wild!”, to borrow the words of London-based British West Indian poet and musician, Linton Kwesi Johnson. Needless to mention that our students are yet to reach the intellectual maturity of a Nana Oye Lithur, and understand Human Rights! Are we looking for competence and commitment in the execution of public office, or factors which are secondary and do not in any way affect the person's output and efficiency? Would we rather have an anti-same sex activist cum public servant who “defends” our cultural heritage but is incompetent, corrupt and thieving? It is strange that we refuse to protest against the things that directly and negatively affect our body politic and general development as a nation, but would go to the roof top and shout and make a fuss over a practice that concerns only the individuals involved in it, and does no harm to anyone outside that group in any way. Are we claiming the right to judge these people, instead of leaving judgement to God?
The argument that homosexuality is alien to African societies is weak and escapist, a refusal to try to look, scientifically, into the practice and understand why people have that sexual preference. Just dismissing it as sinful or not normal is not enough. That would not stop its practice. And if in the past same-sex preference never come to light in Ghana or Africa the way it is today, it is because gays and lesbians have always been made to live in fear of reprisal from the "upright" in society, the clergy in particular, and a good number of the citizenry in general.
We must have learnt from experience that prohibition and violence against things we abhor never stop them from happening. Educating, showing understanding and tolerance, however hard, are the better alternatives!

Ghanatta Ayaric, Hamburg, Germany. Email: ghanattaa@gmail.com

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