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Feature Article of Thursday, 17 May 2012

Columnist: Oduro, E. K.

Sometimes In April : Saving Ghana From Bigotry

When bigots open their mouths, their words have meaning. They purposely pick words that denigrate, inflame passions and marginalize others of a different ethnicity, sexual orientation or religion. They use un provoked passion and stereotypes to enhance their bogus arguments. By now some of you might know where im heading and who im referring to. “Honorable” Ken Agyapong, the self proclaimed millionaire. His comments made sometimes in April were calculated, slanderous and borderline treasonous. They were meant to appease a constituency for which he cares for by insulting one he does not respect. With one callous statement, this man threw the whole nation into a frenzy. As much as I wholeheartedly favor free speech, we need to recognize freedom comes with some constraints and responsibilities.

America, a nation know for its ideals and tolerance for freedom of speech even has some limits. Try yelling out a false alarm of fire and you will definitely see some jail time. Back to the topic of this article. “Sometimes in April”. This might sound familiar to those who have seen the Idris Elba starred movie. This movie is a historical account of the events leading to the Rwandan genocides and its toll on the citizenry. Leading to the horrific slaughter of innocent Tutsis, Hutsis and Tutsis had coexisted recognizing and appreciating their individual customs. It took a bigoted radio personality to flame passions “declaring war” on the tutsis. The call for this ethnic cleansing might have been ignored at the time. These comments were seen as some misguided pronouncements from an uninfluential radio DJ. The rest is history. With the proliferation of media and easy access to information, our leaders need to be very careful about their sayings. Ghanaians and especially our so called leaders need to at least learn from history else we are doomed to repeat it. Words are very powerful. They can hurt and can heal. Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that what happened in Rwanda cannot happen in Ghana. Anyone with some functioning brain cells knows of the volatility of our ethnic coexistence. Some ethnic groups in Ghana has always been maligned and discriminated against.

Ken Agyapong is currently the most prominent in the sea of ugly faces of ethnocentrism. But we should not lose focus of the bigger picture. A picture of constant personal insults on former presidents and their families. A picture of continuous lies being told about opponents of one’s political ideals. Both sides of the Ghanaian political spectrum keep denigrating one another and rarely discuss issues that might benefit the local Ghanaians. Listening to debates on radios is like going to the school park to witness two 4th grade girls hollering insults at each other. Spokesmen from the NDC continuously throw personal attacks against Prez. Kuffor and vice versa on Prez. Rawlings. Our political debate has been reduced to primary school issues. Big issues are left at the back burner. This is the sad state of affairs in Ghana. Ghana is gradually declining into an animal farm. Our institutions are the most incompetent ever witnessed. Someone please explain to me how Woyome was able to allegedly swindle a whole nation in millions of dollars. Please explain to me how a whole attorney general’s office and it’s prosecutors could not figure out the right charges to level against Ken Agyapong. Someone please tell me why the copyright administration granted Nana Konadu’s request to copyright a whole party’s logo, knowing full well this logo has been used for almost two decades. Did he even make a phone call to a party leader before granting such a request. It is embarrassing. And Nana Konadu Oh please don’t get me started. What a disgrace. Such a sore loser. I really don’t know if her actions is being done vicariously for Rawlings or she is just so power thirsty and arrogant she is willing to take down the whole party with her. I plead with NPP fans to not celebrate the potential downfall of NDC. The last thing we need is a weak opposition. For the first time in my life, i’m beginning to question the authenticity of the Rawlings ideals of probity and accountability. The ideals of social justice which appealed to so many young people inspired by the charismatic Rawlings is beginning to seem like a fallacy. The ideals I unapologetically argued for against the stance of my family and friends. I have never witnessed a contentious primary fight between then Sen. Obama and the Clintons. But what do we see now? A team of rivals whereby these once nasty opponents have become each others advocates. The Rawlings’ especially the Mrs. is suffering from what has always brought down great leaders since good old greek days : HUBRIS. Can someone please tell Mrs. Rawlings her party is bigger than her. Ghana is bigger than her. For christ’s sake Makola is bigger than her. But I digress.

Back to our dear millionaire Ken Agyapong. I do believe bigotry exposed is preferable to bigotry hidden. In the history of our nation, we have seen and named the ugly demons of division. We have always had the better angels amongst us stepping in and saving the day. With all our elder statements soiling themselves in this childish nonsense, where are these angels? For former president Kuffour to claim the government “is killing a housefly with a sledgehammer” is totally ridiculous. Even more disappointing is a sitting vice president responding to such nonsense. The back and forth shenanigans by these leaders says a lot about where our democracy is heading. The brutal and mindless acts of the Hutus were not committed by some aliens on the star trek. They were committed by neighbors, friends, school mates and some times painfully families. The people we admired most. They were provocated by cowards the likes of Ken Agyapong and these party spokesmen who hide behind the safety of the microphone and declare wars. He is nothing but a fanatical extremist who wont stop at nothing in seeking power. Ken Agyapong’s utterance was made sometimes in April. I urge all Ghanaians to please learn from the history of “sometimes in April”. May God bless Ghana and the good people who reside in it.

E. K. Oduro (Albany NY, Ekoduro1@hotmail.com)

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