Feature Article of Thursday, 9 August 2012
Columnist: Berko, George
Of The Likes of a Certain Margaret Jackson and the Illogical, Dishonest and Inimical Handling of President Mills’ Death.
In response to an Article I submitted on the comments Professor Kwamena Ahwoi made to the effect that our late President Mills died because his opponents hounded him (Please see , “Ahwoi Should Stop This Nonsense Of Blaming Others”, August 2, 2012) one Margaret Jackson, a Contributor to the Ghanaweb.com forum, offered to take me to the cleaners with hers (Please, see Re: Ahwoi Should Stop This Nonsense Of Blaming Others” for August 4, 2012). But for the shocking realization of how shallow her analysis was of my piece, I would not have revisited the topic, and simply considered Ms. Jackson’s piece as a natural reaction to mine of someone who just has a different opinion, even with all the insults she unleashed. I am sufficiently democratic-minded and patient to tolerate such insults.
Nevertheless, with all her infantile vituperation, of the kind that have bedeviled our readership, and misdirected the purpose of this forum, notwithstanding, I am alarmed and saddened by Ms. Jackson’s deplorable depiction of crass vacuity, and her total disregard for honesty, if we are to expect such contributions to this forum to be helpful in our Nation-building.
For lack of time and space, I would like to dwell, simply and concisely, on the points that Ms. Jackson so easily missed. First off, my piece was not to deny that the late President was not intensely criticized by some who didn’t agree with his style of governance. Rather, my piece was to refute the claim that it was the criticisms that killed the President. Additionally, in my piece, I intended to point out that such a claim did more harm than good to the late President’s image because it portrayed the late President as being a mental softie who could not withstand the rigors of the Office he occupied. Furthermore, on the preponderance theme of her piece that sought to affirm the notion that the late President died because of ‘hounding’ by opponents, I would like to ask Margaret Jackson if she certainly knows the President’s Cancer that his Doctors had diagnosed for long was caused by the stress from the ‘hounding’.
Not only did Margaret Jackson miss the core relevance of my Article but she also exposed herself as only willing to defend the fallacious aura of infallibility and megalomaniacal inflation of eminence of the erring Professor and others in his league. I would like to explain my position, again, in much simpler terms, here, for Ms. Jackson to have a better chance understanding where I am coming from. Let me remind Ms. Jackson, also, that the fact that a prominent NDC leader or sympathizer makes some outrageous claim against non-NDC folks does not necessarily make what was claimed a Gospel truth; and the fact that some NPP leader would make similar claims against non-NPP folks does not necessarily make the object of claim a Gospel truth. Truth is not about personalities. It is the intrinsic value of verity, mostly provable, in every issue.
Therefore, if President John Mahama appealed to the family of the late President Mills to forgive those fellow Citizens who ‘hounded’ the late President, it does not establish the fact that it is the ‘hounding’ that killed him, as Margaret Jackson and her coterie of anarchists would have us believe. It is not because a person of President Mahama’s stature said it that makes the claim true, even though for many folks the degree of credulity in the claim would earn a higher ticker. Then, even a further examination reveals Mahama’s apology does not necessarily mean he shares the disingenuous, unproven claim that the ‘hounding’ killed his predecessor. One thing Ms. Jackson should humbly learn is that there are assertions that naturally don’t lend themselves to ambiguity or skepticism, and there are assertions that cause doubts to spontaneously erupt about them. If, say, someone claims to be hungry, and we have not just a moment or so ago seen the person eat, we may have little cause to doubt the person. On the other hand, if someone claimed that another person is hungry without adding that that information was, directly, sent by the one supposed to be hungry, we would have much ground to doubt the claim. As an intelligent democratic society, we ought to envisage that people would doubt and question authority. That’s not wishing the folks in authority dead.
One more thing must be clear to Margaret Jackson and her clique and that is all over the Globe, the Presidency in any Democratic country is expected to encounter relentless, massive criticisms not only from its political opponents but also from members of the President’s own Party, depending on the issues at stake. The characteristic nature of our Presidency is such that it must be able and willing to absorb high level of criticisms from its Population. Then, also, even on a more personal level, to set his or her Office apart as a model for tolerance in our national Politics, the President would have to countenance certain attacks that might be hovering around the brink of personal offense.
If any particular attacks on the Mills’ Presidency were unethical and unwarranted, the Office was very equipped to seek the appropriate redress via its many organs. The failure of the Presidency to employ those tools effectively to curb or deflect any undue criticisms would then be the fault of the subordinates who were in charge to do just that, including Professor Kwamena Ahwoi.
If Deputies in the Mills’ Administration, instead of keeping to intelligent and decorous explanation of the President’s position on issues, rather chose to trade insults with the Public, and arrogantly rubbish the concerns raised, one would assume they thought themselves and the Presidency tough enough to take on the sources of those criticisms in that caustic tenor. It is the ideal situation where all stakeholders employ the highest level of Civility in any country’s governance. But the reality is that not all Nations have that level of decorum amongst their Political entities, and we are one of those. This fact shouldn’t have been lost on the Margaret Jacksons of our Nation.
Could Margaret Jackson, honestly, before God, tell us if the Presidency is supposed to be a jolly-ride for the occupant without criticisms from the Citizens who see the promises made to them by the President unfulfilled? Has she known of any specific limits set on how we criticize our Presidents that opponents of the late President exceeded? With the growing tensions in our Tribal and Political relations not receiving the due attention from the Executive and the Parliament for so long, why would anyone even think the President was steadily fatally suffering from any Public reaction?
Next, would Margaret tell the whole World, under the oath of her own mortal existence, that only the late President Mills suffered any criticisms in his service to the Nation and as a Political leader in Ghana, or no other entity in contemporary Ghana Politics suffered as much vilification as the President endured?
If Margaret Jackson would be even the least candid that could sustain her belief that she knows who she is, she would realize that Nana Akufo-Addo and J.J. Rawlings have received avalanches of criticisms and insults from their opponents, more than the late President Mills received. So, if, hypothetically, any of these two Political leaders were to fall dead, (God forbid), even, say, in an accident, while we are still pounding them with criticisms, should we concede that it was our criticisms that killed them? It is so crude and almost primitive to ignore the obvious direct cause of a person’s demise and attribute it to some other remote, speculative, phantasmal cause.
I have long been worried about, and decried on various occasions, our widespread Traditional behavior of attributing almost every death to someone else’s spiritual death-wish invocation, even as we refuse autopsy. We seem to have chosen to ignore the very fundamental truth that Death is the inevitable end of Life that can happen via many, many factors, other than any unseen hands of Nature. It is characteristic of us who belong to the ‘old ways’ of living, steeped in the Ancient Traditions and beliefs, to overlook anything physically impinging on us, and blame our fate to some Spiritual entity or cause. Even if, say, our Coast were to be hit by a Sunami as occurred in Asia recently, we would have a bunch of old ladies to blame as the culprits who employed some witchcraft to taunt us. ‘Ebei’!! That phenomenon also explains why it is common to find among us some who would not even care to go to the Hospital to seek Medical care when facing dire Health problem, and either seek relief via some Spiritual medium, or blame their sickness on same. We often fail to admit our own physical inadequacies, and any harmful physical environment that might be directly responsible for our situation.
Luckily, our late President Mills was more progressive than that, and pursued Medical relief from the appropriate and real sources; we never heard him blame his sickness on anyone else. But the Margaret Jacksons and the Ahwois have shown to be of a different view. If the President never complained about criticisms killing him, why are these folks blaming his death on those criticisms? This erratic attribution of blame as the Margaret Jacksons and Ahwois are doing is only typical of those of us who always want someone else to blame for everything that has gone wrong in their World; that is indicative of a habit of passing the buck to someone else. These folks hate to be held accountable. They hate to admit their own mistakes. They hate to accept that we are all fallible and must take others’ advice seriously. They hate to be criticized, however constructively and deserving.
And a little idea to share on the spiritual side of living, no matter what our Faith is, our Religion is supposed to guide us live a fulfilled and useful physical life. However spiritually powerful we may see ourselves, or others, the truth is that we are limited in our Physical form as humans, and must pragmatically accept the physical Laws of Nature that govern the Universe. I am yet to encounter any knowledge of someone who has never reached out to consume Food as a physical item of nourishment but survived year in, year out in perpetuity, claiming some incomparable Spiritual purity. I am yet to hear of anyone who can never die physically. Even the Christian Messiah, Jesus, succumbed to physical Death, and believed to have resurrected only as a member of the tripartite Deity we refer to as the Holy Trinity.
We would therefore be fooling ourselves to ignore the very physical vulnerability of our Humanness, and always look elsewhere for the cause of our failings. Even if there is an external factor that facilitates or accelerates our condition, it is always something immediately vulnerable that causes our eventual Health depreciation and even Death. So, to those insinuating the possible role of Juju in contributing to the President’s death, I ‘d advise you to not fall in line with the likes of Margaret Jackson. Juju might work on those who believe in it. Maybe Margaret Jackson has some voodoo idol smeared with the blood of some poor fowls in her chamber that she believes has the powers to end others’ lives, too. Hence, she is easily taken in by the notion that something else other than, disease, say, Malaria or Cancer might have killed someone.
If disingenuous Margaret Jackson and Professor Ahwoi knew that the ‘hounding’ of the President was going to kill him, again, what did they do to save his life? I did categorically accord the late President an honorable tribute by not accepting the premise of Mr. Ahwoi’s claim that his death was the result of others’ persistent criticisms of him. For me, accepting that claim would have implied the President was too mentally and physically weak to do his job--something the President himself and his staff had vehemently rejected all along, for very long. My piece rather imputed to the late President’s continuation at his job to the very end a courageous, most patriotic sacrifice. I showed the President as a non-quitter, who intended to give all his best to his last breath. What else would Margaret Jackson rather expect of me? Did she want me to, blindly and vacuously, follow the misplaced quest for sympathy from President Mills’ death to boost the NDC possible vote-count at the expense of the President’s image? If the NDC shallow thinkers like Margaret Jackson would want to solicit the sympathies of the less informed Masses among us, for the purpose of winning sympathy votes for the General Election, that may well work for them, but that would do an irreparable damage to the Global image of our late President, and undermine any claims to his effectiveness. If sympathy votes would be forthcoming at all for the NDC and deemed okay, I think it is just too early to manipulate the President’s death for that end, while he is yet to be interred.
I stand my grounds in refuting the ‘hounding’ proposition, by which I, also, intend to show that the Presidency is not some absolute Monarchy in which folks ascending the throne would have to expect that they would be insulated from criticisms, and the daily barrage of complaints from the Citizens. If Margaret Jackson does not accept that reality, then she is surely clueless as to what our Democracy requires of us. It is obvious that Margaret Jackson, in her piece, didn’t even care as much about the reputation of the late President as my criticism of Professor Ahwoi. But I would like to point out that my piece was not necessarily about any particular personalities, but rather of how people like Margaret could construe our Democracy to be and in the process destroy the good name of others.
Given that all along the NDC and the Ahwois had been leading us to believe that President Mills was in extremely good health why can’t Margaret see that my rejection of the ‘hounding’ b**l-crap of attribution to the Presidents’ death even helps to augment their position? Why then would this Margaret Jackson be on my case for doing her and her cohorts a service? It seems Margaret Jackson suffers from some neurosis of deductive reasoning capacity, and I would empathize with her but not excuse her erroneous conclusions.
If anyone else comes to occupy the Presidency and receives as high level of criticism as the late President received but does not die, should we then cite for comparison that he or she has stronger fortitude than the late President had? Is Margaret Jackson inviting us to use endurance and survival in the face of such high-level criticisms at the Presidency to measure the performance of our Presidents?
I made a candid remark in my piece to acknowledge how a weakened physical condition could be further stressed by incessant barrage of criticisms. But the criticisms alone could hardly be the cause of Death in that period of time as our late President reigned. No adult with a mature sense of appreciation of issues, and not under any spell of hallucinations, either by imbibing some drug or alcohol, or consumed by emotions, would take umbrage with anyone telling that fact. I, unapologetically, reject the notion that it is the criticisms that killed President Mills. So, for all I care, Margaret Jackson can go burn the Sea, if she does not want to accept the truth. Margaret Jackson cannot silence me, or anyone who intends to tell the truth.
We, as Ghanaians, have been very unkind in leveling our criticisms at our Political leaders, lately. But our Political leaders have been even more cruel to our Citizenry by persisting much longer in refined and unprecedented high level of Corruption that the Population is reacting to. It was, therefore, not the late President alone that was at the receiving end of the People’s outrage. In fact, if criticisms could kill as easily and quickly as Margaret Jackson and her minions would have us believe, Nana Akufo-Addo and former President J.J. Rawlings would have long been dead.
So, if Margaret Jackson really cares about the Legacy of the late President Mills, she better take some lessons in Logic and grow to appreciate the fact that it is better to have her favorite Presidents be remembered not for their shortfalls, but for their strengths and accomplishments. For a memorable example, I would like to cite the case of former President Clinton of USA. If people were to remember his personal faults alone, he may, most likely, be seen as one of the worst Presidents of that great country, having been impeached on his moral failings. However, when he left Office, the record of achievements he had left behind was so compellingly positive that his reputation all over the World soared.
Therefore, Margaret Jackson, or whoever you really are, assuming this name is only a pseudonym, here, I come, again. And I’d reiterate that don’t let us remember the late President, John Evans Atta Mills, as the President who could not survive the criticisms that were leveled at his Office and succumbed to Death in consequence, but rather as a Patriotic President who in spite of his Health challenges held on to contribute his best to his last breath. If you have any depth to your logic vectoring, you’d not argue with that.
And, by the way, I don’t contribute to this forum for any ‘five cent’ fame, as you put it. I come to this forum to share ideas and learn from those who have better ones teach us, --and of course, to find out if we still have among us such dimwits like you whom we need to pray for, and admonish to humble themselves to learn, too, for the sake of our Nation’s growth.
Long Live Ghana!!