Feature Article of Monday, 20 August 2012
Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame
By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Prof. Kwame Karikari and his Media Foundation for West Africa’s program of closely monitoring the use of abusive language in the grammar of Ghanaian political culture, in a bid to ensuring a drastic reduction in the public use of indecent language, could not be more laudable (See “It is Annoying to be Insulted by People Paid with Our Taxes” Ghanaweb.com 8/14/12).
The problem with this kind of indecent-language policing is the predictable tendency of monitors to easily ignore the use of “idiomatic” or “nuanced” insult, such as was used by Transitional-President John Dramani Mahama in the wake of his selection of Mr. Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, the former Governor of the Bank of Ghana, as his vice-president, in the wake of the tragic passing of President John Evans Atta-Mills and the constitutional elevation of Mr. Mahama to the status of substantive president of our Republic.
On the preceding occasion, Mr. Mahama cynically observed, albeit in jest, that he was the first “Ghanaian” – meaning, one born after modern Ghana’s declaration of sovereignty in 1957 – to be named President of the country’s Fourth Republic. Mr. Mahama then went on to further observe that Divine Providence had deemed it meed – or fitting – to initiate the salutary process of a “paradigm-shift,” one in which the reins of governance was being healthily passed on from an aging generation to a younger and more vibrant generation. And on the latter score, it needs to be pointed out that the life-expectancy for the average Ghanaian is 56 years old. What this means is that the 54-year-old Mr. Mahama is no more youthful than the political opponents and rivals whom he so cavalierly presumes to be mocking.
Needless to say, the foregoing observations were insulting on more than several levels, absolutely none of which either redounded to the benefit of the observer or was redemptive of his hitherto unsavory image as a smooth-operating political opportunist and a hypocrite. For starters, in seeming to be joyously celebrating the occasion of his accession to the presidency, following the tragic and – to many Ghanaians – shocking expiration of President Mills, forced the critical thinker to wonder whether, in fact, the now-President Mahama had not had any hand – obliquely or directly – in the allegedly mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of his predecessor.
Then, there was also the equally damning suggestion that, somehow, the Fourth-Republican Ghana of Election 2012 had absolutely no place, whatsoever, for the active and meaningful participation of Ghanaian citizens and politicians born prior to the country’s declaration of independence in 1957. Needless to say, the fact that Mr. Mahama had evidently and brazenly defied the edict of Divine Providence, by his own action bordering on the selection of his arch-lieutenant, does in no way mitigate the fact of his having summarily proscribed the political relevance of Ghanaians older than himself.
The preceding is what American civil libertarians call “Ageism,” or discrimination on the basis of temporal advancement or old age. And in the real world, death has been universally known to be no discriminator where age is concerned. For instance, the stark and disturbing fact that the infant mortality rate in Ghana is unacceptably high does not vindicate the clearly warped logic of Mahama. Nor has a relatively youthful age, such as Mr. Mahama slyly alluded to, been known to be an automatic substitute for intelligence, common sense, wisdom and foresight.
Ultimately, what is most significant, heading into Election 2012, is the need for Ghanaian voters to vividly bear in mind that barely two or three weeks before the death of President Mills, the now-President Mahama was very busy touring the United States and fervidly promoting his book titled “My First Coup Détat,” and smilingly pretending as if all was well and hunky-dory with the Republic of Ghana when, in fact, the man now spoiling for the mandate of Ghanaian voters had always been aware of the fact that the country was being run on automatic pilot by a president who was, literally, rigged up on life-support by his very trusted lieutenants who rather preferred the rigid pursuit of political mendacity to that of honesty and moral integrity.
Meanwhile, Ghanaians were being viciously and savagely creamed and stiffed by the Mills-Mahama posse with reckless abandon – these days, they euphemistically call it JUDGMENT-DEBT.
*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is Director of The Sintim-Aboagye Center for Politics and Culture and author of “Dr. J. B. Danquah: Architect of Modern Ghana” (iUniverse.com, 2005). E-mail: [email protected] ###