Feature Article of Monday, 3 September 2012
Columnist: Adu, Kwasi
By Kwasi Adu
In the wake of the passing away of President John Evans Atta Mills, the NPP, their supporters, surrogate journalists and front associations, as well as others coming under the cloak of “professionalism” appear to be troubled by a bizarre state of mind which is making them carry themselves in a way that can only be described as perverse.
One is not sure whether their current demeanour is emanating from a struggle against some sense of guilt caused by the unexpected fulfillment of their years of wishing that President Mills should die, and his actual death. I recall several deliberate false alarms put about in those days, that the President was dead, in the wake of which the NPP and their supporters would be jubilating while their surrogate journalists and front associations would be asking “na President no wo hen? (in Twi, meaning “where is the President?”). At the same time, semi-detached high-ranking malcontents within the NDC were wont to feed into this sick behavior by stating variously that the President was blind or deaf or both. Even when the President revealed that he had a throat condition, they concluded that it was throat cancer. In order to justify their claims, NPP journalists would be put on a constant look-out to detect even the slightest change in the skin pigmentation of the President and would proceed to advertise that “look! the palms of the President have turned black”. The NPP could indeed be said to have been suffering from a destructive tendency. It was as if, for the NPP, and their new-found allies among the grumpy sections of the NDC leadership, the death of President Mills would guarantee a win for them at the next elections.
Now that the President is actually dead, their behavior has changed into what could be described as faking care and devotion for the well-being of the deceased President. Indeed, they pretend to be crying louder than the bereaved. They started by asking “why were we not told that he was sick?”. Then they asked, “how did he die?”. Some of them even go further to speculate that the deceased President might have been poisoned. While some of them claimed that the President was sent to hospital in the back of a pick-up vehicle, others swore that they saw the President being transported to hospital in a small utility vehicle, drenched in blood, with no nurse or dispatch riders in attendance. And what about the funeral arrangements? They claimed that the President’s coffin cost a whopping US$70,000. What imp could be propelling them to be making such mischief?
Armed with this strange posture, they then place themselves in a position in which they think they have more rights over the deceased President’s body than his own family. “We need the autopsy report” they have been shouting. Even when the deceased President’s own brother stated publicly that the President died from “a massive stroke”, the response of the NPP proxies was “we don’t believe it”. Who should be more concerned about the cause of a person’s death: his relatives or people who had always wished that the person were dead? Although the answer should not be hard to find, our NPP people and their surrogates still do not get it. Among others. the Alliance for Accountable Governance (AFAG) called for an inquest, in direct rejection of the family’s announcement that their relative had died of stroke.
Then entered the Ghana Medical Association, some of whose members were actually in charge of the health of the deceased President. They dispatched a letter to the press, to publicly demand an inquest into the death of the President; thus feeding into the AFAG campaign. According to them, their only interest was so that Ghana could “shape policies on the medical management of political leaders such as Presidents and other dignitaries in the country.” As professionals they could have made such a request by making official representations to the government without shooting off to the press with copies of their letter. The motivation of this professional body to opt for a press release in such circumstances is difficult to understand, especially since they should have known that a such a public declaration was likely to feed into the thinking of some people that the President might have been poisoned or even did not receive due care and attention for what they originally believed was cancer being the cause of death.
Edgar Allan Poe, in his essay, “The Imp of the Perverse” (1845) gave meaning to a particular human behavior, which on the surface, appears to have no reasonable cause. However this type of behavior sometimes appears normal or even necessary. In the essay, the narrator speaks to an unnamed listener about how he had become a victim of the Imp of the Perverse. (In European folklore, an “Imp” is a small mischievous and attention-seeking creature that plays pranks on human beings, often to mislead them and subsequently enjoy from the discomfort of its victims.) The narrator in “The Imp of the Perverse” murders somebody in what seemed like a perfect murder; but after several years, he says he was urged by an imaginary Imp of the Perverse to act in an illogical manner by confessing his crime.
According to Poe, such a mode of conduct arises from “innate and primitive principle . . . a paradoxical something, which we may call perverseness, for want of a more characteristic term”. This perverseness causes people to act even though they have no moral or logical reason to act.
What is the imperative impelling the NPP and their surrogates to pretend that they are concerned for the welfare of President Mills? We have a saying in the village, that when you decide to push an elderly and frail person, it should no longer be your concern, how and where the victim falls. Having pushed President Mills so hard with personal insults, such as “Professor Do-Little”, “He looks like a chimpanzee”; “He is not clever”, etc, etc, including deliberate gibes that “he has kicked the bucket” (at the time when he was really alive), it is mind boggling why the same detractors should now suddenly be concerned about the cause of his death. My question is: when all the time they wanted President Mills dead, what reasonable reason do they have to demand how he died? I cannot find the reason. However, this is what appears to be bedeviling the state of mind of the detractors of President Mills who had all the time been wishing that he would die.
In the view of Poe, it does not make sense to act without a good reason. However, at certain times and under certain conditions, “it becomes absolutely irresistible” to act without a reasonable reason. This could especially be the case when someone acts wrongly and that action ends up with an undesirable result, (such as wishing the death of a person, who then subsequently dies). Faced with such a circumstance, the person could end up feeling guilty and would then proceed to put up a bizarre behavior which is difficult to understand. In the particular case cited in his essay, the narrator claims to be a victim of the Imp of the Perverse which was causing him to have nightmares. In order to shake off this nightmare of the soul, he ends up responding to a strange impulse that impels him to confess to a murder.
The hitherto cursers of President Mills, in their current disturbed states of mind, could be exhibiting a tendency similar to the murderer in Poe’s short story with their virtual display, which is a pointer that they are indeed among “the many uncounted victims of the Imp of the Perverse.” .
If this were not the case, what could possibly have caused the NPP, their supporters, surrogate journalists and front associations, as well as others coming under the cloak of “professionalism” and priesthood, to be hung on issues such as: “why was ex-President Rawlings not made to lay a wreath?”; “why was the President’s son not allowed to read his tribute to his father?”; “why did GTV not show Nana Akufo Addo at the funeral?” (although this was not true). In any case, of all the dignitaries that attended the funeral, why was the NPP keen that only Nana Akufo Addo should have been shown on TV? Why were the NPP people, who, hitherto, had been denigrating the son of President Mills, now suddenly finding the need to have photo opportunities with him?
Then they go on: “We know that the CCTV in the President’s office was switched off before he was taken to hospital”; “Kwesi Pratt stated on Peace FM that he knew the cause of the President’s death” although when the tape was finally played, it showed that he did not say anything like that. The Daily Guide newspaper claimed to have seen some Chinese digging nine graves for the deceased President’s burial at Flagstaff House. Nana Akomea, the Director of NPP Communications found every fault with every word spoken by the newly-installed President Mahama about President Mills. Miss Ursula Owusu, well-known for her piercing curses on President Mills when he was alive, suddenly declared that the late President was her favourite lecturer. What can cause such behavior?
Michael J. Cummings, commenting on Poe’s treatise had this to say: “In some people, thoughts of an undesired act–such as stuttering, blushing, falling, or losing bowel control in a public place–become obsessions. So intense are these obsessions that they, perversely, cause the undesired acts. Poe was ahead of his time in calling attention to such thoughts, which are symptoms of a mental condition that modern psychologists call obsessive-compulsive disorder”.
The rest of Ghanaians do not deserve to be subjected to this disorder being exhibited by the detractors of the late President. Happily, medical solutions exist that can reverse this type of obsessive disorder afflicting our current victims of the Imp of the Perverse. Someone should go to their help.
Close-up image of the Lincoln Imp
at the Medieval Cathedral of Lincoln, England. (source - Wikipedia)