Feature Article of Wednesday, 2 January 2013
Columnist: Thompson, Kofi
By Kofi Thompson
A wag I know bristled as he made the observation recently that culturally Ghanaians don't like non-comformist individuals.
He assigns the dearth of innovation in Ghana, to this traditional societal intolerance of the different. And it riles him no end.
He was telling me about the plight of a brilliant young creative-type, whose mother despairs that he's given up his course at university.
Apparently, her son believes he is far better off focusing on an IT education.
The trouble he has, is that he is said to be an individualist who does not fit into the mould of his mother's idea of middle-class youth.
And of course it did not help that at a point he wore dreadlocks, and was a Rastafarian.
I am sure that that mother's concerns are ones that many middle class parents in Ghana can identify with.
And the tyranny of parents' aspirations for their offspring, can sometimes lead to unhappiness for many a young adult. Its a sentiment I can understand.
I have always been an outsider. I have set my own standards all my life - and even as a 12-year old first year student at Prempeh College, I refused to allow my seniors to bully me because I did not like being pushed around.
From my own personal experience, the quiet resentment from some of the people one comes across in life here, because one prefers to march in step to the tune in one's own head, as opposed to that which everyone else hears, is palpable.
Turning 60 this July, I have become a loner and semi-recluse by choice - so I can devote my time to thinking and writing as much as I can before I finally lose my sight.
It means in practice that I have no time for the endless socialising that involves one in meaningless chit-chat at parties and funerals, that is such a huge part of life in Ghana.
Alas, this a nation of conformists. A society of hypocritical and tyrannical charismatic church-founders with influence, and zillions of apparently respectable churchgoers who are seldom Christ-like in their everyday interactions with others. And often they are not enamoured of the different.
Indeed, Ghana can be a very lonely and suffocating place, if you don't do the things that most Ghanaians like to do.
But I would encourage any young person who is creative and contrarian in their thinking to dare to be different.
The important thing is to live a life with an ethical underpinning. If they feel a need for it, let them escape the stultifying confines of tribe and party. Cutting-edge ideas seldom originate from those who think like others.
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