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Opinions of Friday, 27 November 2015

Columnist: Africanus Owusu-Ansah

Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown

Opinion Opinion

King Henry: “How many thousand of my poorest subjects

Are at this hour asleep…

Canst thou, O partial sleep, give thy repose

To the wet sea – boy in an hour so rude.

And in the calmest and most stillest night,

With all appliances and means to boot,

Deny it to a king? Then happy low, lie down!

Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.

King Henry IV (2) Act 3 Scene1

ALUTA! Shouts one of the ‘leaders’ of the vociferous group. The pliable significant others yell back: ‘CONTINUA’, Placards will have been prepared ready for distribution. The inscriptions include: ‘President, let the people eat’; ‘President, your administration is corrupt’; ‘The administration is bogus’; ’Down with the insensitive and bogus administration’. A cartoon of the President and cabinet members at table; food and wine galore: another cartoon shows the emaciated body of a hungry – looking man, tagged ‘The struggling man’, with a machete on his shoulder.

The route will have been mapped out. From the main gate, pass through Achimota Village. Cross the road. March through Roman Ridge… to Nima, then Maamobi … Find any means to get to town. We gather at the Makola market (Tema station). The inspirational songs flow: ‘Y’anya aka se yebetu wo,yede nyansa na ebetu wo’(once we’ve sworn to fell you, we’ll use our good sense to fell you) ; ‘Achika sakabo, Achika, sakabo’ (Achika, useless, Achika, useless).

In his diary, a student records the events of the day: Police arrive. A few skirmishes. The Police apply minimum force, (but was it ‘minimum’). Something hits the eye of a student: blood is flowing. Perhaps it is tomato paste, but the ignorant students think it is blood. The inspirational songs cease. The students are running helter- skelter. They are chased by the police who are incensed at being called ‘koti’ and ‘zombie’. The students re-echo Fela Anikulapo Kuti: ‘Left, Right’. More brutalities. Firing – live bullets challenging water- cannons. Three students are down-shot dead-in cold blood, in ‘one fell swoop’! The space in the day’s column of the diary is full. He finds a space to squeeze in: ‘simultaneous demonstrations are being organized in the other campuses outside Accra.

The spokesperson for the police is jotting down the draft for the afternoon’s press conference: ‘stray bullets killed the three students’. He knows it is not true, but ‘master say’, he has been a student before, gone on demonstrations before, but now, he has to protect his job, and he follows the laid down format and procedure. Laid down by police officers who had been jealous of the over-pampered students who were enjoying free ‘everything’ and dared to go useless demonstrations.

The students disperse; board Madina – bound tro- tros. Get down at Legon main gate and troop to their halls. Their sullen faces betray a cause unjustifiably quenched—by the very people for whom they are fighting. It’s now half past one (1:30pm), and many contemplate: “Is there a greater disease than ignorance”?

Breaking News: Ghana’s Universities have been closed down immediately. The students are to vacate their halls of residence with immediate effect. The majority of the students who went on this demonstration were aged 18 – 24; they may not have even held any executive position in the JCR, SRC or NUGS. Some will be reading Agricultural Science, Food Science, Economics, English, Russian, and could easily be mesmerised by those reading Sociology, History and Political Science with ‘revolutionary’ theories: “The wretched of the earth have nothing to lose but their chains”; “Man is born free, and is everywhere in chains”; “With Communism, the exploitation of man by man shall end”. They get enchanted by the theories of Frantz Fanon, Che Guevara, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Karl Marx, The Prince and Macchiavelli. Aristotle and Plato are quoted, so long as their theories tally with their “messianic dedication”.

The head of state appears at a rally the following week and chastise the students for going on a useless demonstration, uselessly criticizing him and his government, and that the treatment meted to them by the Police was their justifiable desserts. He asks: “Do you know what it takes to be a head of state”? By the side of the head of state was Squealer: “The nation will see the full manifestation of the head of state’s competence at play when he is given the mandate to lead the country for another term”.

From that day, even though it was not a New Year, many resolutions were passed; anyone without a driver’s licence shall not criticise a careless driver who drives a bus through a jubilating crowd and kills five of the ecstatic people; children shall not criticise their mothers for giving them food with insipid taste because they cannot prepare the food themselves; a landlord cannot criticise the one constructing his house, because he (landlord) had never done a course in construction. None should criticise Asamoah-Gyan for missing the penalty in the World Cup in South Africa because their football careers did not take them to the Black Stars.

Shakespeare’s King Henry IV was lamenting his inability to steal a wink – to sleep – when he had absolute command over all the goodies of life. The poorest of his kingdom easily enjoyed sleep. He became jealous of the poor without any worldly cares who could sleep soundly, and crown it with snores. He was probably wishing that he had not seized the throne from the wretched Richard II and even had him murdered.

The good book reminds us (Luke 12:47 – 48) “And that servant which knew his Lord’s will and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not and did commit things worthy of strife shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more”.

In our present political dispensation where is ‘social contract’ which is the implicit agreement among members of a society to cooperate for social benefits, for example, by sacrificing some individual freedoms for state protection? Men do agree to live together, and decide to ‘give — and – take’. Socrates used the argument close to ‘social contract’ to explain to Crito why he had to remain in prison and accept the death penalty.

John Donne wrote: “On a huge hill, Cragged and steep, Truth stands and he that will Reach her, about must and about must goe”.

President Mahama should be among the first to admit that ‘Truth Stands’ (pro veritate). He should also admit that ‘Truth never expires’ (veritas numquam perit). What does the good book say about: ‘the salt of the earth’ (vos estis sal terrae)? He should admit these because he has passed through the walls of a hall that has the motto: Truth Stands’. What happens when salt loses its saltiness?

You know what lends greater credence to the charge of ‘incompetence’ against the Mahama administration? President Mahama charges: “Did you hear Bawumia say incompetent Mahama? You‘ve never held any responsibility anywhere near the presidency before, you don’t know what it is like to be President. I’ll take the word from Kufuor or from Rawlings because they’ve been there before. All of you guys (NPP critics) have never come near the Presidency. Do you know what it takes to be a president? And you stand and say incompetent Mahama Administration”.

Marie Curie said “One never notices what has been done; one can only see what remains to be done”. This goes well to fit President Mahama’s observation (before he became president) that any government that praises itself for building schools, roads and other infrastructure is glorifying itself in ‘mediocrity’.

Freddie Blay thinks “the Mahama administration has been replete with ‘lies’ and pure incompetence’ which have brought ‘misery’ to the people of Ghana”. Looks like this statement is close to the truth and who says ‘Truth stands’?

By: Africanus Owusu-Ansah