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Opinions of Friday, 27 May 2011

Columnist: Awuni, Manasseh Azure

Adisadel College, Take It Easy!

I received a lot of venomous outbursts from present and old in reaction to a previous article – Foul-mouthed Politicians and ADISCO’s Day of Shame. Because the article bothered on their alma mater, I was not surprised to see the reactions. But I was surprised they reacted that way.
The article bore no grudge against ADISCO. I never for once said anything to impugn the integrity of the school nor its products. I only expressed my disappointment with the headmaster and the planning committee of the 101st anniversary of the school.
But I understand them for one reason. Some might have read the article with their hearts and not their heads.
The article was basically meant to condemn politicians from the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) and opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) who had made insults and foul language their hallmark. And some of the ignoble names that appeared in the write-up included Kennedy Ohene Agyapong, MP for Assin North; Kobby Acheampong, Deputy Minister of Interior; Maxwell Kofi Jumah, MP for Asokwa, and a host of others.
I brought Adisadel College into the picture because I had read in the Daily Graphic that Kennedy Agyapong was the Guest Speaker at Adisadel College’s 101st Anniversary.
The Santaclausians who thought I had defiled their sanctity, gave many reasons for which I should not have mentioned ADISCO in the said article. Some said the fact that he was called to speak did not mean that the school sanctioned his behaviour. Others were also of the view that since his speech at the ceremony was not insulting, there was nothing wrong with it.
And it was strange how some took it so serious and personal. While some warned me to retract the article and apologise, one person who sent a group mail to Santaclausians and copied me, suggested a punitive action against me. Action against me? For what?
It said that if you don’t say anything, you will not be called to repeat it. In the same way, if you offend nobody, there’s no reason to apologise. My stance, which I’m prepared to defend for the umpteenth time, was simple.
It is shameful for a school like ADISCO to invite someone notorious for insulting people to deliver the most important address for the day on such an important occasion.
If Kennedy Agyapong was invited to speak at Bankye-Ase Community Secondary School or Bayere-Akura Secondary Technical School, it would have been excusable. One could have concluded that the school did not have many prominent old students on whom to rely on such occasions. The same can, however, not be said of ADISCO.
Adisadel College is one of the best senior high schools in this country. Three years ago I found the school ranked among the 100 top senior high schools in Africa. Adisadel College also has very renowned and responsible products in every sector of our national life. There thousands of them in other countries making their marks in their fields of endeavour. So if such anniversaries were held weekly, ADISCO would never run out of distinguished products to serve as guest speakers..
My argument, therefore, was (and still is) that it is wrong to choose Kennedy Agyapong as guest speaker, especially at that particular period of time. He certainly could not be a role model to students at that time when his voice was on various news websites and radio stations as “hot audio,” insulting people’s fathers, mothers and ethnicities. A civilized and noble institution like ADISCO deserves better than that.
Let us not forget that education goes beyond literacy. Education without morality is worse than illiteracy. School authorities must remember this when they are inviting people to interact with their students. They should be personalities whose lifestyles would inspire the students to live responsible lives and build the country.
I completed senior high school only in 2004 and still remember how high we upheld people who came to speak to us. We saw such people as role models, especially when they held influential positions. On such occasions, it isn’t just the words, but also the speaker’s life, that motivate the students. Indeed, a person’s life can preach a better sermon than his lips.
Not long after I had published the article in question, I bought a copy of the Africawatch magazine only to find a “Committee of Insults”, a profile of some insulting politicians in the country. The magazine, which is sold worldwide, said its aim was to “name and shame those who, by their words and deeds, bring Ghanaian politics into disrepute.”
The Chairman of the “Committee of Insults” was no any other person than Kennedy Ohene Agyapong. So was I wrong in suggesting that such insulting personalities be blacklisted in programmes meant for children?
I have nothing against Mr. Agyapong. Neither do I have anything against Adisadel College. But I can’t bring myself to understand why he was the preferred choice over the thousands of other Santaclusians. Are our educational institutions beginning to act like these hypocritical churches who care more about the tithe than the salvation of the tithe payer? If someone donates generously to the school, must he or she be accorded such an honour to speak irrespective of how they conduct themselves in society?
The only way we can silence the likes of Kennedy Agyapong and Kobby Acheampong is to incite public opinion against their conduct. In a civilized and enlightened democracy, such people will never occupy public office. The Ghanaian electorate are not up to that level yet, but I think a school like Adisadel College is enlightened enough to know better.
I have no right to decide who speaks at my own Krachi Senior High School, let alone other schools. But Martin Luther King Jr. teaches us that our lives begin to end when we keep silent over things what matter. The indiscipline in our society has become so alarming that it will be suicidal to keep quiet and allow it to be transmitted all over, with the help of school authorities.
In the words of Chinua Achebe, the indiscipline of leaders is very dangerous and contagious.
“The indiscipline of an ordinary citizen, as regrettable as it may be, does not pose a fatal threat to society because it can be generally contained by his fellows or, at worst, a couple of policemen,” the wizard of African fiction observes.
“But the indiscipline of a leader is a different matter altogether. First, he has no fellows to restrain him, and the policemen who might have done it are all in his employ. Second, power, by giving him immunity from common censure makes the leader the envy of the powerless, who will turn him into a role model and imitate his actions of indiscipline. An explosion of such actions accruing all over the place at once brings the whole society under a climate of indiscipline.”
Take it easy, Santaclausians. I bear no ill-will against your great school. I’m only playing my watchdog role as a journalist to ensure that the whole society does not become “a climate of indiscipline.”
Those who have ears…

Credit: Manasseh Azure Awuni/www.maxighana.com [azureachebe2@yahoo.com] The writer is a freelance journalist based in Accra, Ghana. To read more of his writings visit www.maxighana.com