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Opinions of Thursday, 24 March 2016

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

Constructive assessment of the dead is absolutely Ghanaian, Freddie Blay

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Garden City, New York
March 21, 2016
E-mail: okoampaahoofe@optimum.net

I have been hearing this strange idea about it not being fitting or appropriate for Ghanaians to criticize the dead. I have absolutely no problem with such individual expression of opinion, except where it is also passed off as one of the salient principles or features of Ghanaian culture. By “Ghanaian Culture,” I suppose what these commentators and critics mean is the “dominant Ghanaian culture,” which would make it Akan (See “Criticisms Against Jake ‘Un-Ghanaian’ – Freddie Blay” MyJoyOnline.com / Ghanaweb.com 3/21/16).

Indeed, what is not Ghanaian is to suppose that as a people we are so weak-minded as to glibly and facilely ignore the significant impact of the well-heeled and politically powerful on the fortunes and destiny of society at large, especially where the personality or personalities in focus remarkably influenced public policy. The Akan themselves have a maxim that underscores the imperative need for such constructive assessment of the dead. We often say that “The height of a toad/frog cannot be measured until it has expired.”

What this maxim means is that, for the most part, our leaders and heroes are often woefully under-appreciated until they are no longer with us. Which is why the contributions of our most prominent leaders, among them Dr. J. B. Danquah and President Kwame Nkrumah, continue to be hotly and fiercely debated and their balance sheets weighted against their foibles as human actors and players.

In the wake of the passing of Mr. Jake Otanka Obetsebi-Lamptey, the former National Chairman of Ghana’s main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), quite a flurry of judgmental remarks have been volleyed from disparate political angles and ideological camps. As it is to be expected, some of such comments have been laudatory while others have been insufferably damning. Insufferably damning not because it is not meed, or proper, to speak critically of the dead, especially the recently deceased, but largely because such barbs are objectively way out of proportion to the truth and reality as the latter actually transpired while the deceased lived among us.

In the case of Mr. Obetsebi-Lamptey, whose sorrowful passing at a London hospital was reported on Sunday, the singular bone of contention has been his perfectly legitimate decision to purchase a state-owned real-estate property during the waning days of the John Agyekum-Kufuor-led government of the New Patriotic Party. The sale and purchase of the property in question, even as clearly articulated by the Wood-presided Supreme Court, was legitimate because a widely recognized precedent entailing the sale of state-owned real-estate properties among members of the executive had long been established by the Jerry John Rawlings-founded and spearheaded National Democratic Congress, with prime beneficiaries like Mr. Ebo Tawiah having been in the front ranks of those privileged to have been allowed by Mr. Rawlings to own a piece of state property.

Chairman Rawlings himself, even as I write, lives in a state-owned property. This bizarre state of affairs appears to be uniquely African and Third World. It simply does not occur in many a civilized and functional constitutional democracy. In short, what Ghanaians ought to be discussing presently is the sort of flagrant and abject hypocrisy that permits members of the ruling National Democratic Congress to suppose that they reserve an inalienable right to cheaply snap up prime state-owned real-estate properties but, somehow, their political opponents have absolutely no constitutional right to the same privilege.

If this is the crime for which in the tendentious imagination of Trokosi Nationalists like Dzifa Gunu makes Mr. Obetsebi-Lamptey an unwelcome revenant amidst us, then, I say with all hearty pleasure, let Ghana teem with more Jake Obetsebi-Lampteys among our leadership. If Jake is not in the best of companies, I don’t know where else he belongs.

*Visit my blog at: kwameokoampaahoofe.wordpress.com Ghanaffairs