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Opinions of Thursday, 31 December 2009

Columnist: Akyena, Brantuo Benjamin

Did Dan Lartey Truly Mean This Much To Us?

Unlike many a Ghanaian, news of the death of Dan Lartey did not devastate me as much as public reactions to it.

Minutes after this bad omen rudely interrupted our humble celebration of Christmas, the phone lines of media houses started jamming, social websites wobbled to stand on their feet, social commentators got busy, whilst public officials, past and present, told their speech writers to justify their salaries.

‘Oh Uncle Dan deserves a state burial,’ blurted out one lady and affirmed by many other subsequent callers to a radio talkback programme. ‘Dan Lartey is the greatest patriot to have lived after Nkrumah’. One writer reminisced on facebook. To another on Ghanaweb ‘he is the kind of person mother Ghana needs to be able to feed its children, not these thieves masquerading as politicians’. In addition, former President Kufour had these kind words for ‘Uncle Dan’, ‘he has paid his dues as one of the political stalwarts of our time’.  In a rather moving tribute, authored by the producer of the Joyfm morning show, Sedem Ofori compares Dan Lartey to Kwame Nkrumah, Chairman Mao Tsetung, General Pak and George Washington. He further added, ‘His greatest legacy, for me, is his clarion call of "domestication"... a call to self-sufficiency by us. Perhaps if enough African heads of states had the fortitude and patriotic conviction of Uncle Dan, their calibre of leadership would not be among the fatal mockeries of the 21st century. He concluded. These are indeed powerful panegyrics, which befits one who has lived a fulfilled life. Indeed, it should make any dead body Rest in Perfect Peace even in hell fire.

That notwithstanding, I ask simply, did Dan Lartey truly mean this much to us as paeans to his memory seem to suggest?

Are ongoing eulogies to make Dan Lartey appear larger than life and his legacy more glorious than perhaps Jesus Christ, base on real evidence of his impact on Ghanaians or it is emotionally induced, as it is in keeping with tradition not to say anything evil about the dead and to express shock at every death even when the departed was over 150years old?

I agree. The dead must not be contemned. However, we do them no honour when we bemock them whilst alive and treat them as martyrs in the grave. I can only imagine what tributes await Kofi Wayo, Kwadwo Mpianim and Dr Charles Wereku Brobey. We may compare them to Obama.

In memory of Uncle Dan Lartey, I say this in conclusion. Here lies a failed politician, whose failure is imputable to nothing but his penchant for honesty and a generation that despise same. Here lies a butt, whose usefulness the media thought was his ability to generate comic relief through sound bites. Ghanaians did not attend your congresses because you neither had money to share nor ‘bentua’ to distribute. Perhaps you have learnt the tenets of politics the hard way. Honesty is hardly rewarded. In your next life, behave like Kufour. He unlike you knows what to do when looking for power and how to behave when you get it. It is what is nicely referred to as political expediency.

AKYENA BRANTUO BENJAMIN

Executive Director Next Generation Youth League (NGYL) Fmr. President, Commonwealth Hall, University of Ghana, legon. benakyena@yahoo.com +233264825187