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Opinions of Saturday, 28 August 2010

Columnist: Abugri, George Sydney

Ghana: Coaching Dr. Adjei to kiss with a bite

By George Sydney Abugri

Unrelenting Pan-Africanist. Hard-core nationalist. Patriot. Unrepentant arch-foe of political skullduggery. That is me alright, Jomo. I kiss politics with a bite and laugh at propaganda with my teeth. I joke about politicians with acidic corrosion and respect their right to swallow or spit out my stuff.

Hey, I am just kidding, Jomo: If you take yourself far too seriously all the time than is prudent in this land of unrelenting intrigue called Ghana, you will soon be making a circus clown of yourself before you know it.

Yes sir, ours is indeed a land of ever unfolding intrigue, where politicians have perfected the concept of “misconscrewing” into a great art.

“Misconscrewing?” Yep. Don’t bother to look it up in the dictionary, old chap, because you won’t find it there. If you find “misconscrewing” too clumsy to pronounce, just take it that politicians here are busy screwing one another.

“Misconscrewing is a term coined by psychologists in the field of political communications to describe the very deliberate misunderstanding of what is said, in order to advance a clandestine personal motive.

Put the other way round, it is the very deliberate understanding in the wrong way and wrong sense, of what was said by a political opponent, in order to achieve a goal detrimental to the interest of that opponent.

In other words, “misconscrewing” which as I have explained, is deliberate {as opposed to misconstruing which is not}, serves the purpose of making a political opponent's words appear to mean something the speaker did not mean at all.

Frequent victims of “misconscrewing”, tend to be those politicians who are inclined to leap before they look and who are so careless with sensitive matters of political correctness when communicating, that they easily give their opponents a wide and open choice to “misconscrew” what they say.

National Democratic Congress Chairman Dr. Kwabena Adjei has starred in the role to perfection and put himself and his party in a spot of unnecessary bother, mainly because he chose to use eighteenth century English expressions in an age of sensitivity to political correctness.

You must have heard how Dr. Adjei addressed a press conference and of all the words in the dictionary, chose to call for a “cleaning up” of the judiciary by the Chief Justice, failing which he warned, there would be “many ways of killing a cat.”

Problem number one: In global cultural and political history “cleaning” groups has often meant blood shed.

Problem number two: The case of the tragic abduction and murder of three court judges and military officers on June 30th, 1982, is still fresh in the minds of many of our compatriots . His political opponents knew exactly what Dr. Adjei meant by this cat thing, but “misconscrewed” it to mean a threat to assassinate court judges again!

The impact of “misconscrewed” information as a political propaganda tool must have hit all politicians by now, because the counter attack on Dr. Kwabena Adjei had his NDC, has remained one of the most flogged issues in the history of political communication and propaganda in this country, managing to stay on top of all other issues of national debate 24 hours a day for the past week.

President Mills returned home this week after a ten day holiday in Yankee land and was waylaid at KIA by reporters who wanted to know what he had to say about Dr. Kwabena Adjei call for a cleaning up of the judiciary to rid it of systematic corruption.

President Mills assured all and sundry that he had respect for the sanctity and independence of the judiciary, which was interpreted by some media to mean he was distancing himself from the call by the Chairman of his party for a purge of the judiciary of corruption.

No one asked President Mills the real question: What would you do if you were provided with hard evidence of corruption in the judiciary, Mr. President?

An International Integrity Initiative study on corruption in Ghana’s judiciary in 2000 reported that “over 52 percent of judges and magistrates, 64.2 percent of
lawyers, and 51.3 percent of litigants agreed to the suggestion that judicial corruption is
very real in Ghana.”

The rumpus over Dr. Adjei’s comments has affirmed one mass media curiosity: The local political news is often more about what people are saying than what they are doing or what is happening. As a matter of fact what happens here on the political circuit everyday and what spill’s over there from, is usually a direct consequence of what someone said.

Dr. Kwabena Adjei’s comments sparked off a short-lived strike by lawyers in Kumasi. Other examples abound:

A mob storms the offices of the Bureau of National Investigations of all places and the reason? Security operatives have arrested a political activist for making disparaging comments imputing criminal behaviour on the part of former President Rawlings in the matter of a domestic fire that gutted his house

Ironically, Rawlings himself has started several world wars a thousand times over with what he has said in public.

A mob of political activists have stormed a radio station intending to lynch an activist of a rival party. Why? He said something offensive about a leading member of their party.

Back stage operatives in the NDC have spent the past couple of weeks trying to get a woman living in the US to hop onto a plane and fly to Ghana to testify that she and former president Kufuor spent such steamy nights together while Kufuor was in office and that the result was a set of twins the former president has disowned.

The woman in question once worked as a consultant of sorts in Kufuor’s administration. You know why the former President got himself into this spot of bother? It was in reprisal for his description of Mills’s administration as a corrupt one!

The other time we heard in the news that women political activists in the capital were about to pour out into the streets in the nude to mount a mobile exhibition of boobs and bums and a few other anatomical wetin callit, in protest against something untoward a male political activist had said about a lady activist during a panel discussion on television!

A footnote to my letter concerns Newsweek which recently undertook to award marks for the quality of life, state of democracy and safety of citizens in countries around the world. Our great republic was adjudged the seventh best country to live in, in Sub-Saharan Africa and the best in West Africa.

That should fill me with a sense of pride being a nationalist and all that, no?. No! Public safety? The daily mass slaughter and butchering by broken and crashing metal of our people on the highways has never been so gruesome.

Road travel in the republic has never been so perilous and returning home in one piece after work these days, is a miracle commuters in some cities but especially our capital will attest to.

Bandits and terrorists more ruthless than the legendary robbers on the highway to Jericho keep waylaying and robbing travelers on our highways.

Our capital lies buried under millions of tonnes of putrid refuse and soon, not even the most determined archeologists will be able to dig her up again complete with her hyperactive Mayor Dr. Alfred Vanderpuye, ten-star hotels and all.