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Opinions of Thursday, 29 November 2012

Columnist: Duodu, Cameron

Ghana Election Talk 2012


*If you only use the Internet – and especially Ghanaweb– as your main
source of news about the 7 December 2012 Ghana election, you will be making
a great mistake.*
*You would get the impression that the election campaign is full of vitriol
and that Ghanaians are holding each other by the throat, rancorously daring
one another to “vote for the wrong party and see.”*

In fact, even before the main candidates signed a “peace pact” on 27
November 2012, the campaign was largely going on in quite a smooth and
peaceful manner, as I found out for myself, when I attended a political
meeting at Koforidua, in the Eastern Region. l saw the Ghanaian populace
exhibiting their usual good humour, even as the Internet dishes out its
huhudious verbiage.
I couldn’t help wondering at the amount of time and space propagandists
on the Internet are prepared to waste on such irrelevant topics as the
alleged early exit of Nana Akufo Addo, the NPP candidate, from Oxford
University. What has education at Oxford University got to do with giving
good toilets to villages like Kasoa (where a bad toilet recently killed
people?) Is it only at Oxford that one can learn that people should be
provided with safe drinking water? Or good schools? Or health posts? Or
good roads?I come from the bush and there, we would put a few
down-to-earth questions to the propagandists, that should lay the
ghost of
that ultra-snobbish non-debate for ever:

*Question: Did Nana Addo spend a year at Oxford University on a
government scholarship? *
*Answer: No! He was sent there by his own father.*
*Question: Then, why is it that if he left Oxford after one year of his
own volition after going there of his own volition! — and even his enemies
have published the fact that Oxford has confirmed that he was NOT expelled
from the University! — the propagandists are going on as if he wasted any
funds contributed by the Ghanaian taxpayer? Did the Government contribute
to his upkeep?
*Answer: No. He only cost his own father a few bob.*
*Question: Did the father complain to anyone — especially these NDC
propagandists – that his son had ‘wasted’ his money?*
*Answer: No! The father was a very worldly-wise man, and must have chalked
up the son’s one year at Oxford as a worth-while experience. Indeed, he
would have known, being an Oxford man himself, that he was luckier than
some of the most prominent people in Britain, whose progeny were regularly
“sent down” from Oxbridge! But being “sent down” doesn’t prevent them from
taking up very good jobs in politics or the City. In fact, unlike the
anti-Akufo Addo brigade, some of the brighter Britons generally regard the
“University of life” as a better place for a good education, than the
‘cloistered walls’ of Universities!
*Question: When he left Oxford, did Nana Akuffo Addo obtain university
education somewhere else?*
*Answer: Yes, he studied at the Sorbonne, in Paris, where he acquired
French, and also at the University of Ghana, Legon.*
*Question: So, if he obtained such a broad education from three different
Universitiers in three different countries, then why are people talking so
much about his exit from Oxford after one year?*
*Answer: Obviously, they are jealous of Nana Addo! They wish THEY had had
the opportunity to go to Oxford. They cannot conceive of the idea that
someone could leave Oxford after only one year and still amount to
something in the world! They are judging him by their own limited yardstick!
*Question: Has Nana Addo amounted to ‘something’ in the world, despite
leaving Oxford early?*
*Answer: Go and read the Ghana Law Reports and see the important cases
he’s been involved in as a lawyer!*
*I would never have thought that the NDC propaganda machine would be so
full of would-be snobs! They want to diss a man who went to the Sorbonne,
the stamping ground of Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoire, among some
of the brightest brains in the world, because he did not leave Oxford with
a degree….I mean….
*Question: So why are they doing it?*
*Answer: Because they want to insinuate, darkly, without providing any
evidence, that he did something ‘wrong’ at Oxford. They say he didn’t
mention his one year at Oxford in his curriculum vitae. *
*Question: But don’t people only put their achievements on their CV? Whom
would you impress with an entry that says, “Left Oxford after one year”?
Are these people mad or something?*
*Answer: Yes – I suppose they would only be satisfied if Nana Addo
cluttered his CV with such negatives as:
*“I did not bed (sleep with) Simone de Beauvoire at the Sorbonne!*
*“I did not go to the Place Pigalle every night to pick up prostitutes when
I was studying in Paris!*
*“And I was never fished out of the Seine River in Paris at 3 a.m. in the
morning, smelling strongly of absinthe!”*

Because of the irrelevant questions being asked of Nana Addo by NDC
propagandists, NPP propagandists have also — regrettably – begun to cast
aspersions on the educational qualifications of both President John Mahama
and Vice-President Kwesi Amissah-Arthur. I strongly urge the NPP
propagandists not to be trapped into “retaliating” but to desist from
delivering low blows to the NDCF candidates. You see, it is so demeaning of
Ghana. It implicitly endorses the ignorant view that educational
qualifications necessarily determine the knowledge a person possesses. But
that is patently untrue: many *‘autodidacts’* equipped with a great deal of
native intelligence– Thomas Edison is an example – have contributed
immensely to the world, both in the arts, the sciences and in politics.
But the Ghanaian intelligentsia is so full of crappy exam-consciousness
that all they want to be able to say is “I passed the Common Entrance and
got to Achimota/Mfantsipim/Wegehe! Or I got a first!… I got a two-one!” As
if someone who only got a two-two didn’t work equally hard for it, or
that exam jitters do not exist to thwart people’s expectations from exam
results. They are so, so superficial. The question should be: what has a
person used his education for, not *how or where *he got it from!

Now, I was sitting ‘my somewhere’ drinking a cold beer on a sweaty
afternoon at Ashale Botwe, and munching my way through some glorious
roasted ripe plantain and groundnuts, when, completely out of the blue,
two Ghanaian women demonstrated for me – without, of course, taking any
notice of me – the fun that the election campaign’s slogans and songs are
generating for members of the populace.

One of the ladies sang, trying to imitate the radio adverts: *“**John
Mahama aaa na ookoroh!”* (It is John Mahatma who is going [to be President]
And she danced a little jig from her shapely hips down. I hid my mouth,
unable to stop laughing.

Then, as if they had rehearsed a *pas-de-deux* (a dance executed by two
people) the other one also responded with a jig, whilst singing this
retort: * “Yebedii bi keke! ”* (We came to do nothing but eat some [of
the money!])

My word! It was priceless! Where else but in Ghana would you get such
beautiful spontaneity of a comic nature? Yet people think we’re going to
chop one another’s heads off on 7 December! They just don’t know Ghana, do
they? The rascals who resort to violence will be laughed at, out of court –
by the ordinary, sensible, humorous people of Ghana — such as the two
ladies who made my day! Why should such good-natured people have to change
their easy attitude to life, because of a mere election? I mean – dancing
a jig and singing at midday, for no apparent reason! Boy, Ghana sweet oh!
Work hard and get money, and lower your expectations, and ‘Ogyakrom’ won’t
hold too many terrors for you.

*Another interesting discovery I made on my recent trip is that the
maturity with which Ghanaians are approaching politics these days is
sometimes quite astoundingly breath-taking. Whereas in the past, politics
could break family ties, to say nothing of the bonds of friendship, the
same cannot be said of today. The evidence for this is that the
spokespersons of both President John Mahama and his main opponent, Nana
Akufo Addo, are siblings!**Yes — they are John Jinapor (Spokesperson for
Mahama and the senior brother) and Samuel Abu Jinapor (spokesperson for
Nana Addo, and the younger of the two brothers)!*

In fact, their relationship has been the source of serious vexation to one
of the more idiotic of the NDC’s Internet propagandists. This guy suspects
treachery everywhere, and points out that the two brothers can sometimes
“ride in the same car” together! He speculates endlessly about what they
might be talking about. Politically backward as he is, he clearly implies
that they might reveal secrets to each other! But he lacks the intelligence
to realise that were they to reveal their bosses‘ secrets to each other, they
would simply *cancel each other out!* He is so atavistic! Does he not know
that politics is about *ideas?* That, in any case, some people take the
ethics of their chosen professions so seriously that the two Jinapors have
probably sworn not to talk politics to each other? If they’ve had the
moral strength to join two different political parties, why can’t they also
be upright enough to vow not to discuss each other’s politics, when they
are together? I bet they kid each other endlessly — and why not? They are
full-blooded Ghanaians equipped with Ghanaian good humour, are they not?

*It says much, not just for the two brothers, but also for their respective
employers, that they can accept that no person should be judged merely on
the basis of his family relationships, or other associations, only, but on
the basis of his own actions and performance.*
*I doff my hat to all of them and commend their political maturity to the
rest of their followers, some of whom regard party politics as a dirty game
to be carried out as if it was a vendetta waged by “blood enemies”. I am
sure that both Nana Addo and President Mahama – as well as the two Jinapors
– get their ears full of silly denunciations of their situation, by
intolerant or fanatical members of their own parties. The brothers, in
particular, must hold on to their positions in a steadfast manner, for they
are setting a really good example to all Ghanaians, in terms of sheer
political tolerance. Well, it shouldn’tsurprise us, should it? Who invented
the “skirt and blouse”* way of voting? Not the ordinary men and women of

**(‘Skirt and blouse’ is a sophiosticated way of voting, whereby the same
person can vote for a presidential candidate from one party but yet vote
for a different parliamentary candidate from another party!)*

*I end this article with a heartfelt plea to our so-called journalists
and — especially the pamphleteers masquerading as journalists: Please,
whatever you do, do not invent news. In an election campaign, there are so
many issues that can be used to fight your opponents. So there is no need
to resort to the invention of falsehood or the distortion of the truth in
such a manner that you attribute statements to people who have never
entertained the ideas you claim they possess. SUCH ACTIONS DISCREDIT ALL
JOURNALISTS and earn us the distrust of the public.*
By the same token, propagandists should desist from deliberately lying
about things their parties have not done. It is unedifying, for instance,
for the NDC to have claimed to be distributing free laptops to individuals
in institutions (who do not exist) and then have to come back to publicly
“correct” what were called “anomalies” in the exercise. Above all, the NDC
should remember that it is public money that was used to obtain the laptops
and that their distribution should therefore be done scrupulously on the
basis of objective criteria and not to achieve cheap party political

For, mark it upon the wall: anyone who takes the Ghanaian electorate for
fools has got a good think coming. Kufuor lost the election for the NPP in
2008 largely because he ignored the resentment with which people viewed the
new Flagstaff House he was building, the money for which could have been
better used to improve, say, the Nsawam-Suhum-Apedwa road. The people
know what a bribe is, and they can ask themselves the question: if these
people had any good intentions about improving life for us, the people of
the country, why would they need to bribe me to vote for them?
*As my head-teacher used to say when we continued talking after he’d warned
us to keep quiet: “Some people are kicking against the pricks!”*