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Opinions of Thursday, 10 March 2016

Columnist: Confidence, Abdulai Hanan R.

Ghana's 59th indece brochure: A comedy of errors

The comedy of errors that littered Ghana's 59th Indece Celebration has brought us an international backlash and shame. The errors were simply one too many to be ignored. Indeed, Ghana is trending globally for all the wrong reasons.

The harder I try not to comment, the closer I get to it. My hesitation is not provoked by the inclination of "Ghanaians" to brand me as "too knowing" but that of anger. I felt the brochure shows marked disrespect to us as Ghanaians. For instance, some of us respect our social media followers that we sometimes painstakingly have to double-read, proofread and peer-review our write-ups before allowing them to surface. How more of an offshoot of government that communicates with the masses?

Sometime ago, I wrote on the gory errors on the president's social media handles. I underscored the fact that the unpardonable mistakes were a bad publicity to Ghana before the learned eyes of the world. There is also a huge public outcry on the magnitude of solecism that characterise the government's press releases, communiqués and memos. But there is no change as eye-plucking errors in government issues grow exponentially. Blunders in the government official communications have reached banality.

I've read through some portions of the indece brochure. One thing is very clear. The quality of work is one that of "job for the boys". The celebration of our independence and its attendant undertakings is a serious business for professionals who have the knack to impress and not for some errand boys or Google users. After going through the brochure, the first question I asked myself was "Where is Prof KB Asante?" The author(s) of the brochure in many areas attempted making some sense that could better be done by Prof KB Asante's reading glasses.

What still hurts me is the fact that someone went home with handsome package for producing this claptrap of a brochure to embarrass Ghana internationally. This brochure brouhaha is even, to avid learners of basic grammar, more hurting than the Smartys daylight robbery.

The work was done by "amateurs" and was reviewed by their "family members". I can sleep with my neck in the guillotine to prove this.

First, the entire power of Ghanaians was usurped and given to visiting guest. To have conferred the Armed Forces Commandership of Ghana unto Uhuru Kenyatta in our indece brochure is unbailable crime in the remit of gross negligence and sloppiness.

The brochure is a perfect reference for rich grammaticide: from bad spellings to abuse of punctuations. It would serve as the best source to write thesis on sanctioned Executive Errors on Governance.

I have no energy to produce all the dittos of the comical relief covering multitude grammatical offences in the brochure. But two or three of the zillion egregious blunders are worth consideration.

"Youthful", a word that is not eligible to be listed under any serious spelling bee competition got misspelt in our indece brochure. This got me thinking and asking many rhetorics. Our liberation anniversary celebration was left in lousy hands. In an era where graphic editors programs have inbuilt spell check, this is not so right. So many spelling mistakes!

In the brochure, on Ghana-Kenya relations, the first line reads "As Africa surges like eagle..." If the author's intention was to personify Africa, "surge" was not the appropriate word. And if intention was to create a simile between Africa and eagle, "surge" was still not right. "Soar" is the word. "As Africa soars" is personification. "As Africa soars like eagle" is simile. "Surge" may be closely synonymous to "soar" but in terms of collocation of registers "soar" paints a better picture. Ghana Commercial Bank has an eagle as its emblem and has provided an enormity of free grammar adverts on its "soaring eagle".

This is how the coat of arms is described in the brochure. "The Coat-of-Arms of Ghana consist of a shield divided into four quarters by a green St George's Cross rimmed with gold. In the top left-handed quarter is"

"Four quarters" should have been "four quadrants". If you consider any geometric shape and divide it with two perpendicular lines (St George's Cross), each of the four parts is quadrant. It's basic maths. It's precision. "Four quarters" in many critical jurisdictions means something else. Even in anatomy, when we divide the abdomen into four equal parts, each part is called a quadrant.

Even primary school kids know that when they draw and divide their circle into four equal parts, each is quadrant. So, a school kid would better relate to quadrant than a quarter. The prime object of a good literature is to aid relation and understanding.

The second sentence reads "In the top left-handed quarter" instead of "In the left upper quadrant". Left upper quadrant, right upper quadrant, left lower quadrant and right lower quadrant are universal terms that transcend several disciplines of learning. It's very fundamental to elude an entire brochure crew for our indece celebration. Seriously! This brochure was probably hijacked by just one person.

Still with the coat of arms description reads "left-handed quarter". Left-handed paa! The quarter is left-handed? Good Heavens! Comedy of errors indeed! This epic maltreatment of the Queen's in the brochure is a representation of Ghana to the international dignitaries on how far we faired in grammar since independence. Oh no! Ghana arguably is the best English-speaking country in Africa. And we are highly acknowledged in the Encarta Dictionaries (2009).

This error-ridden brochure obviously is the work of unprofessional hand(s).

Our national publications have the duty to inform and educate the citizenry in plain good English. It should be an avenue to market Ghana to the international community. It should be a symbol for the diaspora to consolidate their pride in their birth country. It should be a riveting page-turner inundated with literary wealth. It should be formidable enough to get listed in the catalogues of the Ivy Leagues.

The standards of English in our schools are already in heightened decadence and the presidency and national institutions should not be the promoters of this worrisome development of our educational system.

I don't know why a government replete with megaminds seems inextricable in this niggling faux pas in information communication.

It's one too many to rule out saboteurs and mafiosos. For instance, the letter of apology that was issued to douse the fire of shame concerning the indece brochure came out even with a sillier mistake.

Well, the opprobrium of the these unending errors is getting murkier and casting aspersions upon the Ghanaian intelligentsia. And as a learner of the language, I must say, IT'S NO LONGER FUNNY.

Abdulai Hanan R. Confidence
Nurse
Tamale West Hospital
confidencegh@gmail.com
+233208455884