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Opinions of Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Columnist: Adofo, Rockson

Ghanaians love of big titles is all vanity

From our traditional leaders through to our politicians and academics, the Ghanaian has a bizarre fondness for big titles. Their big titles, e.g. Otumfuo (Omnipotent) in the traditional arena, Honourable in the political sphere and Doctor (PhD holder) in the academic field, make the holders of such titles feel not only superior to their less fortunate compatriots but also, make them feel as though they are inches taller than the rest of the citizenry.

The possessors of such titles bestowed upon them by their royal lineage, election to power in politics and higher academic performance and attainment, raise their shoulders, puff their chest and stroll along with air of superiority around them. Most of them in their deceptive mind-set think they will never be six feet under hence having a total disregard for their other Ghanaian fellows.

These traditional leaders, who happen to be elevated to rule their subjects, do use their big titles to frighten off their subjects and subsequently, cheat them at any least opportunity they get. No one is able to question their attitudes hence they always get away with blue murder. A typical example is the current King of the Ashantis (Asantehene) Otumfuo Osei Tutu I, I who has shamelessly been abusing his powers and feels he is above the laws of the land. He reaps from where he has not sown.

Next is the Ghanaian politician, especially our legislators. Once they are elected to Parliament, they automatically become Honourable and insist on being called so. They do not want to be addressed as Mr/Mrs/Ms A or B, thus, their actual names before their election. Once they are elected, they ensure that they are addressed as honourable even away from the cameras and when not in public. However, I see more signs of dishonour in the Ghanaian legislator, judge, or Government Minister than the characteristics of honour in them.

The legislators only seek their selfish interests; always scratching the back of the Executives and having their backs scratched in return in what is popularly called, You scratch my back, I scratch your back. The Ghanaian parliamentarians always vote along party lines when anything comes to the floor of parliament for discussion and voting. What a shame!

Recently, they had been accusing some members of offering and accepting bribes. How can we trust such people and call them Honourable? I see them more of dishonourable than honourable and the onus is on them to prove me wrong. With all the rot that was going on in Ghana under former President John Mahama’s NDC-led government, the legislators were there just concurring, directly or indirectly strengthening the hands of the President and his cronies and families to steal the taxpayers’ money yet, they call themselves honourable.

What is honourable about them with regard to their collective failure to protect the public purse and to stop the lawlessness, the open practice of selective justice and the near-institutional corruption? Absolutely nothing, yet they like to be called honourable. Should I say honourable my foot? No, I shan't!

In the judiciary, our judges love to be addressed as My Lord because they hold the lives and fate of people in their hands when determining cases brought before their court. They can do as they want and what they want with the fate of any individual litigant, criminal etc. brought before them. Yes, internationally, their profession demands that we address them as My Lord etc., but do Ghanaian judges worth their salt and the name? Judges who do accept goats, cassava, yams, sheep, cats, dogs and/or money to twist justice to favour the highest bidder who could otherwise be the guilty party? I find it hard addressing judges who are unfair in determination of cases or purposely keep on adjourning cases to suit their evil intentions as my Lord. Should I say My Lord my foot? No I shan't!

Our highly educated ones after obtaining their PhDs not only love but also, insist that we address them by Doctor (Doc) at work and in private or public places. Woe betides he who fails to address them as such. They go about with raised shoulders, nose in the air and air of superiority around them yet, they cannot help alleviate the poverty in which the nationals are engulfed in. The engineers among them cannot copycat existing engineering achievements in the Western world to benefit our country let alone, inventing anything new yet, they feel overly pompous about their paper qualifications and expect to be addressed as Doc with people kowtowing and prostrating to them.

They will never accept today, tomorrow or for the rest of their lives to be called as Mister or by their first names without preceding it with Doctor or simply saying Doc. Should I say Doc my foot? No, I shan't!

Let me reiterate what I had already published years ago. Once, a highly educated Ghanaian who has obtained a doctoral degree in medicine and went on to obtain professorship in the field went to a Ghana Commercial Bank at Kumasi Tech junction to withdraw some money. In those days, it was the ongoing practice for customers to present their bank withdrawal books to the cashiers behind the counter, take a seat, and wait to be called.

This Ghanaian in question is addressed officially as Professor Doctor Doctor. However, the Bank clerk/cashier called out the name Professor (budinn) no answer. He called again, Professor Doctor (budinn) no answer. He put the book aside and started to serve other customers.

The cashier would intermittently call out the man's name using Professor, Doctor, or Professor Doctor and each time there would be no answer. The cashier would go on to serve other customers until there was only one man left sitting down in the waiting area of the bank. The cashier called out the name again but still without any response. He then walked up to the man, the last customer of course, left sitting there and asked, please are you not Professor... He stood up and retorted, No, I am not Professor but I am Professor Doctor Doctor. You should mention the whole title for people to know who I am because I have toiled hard through studies to earn the title so people should know who I am. You should have addressed me fully to let the customers know who I am.


This Professor Doctor Doctor was by then the head of Kumasi Central Hospital or a department of the hospital, I was told. He wanted people to know that he is the one who has earned chains of qualification by publicly being addressed as Professor Doctor Doctor but by his stupidity, none of the customers at the Bank ended up knowing him either by Professor or Doctor because they had all left even though he came to the bank well ahead of many of them. Do I have to say Doctor my foot? No, I shan't!

I find the Ghanaian fondness for big titles but without justifying such titles by their deeds very irresponsible. They use it either to corrupt themselves, or lord themselves over others.

Anyway, some are good and have used their hard earned titles to create jobs for many people. A good example among them is my own Kumawuman compatriot (name withheld) who has created jobs for thousands of Ghanaians. Yes, he is the one I may address as Doctor but I am sure he would not mind if I call him8Mr or simply by his first name when we ever meet.

Rockson Adofo