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Opinions of Thursday, 6 October 2016

Columnist: Akosah Sarpong Antwi

Grace versus the theory of whom you know

Whom you know in the local parlance is the belief that one cannot make progress on the career or business ladder regardless of their education, training or expertise unless they know a “tycoon” or a “big man” at the top of the food chain to facilitate it. This theory is not a belief for only atheist but for most people with different religious affiliations.

Grace may be defined as the unmerited or undeserving favor to those who are under condemnation. Great example is where Jesus who knew no sin died for the sins of the world. 2 Corinthians 5:21. In Ghana today, grace is defined as something said when you are able to attain that long awaited position or level you have always wished for.

Whom you know is a common phrase that every Ghanaian is accustomed to, especially when there is a job vacancy. Whereas, grace is the common term beneficiaries often use when those job opportunities are secured. So in Ghana, whom you know is the prerequisite for any vacancy and Grace is always the end result. So is the reality of “whom you know” always acknowledged? Or do we always pretend it is the “grace of God”?

Growing through the Ghana education system, there were some mates who utterly abandoned their lecture notes, used most of their productive hours in school womanizing and clubbing, but have ended up in the best of companies in the country today even ahead of the most industrious and disciplined course mates.

Why? Because even when they were messing around on campus, they were conscious of the fact that their parents or relatives were highly connected. That is the reality of the “whom you know” in action.

My confusion, however, is when you ask these same colleagues how they were able to secure those jobs, their answer is quite simple and similar “ It is the grace of God” So is that the grace of God or the theory “of whom you know”?

Well, there is truth in this dimension of grace where people have argued that even the fact that they came to the earth through the womb of these heavily “linked” parents is just by the grace of God. So if they have been able to progress in life easily, it is all under the sufficient grace of God.

Indeed in the bible, many believe if it wasn’t for the faithfulness and prayers of David, his son Solomon, couldn’t have been a king as captured in (1 kings 3:5) And Solomon said, “You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant David my father, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward you.

And you have kept for him this great and steadfast love and have given him a son to sit on his throne this day. And now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of David my father, although I am but a little child. I do not know how to go out or come in.

So then my question is what about those who by no fault of theirs came through the womb of poor parents? Are they disqualified from grace? Or does this dimension of grace suggest that if you are born by certain kinds of parents you shouldn’t dream big? Or you can never be able to climb the career ladder if you don’t have any prominent person in your family? No!

At least I remember Abraham Attah was recently chosen from the slums in Ashaiman to the red carpet of the Grammies. Which means “whom you know”, though the most common route to the top, is not the only route. And that should give everyone some hope, even without the boundless examples of people picked from a nowhere position to a somewhere position.

Just like in the bible, when Jesus was about to die for man in John 3:16, he said everyone (not selected few) who believe should not perish but have everlasting life. And in romans 8:1 Apostle Paul said “There is therefore now no condemnation to them (not some) which are in Christ Jesus”. For me that sounds more like grace for anyone who have Christ.

So is there a thin line between what we normally refer to as “whom you know” and Grace? Or they are the same? Hmmmm..