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Opinions of Sunday, 8 November 2009

Columnist: Akosah-Sarpong, Kofi

Koku Anyidoho and the anatomy of hate

By Kofi Akosah-Sarpong

Koku Anyidoho, the director of communications at President John Atta Mills’ Osu Castle, says he hates ex-President John Kufour’s face more than any other person in Ghana. “I don't like his face, so I don't want to hear anything about him.” That’s disturbing from a high profile government figure in Ghana’s/Africa’s volatile political environment where hatred emanating from top government official has set ablaze many an African state – Rwanda, Burundi, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast and the Democratic of the Congo attest to this.

In all these countries, as Koku is increasingly positioning himself into against the backdrop of the poisonous and fire-spitting Jerry Rawlings, his political godfather, people in charge of communications fueled some of Africa’s destruction. You cannot understand some of the reasons for Africa’s disaster without reading Koku. The increasing saturation of the Kokus and their lackeys gives me a jolt of anxiety. Ghana, like either Rwanda or Liberia, doesn’t have any immunities against hate-driven disaster.

In the fickle African environment, with its ancient, tribal hatred flowing into the modern nation-states, hate is difficult to talk about. The African mind resists it, yet it exists. Hate is amorphous and disorderly. As the hearings at the UN Special Courts in Freetown and Arusha revealed, even people responsible for hate-driven horrors in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Rwanda and DRC, find it difficult to discuss why they committed such atrocities. But Africans know such people were juvenilely saying that “I don't like his face, so I don't want to hear anything about him.” And boom, a genocide, a deadly civil war and an African nation-state turned into ashes.

In Koku, hatred is intellectually and morally difficult to debate; hatred is such a dangerous, unmanageable mess, such a monster that even I am sure Koku cannot tell us deeply why he doesn’t like Kufour’s face, in an atmosphere charged with his political godfather constantly attacking Kufour. I have nightmares hearing the hate-filled venoms of Kuko and Rawlings.

Why wondering why Kuko, part of Ghana’s new generation of elites, haven’t learned from Rwanda, DRC and the Central African Republic, and why President Atta Mills is still keeping him at his presidency, as a response to Africa full of hatred, I reviewed the Sierra Leonean disaster, where I covered the initial outbreak of the country’s horrendous civil some 14 years ago. As images of Sierra Leone, supposed to be the most civilized country in West Africa then, with its remarkable ancient Fourah Bay College, flashed through my mind, my wits drifted to key figures like Koku who made hatefully mindless speeches. It is Siaka Stevens, Sierra Leone’s long ruling despot, who hatefully said, “pass I die,” as majority yearned for democracy, the rule of law and freedoms. Stevens prepared the grounds for Sierra Leone’s explosion. And the fuel was hatred, as Foday Sankoh demonstrated.

What is hate? A Rwanda turned upside down, the senses and the brain darkened? Deadly African tribalism projected openly? The Other demeaned and seen in gloom? Arrogance killing humility? Feelings and love amputated? Darkness ruling over light? Whatever. The image may give hate too much power, as Koku is using his powerful office to do, but in the long run, as Sierra Leone shows, light and justice prevail. Are Koku and his ilk know that there is hate crime laws in Ghana, in Ecowas regulations, in the African Union charter, and other international laws?

The reason hate is hard to discuss is that it is an ambiguity. As Koku exhibits, hate is either too weighty to comprehend or too superficial and dim-witted to bear much analysis – the machetes used to commit genocide in Rwanda, violent, irrational, an albino cut into pieces for traditional rituals, Jean-Bedel Bokassa cannibalizing for juju powers, a dark power intoxication, a negative energy spilled all over, an accessory of disaster. In Koku, there are no subjectivists or objectivists of hate – all are blurred, for in the final analysis, hatred will consume all Ghanaians, no matter one’s ethnic group, as the Rwandans’ hard realities tell us.

Koku’s hatred of Kufour reveals his mounting, misguided arrogance since he assumed the communication directorship at the Osu Castle, where power has gone into his tangled head and is tormented by his spiritual and emotional inadequacies. At an international conference on hate, held in Oslo, Norway in 1990, Vaclav Havel, the writer and former president of Czech Republic, who had experienced immense hatred under communist rule, revealed the psychology of individual hate, when he said, “…The hater longs for the object of his hatred” and that the classic hater has “serious face, a quickness to take offence, strong language, shouting, the inability to step outside himself and see his own foolishness.”

While Ghana’s on-going 17-year-old democracy may have brought out the likes of Koku from the cocoon of hatred into the open for resolution, democracy may not be the answer. The genocide that occurred in Rwanda, the civil wars that took place in Sierra Leone and Liberia and the paralysis of the Central African Republic were undertaken under some sort of democracy. In Koku, Africans do not want to remember that. It was the regional grouping Economic Community of West African States faith in dialogue that neutralized the clouds of hate that nearly destroyed Guinea Bissau, Guinea Conakry and Ivory Coast.

What is the antidote to the likes of Koku? Hope. Spirituality. Culture. Education. Law. Integrity. Charity. Love.