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Opinions of Friday, 6 February 2004

Columnist: Akosah-Sarpong, Kofi

Kufuor And The Juju Talks

Kofi Akosah-Sarpong looks at the implications of President Kufuor being linked to juju-marabou dabbling and says Ghana’s experience expects the President to live about such talks

“President Agyekum Kufuor was a God fearing man and who is not the type to visit shrines to consult mediums to help him maintain his position in power,” revealed Joseph B. Aidoo, Ghana’s Western Regional Minister. Before Aidoo’s remarks, there have been speculative reports in the Accra-based Palaver about Kuffour dabbling in juju/marabou rituals. While the credence of this is subject to debate and in the era of partisan politics, one’s political stand, such talks call for serious discussions since our culture, our history and our experiences demonstrates juju/marabou and other such practices inhibiting our development. Culturally, it is not strange to hear a leader in Ghana (or Africa) being linked to juju/marabou dabbling.

The reason is that juju, marabou, and other such practices have been part of our culture for thousands of years, especially in West Africa. That our leaders dabble in such dreadful cultural values is true—from traditional rulers to ministers to presidents and prime ministers to the small chief in a remote village. What is imperative, in terms of our on-going development drive, is that we are increasingly coming to the realization that juju/marabou and other such practices are counterproductive to progress. Part of the reason for the implosion of Liberia is massive dabbling of its leaders such as Gen. Samuel Doe in juju/marabou, witchcraft and other such practices. In all measure Gen. Doe became so juju/marabou that he became infantile, unrealistic, stupid, arrogant, tribalistic and foolish leading to the destruction of Liberia.

The significance of looking at the implications of John Kuffour being linked to juju/marabou is that it was raised in the chambers Ghana’s highest law-making body. By raising such talks in parliament, or rather defending Kuffour for not dabbling in juju/marabou, the perception is that juju/marabou is negative, especially for a President, since it has implications for Kuffour and the nation. The implications border on Kuffour’s reasoning, and as Head of State, for Ghana. As a leader, Kuffour’s private life flows into his public life, more so in country where poverty and distress are high in a region which is the poorest in the world, and there are high demands from the struggling people for Kuffour to delivery developmental eggs.

The idea of Kuffour dabbling in juju/marabou and other such practices, as development experts debate the implications of juju/marabou, witchcraft and other such practices in national development, is that it weakens the Head of State’s ability to totally rationalize in relations to the problems on the ground. Juju/marabou and other such practices not only weakens trust, a key ingredient in development, but undermines “national morality, because they are based on irrational spirit power,” as Robert Kaplan reports in The Coming Anarchy. You don’t solve poverty problems by dabbling in the metaphysical and as we all know of some aspects of juju/marabou, murdering innocent people for some stupid power which does no help anybody (Nigeria’s Gen. Sani Abacha’s juju/marabou-directed murdering spree to transform himself into not only civilian President but also solve his mounting problems are cases in point). You solve the problems of poverty by understanding the poverty variables on the ground, listening to the people, by talking to the people and finding out what worries them and factoring in its international dimensions, especially a country with colonial history. The history of Ghana (and Africa) shows that leaders, both military and civilians, who dabble heavily in juju/marabou either paralyze their country or blow it into pieces. From Liberia’s Gen. Samuel Doe to Uganda’s Gen. Idi Amin to Central Africa Republic’s Jean-Bedel Bokassa (who ate human flesh as part of his juju/marabou rituals for power), dabbling in juju/marabou makes the leader weak mentally, it clogs the mind, thus becoming not only gullible but inability to rationalize about the problems of the people. The leader becomes unrealistic, depending on illiterate, irrational, unscientific and impractical mediums that, in all measure, are immoral, stupid and destructive. The juju/marabou dabbling Africa leader sees critics as enemies and lives in paranoia. Such leaders become the manipulative robots of the juju/marabou and other mediums as we saw in Gen. Idi Amin, perhaps one of the most rabid juju/marabou dabblers Africa has seen-- the Ugandan media described Amin as spiritually weak.

Ghana under General Kutu Acheampong not only saw a throwback to the ancient times mired in irrational native spiritual mediums but rule by forces of irrationality. The era shows a Head of State confused and rolling from one juju/marabou medium to another. The juju/marabou made Acheampong not only gullible but also infantile, believing in everything the spiritual mediums told him. It is, therefore, not surprising that Acheampong was swimming every mid-night in one of the rivers in Accra as advised by his spiritual mediums, ostensibly to ward off being overthrown and being attacked by “evil” spirits (More appropriately “people’s” spirit). But Gen. Acheampong was overthrown all the same and executed. In Nigeria, the juju/marabou mediums had so much grip on Gen. Abacha that his every move was juju/marabou-directed: his conducted important affairs of state overnight by the advise of his mediums; he looted the Nigerian treasury in the same fashion; he killed and jailed in the same vein (He jailed and nearly killed President Olusegun Obasanjo upon the advise of his mediums some of whom come as far as Yemen, Saudi Arabia and India). Nigeria was ruled by so much irrationality that the country not only became ‘dark’ but also was on the edge of another civil war.

Aidoo said Kuffour is “a confident man and that his confidence was in God who he feared and by whose grace only, he (The President) would have the mandate of the populace to rule again” and that “the President was however not complacent, in that he showed his awareness that some persons would do whatever they could to ensure that he lost the mandate of the people so he is taking the necessary precautions to forestall that,” the Ghana News Agency (GNA) reports. “Necessary precautions to forestall” what? Such suspicious remarks emanates largely from the Ghanaian (and African) culture, where because of high incidence of witchcraft believes, juju/marabou dabbling and the influence of witchdoctors any mishap, distress and challenges are thought to be influenced by unseen forces. Leaders of the countries all over the world that are doing well do not dabble in juju/marabou mediums despite slight differences in culture. They reason along with their bureaucracy, cabinet and the intelligentsia. Dirk Kohnert, of Germany’s Institute for African Affairs, reports that the belief in witchcraft, juju/marabou and other such practices are still “deeply rooted in many African societies, regardless of education, religion, and social class of the people concerned.” Like any other culture, this aspect of the Ghanaian culture is irrational and blinds one from realistic assessment problems.

The problems facing Ghana (and Africa) call for total, no-hold-bar detail intellectual discussion from the public to the cabinet level and not any dabbling of juju/marabou and other spiritual mediums. Without raising one’s intelligence, if juju/marabou is all that rational, positive and good why haven’t it been used for the rapid development of Ghana (and Africa)? Why having it being used to help in our thinking so that we can solve most of problems fast? Why haven’t it being used to increase trust among Africa’s ethnic groups for rapid development? Without stretching our imagination, the African knows very well that the more an individual or group dabbles in juju/marabou and other such practices the stupid, troublesome, unpleasant and self-destructive the person or group is. And without naming names, African ethnic groups that are known to be heavily mired in juju/marabou and other such practices are normally poor, live in fear, unnecessarily secretive, disease-ridden (most juju/marabou rituals are filthy), closed to modernization, and reason poorly.

For the growth of Ghana (and Africa), it is healthy that Kuffour and other leaders respond to such juju/marabou and other such practices talks in the public and in doing so educate the public that some aspects of juju/marabou and other such practices are not good for development. After all the Ghana Police Service and the South African Police Force (It has an Occult Unit) now implicate juju/marabou mediums in crimes if they are proven to be linked as facilitators in terms helping with their juju/marabou trappings.


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