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Opinions of Monday, 17 May 2010

Columnist: Kyei-Mensah-Osei, Kofi

….And The General Lied, He Lied and Lied Again!!

On Wednesday, 12.05.10, almost all the pro-Ghanaian websites published a story about the National Security Coordinator; Brigadier-General who is alleged to have said that unlike other Ghanaians, he has never told a lie in his life even at the point of death. He was quoted as saying that, “…we Ghanaians don’t tell the truth so whenever you tell the truth, they think you are lying. I have never lied in my life. In the military, I never lied even at the point of death, I never lied.” Brigadier-General Nunoo Mensah made this statement in his defence with regards to his involvement in matters pertaining to the Otuano and Ayirebi Acquah families of Winneba and the brouhaha about the celebration of the “Aboakyir Festival”. For a whole National Security Coordinator of the country to make such disparaging remark about the character and integrity of the Ghanaian was shocking.

Sometimes, I do wonder if some of our leaders really think through comments they make in public before they come out to say it. They forget that we live in the technological age now and whatever people say or do in whichever part of the planet isn’t precluded from the rest of the world anymore and therefore our leaders can ill afford to make comments like that. Brigadier-General Nunoo Mensah might have thought he wasn’t probably being beamed live by CNN, BBC, FOX News etc and therefore could say anything without giving though to its repercussions. Granted that the are liars in Ghana as there are in any other country in the world, does it make a Ghanaian liar any worse than his American, British, Chinese, Chechnyan or Afghan counterpart? How would Brigadier Nunoo Mensah have reacted if an American, Chinese, Iraqi or European in similar capacity as himself had referred to Ghanaians with such negative superlatives? I bet he would probably have advised the President to summon the High Commissioner of that country to the castle to explain such undiplomatic comments. Whatever the issue General Nunoo Mensah has with the 2 royal families of Winneba, he needn’t have gone to that extent to slug the rest of us off just to redeem himself. That to me was an unpatriotic comment, cowardly and selfish. Being a proud Ghanaian, I take an exception to the Brigadier-General castigating every Ghanaian for being untruthful to exonerate himself. The General simply can’t lampoon, lambast and call us liars just because his involvement in the chieftaincy matters of Winneba and the Aboakyir Festival has made one faction very uncomfortable. His comments were unwarranted. He simply needn’t have tarred us all with same brush. Brigadier Nunoo Mensah should unreservedly apologise to the tax payer who pay his salary and every Ghanaian for that matter; for insulting the good people of our dear motherland! My late mother used to advice us that: anybody who bad-mouth others in order to look good in the eyes of the community is hollow and vain and I find it fascinating that the General hasn’t come out to apologise. What General Nunoo Mensah said is exactly what my mother used to advice us against. In order to exonerate himself in the eyes of the people of Winneba, he cowardly chose to bad-mouth Ghanaians. Assuming the assertion that “Ghanaians don’t tell the truth….” is true; the question others like me will like to pose is this: Is Brigadier Nunoo Mensah not a Ghanaian then? If he is a Ghanaian as I know he is, and if all of us including the President “don’t tell the truth” as he made the world to believe in his statement, how then could he claim never to have lied in his life? How could he be the only one among a population of about 24 million to speak the truth and why should the good people of Winneba believe him anyway?

Can the General be serious with his “I have never lied in my life” assertion?:

Did the General really mean it when he said he has “never lied...” in his life? Since no one was ever born an adult, is the Brigadier saying he never lied even as a little child? Does he remember everything he said or did in his childhood so clearly to canonise himself as a living saint with regards to telling the truth? I can guarantee the General even told a little lie (if not a big one) to embellish his story and chances when he was wooing his wife. General Nunoo Mensah also posited that, “in the military, I never lied even at the point of death….” That is even more interesting. Is the General in anyway implying that someone or a group of people in the army once put a gun to his head to coerce him to lie about something? Ghanaians will be interested to know what crime(s) he committed that brought him to the “point of death”. If General Nunoo Mensah can’t tell Ghanaians the full story, then some of us are quite happy to conclude that nothing of the sort happened and therefore he has once again lied.

Could it be that General Nunoo Mensah has lied before? Yes!! Here’s is how:

The honourable general claims never to have lied in his life and yet on one hand he calls all Ghanaians as group of people who do not “tell the truth”. Is he not inferring that he is liar himself? The Concise Oxford English Dictionary interprets “lie as an intentional false statement; also, a situation involving deception or founded on a mistaken impression.” Simply put, lie is either told or lived. People lie everywhere; in America, Saudi Arabia, Papua New Guinea and so it is not a unique characteristic of the Ghanaians. Going by the dictionary meaning of the word “lie”, the General’s statement that “We Ghanaians don’t tell the truth…” is an intentionally false statement. To put it bluntly, the General lied. The second interpretation of the word “lie”: a situation involving deception” from the same Concise Oxford English Dictionary is even more interesting and this is why: not too long ago, Brigadier-General Nunoo Mensah was an NPP member or so he made the world to believe. Since the NDC came to power though everyone has seen that it was all a deception, a façade, a mirage. General Nunoo Mensah was therefore living a lie (situation involving deception) and therein lays his second lie in that short sentence quoted in the very first paragraph of this write-up.

General Nunoo Mensah’s remarks were derogatory and he should have known better than throw cheap shots at the good people of this country. It is even shocking that he did not realise that his statement had lies written all over it. It is already difficult enough for Ghanaians abroad without our leaders making such damning comments about our country. People in authority should know that they do not live in a cocoon and should therefore be very be mindful of their choice of words whether they speak in public or in private.

Kofi Kyei-Mensah-Osei