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Opinions of Friday, 25 March 2011

Columnist: Abugri, George Sydney

Nana Bonsam and the noisy crowd.

By George Sydney Abugri

The traffic cop flags down the cabbie: Stop! Park! The cabbie says “officer…” and leaves the word hanging in the morning air. Quick. Quick. Hurry up, my friend, says the cop. “Officer…” repeats the cabbie. This time, two palms meet. Carry on. Carry on, says the cop. The cabbie moves…

A private saloon car is approaching. The cop flags down the motorist. Stop! Park! Welcome to our great republic where language is a figure of speech and what you see, is often not what you see at all. I shall be telling you about another cab driver from Nungua near Accra in a jiffy…

The news as reported by Classic FM in Techiman this week, is that a traditional sorcerer called Nana Bonsam, has warned that any bandit who snatches a ballot box during next year’s elections will die “instantly.”

One of the big foot soldier chaps with chests like barrels of crude oil and biceps like timber tree trunks, storms a polling station on a motor bike, brandishing giant fists and machetes. He grabs a big box full of sweet political power-winning ballot papers and tries to scoot with the polling loot. Before he can take the first step, he drops dead. Very, very dead, Jomo.

Wow. That would be really cool, as the teenagers say. That should keep the NDC, the NPP, the Electoral Commissioner and all and sundry very happy!

On second thought, Jomo, methinks it will take more than a traditional sorcerer’s metaphysical threat of instant death to keep trouble makers at bay and pull off a peaceful national election next year.

You see, it usually ends well that starts and progresses well. We have started very badly and are creating the very conditions that work against the peace and harmony crucial for a violence-free election and it is all with a little help from radio.

Many people depend on radio for news and information by the minute but the medium has been high jacked for political propaganda of the most dangerous kind. When you tune in to most radio stations in the morning, all you hear is cacophonous, lunatic ranting as people across the political divide throw up a great din.

The political discourse is generally always very negative and mostly about personalities. The real issues have been murdered by propagandists. Voters are learning very little about the issues that should inform their political choices.

Most of what we hear on radio amount to nothing less than these: Accusations, staunch denials and counter accusations between NDC and NPP leaders and activists. Vicious personality attacks, spirited self defences and fiery counter attacks. Insults, counter insults and more insults and rabid diatribes.

During morning broadcasts, especially, people get so very angry and upset that they actually end up barking instead of talking and you cannot hear a darned word of what they try to say.

Do you reckon getting so worked up so early in the morning and screaming and howling like wounded hippos is doing the emotional, physical and mental health of these power-hungry fellows and those who listen to them, any good, Jomo?

It is a subject worthy of research. Ask any clinical psychologist: People who hear negative information and negative opinions tend to be emotionally conditioned to act negatively towards others and this spreads among the population and threatens the peace.

To the chagrin of some of his passengers, Mr. Nartey the cab driver from Nungua tunes his car stereo into only those radio stations which play music all day long. Some of his passengers often complain that they want to hear some of the news and discussions on radio.

Nartey explains why he is unable to oblige: A comment someone once made on a radio discussion programme infuriated a passenger who in turn made very derogatory and libelous remarks about the speaker on the radio programme.

Another passenger hurled insults and threats at the first passenger, whereupon, the last and ultimate world war nearly broke out in the cab and one of the two passengers nearly lost a jaw to the fist of the other. The commotion cost Mr. Nartey his concentration and threatened the safety of his passengers.

Early in the week, one prominent individual was on a radio station for nearly half an hour shouting very angrily and insulting a leading political figure. It went on and on until he was hoarse and breathing heavily!

Is that the purpose of radio? What about us listeners? We tune in for wholesome for information and education, so why this? Why should a radio station allow someone to spend an hour screaming at its listeners?

Why does the bloke not simply jump into his own motor car or a taxi, drive straight to the office or home of the bloke he is riling away at, and shout at him/her all he wants, until they both grow pink and green whiskers to prove how serious they are with politics?

Many politicians and their followers are certainly taking themselves too seriously for their own good: Take the case of this young legislator who raised the hackles all around for statements he made on Adom FM last week:

The Hon. Emmanuel Aboagye Didieye, MP for Afram Plains, who was in the studio with two other Members of Parliament, claimed 80 percent of our legislators are womanizers.

Keep calm for a moment and consider this: What would have happened if the two other MPs in the studio had given their young colleague a mild rebuke and let things be or even ignored him altogether? Nothing Jomo. Nothing. That is what would have happened.

You don’t pluck statistics out of the air like a magician conjuring mangoes, do you? There is a scientific basis for statistics, so who will take such preposterous claims seriously apart from those who take themselves too seriously?

Yet the two other MPs were so incensed by the allegation, that one of them got rather too worked up for his own emotional health and spent the rest of the programme berating his colleague mercilessly.

Back in the chamber of Parliament, very few if any MPs appeared to have heard of the young MP’s outrageous remarks or if they did, appeared not to have attached undue attention to it. Then again, one lone MP of the breed that loves the gripe, brought up the matter to the floor of the house, and our legislators squandered time on yet another issue more mundane than the mundane.

It is a fact of biology: The average male will help himself to illicit nookie given the opportunity and a convenient setting and people of high social standing who typically can afford the good things of this worldly life easily attract women, so the unspoken claim to sainthood by the legislators may not be accurate even if the young MPs claims are not worthy of serious attention!

Deputy Interior Minister, Kobby Acheampong spoke at a public forum this week and apparently referred to NPP presidential candidate, Nana Akufo-Addo as a fruit cake or something.

An activist in the candidate’s camp looked up the word with a rather suspicious ring to it in the dictionary.

Ah, there is the darned word: It says acting crazily, which means the chap is calling our beloved leader a mad man. Kobby Acheampong calls Aufo-Addo a mad man, screamed the subsequent news the headlines.

For the next 24 hours, the issue edged out all issues of critical national concern from radio broadcasts and an avalach of counter-insults came cascading down on the Deputy Minister! Political rivals have since launched a hunt for Acheampong’s skull.

If they want any attention from these griping politicians, the unemployed, the hungry, the homeless and those whose drinking water looks like some strange fluid from Professor Frankenstein’s laboratory, will have to wait until they come campaigning for votes yet again! Email: georgeabu@hotmail.com Website: www.sydneyabugri.com