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Opinions of Thursday, 29 July 2010

Columnist: Appiah-Adjei, Daniel

Oral Village Ideas

BY
DANIEL APPIAH-ADJEI

EVEN MAD PEOPLE PRAY

If the world had been what we all perceive it to be, we would be very ignorant about certain things that happen. Have you perchance paused and asked yourself whether ‘mad’ people also pray for those who are kind to them? This I know, you would say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ but I tell you it does happen everyday.

There is this young man at Agbogbloshie junction who sells newspapers. This young man has so many customers, in fact, those who collect the papers and pay outright and those who postpone payment till the weekend. His patience and trust in people give me cause to worry. There are times that I wonder; ‘will he be able to remember all those who owe him’? ‘What if a driver changes the route after compiling heavy debts’? Don’t forget, I have also been taking papers from him and paying later.
One morning as usual, in traffic, I heard this young man shouting on top of his voice ‘’ I say wait a little while. I am coming. Don’t you have patience”? I became alarmed as it was quite surprising for the calm and respectful young man to talk like that. I stopped in the traffic and enquired about who was disturbing him and he answered. ‘’ Oh, it is this mad man who always comes to me for his chop-money every morning’. I looked at the young man and said; ‘then, you are lucky. That ‘mad’ man always prays for you’.
There is uncountable number of ‘mad’ people roaming the streets everyday going about in search of what they only know and can tell. Where they are going and their destinations remains a mystery. Some of them are regular customers or visitors to specific places where they go for food, water, alcoholic drinks, and shelter. Some go to entertainment spots for fun. This is their world. I guess whenever the ‘sane people’ drive them away, they become very disappointed.
Let me ask this; do you think it would be expedient upon those considered to be mad thanking God for those who regularly provide them with their basic needs? Are you sure we get blessings from God whenever we offer a helping hand to these ‘mad’ people?
Aha! This reminds me of what people are clamoring about in the air waves and newspapers; HUMAN RIGHTS. Do ‘mad’ people also have their fundamental human rights? Nana Oye Lithur, please come to my aid. I shall be very grateful if anybody can tutor me on the rights of the ‘mad’ people in our communities. At least I think they have the right to existence or the rights to live. What about the other rights? And whose responsibility is it?
Dr. Mohammed Ben Abdallah one of Ghana’s finest playwrights wrote a play and titled it THE WITCH OF MOPTI. In this play, the witch who is fighting relentlessly for the newly installed King of Mopti to marry her daughter, Fanta uses her powerful witchcraft to pollute the well from which people in the community get their source of drinking water. She does this due to the king’s refusal to adhere her demands and decides to choose his own wife. This is an abomination as far as the witch of Mopti is concerned.
Consequently, any one who takes water from the well becomes ‘mad’. To say the least, every soul living in that community is ‘mad’ according to the story by Abdallah. The only people who are ‘sane’ are the king and his wife. They have not yet taken water from the well.
As fate will have it, the wife of the king visits a friend who gives her a welcome drink as a norm in the traditional culture and after taking the water drawn from the well with her friend, they both become ‘insane’. The King’s wife has joined the ‘madness’ family. She has swallowed the pill of insanity. Riddle, riddle, riddle…..who amongst the lot has not drunk from the well which has been polluted by the Witch of Mopti? Answer: The king of Mopti.
My dear reader, the whole community according to the King of Mopti is ‘mad’. He laments…’my people are mad……..they are insane…….they have lost their keys……. They are dirty……they are this …..They are that...etc”.
Not being able to stand the behavior of his people, he decides to consult many diviners and powerful advisors and they all tell him; ‘the answer lies in the well’.
Meanwhile, the people of Mopti see their King behaving differently from them. They ask; ‘why is the King not behaving like one of us?’ Is he not supposed to be our king? Why is he wearing a full cloth when we are almost naked? ‘Now, he belongs to another culture so he cannot be our King..Lai..lai’. ‘He, who is not for us, is ……against us’.
Furtherance to their enquiries and not getting any meaningful answers, the people of Mopti decide to oust the King from his throne. They are really angry with him because according to them, the King of Mopti is ‘Mad’. He is insane, in fact a stark lunatic and does not fit to rule ‘sane’ people.
They gang up with sticks, stones, cutlasses, broken pots and many other offensive weapons chanting fearful war songs moving towards the King’s palace. I guess one of them saying ‘’If we get him, we will chop him into pieces and throw his body into an unknown place where no one will come across the scattered pieces. It is an abomination, unheard of, to be ruled by a ‘mad’ person like the king of Mopti…’’
Our wise people say, ‘’as the hunter has learned to shoot without missing, birds have also learned to fly without perching on a twig…’’ The King of Mopti has taken the pieces of advice offered him by his consultants. He there and then prepares himself to drink from the well.
The problem now is that, as the King tries to draw water from the well, the Witch of Mopti is standing by the well preventing him from drinking the water. They struggle very hard over the drinking cup and finally, the king succeeds by drinking a pot full of the polluted water. The King of Mopti is presently, indeed, the king of ‘madness’. His Lunacy is an extreme depiction of ‘madness’ to the highest level. Don’t forget he is the king and should behave as such.
The people of Mopti are seriously trooping angrily to the king’s palace to effect the necessary changes in the Kingship. They meet him on the way in a ‘’kingly magnified madness’’. They pause… ‘’Yes this is our king. He has now seen the light’’. They all shout and carry him shoulder high from one end of the Mopti town-ship to the other end.
To look and reflect on how the supposed ‘mad’ people behave toward us, what are their perceptions and impressions about us?
There is an advert on the Ghanaian Television where a “mad” man uses a cane to whip a “sane “person who is urinating at a public place. In this advert, who is ‘mad’ and who is not ‘mad’?
The Great Ampong of Ghana’s Gospel Music fame and his formidable musical team comprising Cee and Isaac say we live in a crazy world. Do we agree with them? And if so, are we all crazy people living in a crazy world? Let us ponder…..
A leader is one who, out of madness or goodness, volunteers to take upon himself the woe of the people. There are few men so foolish, hence the erratic quality of leadership in the world. John Updike
By His Grace, I shall be back.