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Opinions of Saturday, 28 November 2020

Columnist: Clement Boateng

Part 1: Elections keep coming: Build your muscles, but build your brains even more

File photo of a voter casting her vote File photo of a voter casting her vote

Agyaaku nigh draws this year’s elections. It is incredible how many stories we have shared amongst ourselves, and it is just amazing how these stories pop up at applicable times. I just remembered two stories you told us. One is about your uncle, Opanin Stone, and the other is about your friend, Kwaapan. I remember how you said mighty Opanin Stone, in his youthful days, could single-handedly watch over our village, especially in the night, to keep everybody safe. I remember how you looked teary when you described how he needed help to move around in his advanced years.

Nana, I also do recall how you said Kwaapan angrily yelled at a guy who has been attacked by his political opponents on your way to vote, back in the 1950s. The reason, you said, was because strongman Kwaapan stepped in toward the attackers off, and in the course of that the one being attacked drew a knife and flung it into one attacker’s belly. That angered no-nonsense Kwaapan who yelled “Really? Then you are on your own. I don’t care what they will do to you”. One can see that Kwaapan and Opanin Stone were tough guys if pictures are to be believed. I did not meet your uncle but I saw Kwaapan in his advanced age. He also needed time to move around in his old age.

Ahaa Agyaaku, do you remember the story I told you about a lecturer back in my days at the undergraduate level? Yes, the one in which in the middle of a lecture, the lecturer paused, looked through the window and shook his head despairingly. Seeing the workers managing the lawn in the scorching sun, and matching same to how much they earn, made him sad. He compared their earnings to his, and it made him even sadder. We concluded that most laborious and physical jobs don’t pay much.

These two scenarios got me thinking, Nana. It tells me muscle power is not enough. One needs to add value to oneself in order to earn more. According to Muscle and Fitness Magazine, the winner of Mr. Olympia (body builders’ competition) received $675,000 in 2013. And according to, the average salary of a professional body builder in the USA is about US$32,000 per year. Comparatively, in the same jurisdiction, the average salary of a public teacher is $59,660 in 2016/2017; software developers raked in an average salary of $108,080 in 2018; and politicians (governors and lawmakers) earn between $70,000 and $190,000 per year. These graduated earnings across the stated professions in USA are not different in Ghana’s context, Agyaaku. Around the world, politicians, software developers, teachers and many other professionals that do not rely on muscle power earn more than bodybuilders or macho men (as we commonly call them in Ghana), Nana.

As such I have always wondered why these noble, able-bodied macho men will allow themselves to be used by politicians to unleash violence on their fellow men and women of the land, Agyaaku. In so doing, the politician gets his or her office, earns far more financially in a 4-year term than you, the macho man, will earn in your entire life. But how different is the politician from you the macho man? Perhaps it is because he or she has some academic or professional qualification, has had a good job or has been a successful business person. They thus wield some financial muscle, making them able to buy your biological muscle cheaply, to possibly bully their way to power. They ‘employ’ the macho men when they need to scare or cause mayhem at some point, mostly during election periods.

The politicians sit at the comfort of their homes or in their high-end vehicles, while macho men chase after, maim or kill their supposed enemies. Often times these macho men meet strong opposition and the tables turn, so they end up being chased after, maimed or killed, Agyaaku. This is a good reason why macho men should be weary of doing the dirty bidding of the politicians, should they not, Nana?

Do not worry, we will continue with this conversation, Nana. I can sense you need to do something else now. So I will leave you to attend to your dudo brewing before you set off to undertake that pressing issue, Agyaaku. I also need to catch the next train.

Mesan aba biem!!!