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Opinions of Monday, 21 March 2011

Columnist: Damoa, Adreba Kwaku Abrefa

Politics of hate and Hatred, Tearing Ghana Apart;

Who is behind it?

With this increasing taking for granted and match-making for promotion of aggression and resentment at radio stations by Ghana’s radio presenters, political intolerance and disenchantment invariably escalate. Two parties of opposing views, purposefully pitched against one another in the style and manner of ancient Roman gladiatorial fight in the arena is not the best of journalism that our radio presenters should offer. As to whether such programmes are honestly and sincerely aimed at informing, educating and or entertaining listeners, only god knows. Radio presenters invite their panel clearly and consciously aiming at taking advantage of the simmering volatile political situation in the country and poke the fire for the cauldron to boil stronger than ever. Some of these programmes end up in either the smarter side unfairly giving his opponent a biff or exchange of fists. The Tema-based Adom FM bears the blunt of such radio discussion chaos with such rich uncanny experiences and currently Osei Bobie of “Asempa” FM is muddying himself and the station that is supposed to be Asempa with what can best be described as a melee for an imminent explosion involving only politicians. The funny and saddest thing is that he is even not able to resolve any issue let alone advise, yet keeps on meddling in controversies. O journalism, why hast thou stooped so low, close to falling into dishonourable graves?

A few days ago, a similar botched-up moderation of a conflict-promotion episode caused the summoning of Hon Kennedy Agyepong to answer allegations of a threat to have Alhaji Bature killed when the latter lashed on the former inapt innuendos to the pleasure of the radio presenter. Hon Twumasi Apea had a biff at Adom, Ken Agyei Kuranchie was once assaulted, Kweku Baako and Kwesi Pratt fell apart on Alhaji and Alhaji programme etc. For how long will these ugly and noisome programmes continue to push Ghana into a mattoid condition as the country is stuck in a trilemma with accusing fingers almost poking the eyes of one another to the pleasure and enjoyment of conflict mongers? Since the culture of insults on radio, the use of aggressive and abusive language directed at politicians assumed lawful dimensions to the acquiescence and acceptance of Ghanaian society as a way of cheap demagoguery, radio stations have come to absorb cheap and low moral journalists to promote gratis dictum cheap talk not worth listening to. In the Desiderata poem by Max Ehrmann, the poem exhorts people to avoid loud and aggressive persons because they are vexatious to the human spirit. Every weekday morning, all radio stations across Ghana except Atlantis FM occupy themselves with politics, not in the direction of any synetics approach to chaffing issues of national interest or any foreseeable remedy to the country’s socio-economic quandary confronting her but what can best be described as a banter to promote aggression, hate and hatred. Contrary to expectation, political discussions that should aim at constructive think-tank discussions rather tend to loathsome insults affecting individuals, groups and communities. Being recognized as a bigot in modern Ghanaian socio-political landscape of NDC NPP makes some individuals popular with desired groups, hence those who present them become popular as well. I salute Peace and Joy FM and indeed the contributions of Prof. Kofi Agyekum on Peace FM. As witnesses to gory political rancour events watched through the medium of the satellite media that happened in Bosnia and Rwanda and indeed that of the Holocaust of distant memory it would be more than appropriate for a thorough examination of human morality. Repugnance, despair and darkness exist within human nature. Victims of the Bosnian and Rwandan conflicts and the Holocaust were faced with the most perfidious forces of brutality, cruelty, sickness, starvation and the death of loved-ones. Today, hate and hatred pervade Ghana’s entire socio-political environment and with no clear-cut road plan to achieve unity through national integration, socio-economic growth has only gossamer chance. We therefore learn nothing about ourselves if we do not examine this part of our psyche. Hatred is evil so, why should people hate one another? How could whole families, clans, communities, societies and indeed nations find it so easy to hate millions whom they knew nothing about except by their religious identity in the holocaust? Are those who hate portraying themselves as automatons, eagerly lapping up propaganda drivel proffered by the ignorant and unreasonable or, are they intelligent humans, with the capacity to comprehend nuances of their society's actions and still reach the conclusion that those they hate are bad people who deserve to be rounded up, vilified and may-be pogromed and annihilated? Those who read comments made on articles on the electronic media witness nothing but insults on columnists whereas comments under normal circumstances are aimed at constructive contributions either agreeing or disagreeing with the writer to promote the expansion of knowledge and ideas. Such is the Ghanaian psyche and mind-set.

Hate and hatred saw the European population in the early 20th century dislike Jews because word of mouth had consistently spread loathsome messages against them. Pogroms were ubiquitous and largely ignored by society including the police and armed forces. Beginning with pogroms of homosexuals which were hailed by religious fanatics, the mentally challenged hailed by the callous and inhuman and gypsies hailed by those who had home security, with the co-operation of the police and armed forces, it turned out to be the incipience of a planned extermination of Jews for no obvious reasonable reason but simply because they were significantly mistrusted, disliked and ostracized. The hated are always the butt of jokes and the subject of innuendo. In Rwanda, the immediate anger that set aflame the ethnic massacre was a single comment made by one journalist. The Konkomba Nanumba conflict was no different from the Rwandan tragedy in its set-up but different on scale. The same scenario applies the Bawku crisis. The remote causes of conflicts have been born of long existing hate and hatred for one another, one group against another etc often initiated by one person whose illusions and disenchantment is expressed to others through wanton demagoguery.

We are complex beings. I believe that there is a great deal more to us than the ubiquitous battleground of good versus evil. Most of us are if not one or the other then both. We are beautiful and ugly, soothing and terrifying, brutal and caring; we love and we despise. Unlike animals, humans are governed by principles and moral beliefs. We are not motivated by delusions of morality, as much as governed by them. So what brings a person to despise others? Why do some people hate and fear those who are different in tribe, ethnicity, religious or political orientation? Why do so many people find it easier to hate than to tolerate? I have always up-held Confucius’ exhortation not to be worried if others do not understand me but to be worried for not understanding others yet after a second thought, it all boils down to tolerance so I must be worried about the repercussions of lack of tolerance by others especially on society. My instinct tells me that some people become inclined to hatred because they were taught at a young age to hate by parents, siblings, relatives, friends or any other portion of their social network. At some point in their juvenile existence, they have learned to hate from people close to them. And, many of them continue to hate without questioning the veracity of their loathing. Research reveals that a high percentage of people who hate are poorly educated, yet, not all haters are ignorant or mentally slow. Some people with postgraduate education delude themselves with manifestations of detestation towards others without any good cause. The dark side is filled with ignorance and deception yet while many people are taught to be bigoted from their childhood training others acquire it later in life, despite living in a tolerant social network in their youth.

Could we be any different from the final vestiges of our primordial ancestors? Like many animals, humans originally had to fight and control others in order to maintain territorial superiority. Perhaps the need to be superior is an innate mental mechanism, acquired biologically. This suggests that Darwinism could be a factor, although it may be impossible to prove. Evolution teaches us that we are governed by the principle of survival of the fittest. Is human behaviour dominated by an inborn fear of others? Is social responsibility, tolerance and compassion simply an aberrant acquired social behaviour, employed most often by so-called political liberals? Are the better angels of our conscience nothing more than bizarre adaptations to our dark and natural survival instincts? I believe that people find it easier to hate because tolerance requires effort that is uncommon and uneasy to muster. By reciprocating hate and hatred in any community creates an atmosphere of malevolence, spite and uncertainty. The more we hate, the more we are approved by our factional social groups. This is an endless, vicious cycle, guaranteed to generate bigoted progeny. Thus, we hate to be recognized as appropriate by our peers. Ghana as a nation was conceived in hatred and disenchantment from the days of struggle for self-government, born in bitterness and innuendo and brought-up in hate and hatred but, we can break the bonds of bigotry one person at a time, with education, conversation and engagement across constructive media moderation. We can use our radio and social networking to our advantage. We can fight the innate fear of others by generating compassion for the individual, regardless of milieu. We can promote the value of each person as a unique entity, with unlimited potential, rather than as a member of a socio-political religious or social class with preconceived expectations. This will promote tolerance of the individual soul. Only when we make the effort to understand and value the differences among us will hate, hatred and bigotry end. It is only when we accept the value of each person, regardless of any background, will our culture grow to be meaningful and rewarding, bearing in mind that there is one Ghana for all Ghanaians.

Fear may be at the heart of hatred and bigotry. We usually fear that which we do not understand. We fear anyone who might be perceived as better than we are. We therefore use the tools of bigotry to become superior to others. Our fear drives us to the culture of jingoism just to prove that we are better than the "others". It feels good to feel superior. Yet, in order for one person to feel superior, another must be subjugated. In order to feel better, we must dominate someone. The easiest way to dominate is to hate those who pose no threat and, it feels good to make them live in fear. We rationalize the minimization of our fear by inflicting greater fear on victims. If victims are inferior, we must be better. We climb upon their social cadaver in order to feel superior.

Hatred, suspicion, intolerance and bigotry are the artefacts of fear; ergo eliminate fear and there will no longer be a need to use the tools of bigotry. This is our challenge. We must convince those who have any innate desire to hate that they have no reason to fear others out of unreasonable suspicion. This is the greatest and most noble challenge of our generation. The reward for success is tolerance, respect and mutual recognition. We can share our planet together as equals. This will be our legacy.

If we fail, our children will inherit a world dominated by the dark angels of our nature, the ultimate götterdämmerung. If we fail, our progeny will be doomed to a life surrounded by fear, suspicion, hatred and death. We cannot end our generation by sharing the same values and mentality of selfish sentiments of ignorant divisionists to be portrayed and identified as a barbaric and ridiculed entity. We can and must be seen in a better light and mentality than that. We must evolve into a tolerant society short of provocation. Our children's future depends upon it, much as it depends on us to implement and achieve.

Adreba Kwaku Abrefa Damoa, LLB; MPhil (London) London UK