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Opinions of Thursday, 11 June 2009

Columnist: Manasseh Azure Awuni

The Untouchable Kojo Mpiani and the Malevolent Witch Doctors

There is this story about a man who went to a juju man to take some charms that could enable him to vanish after leaning against a wall and chanting a particular word. After everything had been completed and he was assured that not even God could stop him from vanishing, he decided to give the efficacy of his new powers a test. He therefore went to a chop bar and ordered a mountain of fufu with huge chunks of akrantie meat that formed a spectacular landscape, like those huge rocks on the Shai Hills. A pond of viscous palm nut soup drowned a greater part of the pounded yam leaving a little mountain, like the tip of an iceberg. A towel was on his shoulders, which he occasionally used to soak the beads of perspiration which met, formed small streams and run-down his flabby body like a river, when they were not wiped early enough. Soon, the battle was over and the man, who had not gone to the bar without a pesewa stood up, belched noisily and leaned against a wall. Imagine what happened!

This “invisible” trickster did all he could, but he remained where he was. The chop bar operator who insisted that she was not running a charity wanted to take her money, which was not forth coming. All this while, the man had not uttered a word besides the impotent chants he had made to no avail. The business of the bar was brought to a temporary halt and workers and those who had been there to cure their hunger formed a sizeable crowd. Now one question stood out among the thousand and one questions.

“What has he done?” “What has this gentleman done to merit this embarrassment?” another woman asked. This got into the ears of the trickster, who happened to be wearing a party T-shirt. He saw this as the brightest idea all his life. Then all of a sudden, he shouted, “So woman, if I don’t belong to your party, does it mean you should subject me to this embarrassment by lying that I have not paid?” “Wh-a-a-t, not when I am here! Let anyone who is a man who has a potent manhood between his thighs like me touch you and see if his mouth will not menstruate here,” a stocky man who had arrived at the scene not long ago swore. This angered a man under whose very eyes the whole drama unfolded.

“You stupid idiot, what can you do?” he retorted. “Do you know what has …” The unrehearsed drama finally ended. But that was not until blood was spilled. Skulls were broken and those who were not born with polio were later seen limping with sticks while others could only move with the aid of wheel chairs. As for the man who started it all, he went away unhurt and no one remembered the actual cause of the clash. This incident happened in a south Asian country called Nagha, and the two political parties involved were the PPN and the DNC. In Ghana, it has now become fashionable for people to associate everything with political vindictiveness and recent happenings attest to the fact the end to this phenomenon is nowhere in sight. We call it witch-hunting. It sometimes baffles me who the witch is and who is being hunted and for what reason? Yesterday, the NDC were saying what the NPP are now screaming louder than their predecessors did.

Do we have to leave politicians who have sakyi-hughesed (the newest verb in the Ghanaian dictionary) the national treasury because their interrogation will amount to political vindictiveness? What about the hungry guy at Kwame Nkrumah Circle who picks one Kufuor Dollar and has to face death sentence without trial? To everything there is a season a time for every activity to under the sun. Kojo Mpiani may not be the last to be called to account for his stewardship. Mother rat once warned young rat not to go near a certain part of the farm, for she herself was nearly picked up by the “wicked” farmer’s trap. The young rat was not the type that listened to advice. It went and what would happen happened. Its mother later found it crying while the teeth of the mice trap were eating deep into its tiny thighs.

“Mother, are my eyes red?” the young rat asked its mother.

“They are not red yet,” answered mother rat. “They will be red when the owner of the farm comes.”

The NPP cannot say that they did not see this coming. It was as predictable as the ritual journey of the sun from Teshie side of the city to the Mallam area. As proponents of the rule of law, they should see to it that due process is followed. Former President Kufuor used to ask those who cried foul to produce evidence if they thought his men were corrupt. You and I know that even if a man has brains sharper than the brains that manufactured the spacecraft, he cannot count the eggs with the hen brooding. The hen is now up and gone and the BNI is trying to find out how many eggs were there and whether some were rotten or all were intact. We can only cry foul at this moment if we have cause to believe that the judiciary, which jailed others “justifiably” not long ago, is not fair. Besides, one does not need the eyes of a prophet to know that a lot more is to follow. We can’t help it because as a poor nation, we cannot afford to let go monies that are enough to change the fortunes of thousands of people if they are invested well to sit and swell in private accounts. The law must work and the whip must crack. The only thing we must guard against is disposing off people just because we feel they are albatrosses doing damage to our necks like shackles did to slaves of old. The PDA and the military trial systems are over. Thousands of Mr. Mpiani’s adversaries may not be sad if the man who was untouchable yesterday is led to the gallows today. Politicians are tarred with the same brush and currently, the former Chief of Staff is in the limelight. But I don’t blame the politicians too much. Who makes our politicians corrupt? Are we not guilty ourselves for aiding corrupt practices among public office holders?

Not too long ago, I got myself into a kind of trouble I never bargained for. I decided to contest the SRC presidency of the Ghana Institute of Journalism. Even though my victory over the other two contenders was as predictable as the outcome of the Jirapa by-election, I got to appreciate why politicians behave the way they do. All of a sudden, your own mates saw you as one who had a money printing machine. It got to a time I had to avoid the main cafeteria in order avoid what we in GIJ call beer suckling vampires. While some will make embarrassing requests, others just order in your name. Let them swear you in and these same people begin to sing their favourate chorus in unison. “These SRC executive are just spending our money for nothing.”

We force our politicians to be corrupt. Anyone who doubts this should go to the ministries and find out. Adwoa Mansah’s son has gained admission to the university and she wants the minister to pay his fees. The youth group is here to inform the minister that he is to chair the fund raising event. He must donate big, if he must retain his seat. The chief and elders are competing to be recognized first. Their son has risen this high and they must benefit. They need a befitting palace. “You you are the only one we know.” The party chairman of the minister’s constituency is also here with a list of seven thousand idle youth who must be enlisted into the Ghana Armed Forces come what may. “Remember they are the foot soldiers and the success of the party in our constituency depends on the help these ones receive.” The minister is now the chief mourner at all funerals, including those he doesn’t know. He is also the chairman at church harvests and social functions. Aside all these, he has a family to care for and if he happens to be one of those ones, the indescribably beautiful university girls whose lascivious looks cannot be resisted must take their portion. Ask me how much the Honourable earns.

So at the end of the day, our politicians want to please everybody but end up pleasing nobody. They must be wiser. The NDC guys were not wise and so it happened to them. The NPP guys did not learn and it is happening to them. Will it happen to the NDC guys some time to come? The signals from the sports ministry indicate that all is not well. If it does happen, they should be careful not to call it wizard-hunting. Anyway, today is Opanin Mpiani’s day. Let’s see what comes out of the Verbal W.A.S.S.S.C.E. he wrote at the BNI. Let’s only hope he is not another albatross!

Credit: Manasseh Azure Awuni [azureachebe2@yahoo.com]

The writer is the SRC President of the Ghana Institute of Journalism.