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Opinions of Monday, 12 August 2013

Columnist: Korang, Daniel

The heroine’s cry: a dirge for Theodosia Oko

Daniel Korang

The death of a hero is, to me, not as much untoward as an attempt to withdraw from him the honour of heroism. The honour of a hero, in the last analysis, is as irreversible as the independence of Ghana. Indeed, no attempt – political, civil, judicial, religious, cultural, (name them) - deserves applause – not a mite of it – if it is contrived to strip heroes of their ovation either posthumously or during their lifetime. It is a major misapprehension and abuse of history to purport to withdraw a hero’s fame from him.
Heroism is not a title to be fancily withdrawn; it is a virtue demonstrable in the conduct of valiant citizens. The greatest destroyers of a nation are not men who foment war or national discord; they are men who suggest or do anything the purport of which is to suggest that heroes be held in oblivion.
Perhaps, it is only in Ghana, my beloved country, that the worth of heroes dwindles as they advance in age, and reduces into nothingness after their death. Yes, heroism pales into insignificance as heroes draw closer to their graves. Oh, Mother Ghana!
Prof, would you suggest that we need to redefine the term ‘heroism’ to suit the Ghanaian context and perception? Maybe!
It is only in Ghana that heroes are rated according to their position during their lifetime. It is only in Ghana that live heroes express the desire to “kiss the president’s legs” in their bid to maintain decisions to acknowledge and honour them. Alas! When one hero/heroine laments over failure of recognition, thousands of prospective heroes are discouraged and dispirited.
Mrs Theodosia Oko, the designer of the Ghana National flag, must be regarded as a perpetual heroine even if the flag is redesigned or changed entirely with time. What national insignia most essentially identifies or symbolizes the authority, nationhood national aspirations of Ghana than the national flag? Where in Ghana is the national flag not hoisted on daily basis? If we find the national flag to be of immense national significance, then its designer or originator must be held in the highest esteem.
The attempt to rename the Theodosia Oko Hockey Stadium after the late President JEA Mills must be regarded as a major onslaught on the spirit of heroism. It is a stinging indictment of chauvinism and nationalism. The suggestion carries with it the imprints of national ingratitude to a heroine in her lifetime. The move is likely to shake the very foundation of patriotism and, unfortunately, it blithely forgets that a nation that does not honour its heroes is not worth dying for. The suggestion appropriately betrays its proponents as megalomaniacs. The trauma of Mrs Oko is unjustified, to say the least. Why should one heroine be reduced in order to place the other into the limelight? Although steps have been apparently taken, at least, to reverse the idea, and despite the apologies it is worthy of mention that as a country, we must guard against any move to embarrass our heroes.
There are so many ways of expressing national appreciation to statesmen who contribute their mite to national development. A lot of things – effigies, roads, vehicles, monuments, buildings etc- could be named after important citizens as a token of national appreciation for their contribution to our dear land. Recently, a magnificent building at Legon Campus was named after the late Prez JEA Mills jointly with Mrs Kuenyehia. To further deepen his immortalization, a whole Research Library has also been named after him. A lot more could be done in recognition of the invaluable contribution of the late President. But, any national or individual attempt to change the effigy or architectural decoration of one hero for the other is as worse as assassination of the former.
The President, by law, takes precedence over all persons in Ghana (vide article 57(2) of the 1992 Constitution). However, any claim that the president MUST take precedence over ALL heroes – before or after him- must be pooh-poohed as a derivative of infantilism and closed-mindedness. The quality of a hero is not an apparel to be removed at will; it is not a certificate to be cancelled for breach of ethical code. A nation that forgets its heroes before their earthly demise is not worth dying for.
The recognition of national heroes is not only necessary for its sake; it injects into the youth and other citizens an immeasurable dosage of patriotism. If Ghana can continue to befit any heroic contributions from its citizens, then there is the need for a revolutionary change in the way we, as a country, appreciate our heroes.
It must be stated that, matters of national importance must be viewed without political biases. A nation thrives on the chauvinistic inclinations of its citizens. A nation that accords its heroes with temporary respite is bound to become an unfit beneficiary of patriotism.
Let us all, all of us, redefine our thoughts on matters that whip up commitment and excite nationalism. To this end, Mrs Theodosia Oko deserves a national apology at a function organized purposely for that. No clandestine apology is sufficient to restore the heroine from the trauma and emotional shock she may have suffered.

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