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Opinions of Monday, 13 September 2010

Columnist: Akyeampon, Nana

Tony Aidoo - A Sad 'Case' Of PhD

I have followed with interest, discussions following recent comments by Dr Tony Aidoo regarding noisy Christians who use 'tongues' speaking to disturb the peace. Dr Aidoo started by complaining about the unfair and insensitive noise levels and I also think it's a very legitimate concern to be expressed. He continued to criticise the whole idea of tongues speaking by way of his understanding of what that part of scripture meant to him, again he was within his rights to express his opinions and understanding of scripture, though I thought it was needless since the platform wasn't one for doctrinal bashings especially as the other side was not represented. As much as practising TONGUE-SPEAKING Christians have a right to worship, so must they be aware of their responsibilities to their neighbours and the law.

My difficulty arose when Dr Aidoo geared off track and labelled the section of Christians who believed and spoke in tongues as mad. In the context he spoke, it wasn't even the noise they made that makes them mad, but the fact that they speak in tongues, a language he doesn't understand that is what according to Tony Aidoo makes them mad. He later cited scripture to support his stand. I would have no problem with Dr Aidoo if he had labelled as mad, people who will make soo much noises against counsel and warnings especially during such hours that tired workers wanted to rest. Dr Aidoo based his insult mainly on his doctrinal differences with these Christians and this is what I consider a major problem to be coming from a government official who has the mandate of Ghanaians to preserve freedom, justice and rights.

People have a right to practise their understanding of whatever they find fit and worthy of their worship. Nobody can impose their understanding of any form of scripture on any other person, and the constitution guarantess this freedom. It is only when the religious belief in question threatens the life of those involved then in that case the state intervenes to secure the life and health of manipulated members. Different interpretations of religious texts is the reason for the numerous churches and religious sects we have cutting across Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism etc. No one person has any authority to interpret scripture for others and Tony Aidoo should have known better. The constitution guarantees religious pluralism and it's the same reasoning that underpines the different political ideologies and the different interpretations different lawyers will give the same text of statutory instruments.

Now in context Tony Aidoo said :

“can you tell me that you’re worshipping God? You’re worshipping the devil And look at the language they speak. Only mad people speak in tongues…I don’t understand it…Because if you want to speak to God, speak directly because God gave you a language, he did not give you a gibberish kind of language…that is not communicable. That I don’t understand…It is too gibberish. It cannot, it cannot represent the will of God for you to speak in a language that I, the listener, do not understand. Because the purpose of your sermon is to tell me how I can get close to God," (emphasis mine).

I wonder what made Tony Aidoo think those Christians were speaking to him so he had to understand whatever they were saying. They are not bound to speak to anybody's understanding. Secondly sermons as far as I know are not delivered in tongues. Sermon is that part of service where the preaching is delivered to the understanding of the entire congregation contrary to prayer time where they offer personal prayers between the individual and His God (self edification, which will not require translation of any spoken tongues according to scriptures). If it is the belief of a person that he is speaking to God and that God understands whatever sound he makes who is Tony Aidoo to tell people what language God must understand? Did he also say they may be worshipping the devil if they spoke in tongues?

It is the likes of such psychotic bigotry that has sparked unnecesary wars in other parts of Africa and the world in general. Why wont he arrest them to face criminal charges for worshipping the devil? If such reckless statement had come from any ordinary person it wouldn't have been much of a problem than coming from a government official who works directly from the seat of government, and also being aware that he was on radio. It's just pathetic especially when this same educated buffoon is known to be chronically abusive. Later discussions took a funny turn where commentators had to identify themselves as believing or not in tongues and in some cases whether they spoke it tongues themselves or not. The legitimate question in my opinion should be whether they are entitled to their belief, be it a true or a false belief so long as they conform to the permissible noise levels and other legal regulations, NOT the essence of their believes!!

I think Ghanaians just deserve better from our leaders. It is very sad when I hear people say oo the president is humble and good with integrity but it is the people around him... A big fallacy! The people around the President reflect his real private side. A responsible President will get rid of any person around him whose actions and demeanour he resents. Many people around President Mills have been a damaging show when it comes to communication and rhetorics. They have not learnt from what happened to people like Asamoah Boateng and the likes under the Kuffour regime who equally talked off Ghanaians. There is no way Tony Aidoo can say the sort of things he said and maintain a desk at the Presidency.

Yes very noble ones like Andrew Awuni of the Kuffour era and Haruna Iddrisu in the current administration can be mentioned who sense of ethics and courtesy has shined for us all to see reflecting true images of decency. I find it rather unfortunate to realise President Mills thinks he can't get rid of people like Tony Aidoo and bring in more decent and youthful people who can understand current trends of decent politics that emphasize peace, freedom and development and respect for one another. Imagine making such inflammatory statements in a place like Nigeria. Before security services can take control, so many lives would be lost.

I am not surprised Dr Aidoo did not even have the courage to do the right thing, apologising not for having his legitimate personal understanding of scriptures, but hurting the sensibilities of those who see things differently. It is the counsel of our elders that "wonni panyin a, due" but what will the elders say to someone whose model or "opanyin" is Tony Aidoo? Maybe "kose kose", I maybe wrong but Dr Tony Aidoo, the self-styled intellectual of the century, to me is a sad case for common decency, STATESMANSHIP and a bad name for PhD.

By: Nana A.D. Akyeampon