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Opinions of Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Columnist: Bernard, Afreh Manu

Why The Rawlingses Must Stop Ranting.

Anyone that read just the title of this article might walk away with the impression that I, an apostle of virtues, had lent myself to the shameful enterprise of mudslinging. That would surely be a grave misreading. This write-up seeks to take a critical look at the effect of the Rawlingses’ verbal diarrhea which they perhaps, mistakenly, splashed at the doorsteps of Kufour and Akuffo Addo.

I am not new to unguarded sentiments, but when it assumes a dimension, where the Rawlingses would take on the garbs of philistines, vent vituperations on people on the other political divide, it impels me to pick my pen and give them a full lash.

Indeed, I must warn that if you are not receptive to critical reasoning you may want to reconsider reading this, because, in the name of truth, I do not care about whose ox is gored or whose sleep is murdered; followers of my writings and narratives are well aware of this fact.

It would, indeed, stretch the greatest genius to even hazard a guess on the rationale behind the latest, egregious outbursts of the Rawlingses. As a nationalist, I have, sometimes, chosen to parry the wild shots antagonists fling at the corridors of the Rawlingses. The country has had a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, one which served as a balm for aggrieved hearts, and therefore, when those messianic historians keep rewinding our mind to the dark days with their amnesic readings, not only does it leave me nerve-jangling, it provokes me to go for the jugular.

Goodness knows if the Rawlingses enjoy the flaks on their personality. I am wondering why they would, by their sentiments, provide a fair game for character assassins and cowards. But, as a former head of state, Rawlings should have known that, politics is neither a zero-sum game nor a ‘do-or-die affair’. It is also not about throwing verbal fire-crackers, nor is it about trying to impugn the integrity of political opponents.

Here, we need not mince words. The sentiments were so unwarranted that a commentator, any commentator, would find sufficient justification to be critical. It boggles the mind to imagine why the Rawlingses, having held political power for a good number of years, would slip themselves into unwanted criticisms, which are otherwise avoidable, by a nuanced separation of occasions requiring silence; which is golden, from occasions requiring speech; which is silver.

Of course, the Rawlingses are no neophytes in Ghana’s politics. They are, in a manner of speaking, suppose to know better. I need not remind them that, politics is all about scheming, strategies, intrigues and maneuverings, and the uninitiated is even aware that it gets sharper in an election year. Perhaps, I need to restate forcefully to their hearing that, the days of throwing mud at opponents to gain political advantage is over. That, the ploy of baiting the populace with political gimmicks also got buried with military rule.

Even though our educational system continues to produce legions of half-baked graduates who learn by rote, the nation has, interestingly, not lost her intellectual compass. It would, perhaps, shock you to learn that, people with poor educational background are now able to discern the truth from falsehood in comments of our politicians.

To tell the truth, I do not believe in those infantile, propaganda campaigns. It is sad to say that, not only are some people playing down the contributions of Akuffo Addo to national development, they are, shockingly, telling me that the legal luminary graduated from the university with poor results. I am inevitably forced to reply: ‘He failed, and so what!’ I wonder if such diminishes his political profile. In my mental lexicon, the fall of a man is not the end of his rise; at least, we should thank God for lifting him up from the canvas.

It bears repeating: this year’s election would define the complexion of our democracy. This is an election which I want to be won on issues. The power is in the hands of electorates to decide the best man for the driver’s seat; be it Prof. Mills, or whoever. Uncle Ben Ephson, like other good pollsters, has it that the number of floating voters is hitting 8%. The Rawlingses need not be told that, their decision to insult the integrity of Kufour and Akuffo Addo, and barely stop short of calling them ‘academic fraudsters’, was nauseous enough to revolt the stomach of every floating voter.

Konadu should, please, shelve comments like, ‘Mills would not be treated with kids’ gloves’. She should melt those choleric hormones and tread the path where, young ones would look up to her as a great woman of peace, a fighter of justice, and a democracy’s Joan of Arc. In fact, I am vindicated by John Mahama’s call on her to shut up!

There is a conservative notion that history is a biography of great people. If indeed, Rawlings wants his legacies to survive the storms of life, he should act like the gadfly who pricks the conscience of a dictator, and be a voice for the voiceless. I know the Rawlingses to be charismatic, but in the face of media interrogation, I advise they choose to be self-effacing, even to the point of shyness.

With this piece, the heavens know I do not, in anyway, intend to wage a campaign of calumny against the person of the Rawlingses, nor am I joining forces with those mudslingers; I merely string these few words as a piece of advice. However, I for one would never live to like those unguarded comments. And by all accounts, I am not alone. While some people are too pent-up to speak, others get to their pillows seething with anger. The Rawlingses should remember that their traducers are all over the place, planting dynamites on their path. I am sure the Rawlingses would take heed to my advice. For in my article titled: ‘Much ado about Rawlings’, I stated, inter alia: ‘Rawlings has seen two sides of the interesting coin; dictatorship and democracy, and I entreat young politicians to drink from his well of experience’.

Finally, as an African, the ethos of our social clime forbids me to talk to adults in harsh tones. In the light of this, I apologize profusely if I, inadvertently, stepped on giant toes. A word, common sense confirms, is enough for the wise. The destiny is in their hands!

Afreh Manu Bernard