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Opinions of Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Columnist: Adofo, Rockson

Would You Respect Someone Who Does Not Respect You?

? ? This write-up is informed by the views expressed by a radio phone-in caller that were countered by the programme presenter. This was on WBLS FM 96.5, a London-based radio station. It happened on Sunday, 29 September 2013, at about 16:30 London Summer Time which is 15:30 (3:30 pm) Ghana time.

? The caller, contributing his views as required by the programme had said, "President Mahama can never be my president. He does not represent me as President concluding from how he ascended the presidency, the election clearly rigged in his favour and how his government is orchestrating and perpetrating corrupt practices ruinous to the development of Ghana"

? The presenter admonished the caller through mild chastisement saying, "You should not say that. President Mahama is our President regardless of the circumstances surrounding his election. Ghanaians do have it as a culture to respect our elders so we have to respect him whatever the situation is. He is our president. We have to give him the due respect"

? The programme was very interesting but time was not on my side to continue listening to it to the end. It is interesting to learn about such two divergent views.

? I have a problem with that Ghanaian culture that requires obligatory respect, obeisance to our elders even when they are erring. Gone are those days when "full respect" for our elders without questioning was the order of the day. In those days, the elders did respect the traditional norms. They were very respectful and respectable. They respected themselves and respected anyone they interacted with regardless their age.

? Before proceeding any further, I will pause to define the words RESPECTFUL and RESPECTABLE.

? Respectful means " full of, characterized by, or showing politeness or deference: a respectful reply. The subject must show politeness towards the person he/she is interacting with.

? Respectable means worthy of respect or esteem; estimable; worthy: a respectable citizen.

? And what at all is respect, one may query. Respect means esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability: I have great respect for her judgment.

? Having taken pains to define the words, let us ask ourselves if most of the elders of today, be they members of government, Members of Parliament, Lawyers and Judges, traditional leaders and heads of families do have the above qualities? How do you respect someone who does not respect him or herself let alone, respecting you? Respect for someone must be reciprocal. If they respect themselves and respect you, then you respect them back. If they do not, why bother yourself to, just because of tradition and culture? Do they abide by the same culture or they are exempted from the requirements of that culture?

? We should learn not to deceive ourselves. Respect is earned but not commanded by any individuals, culture, tradition or whatever, period! As some known friends have it as their motto, "Obu de buu. Wo bu me a me bu wo. Wo mmu me a me mmu wo". Laterally translated as "if you respect me I respect you. If you do not respect me, I do not respect you either". This is how it should be.

? Would you compulsorily respect a President who embezzles funds to deprive you and the entire nation the money that could have been used for social interventions beneficial to the entire nation? Would you respect a District Chief Executive (DCE) who although not a bursar, practises the stealing tactics of them? When he spends GHC100, he arranges to have extra 0 added onto it to make it GHC1,000? By this nefarious activity, he/she is depriving the district the use of GHC900 which finds its way into his stinking pocket.

? What about a traditional leader, a chief so to speak, who thinks he was born into this world, coming with a vast land attached to his umbilical cord and so has the inalienable right to sell them to pocket the money without being accountable to anyone? Some of the chiefs, heads of families, sell the same piece of land, especially building plots in the urban areas, twice or thrice to different people. He pockets all the money only to leave the duped purchasers of the parcel of land or plot to battle it among themselves however they choose to? They can go to court, engage the services of "land guards" or resort to "juju". It becomes the battle of the "survival of the fittest" to possess the land. The richest, strongest and cleverest among them with political or "whom you know" connections or affiliations wins while the others sadly lose their hard-earned money to these traditional leaders, crooks of course.

? Should we forcibly respect such people in the name of Ghanaian tradition that requires us to respect our elders however irresponsible they turn out to be? Please count me out of that tradition. If the above cited elders or leaders respect themselves (are respectable) and have respect (are respectful) for their less fortunate compatriots, they would not do as they do to them – cheat them big time.

? As respect is earned by respecting others, respecting the rules and regulations of society, do the aforementioned instances of evildoings by the elders or leaders earn them respect? Or, tradition is commanding us to respect them even if they disrespect us and treat us like dirt on their shoes only best to be wiped off with whiff, rag or polish brush?

? I leave it to the public to decide which way they will go – to side with the phone-in caller or the programme presenter.

? ? Rockson Adofo ?