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Opinions of Monday, 16 February 2009

Columnist: Asigri, D. Z.

‘Wrongman’, at the wrong place, at the wrong time!

Having the will to speak is one and the same as the will to be understood. However, in everyday situations of interaction the will to speak is also sometimes the will to baffle, puzzle, deceive, and to be misunderstood. Surely, this article is bound to baffle some readers, and others might just ‘switch off’ from reading it entirely for, they have the right to exercise that right! Indeed, the recent political change in our country involves not only the changing political ideology to accommodate the needs of the majority of Ghanaians but also changing identities of those elected to govern us. Following an interesting political argument that I had with a friend this afternoon, I have come to realise that unless you are one of ‘them’ who dare you to say the previous NPP government wasn’t that evil but rather the epitome of ineptitude. Perhaps, history may be kind enough to take a sympathetic view of Ex-President John Kufour and his NPP ideals. The issue is the way the NPP regime pursued them was unforgivably incompetent, to say the least. It takes a very special courage, the sort only certain politicians possess I suppose, to wait until someone is out of the room before speaking ill of him. To me this is absurd for, I have been politically aware through close observation of the changing political climate in Ghana that, I have chosen the last few years of the NPP government to say what a disaster their economic policy and many others had been. Take for example, the political slogan; ‘zero tolerance policy on corruption’ doctrine that did blur the perception of some Ghanaians for good eight years through the notion of political deception, which finally saw the last index finger of the individual electorate, crowned with the ink of the electoral commission, and the ‘country’ then spoke out loudly leading to the of government from NPP to NDC today! Let us not forget that deception as a political tool of the previous government is relevant to understanding other people’s minds simply because it involves trying to make someone else believe that something is true when in fact it is false. In other words, it is all about trying to change someone else’s mind during the political change period, for example. The changes in which we are now experiencing thus provide a basis for an argument that individuals within our society generally need to become more flexible. However, a question remains as to the extent to which our current rate of change outstrips an unspecified capacity among adults for flexibility. In other words, are insecurity and uncertainty the always present other side of the coin of flexibility?

My friend who by chance is ‘unshakable’ with NPP ideals politically was brave in pointing out that, Ex-President John Kufour’s regime was synonymous with arrogance, ignorance, greed, reckless insolence, torture, and violence, and ineptitude. We agreed to disagree on many political issues that we discussed for example that, the end of a president’s term in office is never the best time to review his record. In any case, can anyone suggest an antidote that would enable one to eradicate these painful experiences from his body system? A Marxist Polish philosopher stated that, “you suffer, your suffering is caused by powerful others; these oppressors must be destroyed”, and indeed, we collectively did it in December 2008 through the ballot box! On the other hand, a French philosopher Foucault noted, ‘...knowing if one can think differently than one thinks, and perceive differently than one sees, is absolutely necessary if one is to go on looking and reflecting at all’. But, what right have I got to reflect on behalf of all the electorates in the entire country? However, I cannot remain far too divorced from divulging some of the political experiences endured by some of the people of Garu Tempane constituency before, during, and after the parliamentary and presidential elections. I see some of these experiences as, ‘pre and post election bullying’! For, most of us cannot deny the fact that we might have been bullied in one form or another during our life time by for instance, our peers, siblings, and even by a parent/s – oh, that hurts!

Just because we assume that bullying involves so many of our youths we do not make it a problem. Rather, it also needs to be demonstrated that being bullied, (and for that matter, bullying others especially from a father to son) for instance, for the sake of political expediency has negative consequences. For example, I personally witnessed a verbally oriented bullying episode meted on a male youth by his direct uncle during the recent political campaign in my village, Worikambo within the Garu Tempane constituency. What transpired in this case was that, this said youth was being bullied merely for supporting the NDC party as opposed to that of his uncle’s political party of choice – the NPP! At the time of writing this article, I have been informed that the bullied youth has fled from my village to an unknown destination for fear of further recrimination. In order to avoid being accused of causing some form of psychological ‘turbulence’ to some readers, there is a need to revert to the literature for more ideas on the notion of ‘labelling’ and ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’. Indeed, this young lad (nicknamed ‘Wrong-man’) confided in me expressing that, his expressed views of any sort were often ignored by some members of the community in which he belongs and these included his uncle hence, he adopted a nick-name, i.e., ‘Wrong-man’ in response to the changing circumstances. Nevertheless I thought I had something to contribute to ease this young man’s fears and anxiety partially resolved because of the time frame involved, and revisited my counselling skills knowledge to temporally render some help. I assured him that: ‘It’s only when we fully accept feelings of uncertainty that they‘ll abate. ‘We can grow in confidence if we embrace uncertainty.’ Further, I said to him that, ‘running from uncertainty leaves us feeling even more unconfident and, therefore, more fearful. The more we try to accept it, no matter how unpleasant, the less we worry.’ I made him to understand that worry is false action. Indeed, ‘we feel that we are doing something productive, but in fact we are only procrastinating’. The few counselling sessions that he voluntarily took from me, did uplift his mood to some extent.

Interesting though, these two sociological theories above are related and they might help explain briefly the inception of the name/person ‘wrong-man’ in the milleu of ‘Worikambo’ community. To the notion of the self-fulfilling prophecy, we as adults, teachers, etc, sometimes tend to engage ourselves in making predictions especially on our youth – ‘a liar’, ‘wee smoker’, ‘disrespectful’, and a ‘thief’! In fact, we are engaged here in making prophecies about the behaviour of the youth. To give someone a label (as in say, ‘Wrong-man’) leads to him being attached to the word, ‘wrong-man’! In other words ‘labelling and the self-fulfilling prophecy’ notions can affect the continuing development of our youth. Indeed, Boateng. E. K. (Ghanaweb Feature Article 08-02-09) ‘The youth of today is the driving force of tomorrow’ would help throw some light on this article and is worth reading.

By: Asigri. D. Z.

Senior Lecturer Practitioner Researcher Middlesex University London