Nov 28



If you only use the Internet – and especially Ghanaweb– as your main source of news about the 7 December 2012 Ghana election, you will be making a great mistake.
You would get the impression that the election campaign is full of vitriol and that Ghanaians are holding each other by the throat, rancorously daring one another to “vote for the wrong party and see.”

In fact, even before the main candidates signed a “peace pact” on 27 November 2012, the campaign was largely going  on in quite  a smooth and peaceful manner, as I found out for myself, when I attended a political meeting at Koforidua, in the Eastern Region. l saw the Ghanaian populace exhibiting their usual good humour, even as the Internet dishes out its huhudious verbiage.
I couldn’t help  wondering at the amount of time and space propagandists  on the Internet are prepared to waste on such irrelevant topics as the alleged early exit of Nana Akufo Addo, the NPP candidate, from Oxford University. What has  education at Oxford University got to do with giving good toilets to villages like Kasoa (where a bad toilet recently killed people?) Is it only at Oxford that one can learn that people should be provided with safe drinking water? Or good schools? Or health posts? Or good roads?I come from the bush and there, we would put a few  down-to-earth questions  to the propagandists, that should lay the ghost of that ultra-snobbish non-debate for ever:

 Question: Did Nana Addo spend a year at Oxford University on a government scholarship?  
Answer: No! He was sent there by his own father.
Question: Then, why is it that  if he left Oxford after one year of his own volition after going there of his own volition! — and even his enemies have published the fact that  Oxford has confirmed that he was NOT expelled from the University! — the propagandists are going on as if  he wasted any funds contributed by the Ghanaian taxpayer? Did the Government contribute to his upkeep?
Answer: No. He only cost his own father a few bob.
Question: Did the father complain to anyone — especially these NDC propagandists —  that his son had ‘wasted’ his money?
Answer: No! The father was a very worldly-wise man, and must have chalked up the son’s one year at Oxford as a worth-while experience. Indeed, he would have known, being an Oxford man himself, that he was luckier than some of the most prominent people in Britain, whose progeny  were regularly “sent down” from Oxbridge! But being “sent down” doesn’t prevent them from taking up very good jobs in politics or the City. In fact, unlike the anti-Akufo Addo brigade,  some of the brighter Britons generally regard the “University of life” as a better place for a good education, than the ‘cloistered walls’ of Universities!
Question: When he left Oxford, did Nana Akuffo Addo obtain university education somewhere else?
Answer: Yes, he studied at the Sorbonne, in Paris, where he acquired French, and also at the University of Ghana, Legon.
Question: So, if he obtained such a broad education from three different Universitiers in three different countries, then why are people talking so much about his exit from Oxford after one year?
Answer: Obviously, they are jealous of Nana Addo! They wish THEY had had the opportunity to go to Oxford. They cannot conceive of  the idea that someone could leave Oxford after only one year and still amount to something in the world! They are judging him by their own limited yardstick!
Question: Has Nana Addo amounted to ‘something’ in the world, despite leaving Oxford early?
Answer: Go and read the Ghana Law Reports  and see the important cases he’s been involved in as a lawyer!
I would never have thought that the NDC propaganda machine would be so full of would-be snobs! They want to diss a man who went to the Sorbonne, the stamping ground of Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoire, among some of the brightest brains in the world, because he did not leave Oxford with a degree….I mean….
Question: So why are they doing it?
Answer: Because they want to insinuate, darkly, without providing any evidence, that he did something ‘wrong’ at Oxford. They  say he didn’t mention his one year at Oxford in his curriculum vitae.
Question: But don’t  people only put their achievements on their CV? Whom would you impress with an entry that says, “Left Oxford after one year”? Are these people mad or something?
Answer: Yes – I suppose they would only  be satisfied if  Nana Addo cluttered his CV with such negatives as:
I did not bed (sleep with) Simone de Beauvoire at the Sorbonne!
I did not go to the Place Pigalle every night to pick up prostitutes when I was studying  in Paris!
And I was never fished out of the Seine River in Paris   at 3 a.m. in the morning, smelling strongly of absinthe!”

Because of the irrelevant questions being asked of Nana Addo by NDC propagandists, NPP propagandists have also — regrettably —  begun to cast aspersions on the educational qualifications of both President John Mahama and Vice-President Kwesi Amissah-Arthur. I strongly urge the NPP propagandists not to be trapped into “retaliating” but to desist from delivering low blows to the NDCF candidates. You see, it is so demeaning of Ghana. It  implicitly endorses the ignorant view that educational qualifications necessarily determine the knowledge a person possesses. But that is patently untrue: many ‘autodidacts’ equipped with a great deal of native intelligence– Thomas Edison is an example —   have contributed immensely to the world, both in  the arts, the sciences and in politics. But the Ghanaian intelligentsia is so full of crappy exam-consciousness that all they want to be able to say is “I passed the Common Entrance and got to Achimota/Mfantsipim/Wegehe!  Or I got a first!… I got a two-one!” As if someone who only  got a two-two didn’t work equally hard  for it, or that exam jitters do not exist to thwart people’s expectations from exam results. They are so, so superficial. The question should be: what has a person used his education for, not how or where  he got it from!

Now, I was sitting ‘my somewhere’ drinking a cold beer  on a sweaty afternoon at Ashale Botwe, and munching my way through some glorious roasted  ripe plantain and groundnuts, when, completely out of the blue, two Ghanaian women demonstrated for me – without, of course,  taking any notice of me – the fun that the election campaign’s slogans and songs are generating for members of the populace.

One of the ladies sang, trying to imitate the radio adverts: John Mahama aaa na ookoroh!” (It is John Mahatma who is going [to be President] ).
And she danced a little jig from her shapely hips down. I hid my mouth, unable to stop laughing.

Then, as if they had rehearsed  a pas-de-deux (a dance executed by two people) the other one also responded with  a jig, whilst singing this retort: Yebedii bi keke! (We  came to do nothing but  eat some [of the money!])

My word! It was priceless! Where else but in Ghana would you get such beautiful spontaneity of a comic nature? Yet people think we’re going to chop one another’s heads off on 7 December! They just don’t know Ghana, do they? The rascals who resort to violence will be laughed at, out of court – by the ordinary, sensible, humorous people of Ghana — such as the two ladies who made my day! Why should such good-natured people have to change their  easy attitude to life, because of a mere election? I mean —  dancing a jig and singing at midday, for no apparent reason! Boy, Ghana sweet oh!  Work hard and get money, and lower your expectations, and ‘Ogyakrom’ won’t hold too many terrors for you.

Another  interesting discovery I  made on my recent trip  is that  the maturity with which Ghanaians are approaching politics these days is sometimes  quite astoundingly breath-taking. Whereas in the past, politics could break  family ties, to say nothing of the bonds of  friendship, the same cannot be said of today. The evidence for this is that the spokespersons of both President  John Mahama and his main opponent, Nana Akufo Addo, are siblings!
Yes — they are John Jinapor (Spokesperson for Mahama and the senior brother) and Samuel Abu Jinapor (spokesperson for Nana Addo, and the younger of the two brothers)!
In fact, their relationship has been the source of serious vexation to  one of the more idiotic of the NDC’s Internet propagandists. This guy  suspects treachery everywhere, and points out that the two brothers can  sometimes  “ride in the same car” together! He speculates endlessly about  what they might be talking about. Politically backward as he is, he clearly  implies that they might reveal secrets to each other! But he lacks the intelligence to realise  that were they to reveal their bosses‘ secrets to each other, they would simply cancel each other out! He is so atavistic!  Does he not know that politics is about ideas? That, in any case, some people take  the ethics of their chosen professions so seriously that  the two Jinapors have probably sworn  not to talk politics to each other? If they’ve had the moral strength to join two different political parties, why can’t they also be upright enough to vow not to discuss each other’s politics, when they are together? I bet they kid each other endlessly — and why not? They are full-blooded Ghanaians equipped with Ghanaian good humour, are they not?
It says much, not just for the two brothers, but also for their respective employers, that they can  accept that no person should be judged merely on the basis of his family relationships, or other associations, only,  but on the basis of his own actions and performance.
I doff my hat to all of them and commend their political maturity to the rest of their followers, some of whom regard party politics as a dirty game to be carried out  as if it was a vendetta waged by “blood enemies”. I am sure that both Nana Addo and President Mahama – as well as the two Jinapors – get their ears full of silly denunciations of their situation, by intolerant or fanatical members of their own parties.  The brothers, in particular, must hold on to their positions in a steadfast manner, for they are setting a really good example to all Ghanaians, in terms of sheer political tolerance. Well, it shouldn’tsurprise us, should it? Who invented the “skirt and blouse”* way of voting? Not the ordinary men and women of Ghana?

*(‘Skirt and blouse’ is a sophiosticated way of voting, whereby the same person can vote for a presidential candidate from one party but yet vote for a different parliamentary candidate from another party!)

I end this article with a heartfelt plea to our  so-called  journalists and — especially the  pamphleteers masquerading as journalists: Please, whatever you do, do not invent news. In an election campaign, there are so many issues that can be used to fight your opponents. So there is no need to resort to the invention of falsehood or the distortion of the truth in such a manner that you attribute statements to people who have never entertained the ideas you claim they possess. SUCH ACTIONS DISCREDIT ALL JOURNALISTS and earn us the distrust of the public.

By the same token, propagandists should desist from deliberately lying about things their parties have not done. It is unedifying, for instance, for the NDC to have claimed to be distributing free laptops to individuals in institutions (who do not exist) and then have to come back to publicly  “correct” what were called “anomalies” in the exercise. Above all, the NDC should remember that it is public money that was used to obtain the laptops and that their distribution should therefore be done scrupulously on the basis of objective criteria and not to achieve cheap  party political advantage.
For, mark it upon the wall:  anyone who takes the Ghanaian electorate for fools has got a good think coming. Kufuor lost the election for the NPP in 2008 largely because he ignored the resentment with which people viewed the new Flagstaff House he was building, the money for which could have been better used to improve, say,  the Nsawam-Suhum-Apedwa road. The people  know what a bribe is, and they can ask themselves the question: if these people had any good intentions about improving life for us,  the people of the country, why would they need to bribe me to vote for them?
As my head-teacher used to say when we continued talking after he’d warned us to keep quiet: “Some people are kicking against the pricks!”

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