Without equivocation, it is a funny ‘distin’. Once we have gotten that out of the way shall we proceed to substance? (Hahahahahahaha). That was a good laugh… Aww my God, bless our homeland Ghana and make her great and strong.
So now, where do we start? Fauster Atta Mensah sure is recent history. For readers who may be wondering who he is, a google check of Atta Mensah only qualified with misspelling of the first name as Fraudster may offer some help.
He was the 2014 darling Ghanaian younging who was heralded as a scientist and Nobel Laureate, Fauster Atta Mensah became popular for very similar reason as ‘His Excellency’ Kwame Fordjour, only that he was not a rapper though (LOL). Fauster was interviewed by the state broadcaster and his said achievements displayed on the Ghana Government website when a simple google check could have saved us some drama.
Before I am misunderstood let me tell a personal story. On my call to the BAR, I wore a size 17 shirt for such an important event when on a good day when I feel very fat, I wear a 15 and half, slim fit shirt. Size 17 sure was a parachute. Call to the BAR is a once in a lifetime event but I had only gotten myself in such a mess because I assumed. I had assumed that the shirt will fit because all the other accessories accompanying the formal dress code fitted. I had ordered for the whole set and so if one was okay, it was safe to assume the others were okay too, right? Well wrong, and on this occasion, I was very wrong.
There is something to be said about human nature and assumptions, heuristics, and cognitive biases but today is really about something deeper, recognition. In times past, when Menzgold was still a thing, I authored ‘A Culture In Need Of A Fix’, an article which got a bit of traction ( https://www.africalearn.org/a-culture-in-need-of-a-fix/ ), the article got carried by most of the big media houses, a piece I was recognized for but one I honestly wouldn’t have wished to be writing about again. It would have appeared one of such an occurrence is one too many but we seem to have been nailed to a cross by Amb. Fordjour (hahaha): crucifixion by a much deeper desire – Recognition.
I have gotten some of my articles carried by all kinds of Media Houses including Daily Graphic’s online portal and so I know how different being recognized feels. I can therefore understand the proud look at the shiny water bottle, the horse, and plates. I even empathize with the awardees natural desire to receive an award associated with Kofi Annan himself. Let me not be misunderstood to be judging in the least, these very respectable Ghanaians deserve any honor possible. The universal desire for recognition is an inherent expectation. Human beings want to be seen and perhaps even liked but in that desire and expectation is the trap.
The nature of people who were sold on this joke without authenticating such unreal association with the UN or Kofi Annan reveals something very fundamental about the human nature; that the desire to be recognized is perhaps more basic than we have given it attention and can be exploited by the most unlikely person irrespective of how great your achievements already are.
The most important question, therefore, will be to ask; how can we pursue recognition in truth? How may we be seen and also how may we see others authentically without labouring in complete falsities? How can we foolproof recognition without been scammed? How well do we understand our susceptibilities? And how committed are we to finding and living authentically, beautifully, and yet truthfully?
As we may mule in the humour, let us reflect in humility on how we may save ourselves from being hoodwinked by such stories that pry on our deepest need to be seen:
- It is always important we remind ourselves that, human beings may not be exactly lammings but we sure are susceptible to being influenced towards irrationality if the social contexts are engineered carefully.
- It may also be useful to remember that, childlike curiosity was the basis of all of our learning and it will always be necessary for our continuous and future learning.
- For emphasis, things may not always be what they seem or look, so do not assume anything, be open-minded, humble and examine.
- Examine, which brings me to the word recognition from the Latin which means ‘a reviewing, investigation, examination, know again’. One can therefore not claim to have recognized anything without examining to know again.
- Our desires are the gateways, the emotions directed towards attainment or possession of trophies. In the spirit of examination, it will be important to understand that which is longed for is our greatest asset and vulnerability at the same time.
In my first book, ‘Fate Of System Thinking’, I spent some time discussing why I thought the Media and Awarding companies were important agents in shaping our cultural understanding of heroes and heroines and their contribution to the failure of the banking industry. We define social expectations through what we communally recognize and so we cannot take the process of social recognition for granted. We may laugh today as we have in the past on all other similar issues but the question remains, when will yet another masterstroke cost us more than we can laugh it off? I am not against awarding ceremonies, I think they are extremely important in a social structure to shape desirability, expectation, and pursuit. So on that note, let me conclude on a roadmap I have discovered as a profound pathway for living:
- Seeking to understand why we desire the things we desire can be an important exercise in introspection, one that can save us from simple stories and perhaps bless us with wisdom and prudence.
- Desires are powerful in themselves but more complicated is its nature to produce our expectations. Expectation may define that which we look out for and in turn may define what we pursue.
- We are yet more honourable than other animals because we have the ability for consideration and cognition beyond our desires and expectations. Consideration and Cognition as concepts are however the missing middle; the hard work the cultural status quo may not have nudge us yet. Such things as taking account, paying attention, reflecting, seeking insights, and perceiving through questioning and learning are not humourous nor glorious chants, yet that is the necessary default we must tender our cultural norm too, otherwise, we are bound to labour in cycles of such joke and pain.
- It is only after such careful consideration and laborious cognition that we can acknowledge even the simplest of things as matters known, worthy of receiving our formal avowal of knowledge and approval.
These truths I have come to know and interrogate continuously as my pathway of professional scepticism being an Enterprise Risk Practitioner but one done in good faith. It requires discipline and a commitment to be a lifelong learner of the most basic of things. This alternative lifestyle elects the hard long rarely trodden road when we could have the quick fix of assumption. There sure is a place for fast thinking. Not all matter let themselves to such depth of examination, I understand that, however, today is not for such matters.
Whatever the conclusion one may choose, let us not be quick to yield to the path of least resistance, in the immortal words of T’Challa, let us in all context say ‘I never yielded, and as you can see, I am not dead.’
Let us not be found dead to social priming, conformity, and groupthink but in all humility let us freely question and interrogate all things deeply yet respectfully. Respect must not be won or awarded, it must be universal to our human nature, let us, therefore, guarantee Universal Basic Respect, maybe then we can focus on the more important issues of discussing Valuation, Control, and Tax Haven for Agyapa and the future of Ghana’s mineral resources.
My name is Yaw Sompa and I believe in the dignity of the African.