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07.01.2003 Feature Article

Senility And The Ghanaian Political Establishment!

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"If we don't want to pay for these things, then we should have the military" –Speaker of Parliament Senility is a debilitating old-age disease. Imagine a great man, with a great mind who, after a long life of contribution to humanity suddenly begins to lose the mental faculties that have served him so well. Tragic! Lenin, the founder of the Disunion Of Soviet Socialist Republics was well known for his views advocating suicide if one lost full use of his mental faculties through disease or old age. Yet there are some lucid moments in senility when truths that have been long hidden will suddenly, and inadvertently issue forth from the senile mind. Such was the case with this scribbler's father. He had spent a whole life in bitter acrimony with my mother, but in his old age, as senility set in, he always addressed me as if I were my mother, in extremely tender language and demeanor. It was obvious; he had loved the woman all along. Generally, it is in old age that we approach senility, but in special cases, it is the senility that approaches us and plays havoc with seemingly sane minds. It is with sadness then that we hear an 'accomplished' man of the caliber of Mr. Peter Ala Adjetey, Speaker of the Parliament of the Fourth Republic of Ghana define democracy as a non-military government that pays for a few 'things'. These one or two 'things' that separate a democracy from a military government are the adornments that establish a pecking order among the powers that be in the faulty contraption that we call Ghana, By the aforementioned 'things', he was referring specifically to a $90,000 dollar car as his due, him being the number three man in the country. It is only fitting for him, he argues, because Mr. Kuffour, the Number 1 man, was seeking even bigger 'things' as in the 44-seater jet. Hmmm…Things happen! It is not surprising then that before our very eyes, we are seeing Ghanaian democracy grow in leaps and bounds as Ministers and MPs are given more and more 'things'. We know MPs voted themselves $20,000 'things', and some Ministers are said to be riding $50,000 dollar 'things'. And that is why the Speaker rejected a $45,000 'thing' because that would have put him behind the Ministers. His place is above the Senior Minister who, incidentally, has also rewarded himself with a wild 'thing'. It would be alright if such perks were justified by excellence in performance, but on the contrary, these recipients of 'things', headed by the Senior Minister, are nothing but a bunch of incompetent blokes who have put personal gain on a pedestal that would shock the living daylights out of any sane being.. The case of the Senior Minister is worth noting. Mr. JH Mensah, erstwhile Finance Minister in the Busia regime, the man whose austerity budget introduced Ghanaians to the dictatorship of The Alumnus of Swedru Business School. Joseph Henry, the coup plotter and wannabe president of Ghana. Joseph Henry, head of the government economic management team, who openly admits that the government - his government - has no competent economic advisors! He is Henry, Joseph Henry, and in his case, the synergies of senility and old age have been quite fruitless. But the deluge of senility is not limited to the dinosaurs of the Kuffour administration. It has percolated right to the very top, and the President himself seems to be exhibiting serious symptoms of the debilitating disease. Why else would he, in his New Year address to the people of Ghana, thank God for all the blessings He has bestowed on the Ghanaian people? What blessings? HIPC? What blessings? Relegation to Least Developed Country Status? What blessings? Classification of our country among the 53 conflict areas of the world? What blessings? Cashew nut and starch export as the flagship of the 'golden age of business? Obviously His Excellency is quite confused about the meaning of the word, 'blessings' for most would agree that those 'blessings' are indeed veritable curses on the Ghanaian people. Yet in his confusion of meanings, there is some lucidity as to his intent, for in the same breadth that he mentions 'blessings', he refers to the “sapping poverty that bedevils our people”. Then he goes on to pray for more 'blessings' in the New Year! “Things are not the way they used to be. I don't tell no lie!” “It is more blessed to give that to receive”, said the carpenter's son as he sought to encourage generosity among his followers. This admonition has taken on a new meaning among our government as they lavishly patronage on party faithful and relatives. Today, the Executive is distributing Fanta to Junior Jesus, Mills and others who can afford those cheap drinks, whilst young street girls in 'Sodom and Gomorrah', that filthy Accra ghetto, have to wear three trousers to sleep every night, in the hope that they would wake up before their would-be rapists reach their 'damrifa.' And lest anyone think that senility is limited to the Kuffour government, be assured that senility is no respecter of persons or political parties. After all, the government of Junior Jesus, gave US$20 million to an American woman who, by her own admission had only $46 to her name, to make Ghana self sufficient in rice production. It is indeed more blessed to give than to receive! Dangerously, and steadily though, this brand of senility is creeping into the general citizenry, destroying hope, and leaving a morbid national consciousness in its wake. Why else have death, funerals and religion become such a major pre-occupation with the general population? It is reported that funerals have become the biggest business in the 'garden city' and churches, whose preachers promise heavenly reward whilst milking their congregations for their earthly earnings, have become permanent fixtures on the streets of all our towns. In the end, this baffling state of affairs is best expressed by the professional mourners of Dorma Ahenkro, those haggard looking ghouls whose bodies and faces are spent from the 'agbaa' and 'goro' of the countless wakes and funerals that, tradition has condemned them to. At a funeral in Kumasi, where they had been hired to mourn the death of one Afia Bawa, they cried thus: Afia Bawa eh,

Afia Bawa eh,

Wo to baako eh, (Those bums you had,)

Krowa! (Cute!)

Kwesi Yeboah
Kwesi Yeboah, © 2003

The author has 34 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: KwesiYeboah

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