Countrymen and women, loyalists and opponents, I had a very good time in the US last week. After presenting that boring speech to the General Assembly of the United Nation’s I had the privilege of meeting one-on-one with the my mentor, the Bushman. He received me so warmly and even posed with me for a photograph, which has been circulated around the world. Ahhh! I was so happy sitting down with this man and sharing my ideas with him on various issues. But I could not muster the courage to tell him what I have always dreamt of telling him if I got the opportunity to meet him behind closed doors for a man-to-man chat. I have always thought of telling the Bushman that Asamoah Oben Larbi (aka Osama bin Laden) has managed to set up camp in some part of Ghana and the only way to get him out, as part of the war on terror, is for American troops to invade Ghana, destroy a few bridges, shut down electricity supply, pollute the water pumping stations and set up an interim administration to manage the country on my behalf – an action which will save my hair from graying and my face from crumpling any further. I would have told him that Ghanaians will not engage in any hit-and-run attacks on American forces as is happening in Iraq and Afghanistan. I had all these at the back of my mind as I sat with the Bushman but I could not muster the courage and so all I did was to look at him and smile like a schoolboy who had just come face-to-face with Reggie Rockstone. After my meeting with the Bushman, however, I felt so elated that I forgot that I had asked Shaka Sali of the Voice of America TV to do me a favour by interviewing me to speak about the good things I have been doing for both Ghana and the violent, brutish West African sub-region, since I came into power . I have already apologized to Shaka (I hope I got the spelling right) for failing to show up for the interview but I don’t feel the necessity to explain to the Ghanaian public why I failed to go to the VOA studios that evening. I know there have been numerous rumours circulating in the country about this incident. One set of inventive minds think and believe that I was caught in traffic. My question is – have you seen a president caught up in traffic before, even in Ghana? Another set of inventive minds believe that my level of sobriety at the time was so low that if I had appeared before Shaka I would have made a mess of myself. My response to this rumour is to remind Ghanaians of the saying that “you do not believe any rumour until the government denies it”. Well, I am on the second leg of my latest sojourn around the world and if you care to know, I am now chilling out in the orient. To be more precise, I am in Japan – where I really feel like a giant. There are too many short people in this country and I stand out tall among them all. Apart from the fact that I have been having a very difficult time trying to get Mama Tess to slip into one of those Japanese kimonos, I can say that I am having a good time. Even though I am enjoying myself, I have made sure that I stay in touch with my beloved country and I have heard some very disturbing news from Sikaman. The news I heard was that a new campaign has been launched to encourage handwashing with soap. It reminds me of the failed campaign by Maliu for greater discipline (more on that in a future letter). Handwashing is a basic lesson every parent is expected to teach his/children. Do we need a national campaign to teach children how to wash their hands? Does it mean that parents have been failing in this fundamental area of teaching their children to wash their hands? If parents cannot teach their children to wash their hands what sort of training, skill and morality can they instill in our future leaders? I wonder if this campaign will be any successful than Maliu’s campaign against indiscipline. Following events closely back home, I have been told about another news item which appeared in one of the nation’s leading newspapers, which suggests that the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology is the fifth best technological university in the world. Those who told me about the report suggested that I had to celebrate the new status of KNUST by drinking a lot of Japanese ‘rice water’ – which has the same flavour and potency as ‘akpet’. Well, I agreed and started drinking the J-rice water in excess until I realized that I could be in trouble if I am asked about the cause celebré. How was I going to explain to the Japanese – master-manufacturers of robots, CD players, digital cameras and some of the world’s best fleet of cars – that a university in my country is better than the University of Tokyo? I hope that the eminent professor who made the disclosure might had his facts right. Perhaps, he ought to have said that when all the technological institutions of higher learning on earth were surveyed our KNUST was graded fifth, FROM THE BOTTOM. Then I could have rested easy. I have never thought that anyone will be able to mention KNUST and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the same breath. The KNUST don who made the bold declaration could have saved me from excruciating anxiety by supporting his statement with facts such as the criteria for grading the technological institutions of higher learning in the world and the group of researchers who were short-sighted enough to name KNUST among the top five. If the don failed to provide the full information, I wonder why the journalist who reported it in the newspaper failed to seek the necessary clarification. All this smacks of a perfect case of academic dishonesty, excellently propped up by journalistic incompetence. I am seriously considering fast tracking the don the journalist on my return. Look, KNUST cannot even maintain a stable, functioning website – the site breaks down with such monotonous regularity. How, can they be graded as the fifth best university on earth? Is it because of their recent outdooring of that groggy contraption they call a car? To cut a long story short, I think whoever graded KNUST as one of the best five technology universities on earth has got it all wrong. He or she only attempted to throw us into a state of delusional exhilaration so that we will lose sight of the fact that we have a long way to go. If Kwame Nkrumah, the man whose name is proudly attached to the university, had been around he would have described the current situation as another giant neocolonialist, imperialistic, plan to enslave the mind of the Black man. But, thank God am not Nkrumah, so I will for once, forget about my gentleman’s tag and tell the so-called researchers, wherever they are, to shove their findings where the sun don’t shine. I’ve got to go help Mama Tess slip into that cute kimono.
Excellently Chilling out in Japan, J. A. Fukuor