18.08.2004 Feature Article

Letter from The President: Okro mouth Binbag

Letter from The President: Okro mouth Binbag
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Countrymen and women, loyalists and opponents, have you heard the news? The Minority leader, the garrulous Mr. Binbag, is running away from his own shadows. As I write this letter, he is penned away in a village in his constituency, his cell phone switched off. He's locked himself up in self-imposed house-arrest. Why? Because, he's committed a crime against himself, offended two heads of states and his heart is overflowing with regret. It all happened when he declared on a radio station that other Excellent Ones in Africa have lost confidence in my diplomatic skills and my efforts at bringing peace to Cote d'Ivoire. He claims that Gbagbo, my Excellent neighbour to the west, and Campoare, my Excellent neighbour to the north, gave him the 'filla'. He claims that he was told by these two Excellent ones that the factions in the Ivorian conflict do not take me serious and that, ostensibly, the more I plead for a ceasefire, the more intense the fighting gets.

Essentially, he meant to say that as far as the Ivory Coast peace process goes, I am a 'Simpa Panyin' who is merely being paraded as the Chairman of the sub-regional grouping and that they do not respect me anymore. The key word here is 'respect'

When I was first told about the Bigbag's remarks, I felt so disappointed in myself and I started leafing through my dictionary for appropriate adjectives to describe Campoare and Gbagbo. I found a couple of words but just when I was about to use them, Gbagbo called to say that he was sending a delegation to Accra to rubbish Binbag's claims. Not long after Campoare also sent me a letter, expressing his profound shock and outrage at the Minority Leader's remarks. So the matter should be left to rest, right?

No I don't think so. First of all, I guess there is some truth in what Binbag is saying. Perhaps, he was just trying to draw my attention to the unspoken messages from both Gbagbo and Campoare. I think they might have said 'something' to Binbag without necessarily opening their mouths to speak French (or halting English). They might not have explicitly declared their disrespect for me. But I think by their actions, and inactions, they have made it known in so many ways that they do not respect me. Before their last summit in Accra early this month, Gbagbo especially had met with rebel groups (allegedly being supported by Campoare) in Accra on two occasions to talk peace. They wasted my time, our nation's money and the resources of other countries in the sub-region and breathed the Sikaman air free of charge, pretending to be interested in peace. They went back home and chased peace out of their country, necessitating the very recent summit in Accra. So, essentially, they do not respect me. The message was not so loud for me to hear but it was audible enough for only the Binbag (whose tympanic membrane is in great shape) to hear. If Gbagbo and Campoare are interested in showing me that they still respect me, they should do as I say and ensure that the necessary compromises are made for peace to return to the Ivory Coast.

As for Binbag… well, I am not grateful to him for his singular and unique feat of being able to 'hear' the unspoken words of Gbagbo and Campoare. I would have been eternally grateful to him if he had just come to see me in chambers to tell me what he had 'heard'. Going on air to spew it out to the whole world with his 'okro mouth' was the most infantile behaviour I have seen of any politician. It is the type of behaviour I would have expected of General Mosquito, not Binbag. Binbag thought that by opening his mouth too wide, the people of Sikaman would stop according me the respect I deserve. He thought that by saying what ought to be said only in private, diplomatic ways he would be able to score some points for Tata Mills and make me lose credibility among voters. But everything has backfired. Binbag should have known that the people of Sikaman will not stop respecting and rooting for me, simply because an Excellent one in another land had stopped respecting me. The people respect and follow me because I am the one they want to follow, whether I have a good international reputation or not. So long as I am not involved in any criminal activity like gun smuggling (as Campoare allegedly does) my people will continue to love me and vote for me in any election. Binbag has, indeed, misfired big time. The consequences are too much for him to bear and I am not surprised that he has gone into hiding. Like KK Kabobo said, he's “running away – nobody taa no do”.

But he can't remain in hiding forever. Perhaps, by the time this letter reaches you, he might have shown his face in public again and he will be dancing to his own tune. I have credible information that most of the diplomatic missions in town and most of the organizations who want to guard their secrets have decided to stop inviting Binbag to any of their functions. They fear that whenever Binbag shows his face secrets will be let out of the bag, private discussions could become matters for public debate, forcing diplomatic damage control operations to be shifted too frequently into overdrive. Those who think that Binbag is still an important figure who must be invited to important functions are considering giving out advisories to their guests to be careful about who they speak to and what they say – that is to say that they should keep their mouths shut when Binbag is within a five-hundred-metre radius.

I am also advising the State Protocol Department to distribute copies of that song by Nat Brew, which warns people about 'okro mouths' like Binbag. The song literally translated goes like this: That's what he does everyday That's how he always behaves He's coming to listen to what's being said He's coming to see what has happened He will go and say it He will go and twist it I think Nat Brew sang that song for Binbag and he should be dancing to it in his pen.

Still Credible and Respected, J. A. Fukuor [email protected] PS. I have read with dismay, the Police Administration's response to my letter about its myopic thinking. Their statement of response ducked all the important issues I raised and, instead, concentrated on the “language” I used. Am humble enough to apologise for my language but I am adamant enough to insist that our police needs a reinvention, much sooner than later. I will like to see the results of the survey, if any, which indicates that the police is “gaining respectability”.

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