In the latest development regarding perhaps the most deadly intellectual assault on the University of Ghana, Legon, the 23-year-old son of the flagship academy's recently dismissed Vice-Chancellor has appealed for the forgiveness of his disgraced father. Unfortunately, the veritable moral and psychological reprobate and toddler, who did not appear to fully appreciate the far-reaching implications of his sociopathic behavior, also had the temerity to caution patriotic observers against dragging his family, particularly his father, Professor Kwadwo Asenso-Okyere, into the fallout from the young man's mess (The Daily Guide, “Forgive Me Dad” 5/17/05). And here, there is a grievous problem – for Mr. Kwadwo Tabiri Asenso-Okyere, a mastermind behind the recent massive leakage of examination papers at Legon, does not appear to fully appreciate the fact that the issue at stake far transcends the petty and parochial cares – or confines – of the domestic arena; and that the issue of what psychology experts term as “mentacide” is a national moral dilemma more than anything else, particularly when one factors in the fact that the University of Ghana is the veritable cultural and intellectual gateway into the heart and soul of the country.
And for someone whose great-granduncle spearheaded the struggle that engendered the salutary and auspicious establishment of the University of Ghana, the young Kwadwo Tabiri Asenso-Okyere's willful decision to undermine the very essence of Ghanaian education and scholarship reeks of nothing short of the outright suicidal and patricidal. But, perhaps, what ought to rankle even the most well-meaning among the culprit's countrymen and women is the rather puerile attempt by this clinical idiot to brazenly characterize himself, in Eurocentric parlance, as “a 23-year-old man, an adult and a final-year student of the University who is answerable for all my actions.”
Perhaps somebody ought to boldly and plainly tell the younger Mr. Asenso-Okyere that merely chalking Twenty-Three Solar Revolutions does not one an adult make. And we resent the cavalier attempt by this unconscionable and privileged brat to reduce the cultural concept of an adult Ghanaian into a facile matter of temporal statistics. In other words, as many an American, youth or adult, is wont to observe: “Age is just a number.” Being an adult has more to do with one's remarkable appreciation of the grave responsibilities that the individual has both for her- or himself and society at large. And had the culprit fully appreciated the preceding, he would almost definitely have diligently striven to rank himself among the rest of us. As it stands, however, the young intellectual dwarf is not only an untold, and insuperable, disgrace to the entire Asenso-Okyere family, but he is also a moral blight to the entire membership of the National Union of Ghanaian Students and the nation at large.
And having callously brought both our flagship academy and his own family into irreparable disrepute, the last appropriate rhetoric that the younger Mr. Asenso-Okyere ought to be deploying must, definitely, not entail the imperious exhortation of “well-meaning Ghanaians who believe in justice and fair-play” having to leave his father out of his examination mischief (Daily Guide 5/17/05). Indeed, had he known anything remarkable about the essence of “justice” or “fair-play,” the young academy-wrecker would not have engaged in such seamy behavior. Or, perhaps, being the son of the Vice-Chancellor, the culprit presumed the concept and practice of justice to be one that had to be taken for granted. In fine, our argument here is that if, for instance, the self-confessed academic scam-artist had known that “justice,” in this particular context, might entail having to face the firing squad, perhaps he would not have elected the flagitious trajectory that he did.
Then again, in cavalierly invoking the moral concepts of “justice and fair-play,” maybe the young man is also exhorting the Ghanaian authorities, as well as University authorities, to be more serious about the inextricable dialectic of crime and punishment, particularly insofar as the preceding elements are known to operate in civilized societies with swift abandon.
And here, perhaps, it may also be apt to point out to the culprit the fact that fundamentally traditional African societies have for ages subscribed to the ideological and cultural concept of “collective punishment.” Indeed, there was a time that the younger Mr. Asenso-Okyere's crime would have unreservedly implicated the entire membership of his family, and also the fact that the latter would have been promptly conducted – or driven – out of town. But then, even if one concurs with the patent fact that ours is a totally new dispensation, and one that holds at a premium individual responsibility, as opposed to the communal and collective, still one ought to ask something about the level of general academic discipline that induced the highly privileged son of the Chief Executive Officer of a major African university to play fast and loose with the rule of law and ethics. After all, hasn't it been observed for ages that to those whom much is given, much also ought to be expected?
In sum, what makes the preceding even more serious is the fact that like America's so-called Ivy-League institutions, it is at the University of Ghana that most future Ghanaian leaders are trained. Consequently, any conduct on the part of both students and faculty of the University that may be deemed to be morally untenable has far-reaching implications for the country at large. Indeed, we have waited this long to comment on the recent massive leakage of examination papers because most of us have been too stunned and concussed to respond. Nonetheless, it is our fervent hope that any disciplinary measures undertaken by both the Government and University authorities be aimed at forestalling the possibility of a reprise in the near future. It is also painful to observe that even long before the most recent academic carnage, many reputable Western academies had begun impugning the credibility of Ghanaian-minted academic degrees. The latest national dilemma of which, by the way, the younger Mr. Asenso-Okyere is only the posterboy, hardly facilitated the speedy repair of the frazzled image of our entire higher educational system. *Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., teaches English and Journalism at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is the author of ten volumes of poetry and prose, including OBAASIMA: IDEAL WOMAN (2004) and SOUNDS OF SIRENS: Essays in African Politics & Culture (2004), all of which are available from Amazon.com, iUniverse.com and Barnes & Noble.com. Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.