For Speaking the Truth to Power, Thank you so much, Togbe Afede

Feature Article For Speaking the Truth to Power, Thank you so much, Togbe Afede
JAN 15, 2024 LISTEN

"To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; to leave the world a little better; whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is the meaning of success." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

I received the best gift of the new year so far when a friend sent me the article written by the Agbogbomefia, Togbe Afede XIV, “Togbe Afede XIV writes – Bank of Ghana has failed us,”

In the lengthy piece, the High Chief did not pull any punches in denouncing the current crop of misrulers who have very badly mismanaged the affairs of this once-promising nation. The pain and the anguish of the Chief was palpable.

Unlike the sanctimonious hypocrites who speak with forked tongues, the Afede did not mince his words. Like yours truly here, he left no one in doubt about where he stands on certain issues.

Listen to him: “In my December 2022 article, “Our Self-Inflicted Monumental Economic Crisis”, I presented my thoughts on the reasons why we, Ghanaians, find ourselves in this undeserved economic mess, given our massive human and material resource endowments.

The Ghana we have today is obviously not what our founding fathers dreamt of. We have failed woefully but have pretended otherwise. Instead of giving hope, our leaders have created a frightening sense of helplessness among the populace, especially the youth.

As I said earlier in December 2021, during a courtesy call by the Speaker of Parliament, Ghana would have filed for bankruptcy if it were a company. This was effectively what we did when we went back to the IMF for bailout and implemented the Domestic Debt Exchange Programme (DDEP). We eventually defaulted on our debts. Holders of Government bonds suffered massive losses, and the outlook remains dim.

We have been brought to the brink by despicably dishonest, corrupt, reckless, arrogant, and divisive leadership. We are also victims of bad fiscal and monetary policies. We owe our relative peace and stability to the resilience and patience of Ghanaians, and I pray that we remain so. I know what suffering is like, and that is why I will continue to share my thoughts on our development challenges.”

Wow! These are very powerful words. If only we are not cursed with obdurate and obstinate misrulers whose entire fabric has been poisoned by the intoxication of raw power! How good and pleasant it would be were the Republic to be blessed with people who can listen and adjust their wayward ways!

In a country where genuflecting hypocrisy has been elevated to an art form, where the belief that burying one’s head in the sand is the safest position to take as rot engulfed every facet of life in the nation, the Afede’s stance is salutary and commendable.

I shake my Dreads in admiration. Thank you, Sir!

Readers of this column will understand and appreciate my position. On several occasions I alluded to the remarks by a top politician, ex-parliamentarian, and ex-Ambassador who told me point-blank: “Femi, we read all that you write, but we can afford to ignore you because there are so few of you.”

Of course, I didn’t/don’t harbor any illusion that the Powerful people who are mismanaging the affairs of the country are shaking in their pants because of what a Nobody like me write on whatever platform, but, as I wrote in my book, “Africa: It shall be well,”: It is the sad duty of the writer to chronicle the ills of his society.

My definition of a good and well-lived life is to have made some impact in any place we choose to call home. I think that I have succeeded.

While the Powerful elites can ignore my rants, speaking out becomes another kettle of fish when respected and influential people like the Afede choose to speak up, rather than allow the crumbs that the governments throw in their direction to shut their mouths.

Like the deposed Emir of Kano who happened to be an ex-Governor of the Nigeria Central Bank, Lamidi Sanusi, the Afede not only dazzled us with his courage, but his scholarship and erudition were on full display. He went ballistic with irrefutable economic facts to back up his allegations against the country’s apex bank and the government’s economic policies.

Were he an honorable man, the VP, Muhammadu Bawumia, who told fairytales about his economic competence until he was rewarded with being put as the Czar of the country’s Economic Management Team, would have long resigned in shame - if only for telling barefaced and infantile lies. Presiding over the total meltdown of the national economy would also have been a good reason for any person with personal integrity to throw in the towel. Disappointing his boss, the president, who trusted him with such an awesomely important job would also have been a good reason for Bawumia to call to quit.

Sadly, we live in a Republic where those in positions of power have the integrity of famished hyenas.

Like yours sincerely, the Afede’s main gripe appears to be focused more on the insensitivity and the arrogance of those who (transiently, even if they don’t appear to know it) occupy positions of power.

The Chief rightly queried: How can those who ran the affairs of the Bank of Ghana (BOG) down marshal the effrontery to award themselves end-of-year bonuses?

We can only answer that this abnormal, unconscionable, and morally repugnant affair has become normalized in the Fourth Republic.

We, citizens, witness the reprehensible acts of those in government (the three arms) who give themselves fantastic bonuses at the end of the year despite their inglorious and appalling performance.

Not only that, at the end of their four-year terms, our Overlords award themselves fabulous, make that scandalous, ex-gratias like we have anything to be grateful to them for!

What exactly is in the psychological makeup of the Ghanaian/African to make some people so heartless and so unpatriotic to continue to treat their own countries like Conquered Territories, and their National Treasuries like War Booties that must be dispatched with haste?

Another troubling question is: Why are more Chiefs in Ghana not speaking up about the abysmal situation in the country?

I know that Chiefs are not supposed to become partisan or to go politicking, but what exactly stops those who continue to pretend that they are our Royal Fathers from helping to speak the Truth to Power?

Unlike the politicians who live in their gilded estates, the Chiefs (at least most of them) live among us, they relate to us every day, and they cannot pretend not to know what we are going through in this country, yet, few of them will raise their voices to give powerful articulation to our miseries and our frustrations.

We are not blind to the fact that governments buy their silence with expensive vehicles and suchlike, but at least they should let those in power know that things are not well with us - if even only for the optics.

It appears that for our traditional leaders pecuniary material gains are enough to sell one’s soul and make one susceptible to the harsh judgment of posterity.

How about the once-loquacious religious leaders and the senior journalists who, in the past, made it their duty to vociferate loudly against governments’ corruption and incompetence? Has the country suddenly become sanitized and saintly? Or how do we explain their silence in this period when the Republic has never had it so bad?

And what do we say to those in the Diaspora who find something to defend in our almost Dickensian abysmal state?

I can't understand how any African can stay any length of time in Europe or the USA or China where he enjoys all the modern appurtenances that Man has created to take the toil of life, where the electricity does not blink, where the tap runs uninterrupted, and where the speed of the internet is so dazzling fast that one will think that he imagine things, only to come back to Africa and try to rationalize the absurdities he sees in his Native Land!