Tue, 26 Mar 2024 Feature Article

Is Ghana Suffering From Collective Cognitive Dissonance?

Is Ghana Suffering From Collective Cognitive Dissonance?

Last Sunday, the BBC’s Radio 4 broadcast one of its quaint programmes about something only a few people had ever heard about. (That’s a radio station that broadcasts “news”, isn’t it? Why should one want to be bored

With things one had heard about before, when there are so many millions of subjects that are completely new to one?

The Radio 4 programme was entitled Sideways, and its theme was something I’d never heard of before – “Cognitive Dissonance.” And its chosen hero == or

anti-hero (take your pick when you listen to the programming by Googling)

Was a young American who would not hear a word said against the late US President, Richard Nixon, during the “Watergate” scandal. The scandal has been fully written about in a book entitled “All the President’s Men” (whose film version, starring Robert Redford) has also been widely acclaimed.

Even as Nixon’s lieutenant’s were leaving the White House in droves,

after it had been proved beyond all reasonable doubt that Richard Nixon ordered or knew about a break-in of the Democratic Party’s offices in Washington, the young man would not accept that Nixon was a “crook” (as Nixon himself had denied he was.)

And then, in August 1974, Nixon resigned – the first US President to resign from office.

What the young man suffered from was something called “cognitive dissonance” and apparently, it’s a major brain disease almost as bad as schizophrenia, although very few people have ever heard of it.

I have come to the conclusion that in our attitude to public affairs, many of us exhibit – s3be o! – signs of this “cognitive dissonance”ailment.

How many bankers have gone to jail for stealing money put into their institutions by customers for safe-keeping? The central bank sometimes makes up for the losses to customers,but that seems to be all.

And do we, in our media and social comments, vilify the thieves and make it necessary for them to hang their heads in shame? No! One person who stole huge sums from the public became a celebrity overnight. His trips to expensive Arabian capitals were followed with avid interest; his romantic affairs became a Hollywood-type saga. Yet, more than half our population claim to be either Christians or Muslims – religions both of which extol the virtues ofcharity, humility and modesty, to say nothing of honesty. What sort of society is it that prides itself in being religious, and yet closes its eyes to the activities of thieves (so lo9ng as they do not commit burglary in their desire to be ultra-rich, at public expense?

Look at how our traditional office-holders exhibit themselves to the public ast festivals and ceremonies like the funerals of important people. Their stature is often inherited from long, long ago, and they evoke great admiration.

But the corollary of the display == ensuring that their people have adequate food to eat and that other amenities necessary for keeping alive are not denied to them –of that we see nothing or very little.

As they step out majestically, their drums and horns remind them:

“Y3mmfr3 wo chene kwa!
Y3mmfr3 wo panin kwa!” (We don’t call you a chief for nothing! We don’t call you an elder for nothing!”

But that bit of the events are understood only by a few people (most of whom haven’t got much time left on this earth, anyway).

We proclaim to the whole world that our culture is as rich as the best in the world; that we value humanitarian virtues; and that we deserve respect and should not be dictated to, by others.

But the bribes that enable galamsey to take place continue to be paid to “influential personages” in the dead of night.

And they, “our revered influential people, do allow conscienceless galamseyers to drive excavators into our our ancient, sacred rivers to pollute them in search for gold.

If our departed ancestors had allowed their rivers to be polluted, as we are doing, would we have had a chance to survive horrible diseases like cancer, and become the nation that we are?

We know everything. And yet we DENY that any of it is taking place!

If we do not suffer from “collective cognitive dissonance”, then I don’t know the meaning of the term.