"The tribe that lost its head"
Some years back, I bought a story book with the title "The Tribe That Lost Its Head". I never had the time to read it. However, following certain events of recent past, I have been making frantic efforts to retrieve it so that I can read it.
While I wait for the success of my effort to trace the whereabouts of the book, I decided to give the title of the book to this week's essay.
When the history of the "Fourth Republic" comes to be written, the two personalities who will occupy prime position for better or for worse undoubtedly are former President J.J. Rawlings and present President J.A. Kufuor.
The two personalities have many things in common. However, by far the greatest destiny they share together is that each of them had the golden opportunity to re-write the history of this country which could have made them living legends in their own rights.
At the appropriate time, the true contributions of thesa two sons of the soil to their motherland in particular and mankind in general will be recalled by great minds when their legacies comes to be written.
Of course, in tracing the achievements of these two men, the roles played by the cheer leaders they surrounded themselves with cannot escape special mention. When the first President, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was overthrown, one additional term was added to the Ghanaian dictionary: viz "gaping sycophants". Since Dr. Nkrumah's overthrow that famous term has been so choreographed from mere artistic phenomenon to an important scientific gene which people surrounding the epicenter of the political power base always crave to exhibit in their chromosomes. It identifies them to the political lineage which ensures that they continue to enjoy their filthy and ill-acquired lifestyle oblivious of the greater good of the society.
Coincidentally, two events of the month of July 2008 should provide the crown jewels in any research work which should deal with the legacies of the two living presidents of our time. It was during the month of July 2008, when every citizen of this country thought President Rawlings had turned his back on the incorrigible behaviour of the past and turned on the image of a local choir boy that he let out such massive effusion of unwarranted vituperation whose power could have unleashed a terrible tidal wave had it been translated into an earthquake within the deep blue sea.
It was also in the month of July 2008 when President Kufuor did the unthinkable by hiding behind a broad consultation of unnamed groups to create the highest national award, gave it a fanciful name, and awarded it to himself. This was in addition to dishing out about 243 mind boggling additional awards to other selected citizens.
In all these two unrelated events, the cheer leaders in-their usual gaping sycophantic style looked on the work of their respective mentors and proclaimed that all was well and good in the sight of the Lord.
What they failed to realise is that in every field of human endeavour, there is a leader and with leadership goes the pride of being in front. The reward of good leadership is wide recognition and the penalty is frequent imitation by others. As far as the present generation is concerned, President Rawlings and President Kufuor epitomise all that is beautiful and ugly in the society and therefore like Caesar's wife, they must not just be physically beautiful but also morally beautiful.
Since gratuitously and graciously handing over power, President Rawlings has never hidden his contempt and abomination for the personality of Mr. J.A. Kufuor and his NPP government.
President Rawlings have seized every opportunity not just to insult and cajole President Kufuor and his government but virtually threatened in foul language the security of the state in a manner in which an ordinary benign democrat in power would deem treasonable.
The sad and amazing aspect that in all these unbecoming actions of President Rawlings he has never fallen short of ardent supporters clothed in gaping sycophantic artistic uniforms always ready, willing and able to urge him on or provide their own encyclopedic interpretations to his ranting.
If only President Rawlings and his PNDC/NDC administration could obtain a fraction of the pass mark he has established for President Kufuor and his NPP, sleeping dogs could be allowed to rest undisturbed.
However, the truth of the matter is that President Rawlings and his PNDC/NDC are equally guilty if not worse of the accusations labelled against President Kufuor and his NPP. The only rational reason why President Rawlings consistently goes to town to preach mayhem is because President Kufuor has shown such gross political naivety with the suspicious sprinkling of incompetence as a factor in handling the antagonism by President Rawlings.
Nothing gives greater credence to this assertion than the quantity and quality of national awards created by President Kufuor this year n which President Rawlings and some of his cohorts were honourably mentioned for awards.
Awards of any kind should be based on only one sound criterion excellence. Thus the basic criterion for national award, which spans many fields, should be achievement of excellence in one's chosen profession, occupation, vocation or hobby and displaced exemplary leadership.
The person receiving the award must have matured in his/her field and definitely not in the nascent stage in his/her chosen career. Human beings are prone to temptation and eventual failure. Therefore a national award should be given to persons who stand little danger of desecrating themselves in future before they die and thereby defacing the award. Again, since award winners share the same platform, award winners are not absolute beings but stand in relative terms.
Thus, for example, a national awardee for journalism should be of equal value and weight as a similar awardee for sports. So it does not necessarily mean that if in a particular year nobody stands as tall in particular field in relation to another field, a phantom should by all means be fished out of the blue seas to be awarded.
This year's national award should reflect the sum failures of President Kufuor. Forget the fact that all the NDC awardees rejected their offers. It only helped to emphasis the unfortunate politicisation of the awards by President Kufuor as seen from the first list. However the rejection by NDC awardees should in no way detract from the despicable manner and the great damage done to the image of the national award institution.
Some of the names on the award list were in simple plain terms disgrace to the nation and an insult to the youth of this country who look out for real role models. Some of the names were simply an insult to the national conscience and psyche and the possible reasons for their nominations passed all understanding and intelligent analysis.
Again it is beyond reasonable reason for a President who has dismissed or engineered the dismissal of his own appointees (presumably for corruption, indiscipline, incompetence or disloyalty to turn round and accord the same personalities national awards in one breath.
These do not however subtract from the fact that some of the awardees richly deserved their awards. However, the fact is that the unusually large quantity of awards dished out and the spurious achievements of some of the awardees only degraded the awards to the deserving ones.
I want to believe that only the rejection of the awards by the NDC awardees prevented some well-deserving awardees from refusing to stand on the same platform with some of their fellow awardees.
How do you gjve awards to positions irrespective of the achievement of the personalities who occupy or occupied it? It is a clear rejection of the time honoured concept of excellence in instituting award schemes. How does a student write an examination, mark the paper himself, gives himself the highest mark on offer and congratulate himself for his achievement? Who were the groups President Kufuor consulted? Were they the Council of State, the National Council of Chiefs, the Trades Union Congress, the Ghana Employers Association, the Association of Ghana Industries, the Ghana Journalists Association, the Vice Chancellors, Ghana, the Ghana Bar Association, the Institute of Chartered Accountants (Ghana), the Ghana National Association of Teachers, and what have you? If so what were their individual responses and advises?
During the 51 years of independence of Ghana, the country has failed to make any positive progress because of negative mindset of her leaders at all levels and in every field of human endeavour, naked corruption and greed of people in entrusted positions and outright managerial incompetence of people in executive positions in national affairs.
Added to this repugnant and offensive behaviour of the leaders are the damn right gaping sycophancy and bootlicking attitude of the general citizenry and pervasive indiscipline in national life How did this tribe lose its head and will the next leadership be able to recover it? I pause for an answer.
A Spectator feature by Kwame Gyasi
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