Ghana’s Reputation Does Not Depend on Spio-Garbrah
It was quite amusing to read a news report published on the MyJoyOnline.com website, in which Malta's ambassador to Jordan was alleged to have decried what Mr. Anthony De Bono characterized as “the politics of insults” which was hurting Ghana's image abroad (See “Political Insults Denting Ghana's Image Abroad – Foreign Diplomat” 12/20/10).
Needless to say, while, indeed, the deft and systematic cultivation of a positive image ennobles the Republic of Ghana among the comity of nations, the reality on the ground, as it were, seems to suggest that there is absolutely no country on Earth that is worthy of its geopolitical designation in which the dogged and reckless pursuit of power and influence has not caused political culture to be labeled as “a dirty game.”
Still, what struck me as being more weighted on the side of special pleading, and emotion, than any imperative necessity for Ghanaians to polish up our political culture has to do with the glaring fact of Mr. De Bono being a Chairman Emeritus of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organization, whose substantive chairmanship is presently held by Mr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah.
In other words, what I am hereby suggesting is that the Maltese diplomat's gripe appears to be far more predicated on his personal friendship with Mr. Spio-Garbrah than the intrinsic tenor of what might palpably be perceived as an unsavory rhetoric of abuse that has taken grips of our entire national political landscape.
It is also rather quaint for Mr. De Bono to presume to enumerate for Ghanaians which personalities, among others, of course, constitute the most respectable of our citizens. On the foregoing score, the Chairman Emeritus of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organization (CTO) exhorts: “I hope that Ghanaians will also learn that for those of us foreigners who love your country, anytime [that] you attack your most respectable citizens[,] such as Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Mr. Kofi Annan, President Atta-Mills, Mr. Jerry Rawlings, or Dr. Spio-Garbrah, it makes us wonder about Ghana's future.”
Without any intention to be abrasive, whatsoever, it is, nonetheless, worthwhile suggesting to Mr. De Bono that of the personalities listed under the generously broad category of “the most respectable Ghanaians,” only two would actually make the list of many a levelheaded and responsible Ghanaian citizen. And these two are, of course, late President Kwame Nkrumah, our most progressive, albeit insufferably profligate, dictator; and, of course, Mr. Kofi (Busumuru Atta) Annan, our lone Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former Secretary-General of the United Nations.
But since the critic has decided to lead his list of the most respectable Ghanaians with a deceased premier, maybe it is equally worthwhile proposing the names of even more respectable and foresighted Ghanaians who, more than even our country's first president, have exerted the kind and level of fetching influence that has made Ghana the citadel and enviable model of continental African democracy that it is today. And these leaders, at least those readily remembered as of this writing are, viz., Dr. J. B. Danquah, foremost scholar of his generation and Ghana's most distinguished pioneering nationalist; Mr. Ephraim Casely-Hayford, the most dynamic and astute advocate of pan-African regionalism and illustrious founder of the National Congress of British West Africa (NCBWA), a firebrand lawyer, journalist and philosopher; Mr. Kobena Sakyi, a legal mind of genius and radical socio-cultural irredentist; Mr. John Mensah-Sarbah, a pioneering codifier and modernizer of Akan-Ghanaian traditional law and governance; Mr. George Ekem-Furgesson, pioneer surveyor and indefatigable cartographer-demarcator of modern Ghana's geographical boundaries; Dr. James E. K. Aggrey, path-breaking Ghanaian educator-philosopher of genius; Dr. K. A. Busia, Dr. Ephraim Amu, Mr. Kofi Antubam, Dr. Susana Ofori-Atta (Mrs. De Graft Johnson), first Ghanaian woman physician; Mr. Samuel Nicholas Adu, first Ghanaian and Black-African to pilot a locomotive train (1931); and on the living side, Dr. Leticia Obeng, first Ghanaian woman scientist; and the list goes on and on and on and on…ad infinitum.
Indeed, anybody who envisages Mr. Jerry John Rawlings as the best thing that ever happened to postcolonial Ghanaian politics must either not have ever lived in Ghana or must simply be living in a fool's paradise; or worse yet, that observer must have a rather immeasurably low opinion of our collective national intelligence. It is almost akin to suggesting to an ardent British conservative and/or monarchist that, unarguably, Mr. Oliver Cromwell was the best thing that ever happened to British political culture in the era of Enlightenment.
As to whether, indeed, President Atta-Mills ranks among the list of the most respectable Ghanaians is decidedly moot. And while personally I harbor absolutely no feelings of disdain or ill-will for the man, nonetheless, I also wonder what most Ghanaians think of their president when a prominent ruling-party hack like Mr. Spio-Garbrah calls his own party's chief executive officer by such derogatory terms as “damaged goods” and “a sick man.” In other words, what I am suggesting here is that, perhaps, Mr. Anthony De Bono ought to have conducted a more exhaustive research on the background of his good friend before presuming to impose Mr. Spio-Garbrah on Ghanaians as one of our most respectable citizens. The stark fact of the matter is that irrepressibly arrogant and megalomaniacal figures like Mr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah never made anybody's list of the most respectable citizens of any country.
As for Mr. De Bono's rather wild-eyed expectation that commenting in the chat-room of any Ghanaian media website constitutes serious discourse, the least said about it definitely the better. For the sake of his personal edification on the history of Ghanaian political culture, however, suffice it to observe that no key Ghanaian politician better appropriated the rhetoric of abusive mendacity and outright scurrility than the man that Ambassador De Bono would rather have Ghanaians worship, Mr. Kwame Nkrumah!
*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is a Governing Board Member of the Accra-based Danquah Institute (DI) and the author of “Ghanaian Politics Today” (Atumpan Publications/Lulu.com, 2008). E-mail: [email protected]
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