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24.03.2011 Feature Article

Real Intellectual Assessment of our GIJ needs more than just the discordant appeal of a few Journalists to Okoampa Ahoofe, Jr.

Real Intellectual Assessment of our GIJ needs more than just the discordant appeal of a few Journalists to Okoampa Ahoofe, Jr.
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I would like to take a turn in acknowledging that it is with a "mixture of admiration and contempt", my apologies to Professor Kwame Okoampa Ahoofe Jr, PhD. that I read his Article, entitled: “Valerie Sackey is a typical lickspittle”.

And the following explains why. While I commend the Professor for raising a cautionary flag to our faint appetite for reading for leisure, to which he ascribes our, generally, poor "literary output" (his words), I strongly object, even contemptuously, to his stereotypical characterization of book reviews by Ghanaians as mediocre and his unconvincing insinuation that our School of Journalism is to blame for that.

In thinking about the Professor's lamentation, the following few questions came to mind that I would like our Public to consider and help provide answers for, in an attempt to locate for redress any real intellectual lapses in the School of Journalism. Is Ghana's School of Journalism Just as bad as Professor Okoampa-Ahoofe fears it could be, based upon the performance of a few Journalists that graduated from the School? Is any negative stereotyping of the Lectureship at the School any constructive in pointing out its shortfalls for amelioration? Should a few 'Bad' Intellectuals characterize the bunch? How essentially different is the School's curriculum from those of similar Universities that the Professor might consider as having the best Journalism Programs, including where he took his own Journalism courses? Has the Professor been privy to any Professorial Instructional evaluation of the Ghana Institute of Journalism by any credible Evaluation entity? Or, he, and he alone, constitutes such an entity eligible for such Academic Evaluation? What peer review mechanism did Professor defer to in assessing the Intellectual Performance of the Professors at the School? Has the Professor done anything to improve the standing of the Journalism Program at GIJ, yet? If the Professor does not have any specific data to suggest the Institute is churning out predominantly that bad a set of Graduates, isn't a rush to stereotype the School's products or the use of a few examples to do so, just as lazy as he would want us see our Intellectuals? Even if it is just the curriculum that is poorly designed, would we be right in degrading the whole body of intellectuals that use it to educate our Students, the future Journalists?

Zoning in to the particular target of the Professor's Article, I would humbly seek to submit that Book reviews are highly subjective, reflective of the reviewers' personal opinions. Obviously, one cannot claim to be reviewing a book written on, say Nuclear Power, and misrepresent the contents by discussing, say, Yorkor Gari. The factual contents of a book are relevant. But the basic expectations in a book review would be to take a purpose for which the book's Author might have, or is believed, to have written it, and evaluate, in the reviewer's personal estimation, the level of fulfillment of that purpose that the Author achieved, providing evidence of that fulfillment. In other words, the Book Reviewer would try to find out if the Author succeeded in doing what the latter, supposedly, wanted to do with the book and provide evidence to support that level of achievement. A book review isn't a book report or summary. A review of the Book Reviewer's work on a book, therefore, ought to take into consideration what the Book Reviewer set out to discover in the book.

Following through to the conclusion of his Article, I detected that Prof. Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe's characterization of the book review by Ms. Valerie Sackey, was, principally, on his summary perception of the Reviewer's regard for the main character of the book under review, former President J. J. Rawlings, rather than on Ms. Sackey's goals for the review, analytical mechanics, and the factual strength of the contents.

I would therefore like to register my quandary with his assessment of Ms. Sackey's ability to review books. It seems to me that just because she failed to fulfill his expectation, however, remote, of seeing her abrasively chastising the former President, J. J. Rawlings, whom the Professor has indicated, publicly, as one of his most hated enemies, she could not make the mark in his professorial evaluation as a competent book reviewer. That, to me, was not objectively reviewing Ms. Sackey's prowess at Book Review, but rather displaying the Professor's irritation for her failure to portray his adversary in the same ignoble morass he perceives him to be.

I just wonder how many book reviews undertaken by Ms. Sackey the Professor has had the occasion to assess. Was his evaluation on Ms. Sackey ability based on only a single instance of her book review? I, personally, admit that I have not seen any other of her reviews, should she have done others beside the one the Professor discussed. But I have reasons to believe that Professor Okoampa Ahoofe's assessment of Ms. Sackey's review was done with his particular 'Results or Answer-sheet' Template of how likable Mr. Rawlings is to him, personally, rather than with any purely intellectual benchmarks.

Assuming that that particular instance of Ms. Sackey's review might have been poorly done, wouldn't the Professor think, if he has the humility and courage to accept his own fallibility, at all, that it was, rather, too harsh for him to suggest that this particular literary output of hers is characteristic of our intellectuals in Ghana whom he calls predominantly lazy?

Wouldn't it have sufficed that the Professor focused on just that particular literary output of Ms. Sackey's as having missed some salient aspects of the book she reviewed?

I find it amusingly disingenuous the semblance of a certain exclusionary claim of Okoampa-Ahoofe's to intellectual excellence and integrity, along which he insensitively tramples upon the dignity and quality of other intellectuals with abject impunity and nauseating impudence. Such is what makes him come through as some egocentric, impertinent, snob of an intellectual, (that he might not be) who constantly, persistently trashes others to enhance his own standing. It is one thing decrying our general standard of literary prowess, and another, having the Professor, to insultingly disparage all our other intellectuals, especially those in our School of Journalism, based on his personal whims or the shortfalls of a few.

As he so stridently accuses most other Ghanaian intellectuals as being lazy and shallow, lacking any appreciable level of critical thinking, he shockingly portrayed his own frailty in that area of personal attributes, by leaving a wide intellectual gap in the conclusive summary of his argument in the Article criticizing Ms. Sackey and others.

A particular display, in that Article, of the Professor's own imperfection in critical thinking is his description of Mr. Rawlings' regime as a '"Robin-Hood" regime', even as the Professor so laboriously depicts the former President as an exceptionally evil leader. Let me emphasize, here and now, that it is not my intention to defend the former President. He must be more capable of explaining his own actions. I am only attempting to expose the prolific exudation of crass hypocrisy and demagoguery observed with Professor Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr. that debilitates and benumbs the zeal of many productive intellectuals to share their diverse and rich opinions with the Public on our forums like this one.

The Legendary Robin Hood, whose deeds were even embellished by Shakespear in his 'Two Gentlemen of Verona', as we well know, was believed to have robbed from the rich to give to the poor. So, even as Robin Hood earned great notoriety among the elites of his era and country, who saw him as only a murderer and robber, he earned widespread fame, admiration and love of the masses who were the ordinary majority and beneficiaries of his 'nefarious'activities in England.

By this analogy of the Professor's, in which, either by the accidental eruption of some subconscious concession of his, or a veritable existential hole in his own critical thinking ability, he likens Mr. Rawlings to Robin Hood, the Professor has helped elevate Mr. Rawlings' image rather than hurt it, giving people a reason to repudiate the Professor's perception of Mr. Rawlings as an outright evil person.

If Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe concedes that the former President was like Robin Hood to the people of Ghana, he is only encouraging the downtrodden, the forgotten poor and the hard-working Middle Class, whose efforts and plights had been largely overlooked for deserving recognition and redress by the few elitist leaders, to appreciate Mr. Rawlings even more.

Professor Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr. has, thus, undermined his own credibility as to why Mr. Rawlings does not deserve any excuse, even though the Professor accuses Ms. Sackey and others for cutting the ex-President a slack.

Given that the Professor has for long bludgeoned all who even minutely showed any warmth to the former Coup leader, albeit correctly citing some horrendous, almost unforgivable breach of people's rights under Mr. Rawling's Revolutionary Regime, Okoampa-Ahoofe is, now, admitting to the Public that Mr. Rawlings might have done what he did to serve the larger neglected population a vital purpose of taking away from the overburdening, rapacious 'Powerful' leaders, and giving all to them, the helpless. Mr. Rawlings would now earn more the sympathies of the masses, and he could not be more grateful for that. I would bet that most folks who accept Okoampa-Ahoofe's 'Robin Hood' characterization of Mr. Rawlings would, then, interpret Mr. Rawlings' actions that the Professor has condemned over the years, whatever evil the Prof. associates with Mr. Rawlings, as some "necessary evil" that the people may be morally obliged to more easily forgive him of.

One other thing in Professor Okoampa-Ahoofe's Valerie-bashing Article that caught my attention is his duplicitous regard for the former President, Kufuor. Prior to his review of Ms. Sackey's review, at least for once, the Professor had attributed Corruption to the former President Kufuor. So, I am now wondering at what point the Professor re-tallied the performance credits for the former President to give him such a high mark at the Presidency? Is this a last minute effort by the Professor to court the disaffected followers of President Kufuor, who the Professor had, in no small measure, contributed to the withdrawal of their support for Nana Akufo Addo, back to the Political camp of the Professor's Uncle, to boost the chances of the NPP Flagbearer in the 2012 Elections? If that may well be the case, the Professor has a lot more to do than just piggy-backing on Ms. Sackey's book review prowess to sneak in a Mia Culpa to the Kufuor Camp. The Prof. would be better served to dedicate a full apologetic Article to emphatically denounce his own myopic, self-centered criticism of the former President, for a start of a genuine healing process. The Professor's 'lesser-of-the-two-evils' approach to recognizing the former President is simply not enough, and only a thinly veiled opportunistic con of President Kufuor's supporters for their votes. Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe does not seem to have had his steely cold heart warmed enough to deserve any reward with support for his cause. In fact, he has created more doubt than credibility in his ability to empathize with folks and judge others. So, folks must evaluate Nana Akufo Addo on their own and other sources of counsel than the Professor's.

Ms. Valerie Sackey may be a 'typical lipstickle' to Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., but in attempting to get us to believe that, Professor Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr. proved to be deceptively intellectually shallow himself. People who spend most of their efforts to tear others down, don't themselves get enough time to advance as much as they could.

Folks, this scenario ought to remind us not to chase the insane without our clothes on. We might be the ones that could be mistaken for the lunatic.

Long Live Ghana!!!

G. K. Berko
G. K. Berko, © 2011

The author has 44 publications published on Modern Ghana.Column: GKBerko

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