“The most tragic thing in the world is a man of genius who is not a man of honor” - George Bernard Shaw
“Life every man holds dear; but the dear man holds honor far more precious dear than life.” -
Among the definition of HONOUR is “source of pride: somebody or something that brings respect or glory and is a source of pride to somebody or something else.”
The opposite of honor is DISHONOUR which is defined as: “a cause of shame or loss of respect.”
Among the things that brings dishonor are stealing and the telling of lies. In many African cultures, the telling of lies is heavily frowned upon. This becomes more problematic if a chief is caught telling lies. This fear of a lying chief might explain why in many of these cultures, the chief is not allowed to directly speak to the public; his spokesperson talks on his behalf.
When you are caught to have made statements that turned out to be false, you lose not only your credibility but respect. The loss of the respect of your peer is considered a great dishonor. Your loss becomes even bigger if you hold any position of authority. This becomes gargantuan when you are the official spokesperson of the president of the country.
There is simply no higher authority in our republic than the Executive President. For good or bad, the president is the highest authority. It therefore behooves anyone with any connection with that august office to comport him\herself with the highest decorum and maintain the highest integrity at all times.
Mr. President is not only our chief executive and political leader; he is also our moral compass. He is the measure with which our country is judged.
The office of the presidency is hallowed and is treated with the utmost respect. In return, the president and his men\women are expected to be circumspect, very circumspect in all their behaviours and dealings.
The actions or inactions of the president can bring great disrepute to the republic. We saw how a US president, Richard Nixon, was brought low when he dishonored his office. In our time, the brilliance of Bill Clinton could not safe him from huge embarrassment when he was caught with his pants down, so to speak - moves were made to impeach him.
He has honor if he holds himself to an ideal of conduct though it is inconvenient, unprofitable, or dangerous to do so.”- Walter Lippmann
In many cultures, honour is held is such esteem that people, including very important people, choose death over dishonor.
One of the Yorubas most powerful kings was King Shango, now a deity. Faced with impending dishonor, King Shango committed suicide.
This may explain why the Yorubas have the proverb: “Iku ya ju esin,” which means that death is preferable to shame or dishonor.
Among the Japanese, hara-kiri is a traditional form of suicide, sometimes ritually performed as a point of honor, involving disembowelment with a sword (sepukku).
Faced with dishonor, Japanese choose death. Even in modern times, several top Japanese executives and politicians have reached for their swords and performed seppuku rather than faced public ridicule and ignominy.
The question of why some Africans choose to stay in office after being publicly ridiculed has bothered me greatly.
I do not advocate wholesale suicides, but why should the allure of office keep a man or woman at a job where he has been totally laid bare, completely rubbished and utterly disgraced?
Why do some Africans choose to stay in office and face public opprobrium rather than resign honourably, pick themselves up and start elsewhere?
I still wonder what the president's Director of Communications, Mr. Koku Anyidoho, is waiting for before he tenders his resignation.
The loud-mouthed braggart has done little but cause embarrassment to the presidency since day one. The man charged with speaking for the president of Ghana has turned out to be a serious gaffer.
Was this not the same Mr. Anyidoho who some months back threatened to show someone 'where power lies,' as though we live in some banana republic where presidents can make laws, interpret and enforce them.
And he was referring to no less a personage that the main opposition leader of the country.
Speaking on Focus FM in London, the president's spokesman was at his nastiest. Listen to him: “Let Akufo-Addo…if he says he is a man, a true man from Akyem because he claims God gave all us two balls each unless his is three. Maybe, his is three but if he thinks his is three and for that matter he is man enough than all of us in this country, he should dare make a wrong move.”
“I am saying it today that Akufu-Addo should dare. I know Gabby (Otchere Darko) is in London and listening. Gabby you are my friend and I'm telling you that you and that your Akufo-Addo,. If you claim to be men, make…..in this country and you will see where power lies. We are waiting for them since they say “all die be die'.
“They should be careful they would not be the first to go visit their ancestry; Akufo-Addo, Jake and Mac Manu should be very careful they would not be the first to visit their ancestry because we will not just sit down in laxity and watch Akufo addo use patapaa, huhuhuhu and kekeke to destroy this country. That, according to him, was why he had always said “Ghana is not Akufo-Addo's property.
It does not belong to him; it belongs to all of us” and for that matter, Akufo-Addo should stop throwing his weight about as though the country belonged to him.”
In vain we waited for the president to fire Mr. Anyidoho from his post for such crass mis-behaviour.
Was this not the same Mr. Anyidoho who breached all protocols and etiquettes and announced to the world incomplete report of an ongoing investigation into a cocaine case?
Again, listen to him: “Today Asem Dake is in custody and ...I can promise you, President Mills is going to go to the bottom of this matter. Nobody, be it a former president, be it a sitting president, be it an erstwhile president, anybody who is involved in this cocaine matter..., you can be sure that President Mills will let the people of Ghana stand and point fingers at those who were involved in this dastardly trade.”
This was the president spokesman speaking on a very sensitive case that was still ongoing.
It appears however that Mr. Anyidoho overreached himself when on the night of June 3, 2012 when the nation was embarrassed by a light off at the Baba Yaara stadium at Kumasi, he announced the sacking of the Kumasi director of the Electricity Company of Ghana.
“Nobody can acquire honor by doing what is wrong” - Thomas Jefferson
Bellowing at top voice, Mr. Anyidoho told us that “The president is angry, very angry. Heads will roll.” He then announced the sacking of the Director of the ECG at Kumasi.
It has since turned out that Mr. Anyidoho was simply telling lies; the president gave no such directive.
Caught in the web of his inaccuracies, he claimed that some faceless “Senior officials' took the decision.
How on earth could this man forget that he speaks for the president of the republic and that no one is senior to his direct boss?
The government quickly came out to clear the air and said that no such decision has been made.
But the damage has already been done. As has since been revealed, the president simply does not have the power to relieve a director of ECG of his appointment. It also turns out that there are actually two directors of ECG at Kumasi – EAST and WEST.
The man paid to polish the image of the president has brought the office of the president into huge public ridicule.
The ramifications of Mr. Anyidoho's transgressions are vast: If we cannot trust the president who can we trust?
Who are we to believe if the words of the spokesperson of the president lacks currency?
Mine honor is my life; both grow in one; Take honor from me, and my life is done.” – William Shakespeare
On the 8th of June 2012, the office of His Excellency, President John Atta Mills, released a statement that totally stripped the Director of Communications at the presidency of all authority.
The terse, dry statement minced no word in making it absolutely and abundantly clear that Mr. President has lost all confidence in the man that ostensibly man his communication directorate, Mr. Kofi Anyidoho.
For those that missed the release, here is it in full:
The Office of the President wishes to state that all directives and decisions emanating from the Presidency including appointments, are communicated formally and signed by the Secretary to the President or in some instances by the Chief of Staff.
All other Government information is communicated through the Ministry of Information by Press Release or other means and in some cases where appropriate by the relevant sector Ministries, under the direction of the Minister-in-charge.
The Office of the President wishes the Media and General Public to be guided by these procedures and channels for communicating Government information.
J. H.M. NEWMAN
CHIEF OF STAFF
In plain and unambiguous language, the President said that his official Spokesman no longer speaks for him and no longer has his confidence.
This is the only interpretation we can give to the press release; it is not open to any other elucidation.
I waited and waited for Mr. Koku Anyidoho to do the only honourable thing and resign his appointment.
In vain I waited; three clear days after his office was stripped off all authority, Mr. Anyidoho still hang on to his untenable position.
The man that threatened to show Nana Akufo-Addo where power lies has been shorn of all powers, yet he refuses to resign.
What exactly does Mr. Anyidoho do now as he no longer speaks for the president? Does he go to his office, shuffle papers around; look busy, smoke his cigarettes, consume his liquor and go home satisfied that he has put in honest hours for which he ought to be paid?
Interesting days lie ahead indeed.
“I love the name of honor, more than I fear death. “ - Julius Caesar
Would Mr. Anyidoho still form part of Mr. President entourage on local and foreign trips?
Sadly, the untenable position of Koku Anyidoho lends great credence to those that maintain that the presidency of John Atta Mills is the weakest in Ghana's history.
Why on earth can't the president simply fire his errant Director of Communication?
For crying out loud, the man has been nothing but unmitigated disaster at the ultra sensitive position to which he was appointed.
Actually, his appointment is one that grated so many nerves because the man simply is too crude, too uncouth to be a spokesman for Ghana Chief Executive.
Aside from a stint as the editor of a scandal-mongering rag sheet based in Accra, the man has no professional qualification to recommend him.
Little wonder that in nearly four years, the president has not delivered any inspiring speech. The president's address at the United Nations where he catalogued provisions of school uniforms as high achievement became the butts of joke.
Ok, he has a big mouth (literally and figuratively) that he is ever eager to use, but that is not what we expect from one that speaks for our president.
Having thus apparently been promoted far beyond his professional competence, he becomes garrulous, combative and exhibits all the negative traits of those that suffer from great inferiority complex – the need to compensate.
A qualified and competent presidential spokesman will not see any need to sling mud with any and all mud-rakers. A competent presidential spokesman ought to have the decency not to engage in every verbal fisticuffs that comes his way. He ought to know that effective communications skills are not measured by verbal pugilism.
It is the job of the President's spokesman to communicate, effectively, happenings at the presidency. He is to explain to the public in easy to understand terms presidential affairs decisions, projects and programmes. He is also to shield the presidential from media embarrassment by effectively explaining what exactly the president wanted said.
“The shortest and surest way to live with honor in the world is to be in reality what we would appear to be; all human virtues increase and strengthen themselves by the practice and experience of them.” - Socrates
Readers of this column will remember that we have lamented several times that the weakest link in President Atta Mills government is his communication team. They are just not up to par. Both the government and the party's communication team are simply not doing their job. In fact, they appear to be undermining the great work the president and his energetic deputy are doing by not effectively communicating it to the Ghanaian public.
It may be rather too late in the day to revamp the communication team, but the president can still try to salvage something by getting rid of people like Koku Anyidoho and Lante Vanderpuye.
Honestly, blokes like these characters have no business being seen around a serious and decent president. They lack not only the professional qualification, but they simply do not have the cultured upbringing and personal decorum demanded by such high offices. Serious presidents do not have business to surround themselves with characters with the integrity of hyenas.
It is now easy to understand where ex president JJ Rawlings was coming from when he bemoaned that the Atta Mill presidency has been hijacked by a cabal of nogoodniks.
If, indeed, the president's party, the National Democratic Party (NDC), has run into a ditch, it should be clear that it was people like Koku Anyidoho that led it into that ditch.
“Honor isn't about making the right choices. It's about dealing with the consequences.” Midori Koto