To start with, it must be noted that “Respect is earned but not commanded”. It must be reciprocal. In Ghana and among all Ghanaian communities worldwide, our Ghanaian custom or tradition demands we pay respect to the elderly and our elders. This view of paying obeisance to the elderly is strengthened by the Bible at Ephesians6:1-4 “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honour your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” Ghanaians interpret father and mother to be anyone who is older than you or is your leader.
Although respecting the elderly is a command, do we still have to, seeing that most modern day Ghanaian elders and leaders do not respect themselves let alone respecting the young ones?
Take the following two-case scenarios and judge for yourself which of the two merits your respect in real life situation. They are true stories. When I was growing up as a child and used to spend holidays at Asiampa on volition, I could see the “Odikro” of the village as a highly respectable figure worth everyone's obeisance. He is the late Nana Yaw Ampong. He treated everyone in the village his subjects - with respect regardless of one's age. When he cooked food, he would always leave some for the children. He would periodically organise communal labour to clear the surrounding bushes, clean up the village, clear the weeds or bushes on the footpath leading to the stream (Apopo) that served the village with drinking water, de-silt the stream etc. He always participated actively in whatever task the periodic communal labour was involved. He never folded his arms around the chest, issuing instructions whilst others worked. He arbitrated cases with expediency. He was fair in whatever he did. What a role model he was to the youth in those days. May his soul continue to rest in perfect peace?
Another situation is our current insatiably greedy, selfish, and myopic chiefs and queens who think they descended from the wombs of their mothers with gargantuan parcels of land attached to legs or umbilical cords. Some of them think any land under their jurisdiction is their bona fide property and that they are the sole property of the land, property and persons therein. They feel they can sell the lands, pocket the money and do whatever they want with the proceeds without ever being held accountable for their deeds by whomever. Some of them as dubious as they are, could sell the same plot of land at exorbitant prices to two or three different persons which normally results in unnecessary litigations and death between or among the purchasers. They do not organise, let alone, participating actively in communal labours hence the filth engulfing our towns and cities. By their actions and inactions, one could conclude that they do not respect their subjects neither do they care about the welfare of the inhabitants of the area. There is evidence of this case scenario all over Ghana, particularly, in Kumawu, Kumasi, Accra and Tema.
If a leader, elderly person or an elder behaves as irresponsibly as it is in case scenario 2, I will personally not respect him or her but rather take him or her to the cleaners regardless of whatever others will say about me. It is about time we stopped prostrating to our leaders even if they are in the wrong. If we do not stop such silly acts, they will continue to take us for fools. Why should I respect leaders like those in the NDC government when they are stealing from the public purse by every ticking second of the clock? I would rather spit on them, engage them in fisticuffs or insult them to their face.
Many an ignorant Ghanaian goes on air to demand respect for President Mills and the members of his government simply because they are our leaders and need to be respected by us. Yes, we need to respect them but they have first to respect themselves and respect us as it was the adorable character of the “Odikro” of Asiampa – Nana Yaw Ampong. They cannot continue to cleverly steal our money while making us believe they are even doing us a great service by sacrificing their efforts to be our leaders. What an underestimation of our intelligence.
Anyway, I leave it to you to make your individual judgments. We can continue to deceive ourselves with the “Enye hwee, Nyame bekyere” sophisms while our leaders or elders plunder the coffers of the nation.
I wish there was a proper people's revolution like that of the French in 1789 to discipline our obnoxiously corrupt, greedy, selfish and incompetent leaders.
We should under no circumstances be obligated to pay homage to our elders and leaders when they choose not to respect themselves and those they consider as ordinary citizens. Until when will Ghanaians continue to deceive themselves by choosing to leave in the Fools' Paradise?
I invite all discerning Ghanaians to VOTE OUT President Mils and the NDC party because they have behaved deceitfully irresponsibly. Does this serve a warning notice to our traditional leaders who are behaving similarly irresponsibly? Yes, of course!