07.05.2015 Feature Article

The May - Day Solecism And Its Aftermath

The May - Day Solecism And Its Aftermath
07.05.2015 LISTEN

Macduff: O gentle lady,
'Tis not for you to hear what I speak:
The repetition, in a woman's ear,
Would murder as it fell
… O Banquo, Banquo,
Our royal master's murder'd!
Lady Macbeth: Woe, alas!
What, in our house
Banquo: Too cruel anywhere.

DUM—DUM–SO (if ever there was a 'so'), the erratic, fitful, unstable power supply, made it impossible for some of us to watch the televised May Day parade in Accra and other regional capitals last Friday (1st May). Not that some people I know are enamoured of local programmes. When the erratic power becomes available in their coverage area, they would tune in to BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera (AJZ) or even to National Geographic (Na Geo) or Boomerang (Boom) to share the cartoon with their children if they have DSTV. Call them what you may…they are just like the football fans who would boycott a Hearts - Kotoko live match in Accra to watch a televised Chelsea – Manchester United match played in London.

There may be a reason for their action - to avoid viewing the humdrum reports of the presidential inauguration of a 3 - classroom block or that of a borehole with all the President's men pretending to drink the water from the borehole from a common calabash, in an ' I-care- for- you' fashion.

By watching BBC, they would be able to view the inside of the House of Commons; or to watch Marilyn Mosby, the Baltimore State Attorney indicting six police officers for the death of Freddie Gray, the African - American who was shackled and put in a police van. Viewing Boom, they might see the evergreen Mr Bean and his small smart (sporty, stylish, swanky) jalopy.

However, for some special occasions like Independence Day or May Day, such people might want to take lessons in 'repetition' or 'situational irony'. Or else, watch the parades to remind themselves of their own heyday as men on the security roll - call.

A writer would get snippets from the newspapers or radio (powered by 1.5 volt batteries) what the President said at the May Day rally last Friday, which was a re- hash of all that he had said about the power difficulties (not a 'crisis')) before. Compare 'being a thing of the past' with 'bringing the chapter to a close?' Where is the presidential promise of bringing power barges from Turkey to end 'dum -dum– so' in April this year? Where is the promise not to promise again? How is the President 'fixing' the electricity problem, not 'managing' it like his predecessors?

He repeated: 'Our supply challenges are temporary and we will soon consider them to be a bad nightmare from which we have awoken. Our current challenge is not because we don't have money to buy crude oil as some people will want us believe. In our anxiety to see the end of these power challenges you might hear many dates being bandied about… we expect to achieve a complete end to this load management by the end of the year… we are working to strategically and permanently fix the generation shortfalls that we are currently experiencing'.

Diamond Cement and Accra Brewery Limited may not have dismissed their workers because they are 'smart' enough to have an alternative power supply. All the others (names with held) but including cold store operators, hairdressers and electric welders are not 'smart' enough and they should not blame the government for their plight. I can only look back to the day I was accused of not being 'smart' in my days as a public servant - with access to confiscated vehicles, and the chances of teaming up with private companies to rip off government revenue. Now I do not even own a generator and I have to use my left hand to hold a torch - light while I write with the right. I have pity for my children who have to follow suit to prepare for their examinations. Dansoman may be lucky not to suffer the dum-dum-so, after the May Day.

The word 'smart' used by the President could be an example of 'double - entendre' (or 'double sens' in present - French) a word understood in two different ways. It is not all persons who can detect the hidden meanings intended (called innuendoes). In Homer's 'The Odyssey', Odysseus and his men were captured by the one-eyed Cyclops Polyphemus. Odysseus gave his name as 'Oudeis' (No - one'). In the night, Odysseus stabbed Cyclops who came out yelling 'Oudeis' (No-One) had hurt him. The other Cyclopes took no action and that made it possible for Odysseus to escape with his men

'Smart' could again be an example of 'homonym' which is a word with different meanings (homographs and homophones). 'Smart' is synonymous with 'intelligent', 'ingenious', 'resourceful', 'shrewd', 'tactical'. The antonyms of these words: 'stupid', 'feeble-minded', 'half-witted'? Are the government functionaries and the Presidency smart?

In his May Day message, Nana Akufo Addo asked the President to address the workers' concerns with deeds, not words. Noting that the economy is in serious decline, despite a $ 912 million dollar IMF bail - out, the country is crippled with anticipated job cuts, widespread and rampant corruption, indecisive leadership and the effect of dum - so.

Kofi Asamoah, the Secretary General of the TUC cried out loudly: 'We are aware of the measures you and your government are taking to deal with the energy crisis but it is taking too long to fix it. We are beginning to lose hope'.

Some of the placards were not placating enough 'Dead goat come alive and stay alive'. Some were emphatic: 'Energy is the key to economic success'. Some were querying: 'Has TOR been sold?' Some were coaxing: 'Mr President, arrest the fall of the cedi'. Ajoa Yeboah Afari did not appear to have had her wish for a digital divide placard, depicting one of the national problems fulfilled.

The messages from the regional capitals all centred on the theme: 'Addressing the energy crisis: the role of organised labour'. The Ashanti Regional Secretary Cynthia Ananoo lamented the loss of jobs by thousands of people as a result of the power crisis.

The country's celebrities had threatened a demo, with Derrick Kobina Bonney (DKB) saying he would lead the demo aimed at getting 'our power back', so that 'our work can progress and if the people have power they can enjoy our works… every Ghanaian (must) wake up and march to pressure the government to solve the crisis permanently'. Alhaji Alidu Haruna a presidential staffer took a swipe at the artistes for the threat, charging: 'Are those (female) celebrities who are above the age of 30 years and not married responsible? What are they waiting for? Is it the prostitution that they are engaged in which has turned their minds upside down and they don't sound reasonable again? I have no respect for prostitutes …'

I looked at my daughter, a spinster, still studying at the age of 30 and asked myself: 'Is it worth it?' - from what Alhaji Halidu Haruna had said?

[email protected]
Africanus Owusu - Ansah