Life is always a learning process. We only stop learning when the icy hands of death close our eyes. Pastor Lawrence Tetteh has alluded to that after the heart-breaking passing of Ebony. He said it should be a lesson for the living. However, some of the unscrupulous members of the noble institution he belongs to are seeing it differently. Though it is their inalienable right, they are spinning and interpreting the unfortunate tragedy as if this is the first time a celebrity has died young in an accident. Does any of these so-called men of God remember Diana, the Princess of Wales, James Dean, the 1950s American icon, just to name a few.
There are countless number of young Ghanaians who perish on our roads all the time. Well, did they also predict their demise. The fact is because they are not famous nobody hears about it. And there is a name for it – accident. Accidents are part of human life. People go to enjoy themselves at the beach and they do not return back home. You can die in an earthquake. You can be sleeping in your own fortified gated house and a plane can fall down from the sky to kill you, for example, the Pan Am Lockerbie crash in Scotland that ended the lives of 11 people on the ground. Young people died in the Accra flood, and it was an accident that caused the tragedy.
.So, any reasonable person will have to question the spin they are putting on this particular tragedy. It is obvious that this is purely for their own selfish interest. There are lots of noble men in that institution, rather regrettably, quite substantial rotten apples among them have transformed the institution into a money-making industry. And their business plan is fear.
To fear is to be human. Without fear we become emotionally incomplete. Fear permeates all aspect of our lives. There are countless number of phobias in the human consciousness, which I will not be able to catalogue here. But the most important is the fear of death. There are those who will really spit in the face of death, but they are rare. Even those very few will give a second thought, because of their love ones. It is sad that these unscrupulous pastors have figured out this fundamental human weakness and they are milking it till thy kingdom come.
About four years ago one of such dregs of that despicable fraternity scared the hell out of A. B. Crentsil when he was about to celebrate his 70th birthday. This pastor told him that he will die if he formally observes that milestone in his life with a special event. This sinister lie really shook the man who was then battling through minor ailments. His children who are based in abroad, and had made substantial plans for the occasion were flustered. To cut a long story short, the man celebrated the 70th birthday, and he is still alive and kicking four years on.
It’s rather sad that most of these pastors who do not know the order of the alphabets, yet claim they can read and understand the scriptures. It beggars the imagination that their modus operandi is based on ignorance. Quite significant number of people do not read the bible for themselves. They depend on what these pastors tell them, and they manipulate them like pawns in a chess game. If you are born of a woman then one day you will die. However, that day is not revealed to anybody. Yet they claim that they are able to see into the future when these individual mysteries will manifest. This foolishness started when the Ghanaian economy began its fast deterioration in the 70s. Back then, it was individual old ladies who were waiting for a rendezvous with death that bore the brunt of these false prophets. In the 80s it was so bad, I quite remember that Rawlings had to shut down one of such churches headed by a lunatic with a rather prosaic name ‘Jesus Christ of Dzorwulu’. The difference between then and now is that there were no social media nor cheap FM broadcasting stations to carry their evil tactics. The sharpest tool they applied was manipulating people who were having hard times in life; and the precision was lethal. These poor people were told that their problems were orchestrated by their octogenarian grandmother or their own mother. Now, a lot of people have wised up. Because it is stupidity for a woman to carry a child for nine months, endure thankless labour and go through the arduous task of bringing the child up only to turn around and work against his or her welfare.
Free speech is good, but it does come with responsibility. We all know that you cannot go shouting in a crowded theatre that there is fire. There will be stampede, and people will die. These reckless ignoramuses go shouting fire in a theatre and they expect no backlash. Due to the abundance of social media and radio stations, which has democratised free speech, when they are hallucinating they think its theirs to speak nonsense. And their expectation is that no one calls them on it. And when those with guts do, they tag them as devils to silence them.
A lot of people think that the religious atrophy in Europe came out of a vacuum. It was a process that started long time ago from these sorts of irresponsible behaviour from the clergy. In 1755 there was an earthquake in Lisbon on All Saints Day while the churches were packed. And death finding its victims in close formation reaped a rich harvest. The clergy in France, especially, attributed the tragedy to the sins of the victims. It was such an offensive theodicy, which contributed to Voltaire writing his classic, Candide, one of the greatest short story ever written. From then on Voltaire’s slogan was crush the infamy in reaction to the abuse of the clergy.
Because people live in the shadows of fear it has allowed this nonsense to persist. Fortunately, there is always going to be a Voltaire. I am happy that Shatta has taken up the lightning rod mantle of Voltaire, but my prayer is that we don’t end up like Europe. I also love the tangent Shatta’s mother has adopted. This man is not stealing his wealth like the thieves who populate our civil service bleeding the country dry. Yet they are happy to receive stolen money in their collection without a word of admonition. On the contrary, they have the guts to admonish a Ghanaian who is making his wealth genuinely, a Ghanaian who brings joy to the faces of many of his countrymen. I think the good ones among them should sit up and speak, because it will soon come back to bite them.
Philip Kobina Baidoo Jnr