When I was about 10 or 12 years old, I vividly recall my maternal grandfather, The Reverend Theodore Henry (Yawbe) Sintim, of Akyem-Asiakwa’s being a member of the Osagyefo Nana Sir Ofori-Atta, II-presided Okyeman Council, the highest traditional policymaking and deliberative establishment of Akyem-Abuakwa. On more than several occasions, my grandfather, who had been fast friends and classmates with the Okyenhene at the Akyem-Begoro Presbyterian Middle Boys’ Boarding School during the second decade of the Twentieth Century, that is, between 1910 and 1914, or thereabouts, walked out of some of the Okyeman Council’s meetings bitterly complaining about a considerable number of the chiefs who occupied seats on The Council’s being possessed of absolutely nothing intelligent and/or constructive to contribute to both the rapid modernization and the material development of the Akyem-Abuakwa State.
My grandfather must have known precisely what he was talking about, because it was his own father, Nana Kwadwo Aboagye, a bona fide member of both the Akyem-Asiakwa Royal Family and the Asante-Dwaben (Juaben) Royal Family, who had led the Swiss or Basel-Christian Missionaries, in particular The Reverend Theodore Adolphe, among a platoon of several others, to start what eventually became the Akyem-Begoro Congregation of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana. That was in the early 1880s. Nana Aboagye, as he became popularly known, would later prefix his name with that of the missionary who had baptized and inducted him into the Church; and so he became officially known as Mr. Theodore Adolphe Kwadwo Aboagye.
It was the preceding story of intermittent conflict and verbal wrangling between my grandfather and some of the chiefs who sat with him on the Okyeman Council that immediately came to mind when I came across the news article captioned “Free SHS Will Fuel Chaos and Conflict in Ghana – Nana Kwao Ansah IV” Ghanaweb.com 5/25/19). The afore-referenced news article regarded a television interview that Mr. Kwaku Sintim-Misa – aka “KSM” – had reportedly been granted by the Radio and Television Personality by the name of Nana Ansah Kwao, IV, who is also the Chief of Adumasa, in the Akwamu District in the Eastern Region. In the main, Nana Ansah Kwao claims that President Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo’s policy capstone of the fee-free Senior High School System is apt to create a lot of chaos and civil unrest in the country in the offing, unless our public school curriculum is reconfigured and made to heavily hew towards the technical and vocational training of our pupils and students.
Maybe if he had bothered to familiarize himself with the world-famous “Great Debate” between African-American leader and former chattel slave, namely, Mr. Booker T. Washington, and the first African-American to have graduated with the Doctor of Philosophy Degree from Harvard University, America’s oldest flagship academy, near the turn of the Twentieth Century, 1896, to be precise, before his interview with KSM, Nana Ansah Kwao would very likely have seriously rethought his rather outrageous cautionary note to Nana Akufo-Addo to, implicitly, abandon the great enlightenment that the auspicious establishment of the fee-free SHS system promises. For example, the Adumasa chieftain would have wisely realized that for Ghana to rapidly advance its development agenda, we need a deft and expert combination of both technical/vocational and liberal arts education to succeed.
You see, Dear Reader, the mere fact that somebody comes from an economically deprived familial background does not necessarily mean or imply that they are vocationally minded or oriented; indeed, a critical mass of the world’s greatest and most famous scholars and professionals, across all the disciplines, including the immortalized US President Abraham Lincoln, came from poor homes and families. In sum, contrary to what Nana Ansah Kwao would have Ghanaians and his own subjects believe, a nation with a critical mass of well-educated citizens is more highly likely to advance rapidly and exponentially than a country that is chock-full of functional illiterates. Indeed, it was in acute recognition of this glaring fact that the immortalized German-Jewish scientist, Prof. Albert Einstein, is widely quoted to have made the following foresighted government-policy observation: “If you think the price of education is prohibitive [or too expensive] try illiteracy.”
In similar vein, in his philosophical and literary classic “The Myth of Sisyphus,” Franco-African thinker and Nobel Prize Literature Laureate Mr. Albert Camus makes the following anti-elitist observation: “Beginning to think is beginning to be undermined.” In essence, for most ardent critics of Nana Akufo-Addo’s fee-free policy initiative, such as Nana Ansah Kwao, the more Ghanaians who gain access to modern education pose a threat to the epistemic or knowledge control by the relatively few leaders at the highest echelons of society who use such knowledge-power to both control and exploit the masses of the working and lower classes. This is what traditional rulers like Nana Ansah Kwao mean, when they talk of too much education rocking or undesirably collapsing the parasitic status quo.
The fact of the matter is that the well-educated citizens of any country are far more likely to creatively and inventively devise viable survival mechanisms, in the face of any levels of hardships of the times, than a country with a rudimentary and/or fragile industrial and economic base, such as Ghana, filled with a high level of functional illiterates and abjectly unenlightened citizens. It goes without saying that the present massive economic hardships facing our country did not begin with the hard-fought assumption of the democratic reins of governance by President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, on January 7, 2017. Rather, it is the cumulative result of abjectly poor leadership and criminally irresponsible policy initiatives that got Ghanaians this farther backward.
Couple the preceding with the wanton destruction of the Nkrumah-created industrial base of the country, namely, the erstwhile Ghana Industrial Holdings Corporation (GIHOC), by the Jerry John Rawlings-led regimes of the defunct junta of the Provisional National Defense Council (PNDC), and the National Democratic Congress (NDC), and it becomes incontrovertibly clear which of Ghana’s two major political parties ought to bear the brunt of flagrantly irresponsible leadership conduct. It ought to equally pique the progressive imagination of the Akwamu-Adumasa chieftain, that is, assuming that Nana Ansah Kwao were, indeed, progressively minded, that the overriding purpose of the Akufo-Addo Administration’s “One District, One Factory” policy initiative is another capstone development agenda that anticipates the imperative need for the gainful employment of our SHS- and college-educated graduates.
The rather bizarre idea that the lesser the number of Ghanaian citizens that gain access to higher education, the lower the level of chaos and social unrest that is bound to grip the country in the offing is inexcusably preposterous and absolutely devoid of merit and historical reality. To be certain, the lower the level of one’s education, the more desperate one’s socioeconomic situation becomes, the more dangerous or menace to society one becomes. There are no two ways about this fact, trust me, Nana Adumasahene.
*Visit my blog at: kwameokoampaahoofe.wordpress.com Ghanaffairs
By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York
May 25, 2019
E-mail: [email protected]
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