Ghanaian language textbooks of old sought to inculcate the ideals of separating good from bad into the growing schoolchild. Their contents extolled lessons of the virtues of patience and humility as well as those of the punishment for antisocial behaviours of greed, avarice, carelessness and plain stupidity. So one grew up to be constantly reminded of how the patient girl picked the smallest loaf to discover a piece of gold in it.
Or how bayerɛ dwo krɔ nti (quarrel over one small piece of yam), a whole community perished with its settlement razed to the ground, burnt to ashes. When I recently read the headline: 'Tiger breaks into house and sleeps on bed,' my mind quickly went back to the story of sisire (bear) kwabrafo of mother (adantamu), father (keseɛ) and child (ketewa) who entered a family's abode and ate all their food. All full, they ended up sleeping on the beds; like an asonawɔ (snake) I once found lying on the cushion on my chair. Eventually, human mother, father and child came to discover bear mother, father and child sleeping on their beds.
Those lessons would be gold for today's politicians if any will care to reflect on them. From the so-called banana republic to the most sophisticated republics, signs of afunumupɔnkɔ are all over the place. In a compound full of fellow animals, afunumupɔnkɔ had had a good meal. He was in a condition of elation and contenting pure relaxation. Without hesitation, he took full advantage to enjoy himself. Unwittingly, his type of expressing satisfaction was to lie down throwing his legs all over the place with reckless abandon.
Smart animals like the cat [pet of chief with privilege of sleeping on the chief's bed, [onaapo slapping journalist and getting away with it but causing the loss of an election] warned him about his stupid behavior, stressing the likelihood that every animal in the compound could suffer for it. Afunupɔnkɔ wouldn't listen. Before long, one of the flying legs landed in the tummy of the daughter of the owner. In terrible pain, she needed an emergency medical attention. First to unpleasantly feel the effect was the horse. It had to abandon its leisure time to carry a mount in search of a doctor.
By the time the search party returned, it had been an exhaustive travel. Overtired and panting for breath after the long ride, horse and cat met face-to-face. Cat said to horse, I told you so. Too tired, horse couldn't open the mouth to say anything. The doctor who turned up could not save Nana's daughter. She died. A massive funeral was organized. The many people who came from all parts of the kingdom had to be fed. It happened, that bull, sheep and chicken, none could and was spared. As they were being slaughtered one after another, the cat kept repeating, I told you so.
Politics all over the globe today is all symptomatically afunumupɔnkɔ. It is politics characterized by reckless afunumupɔnkɔ governance by underachieving political actors. A politician is afunumupɔnkɔ if his or her major concern is stealing left right and centre, disregarding all caution and advice in the process. That office holder is obsessed with V*, mansions (even one mansion is not enough). There are usually a few cats among the many donkeys with the rest bulls, sheep and chicken who are probably minding their own business.
Someone is afunumupɔnkɔ when that individual is trumping, creating problems that are likely to lead to retrogression while creating the impression of problem solving. An afunumupɔnkɔ in government would pretend he is working hard to make progress, while, in reality, he would be putting years of cultivated gains into jeopardy. He would be shouting deeds of goodness; yet his actions would turn out dissipating resources and squandering opportunities. When he talks integration, look out for disintegration. Afunumupɔnkɔs play the politics chop chop, squandering social cohesion capital, emaciating consensus and killing love of humanity.
Any community, and society at large, that works hard to achieve genuine progress, therefore, constantly moves to identify afunumupɔnkɔ spoilers in its body politic. That society mobilises every available tool to discover them quick and fast and makes every effort to fix them, whipping them into line or discarding them.
The afunupɔnkɔ story symptomatically reverberates/echoes: 'Obi amane sane obi.' If, a polity, especially those in governance, chooses the path of yɛrididi a yɛnnkasa (you don't talk when there's food in your mouth), ayɛ hwɛ hann (look on lackadaisically) even when they know colleagues are stealing, chopping unceasingly, there will never be progress. So if we will all bury our heads in the sand, condoning the chopping of the greedy, let's remember one day, their chopping will deprive all of us even without any little that would be left.
By Kwasi Ansu-Kyeremeh
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