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27.08.2019 Feature Article

The “Charles Hagan” Experiment At Secondi Constituency

Amankw Benjamin KwameAmankw Benjamin Kwame

In September 2016, I gave this, “The bird that perches on the rope must be ready to dance with the rope" as an advice to a renowned businessman in Ghana who is struggling to pay millions of Ghana cedis to the state as part of a judgment debt deal gone bad. It was a heated debate in a Secondary school Alumni WhatsApp group and I had to leave the group at the end, for peace to prevail. In the said discussion, my aphorism was given to the renowned businessman when he told me that “when you see shadows dancing, be sure to know the people behind the shadows before you join the dance".

Today, the Supreme Court has ordered that the business man's assets should be sold to defray the debts owned to the state. This was after a lengthy legal battle when he had run around the whole world, seeking a safe haven from the courts of Ghana to no avail. Just take responsibility for your actions and inactions.

The import of this incidence to my piece today is the fact that we must be ready to take responsibility for our actions whether they are negative consequences or positive ones. This is necessary for the survival of society. Most of us are ready only for the positive consequences of our actions and inactions but not the negative ones. This is wrong and one way or the other, we are hunted down in the most painful way by these consequences.

The National Democratic Congress held their parliamentary primaries over the weekend. The expectation was that the “gurus" as usual, will have their way through and bully their innocent, upright and hardworking contenders who in fact should have been the winners in the elections but unfortunately lack the necessary “connections” at the top and thus lose pitiably. This was however not the case in the “Charles Hagan” Experiment at the Secondi constituency.

The defeat of the two formal government appointees and the election of Mr. Charles Hagan, a chief fisherman at the Secondi constituency in the National Democratic Congress parliamentary elections has caught my attention and passion. The lessons therein, numerous and the implications for the tilting politics in Ghana, very significant. Prior to the elections, there was a rumour that Mr. Charles Hagan was disqualified by the party executives because he cannot speak the queen’s language.

After persistent demonstrations and agitations by the National Democratic Congress members in the Secondi constituency, however, the national executives cleared Mr. Charles Hagan to contest the elections. Perhaps, the party’s national executives have learned from their 2016 massive defeat where in some constituencies, national executives of the party imposed candidates on the people and intimidate opponents of their preferred candidates. We were all witnesses to what happened and it would be absolutely unnecessary for me to refresh your minds.

In Latin, it is rendered, “Vox populi, Vox dei" meaning the voice of the people is the voice of God. The people of Ghana are gradually becoming aware of the fact that the so-called elites they elect periodically to represent them have different agenda from theirs.

They have a greed creed with the acquisition of material wealth in their selfish interest as their major concern. They care less about their constituents who elected them and can’t be bothered by them. Ghanaians have from the “Charles Hagan” experiment and experience decided to look for people who represent the collective interest rather than the self.

The irresponsibility of most of our leaders in public positions has reached such a crescendo that we the “illiterate” citizens of Ghana prefer to represent ourselves in government to help govern and develop Ghana. It is indeed an interesting turning point in the politics of Ghana. It is a little late in the day but better late than never.

The people of Secondi have spoken and no amount of party interference could stop their rather audible voice. It is my desire and hope to see this “Charles Hagan” experiment replicated in the national elections come 2021. The vim and verve by the people of Secondi to elect Mr. Charles Hagan should be applauded.

Through inadequate public services compromised by corruption and irresponsibility, monies meant for drugs, roads, and hospitals, schools, and public security are siphoned away from our country making all of us vulnerable to pre-mature death. Our grandparents, parents, and siblings wallow in abject poverty. We stand by them on daily, helpless and only offer words of encouragement for a better Country. All this is because those who have ideas do not govern and those who lack the ideas govern and are elected into political office. The natural course of things should have been that those who have the ideas and are capable should be given the opportunity to lead.

When we consider the fact that we furnish the means by which we suffer by electing irresponsible people to public office, we become heartbroken. The “Charles Hagan” experiment thus comes in handy as a practical approach to dealing with irresponsible leaders.

Most of us are of the view and conviction that those who cannot speak the English Language cannot be elected into parliament because the debate on the floor is in the English Language. The problem with Africa and for that matter Ghana is that we copy without understanding what we copy. How on earth can a group of civilised individuals (Ghanaians) allow a foreign language as a means of communication on the floor of parliament but not officially endorse any of their own indigenous local languages as is the case in South Africa?

It is a statement of our underdevelopment and copying without understanding. Following the success of the “Charles Hagan” experiment, however, I will urge parliament as a matter of necessity to initiate processes leading to the adoption of at least two of our local languages, as the official language in parliament. On the international scene like the meeting of heads of state and government, language is a barrier, communication devices are thus provided to translate one language to another.

This should not be too difficult for Ghana to replicate. In any case, fluency in English is not synonymous with knowledge and wisdom. All over the world, there are many who do not speak the English Language like the French but are far above in terms of knowledge, wisdom, technology, and development than many others who speak the English Language. It is an erroneous idea and a colonial mentality to think that those who cannot speak the English Language cannot and should not be allowed to represent constituencies in parliament. Are Ghanaians English?

Ghanaians are Ghanaians and though we have a plurality of languages, our major languages are well developed and can be used as a vehicle for debates in our parliament. We must recognize and accept however that, naturally and for obvious reasons, not all citizens of Ghana would be angered and disgusted by the lack of a local official language on the floor of parliament as Mr. Charles Hagan will require, and will work to oppose same, just as not all the people of the Gold Coast supported the independence movement of Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. Indeed, not all slaves in America supported the movement to abolish slavery but they benefited from it all the same.

The Charles Hagan experiment is a wakeup call to irresponsible members of parliament who careless about their constituencies. Either help the people or get replaced as the people of Secondi have done in the “Charles Hagan” experiment.

Amankwa Benjamin Kwame
Amankwa Benjamin Kwame, © 2019

This author has authored 7 publications on Modern Ghana. Author column: AmankwaBenjaminKwame

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