“You cannot control the behaviour of others, but
You can always choose how you respond to it.”
Roy T. Bennett
THE BLURB (short description of a book) ON “WEEP NOT, CHILD” by Ngugi Wa Thiong'o (formerly James Ngugi) had kept intriguing us. The parallel had not been obvious in our situation until we read Agya Kwaku Ogboro's lamentation of Monday, 19th august, 2019, headed: “Is the Elephant worth dying for?”
“Weep Not, Child”, the genre of which was a historical novel, deals with the “…bewildering dispossession of an entire people from their ancestral land,” the Mau Mau revolt, the role of Jomo Kenyatta and others, the hopes and aspiration of the main character, Njoroge, and his belief in education, Njoroge's disappointment and attempt at suicide. In the end, Njoroge thought “…life too seemed like a big lie where people bargained with forces that one could not see.”
Lord Acton is credited with the statement: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” “Corrupt” here does not have the meaning of “corrupt” in our current thinking which implies a willingness to act dishonestly in return for money or personal gain. In a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1867, John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton, the historian and moralist noted; “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men”. The phrase rather carries the opinion that when a person's power increases, his/her moral sense decreases. Lord Acton himself borrowed this idea from other writers who had expressed the same view point differently. William Pitt the Elder, British Prime Minister (1766 to 1778), said in the UK House of Lords in 1770 “Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it”. The French republican, poet and politician, Alphonse Marie Louise de Lamartine, noted in 1848: “It is not only the slave or serf who is ameliorated in becoming free… The master himself did not gain less in every point of view… For absolute power corrupts the best of natures.” Political life works on the principle of inverse deduction.
To understand the concept clearly, there should be a resort to the posterior; knowledge of Auguste Comte's “positivism” which holds that “society, like the physical world, operates according to general laws. Introspective and initiative knowledge is rejected, as are meta-physics and theology because metaphysical and theological, claims cannot be verified by sense experience.”
John Dramani Mahama, NDC flagbearer used to say Ghanaians have short memory. We may not so soon forget the economic hardships, the rampant corruption of the Mahama-led administration, the massive youth unemployment, leading to the formation of “Unemployed Graduates Association.” Ex-President Kufuor, on the other hand, used to say: “It is better to be a messenger of a party in power than being the General Secretary of a party in opposition.”
Agya Kwaku Ogboro, in a “Letter to Abusuapanin” on Monday, 19th August laments loudly: “Is the Elephant Worth Dying for?” Ogboro admits: “…I've sometimes wondered why some sympathizers of the Elephant would even contemplate questioning the need to die for the party. I used to think such persons were traitors. But now I know better…” So, now, what does he tell those he earlier “questioned” and advised about their affiliation to the “elephant” party?
Some of us, political observers, have been following events, and been giving “hints”. Sometimes we insinuate; sometimes we indicate and sometimes we make allusions. Ogboro may have felt the pain of neglect after all the contributions he had made (writing to register the positive side of the NPP) but being “rejected” because he had “no godfather”, so would “rethink (his) love affair with the strong animal”! Ogboro sounds jeremiad, predicting doom, but may not be alone in this dilemma. In the Parable of the Sower, some of the sower's seeds fell on the path (wayside) with no soil, some on rocky grounds with little soil, some among thorns – and some on good soil.
Ogboro himself acknowledges the eerie situation of “…many aggrieved party folks” at the Jubilee House: he may empathize with them. But, as he rightly puts it, he may stand “accused” of “washing the party's dirty linen in public.” The choice is Ogboro's: he could recant. Or else be like Martin Luther, the monk, and say: “I cannot, I will not recant! Here I stand”. Martin Luther, Professor of Moral Theology at Wittenberg University had, in 1517, written “The Ninety – Five Theses or Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences” and sent the “Theses” with a letter to Albert Brandenberg, the Archbishop of Mainz, and got same posted on the door of the “All Saints Church.” The Theses were immediately reprinted, translated and distributed all over Germany and Europe. This “pamphlet war” started the “Protestant Reformation”, because Martin Luther had insisted on the “… justification by faith alone” and the “bondage of the will”. His ecclesiastical superiors tried him for heresy, and he was eventually ex-communicated from the Catholic Church, because he would not recant! He could not, like John Wycliffe before him, accept the power of the Pope to grant indulgences to people, who could “pay” for it, so that: “As soon as the coin in the coffers rings, the soul from purgatory springs.” Martin Luther's 95 Theses were questioning rather than accusing the prevalent church doctrine, and he dared to ask: “Why does not the Pope, whose wealth today is greater than the wealth of the richest Crassus, build the Basilica of St. Peter with his own money rather than with the money of poor believers?” The “Diet” concluded that Luther's writings were “… scandalous and offensive to pious ears …” Pope Leo excommunicated Martin Luther from the Catholic Church in January, 1521.
Principle is principle. A principle is a proposition or value that is a guide for behaviour or evaluation. In law, it is a rule that has to be, followed. “Blind justice” is a moral principle. One of the dicta of Socrates was “He is richest who is content with the least, for content is the wealth of nature.” Socrates insisted; True knowledge exists in knowing that you know nothing”. He added: “The unexamined life is not worth living.” In 399 B.C. Socrates, according to his students, Plato, Xenophon and Aristophanes were given the option of fleeing Athens or drinking hemlock. He chose the latter because of his principle of being a Greek. The Socratic method of questioning was criticised for polluting the minds of the youth.
President Akufo-Addo had at least three batches of ardent foot-soldiers to cater for – the 2008 batch, the 2012 batch and the 2016 batch. Without one, he could not have mounted the throne. He and the people around him should support the young men and women whose unflinching efforts propelled him to the heights he has reached, because no dyed in the wool NPP supporter would like to read “Chasing the Elephant Into the Bush: The Politics of Complacency”. What they would like to read is not what Gabby Otchere-Darko called in December, 2009 “suicide note”, but rather “Overtaking the Elephant into the Bush: Arthur K's Communication of Complacency.”Abofra nsam hye nnye den. (It is not difficult to satisfy a fretful child).
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