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30.10.2019 Feature Article


LISTEN OCT 30, 2019

Honestly, I felt no urge to look for the meaning of the word in the dictionary as I usually do. It sounded so simple; and I have seen so much of it in everyday experiences, I didn't need to go any further. It intrigues me a lot that my compatriots are so obsessed with what they are entitled to without thinking even for one second, about what their entitlement means for other compatriots' entitlements. One's freedom ends where others' begin should be the guide. But search among my compatriots, as individuals or member of groups. It's nowhere.

It is one of the reasons why I felt strongly about a need for compatriots to be more of 'matriotic' than patriotic. 'Matriotic', as in motherly love, sounds like thinking about others as you claim your own; thereby evoking and invoking empathy for, and in sympathy with, others. 'Meeism,' claiming entitlement for self without sparing a thought for another or others, was less an issue in our indigenous system. We largely practiced 'weeism,' that is, one person's matter was everybody's matter. So people were discouraged from taking more than their fair share from what was owned by all.

Today, 'penny capitalists' claim and expropriate taking more than a penny from everyone else. They think because they are poor, they can do whatever they feel would earn them something. Everybody else can go to hell, even if that everybody includes people like them. Any attempt to get them to behave normally for the sake of everyone, makes them scream someone is trying to take their bread away or stop them from earning the school fees of their children.

In that spirit, this woman sells everything of local provisions. She erected this kiosk on the space between a house and the street. The kiosk itself stretches to the street leaving a small space for pedestrians between the gutter and her kiosk. Actually, she has not left any space for pedestrians. She's set a table from where her kiosk ends on planks she has placed across the gutter to support the table. So pedestrians have to walk in the street, even though all the space she has covered was left in the planning to provide room for pedestrian sidewalk.

Nowhere and under no circumstance can any person living within a community or society expect entitlement without an accompanying duty. To be entitled is to be dutiful. It follows that where an entitlement is to be granted, duty ought to have been done. There can be no entitlement without performed duty. Otherwise entitlement is hollow. Something must exist to be claimed and its existence is contingent upon, or runs hand in hand with duty performed.

That logical sequence doesn't seem to be what obtains in this our dear motherland. Something must exist to be claimed. Limitless claim to entitlement serves none a good purpose. Entitlement is useful, and serves the right purpose if it is seen as taking a piece from what others are also entitled to take a piece from. It is simply we are each other's keeper.

Trouble is those who steal big interpret entitlement as create loot and share. To them, what is in your care is for you to exploit to benefit the self. It's me first and me only. The penny capitalist learns of such massive thievery from the public purse all the time and therefore feels no obligation towards anyone else in seeking her or his own eking out a living. S/he couldn't be bothered about the public good, that there are benefits for everyone in a healthy public.

Maybe we all need education on the adverse effects of improper use of space with added noise nuisance in trying to make a living. It should have been factored into our poverty alleviation programmes. If all knew that doing the wrong thing never ends up benefitting the self. It is like robbing the common for private benefit when the common is an aggregation of the private, so that robbing from the common is robbing from the private. 'Wo sisi Ananse a wo sisi wo ho (If you think you are cheating Ananse, you are cheating yourself because Ananse is the imaginary you in reality).'

Actually, it may not be a bad idea finding a way to incorporate lessons in entitlement and all its ramifications in cultivating the good citizen in the school curriculum. Assigning schoolchildren exercises and projects to give them practical feel of how it, entitlement, should function to benefit everyone. That seems one effective way of dealing with being selfish against one's own interest. A sense of entitlement must be accompanied by a sense of duty at all times. Senseless entitlement not predicated or dependent or conditioned is ruinous to orderliness and must therefore be discouraged at all times.

By Kwasi Ansu-Kyeremeh

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