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We can’t build Ghana with ANGER and mayhem

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Nowhere is peaceful. There is anger among and between the politicians; among the traditional rulers and between them and their people; among the clergy and their congregation; there is anger within the ranks of the political activists and between them and their political opponents; and there is an open display of anger by members of ethnic groups against others.

To top it all, there is anger among political activists against President Mills and his government; and functionaries of the government haven’t hidden their anger against those opponents. Otherwise, why all the insults and open threats of physical acts? Or the direct physical assaults (at Odododiodio, for instance)? No matter what the cause may be, the spate of anger is troubling. It is more so now that everything in Ghana has been politicized. Gradually but steadily, we are getting close to the edge of the precipice.

When a people become overwhelmed with anger, they do only one thing—fight! And fighting causes destruction, not nation building. That is the danger in our body politic today and it threatens to worsen.

Our national pledge seems to be woven around nothing but ANGER! Why is everybody angry at the other in our national politics?

Do we think that we can build our country with anger? Or by dividing the populace along political lines, sitting back when not in power to work against the party in power; and when in power, mustering up anger to torment political rivals?

Countries are not built that way. What is it that makes us so destructive and wayward in our attitudes, especially in the pursuit of parochial and selfish political interests, as has been the case of late? Patriotism? Forget it!! The mad rush by all manner of people to do politics and how they do it—not to mention what they reap from it—belies any such consideration. Patriotism is not nurtured by anger.

I am tempted to say that there is something more compelling that lies behind the façade of patriotism that some may claim as their motivation for wanting to be in power. From how some have abused political office to fleece the national coffers so they can live in affluence and be guaranteed a safe haven after office, I can confidently say that all these people hankering after political office have ulterior motives to fulfill. That is why I continue to wonder why anybody will want to die for any of them.

From what is happening all over the country, I can only wish that those putting their lives on the line for these politicians do some serious re-thinking of why they are what they have been all these years that politicians have come and gone without doing anything concrete to change their living conditions. Otherwise, why should the mass of the people continue to live below the poverty-line, in very pitiable narrow circumstances?

Despite all the dare-devil acts that the ordinary people have done to support these politicians, what has changed? Aren’t people still deprived of good drinking water, reliable electricity supply, good transportation network, habitable accommodation—even decent places of convenience?

What is it that will make any ordinary Ghanaian want to risk his life to defend a Ghanaian politician? Or to register 15 times in this biometric voter registration exercise to vote 15 times for a politician? Or to declare WAR against a segment of the population in pursuit of a political objective to be in power?

The situation is more than alarming. I can only cringe at what lies ahead. The anger that is seething in people is now at a boiling point, readying itself to explode into a kind of MADNESS that will destroy everything in its path. Is that what we need to build Ghana?

Many in our political system seem to be embittered in one way or the other and are quick to blame as many people as they can bring to mind without giving any hint to us that they are also part of the problems that they haven’t ceased accusing others of creating. It is sickening. Let’s go on a mental excursion down the memory lane to see how ANGER has manifested in our national life at the highest level. We will not even mention the local level where everything seems to start from.

The spate of anger has been part of our national life since those who fought for our freedom established it. First, it was directed at the British colonialists; then, it was turned inwards to split the ranks of the UGCC, especially when Nkrumah and his Verandah Boys found “Positive Action” as their main political weapon, which the conservatives in the UGCC opposed. Anger drove all that happened.

As if that wasn’t enough, the emergence of the “Mate Me Ho” group forced the anger to spill over into an unendurable national crisis. The anger that motivated the senseless maiming and butchery of the “Action Troopers” is indescribable. What lay behind the bombs at Kulungugu and Accra Sports Stadium? It was anger that led to the promulgation of the Preventive Detention Act by the Nkrumah administration to clip the wings of the “Mae Me Ho” elements; but Nkrumah misfired big time and suffered for it.

Talk about anger among the citizenry and you will know why when the NLC kicked out Nkrumah there was a spontaneous outbreak of that wildfire of anti-Nkrumah emotions nationwide. But the anger didn’t evaporate thereafter. Busia’s anger against so-called aliens in Ghana, the 568 civil servants he dismissed from work, his outburst against the Judiciary (“No Court! No Court!!”), and Victor Owusu’s infamous “Ewes are inward-looking people” carried that anger over to another height altogether until Acheampong’s own brand of anger stopped the Busia administration in its stride.

Acheampong’s era saw the explosion of more anger. His own puerile outburst of “Yen tua” (“We won’t pay our foreign debts”) and miscalculations worsened the situation. But for anger, why would he reconstitute the NRC into an SMC (disposing of the junior-level military officers who helped him stage his 1972 coup against Busia)?

Was anger not the main motivation for all the opposition against Acheampong and his obnoxious UNIGOV? Then, when the anger boiled over, his own colleagues in the SMC showed him where power lay, stripped him of all his military honours, and settled in office to relish their new-found perch of privileges. But anger would later prove them wrong.

They were least prepared for the cataclysmic event, fuelled by nothing but implacable anger. First, it was May 15; then, June 4 BOOMED and swept all of them off their feet and straight to the firing squad. Anger… Extreme uncontrollable anger snuffed out their lives—all in an effort to curb corruption?

Did it end there? No. Just recollect the military brutalities against all manner of people (especially the market women), the torching of Makola Number 2 Market, public lashing of so-called business people described as “profiteers”; and the complete reign of terror that was spurred on by nothing but anger! Limann’s administration might be a welcome interlude of some uneasy calm.

But anger lay behind the internal wrangling that created the loophole for Rawlings’ second coming. BANG! Anger returned, personified as Flt.-Lt. JJ Rawlings, and the Limann administration was no more. Real anger at work saw the Citizens’ Vetting Committee, the Public Tribunals, and many more institutions and “unprecedented revolutionary action” at work to BUILD the country. Did it work?

Rawlings’ bursting onto the scene was driven by a huge blanket of anger, and for all the years that he ruled, he seemed not to have let go of that anger. Anger is in his soul. Even long after leaving office, he still harbours it against all those not doing things as he wishes. He may as well be expected to carry that baggage of anger along into the life beyond.

Now, 20 years in this 4th Republic, anger rules supreme as if it has chosen Ghana for a special vengeance. We already know how Rawlings’ 8 years were clothed in anger; Kufuor’s might not be so pervasive but it was also obvious; under Mills, all hell seems to have broken loose. There is anger everywhere. The NPP leaders are boiling mad with it while the Mills government is double-forked with it—directing one fang at Rawlings and the other at the NPP.

On the sidelines, Rawlings and his wife are nursing their involute anger to spit at Mills. Meantime, the electorate are seething with their own brand of anger to unleash at the polls because someone has either failed to fulfill electioneering campaign promises or is simply not in others’ good books. It is one big knot that is too difficult to untie.

As Election 2012 draws close, I wonder what will save the situation. Too much anger leads to nothing but destruction; should we not see the danger ahead to allow common sense and goodwill to guide our national politics? No country anywhere can be built with anger. We can’t do so in Ghana and must know.

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

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• Coming out soon: The Story of the Elephant, a novel



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