Restoring the dignity of the African politician
By Richard Frimpong-Ansah
My worry today is that I have heard and continue to hear many people speak on different matters in public through different broad casting mediums classifying themselves as politicians but whose conducts and utterances do not confirm same.
Yes some have delighted me with their approach, knowledge, truth and the delivery of their response to the matters before them and others have not. Often those that have not, leave ‘an escape route’ if I may say on ending their submissions with “you are entitled to your own opinion” to make it sound as if there were two rights, one for the truth and the other for the wrong they have put out to the public, when the matter being discussed is so clear and open that one could not misunderstand. Unfortunately this sometimes creates doubts in the minds of many including myself, which I am sure is the reason for which they deliberately end their submissions that way.
Basically, what is lacking in this kind of self professed politicians communication is ‘truth’. For this reason I sort to look for what “truth” is by all definitions as a spring board to position some of my dear politicians on the path of the restoration of their dignity. But have the African politicians lost their dignity to warrant a restoration? Yes is the answer, and is it the fault of all? I will say no.
But as the saying goes “one bad nut spoils the whole soup”. So my apologies to all politicians who do not fall within this bracket and may have not caused the need for the restoration of your dignity as a group. As a result of the existing of this bad nuts, your currency unfortunately as a group, must be said, is at its worst depreciation point, hence the need for its stabilization and restoration.
The journey of pondering, wondering and writing on this matter began as aforementioned when it became evident that the lack of truth in the communications of some politicians to the people was a major contributing factor to the eroding of their dignity. I am sure you may as I have, heard the phrase “all politicians are the same” not once, twice or thrice. I kept hearing people say that all politicians are the same so I tried to find out why people say so. Ubiquitously, ‘Liars’ is the answer that kept coming back to me, I got heart burns and stomach upsets because of this undesirable answer I was getting, because I have very close family relations, friends and to top it all I know politicians that I could not categorize as such. But I also knew that some politicians have lied unnecessarily in public and such lairs may have led to this unfortunate classification of politicians as liars.
Also prominent among the factors eroding their dignity that I came across was the politics of insults and violence which also made people refer to their activities collectively, as a dirty game. I will share my findings on these matters with you as part of this restoration program.
My research concluded that truth corresponds to fact and fact is nothing but the original state of a matter or a thing. The elimination or addition of any of the constituent which changes the original state of a matter or thing makes it untrue.
Then it dawned on me that it is the coherence and repetition of prepositions singular or collectively that do not correspond to facts (Propaganda) is reason why the general public classifies politicians as ‘ Liars ’.
My memory also took me back to the recent parliamentary vetting of the ministers of our late president Prof. J.E.A Mills of blessed memory. At this vetting, people who had lied for their party to attain power explained their lies away as campaign or platform talk. Unfortunately this vetting was organized at the expense of the very people that these prospective ministers had lied to and were approved by the representatives of the people that had been lied to in parliament (Members of Parliament). Then I asked myself, is it really a case of ‘dukadaya ‘?
I do not intend to bore you, but to throw more light on the need for this restoration, allow me to let you know about an incident I witnessed at Sakumono Community 14 on 1st July, 2011. There was some heated misunderstanding between a group of people from the beach on their way home, and a man standing in front of his house who was unhappy about the disturbance coming from the group; it was not a pretty sight. Then a man arriving with his driver in a 4 x 4 Vehicle at the scene got out of his vehicle to settle the matter, both parties gave him audience as he spoke until he mentioned that he was Minister of State, then all hell broke loose and he suddenly lost control of the situation. I cannot write the words that were thrown at him for declaring who he was by his position in the country, but am sure you can imagine they were very insulting. But if you insist, then I would write one as the Nigerian would “Ole”.
The anger of the people was now directed at him almost leading to his physical abuse, so much that his driver who on hindsight I believe was a security person, run into their 4 x 4 vehicle for a sub machine gun to fire several rounds of ammunition to disperse the group, who did so reluctantly whiles still throwing back some more despicable words at him. I realized that his authority as an elderly person was not disrespected but his position as a minister was, judging from the words and the reaction of the people from the moment he mentioned that he was a Minister of State, because, in the sight of the people I believe, the position and its occupant had lost the deserved dignity that usually accompanied it, and therefore not worth the respect he had wished for by mentioning it.
To stop this kind of incidents and its variants, you would agree with me, I hope, that the restoration of the dignity of the African politician is in the interest of all, for the development of Africans in true freedom, democracy and natural respect for genuine authority.
Insulting the Minister of State and his colleagues was not pleasant to my hearing, but do they as politicians engage in this despicable acts of insulting? Your answer is as good as mine.
Researching I found out that an insults is generally an expression by words or action be it fact or lie considered offensive and degrading which may occur accidentally or deliberately. I observed further that insults accidentally churned out by words or display of action is quickly apologized for and the acceptance of the apology is also usually taken without conditions if the offender notices, or his or her attention is drawn to it. A deliberate insult however, is usually not or is apologized for reluctantly by the offender and the acceptance by the offended is usually also with conditions. Unfortunately the latter is what is ruining the dignity of the African politician by way of their engagement in this conduct.
Whereas the character of the offender suffers, it is the general character of politicians that suffers most in the long term, especially the political party to which the offender belongs as would be clarified as we go on.
Politicians are supposed to be mature or adults knowing right and wrong so why some choose to engage deliberately in insults to their detriment, that of their innocent colleagues and their profession as a whole cannot be understood without finding the root cause.
In doing so, I found out the following as potentially the reason for this behavior we seek to eschew.
- The upbringing of the person now a politician, not by way of formal education but by the lack of care and guidance of their parents or guardians and the lack of respect for these people, dead or alive by the politician contributed greatly to his or her tendency to engage in the conduct of insults.
- The lack of self respect, respect for the names they bare and insecurity brewed as results of the aforementioned was also another factor.
- The cultural acceptance of insults as part or a way of life by the culture of the politician or the adaption of this culture by virtue of his or her current habitation or association with a group that sees no wrong with insults was another reason for the shameful behavior.
- The unconscious believe in sarcasm as display of intelligence by the politicians was another reason.
- The applaud or acceptance of aggressive confrontation or response as boldness by this kind of politicians was another factor.
- That these kind of politicians insult as results of lack of experience, knowledge and as a way of controlling by diversion matters being discussed and also to hide their ignorance and deficiencies.
- These kinds of politicians are simply bad communicators and sometimes violent in nature who take their audience for granted and out of their frustration of not being able to communicate resort to insults to bring discussions to a close or as defense.
If you fall in this category of politicians, then your awareness of the aforementioned findings and your concious effort to addrees them, will help to improve your communication, eliminate or reduce your tendency to insult and put you and your colleagues on the path of restoring your dignity. Addressing your insecurities, adapting proper manners, self respect and deferring to speak on matters you do not have facts on be you a bad communicator or not will also help with the restoration of your dignity.
Political violence comes in a lot of forms such as War, physical and non physical human rights violations which sometimes results in deaths and all manner of injuries to simply retain, maintain or attain political power at all cost. One of the primary causes of violence in Africa is the inaction or brutality of state security agencies at the instructions of, or for fear of politicians in authority, at the expense of a perceived political opponent. The physical or clandestine orchestrations of these kinds of politician’s to retain, maintain or attain power, raise a lot of questions about the genuineness of their quest for power to serve the people. This undesirably, erodes their dignity by generally portraying them as being power drunk, selfish or thirsty for power. Highlighting this anomaly I hope will create the awareness to correct and restore the dignity of the African politician to safe guard the infant representative democracies on the continent.
I feel some unpleasant sensation in my stomach and my heart burns when I see people who take these nonsensical violent actions or inactions on behalf of these shameful people who call themselves politicians who invariably erode the collective dignity of their colleagues and profession by their conduct.
So in asking myself why and what cause this shameful behavior?, I recalled on the 11th of April, 2012 when I saw a lot of people moving towards the central police station around Kantamanto from my view at one of the top floors at NIB Head Office and enquired to be told that Madam Ursula Owusu together with Mr. Samuel Abdulai Janapor had been assaulted by some macho men for going round to encourage people to participate in the then ongoing biometric voter registration exercise. My response to the answer I was given was “oh how?”, because I could not see how anyone would agree for such a barbaric action to be taken against any person for the cause they were alleged to be pursuing. Hence I had my doubts until I got into my car and then tuning from one radio station to the other I heard the same information to confirm that indeed the unfortunate had really happened. For such a good patriotic cause I do not believe any human being merits this sort of brutish action.
To what conclusion this matter has been pursued by the appropriate authorities to deter those who took the law into their own hands I do not know, but I hope it is not a case of what I have stated before regarding the actions and inaction of the state agencies responsible for law and order.
False politically staged rumor, rude talks, and threats aimed at hurting a political opponent or a section of the public by either psychologically putting them in a state of anguish, fear, or reclusiveness to make them act contrary to their logical opinion is an act of verbal violence. This is on the rise unfortunately in the main stream day to day politics of the African politician, especially the Ghanaian, gradually eroding their dignity, as with time, the politicians perpetuating this acts of verbal violence, having achieved their aims or not, are never able to justify the cause for their action and try to shy away from it, which leads to the questioning of their integrity. An example in the not too distance past, is the unfortunate case relating to the ‘The Regional Director of ECG’ during the Ghana and Lesotho foot ball match at the Baba Yara stadium in Kumasi and the alleged suspension of him with “immediate effect” by the Director of Communications at the presidency which we as a people are not looking forward to its repetition by any politician whiles on this dignity restoration journey.
POLITICAL ETHNIC DIVISIVENESS
Is one dangerous dignity eroding element that narrowly almost escaped my attention until the
17th of August, 2012 when on my way to wrap up this matter on the dignity restoration subject, tuning from one radio station to the other I tuned into Adom FM whiles trying to find out what the radio stations had to offer for the day and heard Hon. Sampson Ahin on the path of eroding the dignity of politicians through ethnic political divisiveness in one of his submissions bordering on who could be, and not be a Presidential Candidate for the New Patriotic Party based on ethnicity, and by so doing drew Mr. Samuel Awuku in his response to attack the credibility of National Democratic Congress by sighting the comments of alleged statements made by Mr. Fifi Quetey in the wiki leaks report, leaving me with no option but to wrap up with this all important topic.
Politics by ethnic divisiveness is the act of trying to or swaying the thoughts of a group of people with a common culture, dialect or religion etc. against another by generally inciting ill feelings for political gains regardless of the consequence.
The history of this practice has shown very undesirable results which can be likened to one word ‘EVIL’ and nothing more. It is a force opposed to the development of democracy in any country in which it is deplored. The deliberate engagement of any person in this kind of politics entitles the person to be viewed as an enemy of the state or the agent of the devil. The destructive nature of this kind of politics is generational and must not be tolerated at all.
It is one of the primary causes for the death of 500,000 to 1,000,000 in Rwanda, about 10,000 in Sudan (Darfur) and the destabilization of these countries, not to mentioned the number of displaced people, starved and afflicted by diseases as a direct result of this kind of politics according to human right watch.
Mr. or Mrs. Politician, how would you practice your profession in a destabilized country? Remember, the brut and the strong rule in such countries; do not be ignorant of the consequence of this kind of shameful politics of divisiveness. Please, hold your tongue if you have nothing to say, and spare the people the danger associated with your ignorance as we march forward on restoring your dignity.
In concluding, the African politician to restore his or her dignity must remember and practice the following,
- to speak the truth,
- respect him or herself and others,
- avoid politics of insults,
- eschew any form of political violence
- Preach and practice the politics of tolerance and unity.
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