Girls can do maths

BY: Elizabeth Ohene
Elizabeth Ohene, the writer
Elizabeth Ohene, the writer

Has anyone seen the United States Olympics Women Gymnastic team? If you haven’t, please go and take a look. It wasn’t that long ago when specialist writers were telling us that gymnastics was beyond Black people. It was a sport for white people and that was it. Just take a look at the USA team. It looks pretty Black to me.

And have you noticed that even swimming is no longer out of bounds for Black people? I wonder what happened to the biological reasons why Black people couldn’t swim?

The majority of people alive today might not know that once upon a time, basketball was supposed to be out of range for Black people. And there you were thinking it was only Black people who played it and the very rare white person.

Please, if there is something you want to do and someone is telling you it is beyond you and it is not the type of thing someone from Abutia does, please go and take a look at the USA Olympics Women’s Gymnastic team. The so-called experts could be wrong.

And oh yes, once upon a time, they said girls couldn’t do Mathematics and sports that required thinking couldn’t be done by Black people.

A politician and a journalist

Last week, I wrote about medical doctors. It was an article directed at a minuscule bit of what doctors do. I shall be writing on other aspects of their work.

But until then, I have to report that a number of people have sent messages to me complaining about why I should write a critical piece on doctors and keep silent on journalists and politicians! As one of those who sent me messages rightly pointed out, I am a journalist and I am a  politician. According to this person, “These two categories of persons are the bane of our society in Ghana, why don’t you write about them?”

I must say I thought that was all I did. I could bring up a number of articles that tackled the work of journalists, but if some people have the impression it is a subject I run away from, then I should take a closer look.

As for writing on politicians, I insist that there is no way you can run away from them, or us, if I am to use the correct word. 

Just a few thoughts on the subject though and the fact that journalists and politicians seem to be at each other’s throats all the time. Back in 2001 when I became a frontline politician and was appointed a Minister of State by President J. A. Kufuor, I remember being asked over and over again what it felt like being a poacher turned gamekeeper.

Where are the journalists who say that their first loyalty is to the people and not to the newspapers or radio or television stations they work for?

If it can be shown that the entities they work for are quite clear in their focus of wanting money as their primary aim of setting up the newspaper or radio station, where does that leave the journalist, I wonder? The journalists say they have a responsibility to be watchdogs over the politicians.

It is not lost on anybody that the politicians go and ask the people for votes to become the official representatives of the people.  

Something to do with money, I would say. And I have a feeling I can’t go into that subject fully today. But having started, I will be back and I will do an exhaustive job on it.

I will say one thing though whilst I am on the subject; journalists are trained to be sceptical, it is helpful to be sceptical, but there is a rare skill required to be a good journalist: countering scepticism. It might be useful for my colleague journalists to ponder over that until I get back to the subject of journalists and politicians

Guest corner

Every once in a while, someone sends me something she or he has written and I get the feeling it deserves to be given a wider range of readership. I know it could be put on some WhatsApp platform and with some luck, it would be forwarded over and over. But bear with some of us of a certain age group.

My friend, Mr Robert Atta, retired businessman and owner of a famous optical chain of shops, sent me this little writeup. I recommend it:

Immediately after the overthrow of the Kwame Nkrumah regime in 1966, a series of symposia was launched on the topic “What Went Wrong”. Whilst these formal discussions ended sometime that year, the debate continued until this day in our homes, workplaces, meetings, parties and wherever two or more Ghanaians are gathered.

Each one of us constantly complains about the wrongs in our country, the indiscipline, lawlessness, inefficiencies, bribery and corruption, dishonesty, to name a few. We tend to take a holier-than-thou position in that each individual claims the high ground, laying the blame on others. Solutions are never proposed during the discourses.

Thus, perhaps unsurprisingly, after all these years, I am yet to come across a comprehensive and detailed plan of action involving the government, state agencies, the whole of the private sector and all Ghanaians to rectify the complaints. So the question is: when will the discourse on complaints end, and when will a master plan emerge?

But wait a minute. We as a people are mired  in what I call  “INFLUENCES of the things we think, say and do”. These influences include the selfish self, family, tribe/ethnicity, religion, politics, old students’ groups, professional bodies, secret societies, social media and other groups. They play major roles in determining our behaviour that just do not serve the interests of our society and are inimical to the welfare and progress of our country, Ghana.

So for us to succeed, I believe each one of us must shed these influences to become strong and independent individuals, free from and able to stand up to the pressures exerted by the influences.

UNLESS WE DO, THE MASTER PLAN WILL FAIL.

By the way, after you have read this opinion, please PAUSE AND REFLECT, before you conclude and proclaim: I am wrong, and you are right.