Everybody has a master

Author: Enimil Ashon
The Trio
The Trio

Every human being develops several fears in life... Some are rational and others situational. Men and women, including powerful military generals and music or film celebrities, were (and are) known to have trembled, petrified by fear of otherwise harmless tiny creatures.

Heard of Julius Caesar, Napoleon Bonaparte and Alexander the Great? These powerful military generals before whom troops melted with fear suffered from “ailurophobia”, that is, the fear of cats! Oprah Winfrey, the queen of daytime television, has a great phobia of gum chewing. She once threw out a plate because it had a piece of gum on it! She is so sickened by gum chewing that she banned it at her television studio. 

In some countries, special agents of the national security apparatus are assigned to perceived enemies  of the state to discover what they feared most, for the purpose of using it to subdue them into silence – a technique mastered by “Big Brother” in George Orwell’s book, ‘1984’. 

If there is one thing I have learned in my years on earth, it is that every created being of God has a master. The master may be a personality, an institution or a state of mind (such as claustrophobes who fear enclosed spaces). It is that one thing that finally breaks even the boldest and brave. Simply put, everybody has something or somebody they fear. You may not believe it but some people even fear music!!! They suffer from melophobia.

In Africa or the Third World, people fear jujumen because they possess the power to kill, maim or cause mental illness. We would swear and lie in a Christian church or to a Christian priest (perhaps excluding prophets) but would think twice in the presence of a jujuman. Why? Because for many of us, the Christian God is merciful and that even when He visits punishment on sinners, it takes forever to manifest. On the other hand, the elemental spirits invoked by jujumen are merciless and their punishment is instant.

In Ghana, everybody fears the Supreme Court. 

If there is one picture still etched on the minds of most Ghanaians, it is the sorry figure of Sir John before the Supreme Court as Justice Atuguba pronounced judgement in the 2013 contempt hearing.

My conclusion is that generally, Ghanaians fear people and institutions vested with the power to change our sleeping place. Why else do you think that nobody disobeys the summons of National Security and the BNI? 

Simple. They have the power to change one’s sleeping place. 

Did you notice the silence that greeted the judgment of Manhyia against Kojo Bonsu? Even those who dared to disagree with Manhyia did so with guarded language.  

Everybody has a master.

Regular listeners of Montie FM must have pinched themselves to be sure they were not dreaming as some of Ghana’s most respected lawyers of the land literally fell down before the Lordships of the Supreme Court begging for mercy on behalf of personalities whom they (listeners) had hitherto considered fearless talk show hosts and panellists. 

Yet I can bet my last cedi that our radio social commentators will not weigh their words in “fearless” attacks on the National Peace Council or the National Media Commission (NMC). 

There is something called the coercive powers of the state. A lot of it is vested in the police, the military and the courts. 

To curb the excesses that have characterised the use of our freedoms, especially freedom of speech (and Press Freedom), therefore, I am seeking an amendment of the National Media Commission Act 1993 (Act 449) to give it as much teeth as the Supreme Court.

For reasons which I believe are obvious, journalists do not tremble at the invitation of the NMC; indeed, a number of journalists have refused to obey the summons of the commission and gone unpunished. Others have refused to comply with the commission’s rulings.

Why? Because its teeth are not perceived to be sharp.

My recommendation for the NMC also goes for the Parliament of Ghana. The problem with Ghana’s Legislature, however, is that while, to a large extent, it is respected and many even dread going before it, no law can sharpen its teeth as long as those within it, that is, the Parliamentarians themselves, continue to weaken it by their words and actions. 

In 2008, the then MP for Asikuma-Odoben-Brakwa, P.C. Appiah Ofori, repeatedly made an allegation that fellow MPs were each bribed US$5,000 to approve the sale of Ghana Telecom to Vodafone. 

 In 2014, Alban Babgin, the MP for Nadowli/Kaleo, said “there is evidence that some MPs take bribes and come to the floor and try to articulate the views of their sponsors.” 

Is this why Kennedy Agyapong, for example, cannot be disciplined by the House for his outrageous utterances?  

This washing of Parliament’s dirty linen in public is what may have emboldened Professor Stephen Adei, former Rector of the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), to dare the Legislature to summon him to its Disciplinary Committee after making his famous allegation that most members of the House use their positions on parliamentary select committees to receive bribes before approving projects and policies. 

We need strong institutions of state like the Supreme Court to instill the fear of the law into Ghanaians, for without obedience of the laws of the land, democracy cannot thrive; indeed, the state itself will cease to exist.