Recently, in what some Ghanaians saw as perhaps an unconscious act of confession, a statement was made that, we are experts at destroying our own. Even though used in a limited context, Ghana’s history since the first coup of February 1966 appears to give credence to the assertion.
The naughty little Form One boys that we were in the secondary school in the 1960s, we took delight in giving our teachers nicknames at the least opportunity. In the case of “Man Must Whack” however, it was self-inflicted as he used it first in a story he told us. His stories which we enjoyed made up for his evident lack of serious preparation sometimes. When asked about the witches in Shakespeare’s tragedy Macbeth, his answer was “the witches? They are bad oo!”
He never disappointed us in our expectation of him to use big English words to our delight. On this occasion, talking about Lady Macbeth, he stated that,
“In her somnambulistic self-revelation, she sobbed guiltily saying, ‘…blood still smells on my hands. All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand! Oh, oh, oh!’”
Murder of the King
Lady Macbeth had pushed her husband Macbeth, the General commanding the English Army into murdering the King of England Banquo. In appreciation of Macbeth’s bravery on the battlefield, King Banquo decided to honour Macbeth by spending a night in his home. Earlier, three witches had predicted that, Macbeth would someday be the king of England. Obsessed with becoming the queen of England in the shortest possible time, Lady Macbeth forced her husband into killing King Banquo.
After this, she started walking in her sleep, a situation called somnambulism! While sleep-walking, the sufferer says and does things he or she is not conscious of, and does not subsequently recall, hence Lady Macbeth’s confession of the murder of Banquo.
The Senior Citizen’s Questions
In a chat with a senior citizen recently, he asked me a few questions when the subject of increasing violence in Ghana came up. These are a few of his questions.
“………..Dan, what do you expect……?
Have you forgotten what Shakespeare said that, unnatural deeds breed unnatural troubles?
Didn’t your generation of young officers in the late 1970s teach your soldiers to execute Generals in the name of a revolution?
Were Judges including a lactating mother not abducted and murdered at the Bundase range?
Did you not destroy Ghana’s highly professional Civil Service by massive infusion of political appointees?
What happened to Ghana Airways, Black Star Line and all the import-substituting State Owned Enterprises of the 1960s?”
After a long silence, he continued by asking,
“do you remember the saying that, when you sow a wind, you reap a whirlwind?” One generation after you sowed the wind, Ghana is reaping a whirlwind of killings, violence , indiscipline, arrogance and lawlessness. Respect for authority has been thrown out of the window! The Police who symbolise State authority all over Ghana are now beaten routinely by miscreants who revel in enjoying support from politicians……..!
And now, soldiers and policemen are clashing! Why? But, why not? If politicians push unqualified relatives into the security services, what do we expect? God save our country!”
After a long silence, I asked the octogenarian how we could get out of our current predicament. “Go back to first principles,” he shot at me! “Too much blood has been spilled in this country for Ghanaians to pretend that, nothing has happened. We cannot change our history. The first step is therefore a public acknowledgement and apology for the mistakes of the past.”
Until this is done, the blood of the victims will continue to be on the hands of the perpetrators and haunt them like Lady Macbeth.
Secondly, we need selfless, visionary leaders of integrity who lead by example. In the words of Martin Luther King, “we need leaders not in love with money but in love with justice, not in love with publicity but in love with humanity!”
Recently, a report by Bloomberg TV in the US ranked Ghanaians as the hardest working immigrants in the US. If Ghanaians can work so hard in another country, why have we not done the same in our country? Ghanaian medical doctors and other professionals work as attendants at petrol filling stations overseas. Ghanaians will do anything outside Ghana.
Why then has filth engulfed us with a choke grip while young men and women constitute themselves into an association of unemployed graduates? Sadly the few who have employed themselves are mocked. A university graduate who has started a “shoe-shine” business was asked why he wasted his parents’ money going to school if all he wanted was to be a shoe-shine boy.
Africa’s problem has been summarized by the Kenyan Nobel Peace Prize laureate Professor Wangari Maathia as that of bad leadership with corruption at the forefront. This claim notwithstanding, some leaders stand out as honest. The issue is generating a critical mass of honest leaders to effect the change needed for development.
Martin Luther King stated that, “the arm of the moral universe might be long, but it still bends towards justice.” While some may not openly admit their faults, like Lady Macbeth, in their somnambulistic self-revelation, the truth will come out. Whatever it is, at the appropriate time, nemesis will exact retribution.
In answering the senior citizen’s questions, we need simple visionary and selfless leaders of integrity and example who will take us back to the values and virtues we started with, rewarding merit and punishing infractions. The IGP must be given the free hand to maintain Internal Security while the Ghana Armed Forces concentrates on its primary role of training for territorial defence!
Finally, why can’t CDSs and IGPs be given tenure to strengthen their offices and insulate them from political interference?
The writer is Brig Gen Dan Frimpong (Rtd)Former CEO, African Peace Support Trainers Association (APSTA)Nairobi, KENYA