This scramble for titles must stop!

BY: Doreen Hammond

Growing up as a Ghanaian in a traditional setting, titles were serious business and only given to those who worked for them.

It was, therefore, not surprising that Kwame Nkrumah was called Osagyefo, and an Okukudam meant one was at the very top in that field.

In the same vein, an Obenfo (professor) meant someone who was at his peak on the academic ladder.

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Those were the days when “doctor” referred to those who had earned their PhDs and not ceremonial title holders.

Fast-forward to our time and everybody is assuming something that cannot be easily verified.

So we have musicians who have not established themselves as to even the genre of music they can be identified with and yet they are referred to as supremos.

Others with a hazy idea of security issues are going about responding to the title of security experts.

Some lawyers who are not known to have handled any high-profile case nor contributed significantly to the academic progression of law are referred to as legal luminaries and they grab the accolade with glee.

Once a broadcaster speaks a couple of times on television or radio, he or she is referred to as an ace!

To the extent that in our haste to bestow titles, male musicians are even called divas! Every small business man is now a mogul.

As for the term legend, the least said about it the better.

One of every 10 Ghanaians is now known as a legend, whether living or dead.

A legend in what? We don’t even know. Our penchant for titles and other sweet prefixes is gradually surpassing that of our brothers from another country.

There, it is not out of place to find someone called Chief Dr Dr Engineer Igwe.

That may be fine with their society but as Ghanaians, modesty, at least in these areas, had always been our hallmark.

Even though we share many things in common with our brothers, I don’t think this practice is worth emulating.

Our pastors have joined the fray and are scrambling for titles.

Almost everybody, after a bowl of fufu and palmnut soup, wakes up from a deep slumber and claims he has been given divine authority to pick and choose titles.

It is not uncommon to read titles like Apostle Doctor Seer Evangelist so and so!

In today’s Ghana, almost everybody is a doctor, to the extent that it is becoming difficult to determine the real ones from the ceremonial ones.

As the saying goes, we are all wearing batakari (smock) so it has become difficult to identify the true Muslim.

The critical question is: Who is to be blamed for this state of affairs?

The answer is not difficult to find.

No doubt a condescending and patronising media whose stock-in-trade is to please the highest bidder is to blame.

The same media which propped a certain Chief Medicina to fleece us of our investment and bolt.

And why are some people so ready to give away money for such titles?

Possibly such titles open certain doors, or it is an easier way of gaining status in our society.

Why the media is always in a hurry to bestow such titles on people without any circumspection is difficult to understand.

Even when some of these titles they have bestowed have been rejected by the beneficiaries, the media have shamelessly insisted and continued to refer to them as such.

And the reason for this is very hard to understand apart from the little benefits they may be deriving.

Yet, the repercussions on all of us as a society are damning.

First of all is the international ridicule we visit on ourselves and the irritation to the discerning reader.

Most importantly also, we should not lose sight of the fact that by this, we are breeding and encouraging mediocrity.

It should not be lost on us that a society built on mediocrity cannot stand the test of time. Titles should be earned and not given away as atwomo (flour chips)!