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A prophet is not without honour, but…

BY: Brig Gen Dan Frimpong (Rtd)
Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah
Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah

On Wednesday, April 27, 2022, the funeral took place in Washington DC, USA of Madeleine Albright, America’s first female Secretary of State who died on March 23, 2022.

Tributes eulogising her were read by President Biden, President Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary Clinton, who later also became a Secretary of State like Albright!

The tributes to Madeleine Albright were in spite of her controversial comment in her 1996 interview as the US Ambassador to the United Nations during which she said that 500,000 Iraqi children dying because of US sanctions against Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War “was a very hard choice, but the price – we think the price is worth it.”

Indeed, Dima Khatib, MD of AL Jazeera service AJ+, said this about the eulogies!

“Please before you shower us with stuff about how great Madeleine Albright was, go dig what she thought about half a million Iraqi children killed by US sanctions on Iraq after the Gulf War of 1991. Once you heard her say ‘it was worth it’, then come back and rewrite about her greatness.”

Osagyefo

Coincidentally, the day of Albright’s funeral, April 27, 2022, was the 50th anniversary of the death of Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first president, in Romania.

Interestingly, while social media was awash with tributes eulogising Osagyefo as the “African of the millennium,” at the official level, there was a deafening silence!

A post by a renowned lawyer said:

“Fifty years ago, a great Ghanaian and a great African, a visionary par excellence, a statesman of world standards, died.

“He was neither a demon nor a deity. He was a man and a great one.

We must celebrate his life!”

On that same day, a video clip showed the guest speaker at an Achimota School forum “Achimota Speaks” stating that ethnicity is a fact of life. No one has control over where he or she is born, so one cannot decide to be born a Dangme, Ewe, Konkomba or Bono. He added that while there was nothing wrong with ethnicity, it was its translation into ethnocentrism which was bad.

Ethnocentrism is the feeling of superiority because one belongs to an ethnic group which God loaded with all the goodness or virtues over all others who conversely were given a monopoly of all the bad things the Creator created!

Using himself as an example, he said his mother was from the Western Region, while his father was from the Ashanti Region.

His wife is from the Eastern Region, while two of his sisters are married to men from the Northern Region.

He added that he lived in Accra, worked in Tema and had businesses all over Ghana. His question to the audience was “so, who am I?”

As he walked to his seat, he was greeted with a standing ovation as the audience sang the Achimota anthem “From Gambaga to Accra!”

Question

The guest speaker’s question, “so who am I? (as a Ghanaian)” was poignant. Certainly, Osagyefo was no angel! What is difficult to understand is why the whole of Africa, and indeed the world, sees him positively as a liberator, except for some in his country Ghana!

If such hatred and disrespect can be shown the first president of Ghana for whatever angelic reasons, why should foreigners not treat us with the disrespect they do in our own country?

Is it a case of “a prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, among his own kin, and in his own house?…” (Mark 6:4), while praises are heaped on other countries’ leaders as we did to President Arap Moi of Kenya?

Disrespect

Recently, a Lebanese pulled a machete to cut off a Ghanaian’s head at Osu. It was so distasteful that the Lebanese Embassy had no choice but to condemn the act and ask the Ghanaian authorities to deal with the culprit.

The Mawarko incident, in which a Lebanese manager pushed the head of a Ghanaian lady into a bowl of pepper is still fresh in the minds of Ghanaians.

A Chinese attacks a Ghanaian supervisor, with Ghanaian workers nonchalantly watching!

Where is our pride? Why do foreigners take us for granted in Ghana? Are we bold only when we face fellow Ghanaians? Is it the Twi “efie barima” syndrome, where one is bold at home, but timid outside?

I daresay foreigners dare not do this in the country of our brothers/sisters/rivals next-door east across!

Summary

Despite the controversy about the insensitivity of Madeleine Albright in her 1996 justification of the death of half a million Iraqi children after the 1991 Gulf war, America eulogised her as a great American.

No American leader condemned her.

Is it because they believe in Abraham Lincoln’s saying that “a country that does not honour its heroes will not long endure,” and we do not?

As a foreigner asked me, “what is wrong with you Ghanaians? Why are you so busy trying to dim Nkrumah’s light in Ghana when he shines all over Africa?”

Why should foreigners respect us if they see us unpatriotically inflicting on ourselves negativities, including denigrating Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah?

Until leaders see Ghana as an integrated nation of different ethnic groups as the Achimotan guest speaker said, and not as an abstract geographical state of unconnected people motivated by visceral ethnocentrism, no one will respect us.

So long as we are ruled by ordinary mortals and not angels, leaders will make mistakes as Nkrumah did and as Madeleine Albright did! History will judge us all! Until then, “judge not, that ye be not judged. For by the same measure that ye judge, shall thou be judged!” (Matthew 7:1-3)

Finally, John 8:7 states, “let he who has no sin cast the first stone!”

Leadership, lead! Fellow Ghanaians, wake up!

The writer is former CEO, African Peace Support Trainers Association, Nairobi, Kenya & Council Chairman, Family Health University College, Accra. E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.