Left alone in the cold!

On Thursday, May 5, 2022, the playwright Uncle Ebo Whyte shared his experience as a young union leader of the first company he worked for in the 1970s after university.

The vociferous youth constantly complained about their boss and asked Ebo to tell the boss about their concerns.

Following their insistence, he finally decided to invite the boss to a meeting during which the aggrieved workers were to voice their concerns. 

Having agreed with his colleagues on this, he told the boss the Union wanted to meet him. The boss readily agreed to meet the workers.


When the floor was opened for discussion, to Uncle Ebo’s surprise, not a single worker asked the boss a question or made a suggestion. Eventually, to save himself the embarrassment of having brought the boss to a questionless/suggestionless meeting, Uncle Ebo himself told the boss that the workers said they were unhappy with him because among others, he was too strict. 

One could hear a pin drop with the absolute silence that followed. With that, the meeting came to an end.

Obviously unhappy with Uncle Ebo for leading what he considered a near mutiny against him, the boss from then on for the next few weeks, zoomed his radar on Uncle Ebo from the start of work to the end of the day looking for a fault to nail him on. 

Eventually, not finding any, the boss called Ebo to his office. His simple advice was, “Beware of the Ghanaian!” He will cheer you on with loud hosanna, but abandon you with “crucify him” and leave you in the cold when you most need him.

Continuing, he said while people are very good at complaining about everything behind the boss’ back, when it comes to telling the boss what their grievances are, they backtrack. He advised Uncle Ebo to learn from the experience he had just had, being left in the cold for an initiative he did not take, but goaded on to spearhead by his subordinates!

Unfortunately, this negative attitude of leaving individuals in the cold while they lead a fight for the common good appears pervasive in Ghana. Indeed, sometimes, as if the betrayal is not bad enough, people go further to make disparaging remarks such as, “does he think he is the only one who sees things are wrong?”

This contrasts sharply with my experience in Nigeria in the late 1980s and mid-1990s.


Like it happens in Parliament where there is plenary for all 275 Ghanaian MPs, and then committee meetings for smaller subject-matter groups like Education, Health, Defence and Security etc., at Command and Staff Colleges, we also have a plenary for all students, and then “syndicates” of small groups of about ten students! Each syndicate has a Lt-Col Directing-Staff (Lecturer) as a facilitator.

During one of the terms, my syndicate invited me to the Officers Mess for “pepper-soup” on a Friday afternoon after a long and tiring week! After the initial pleasantries, the leader started, “Oga (Sir), we really admire you and like the way you teach! But Oga, you are very mean with marks!” 

Before I could recover from the shock of the initial salvo, like a planned relay, each of the ten Majors told me how stingy they thought I was with marks, even though they liked my teaching! They were therefore pleading with me to relax my stinginess. 

For the four years I had taught in our Command and Staff College in Ghana, no Ghanaian student had ever told me I was stingy with marks even if they thought so! 


On Sunday night, May 7, 2023, the panellists on a local FM Station’s programme (Joy FM, The Probe) said Ghana’s position in the World Press Freedom rankings has been consistently dropping in the last few years. 

This is the result of the harassment, beating up of journalists like Latif Idriss of Joy FM on March 27, 2018 and the murder of journalists like Ahmed Suale in 2019.

In his contribution, journalist Erastus Asare Donkor spoke of the harrowing experiences he and his crew suffered while making a documentary on galamsey deep in the forest! In seeking redress, not even his subsequent representation by lawyer/journalist Samson Lardy Ayenini has secured him justice yet.

He stated together with other panellists that the result of the non-cooperation by the Police is that many journalists are beginning to self-censor following direct threats to them and their families. His family was confined to a safe-house for about a month following threats. Journalists are self-censoring, because of the impression that, the GJA cannot give them the support they need. 

Shakespeare’s admonition that “discretion is the better part of valour” therefore comes in handy, because in the limit, one is left in the cold alone. 


In both the Ebo Whyte story and the panellists submission on the “The Probe,” speaking truth to power is seen as dangerous; followers often desert their leaders when they sense trouble.

The stories reminded me of the Twi saying “p3 as3m, suro as3m,” literally, “love trouble, fear trouble!” It describes the tendency on the part of some people who court/instigate trouble, and then run away when trouble comes, leaving the leader in the cold! This has contributed to the birth of the aphorism “no action, talk only” (NATO).

My experience in Nigeria was the exact opposite, with all showing a common front with sincerity and commitment to confront authority, without any fear of repercussions!

Let us not be cowed into submission by heartless leaders who will do everything to suppress journalists and others for exposing their involvement in galamsey and greed. 

Remember, while for most of us, the only country we have is Ghana, some of them may have second homes elsewhere to escape to after all our water bodies have turned to a sludge contaminated with mercury and cyanide from galamsey. 

When I flew recently to Takoradi, I was sad to see from the air, the muddy River Pra push kilometres into the Atlantic!
Remember President Ernest Bai Koroma’s advice in February 2023 at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre, Teshie to followers, to learn to speak truth to power, as that is the way to keep leadership on track. 
Leadership, lead! Fellow Ghanaians, wake up!

— The writer is former CEO, African Peace Support Trainers Association, Kenya & Council Chairman, Family Health University College, Ghana.

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