'The most-unkindest cut of all?'
'The most-unkindest cut of all?'

'The most-unkindest cut of all?'

At the August 2023 World Athletics Championship in Budapest, Hungary, as I watched Ghana’s James Dadzie limp out of the 200-metre heats following an injury, I heard myself sigh “O my God!” 

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In a subsequent heat, Joseph Paul Amoah could not qualify for the next round, also due to an injury.

Then came “the most-unkindest cut of all”, as Mark Anthony described the wound inflicted on Julius Caesar by his closest friend Brutus; the announcement that Ghana had pulled out of the 110 x 4 relay!

A depleted Ghana team from injuries could not raise a quartet for the race on Friday, August 25, 2023.

To buoy up my disappointed spirits, I sought solace in my March 2020 article titled “Four, By One-Ten (4 x 110) yards relay race.”

This event has, in the past, brought glory/pride to Ghana.

“One of the highlights of my secondary school days was the annual inter-schools and colleges athletics competition simply called ‘INTER-CO’.

Among others, it afforded us in boys’ schools the opportunity to improve on our ‘puppy love’ expressed through letters to our friends in the girls’ schools, this time by warm innocent hugs.

The climax of the two-day competition was the sprint relay 4 x 110 yards event.

The boys’ event, which was the last for the two days, was fiercely contested.

This is not surprising, considering Ghana’s past athletics record in sprint relays internationally.
 

Commonwealth Games

At the 1966 Commonwealth Games in Kingston, Jamaica, Ghana’s quartet of BK Mends, JA Addy, ECO Addy and SF Allotey did not only win gold, they set a new record of 39.8 seconds.  

Earlier in the 1962 Games in Perth, Australia, the quartet of Mike Ahey, BK Mends, Bashiru Bukari and Michael Okantey won silver. 

Baton-changing

Featuring the fastest sprinters of any games, be it the Commonwealth or Olympics, a very important determinant of the winner in sprint relays was and still is the smoothness with which batons are changed.

A split second gained or lost in changing batons could determine who the gold or silver medalist is assuming they are equally matched.

Usually, the anchor is the fastest and runs the last leg.

Teamwork

Interestingly, when a team wins the event, as Ghana did in Jamaica in 1966, the quartet joyously celebrates together emphasising the importance of teamwork over individual effort.

They do not go back to find out how fast each athlete ran his or her leg.

I served the Ghana Armed Forces for over four decades, and teamwork was always emphasised over individual brilliance.

So, how come politicians have not learnt this simple principle of teamwork and always go back to make claims of what they achieved in government that others did not achieve?
 

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Governance

After all, the founders of modern-day Political Philosophy in the 17th century, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Jean-Paul Sartre, etc., taught man that for humans to come out of the ‘state of nature’ where the jungle law of survival of the fittest reigns, making life “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short”, a civilised society must graduate from the animal kingdom to statehood.

Individuals cede part of their freedom to the State, which must provide for the collective good, security and services like roads, water, and electricity which individuals cannot afford to provide for themselves.

The state does this through governments, which tax individuals.

Governance must, therefore, be a continuum, not ‘hop-step-and-jump!’

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It is our taxes that governments use to administer states and not the personal monies of individuals in periodic governments.

Malaysian mate

At Graduate School over 30 years ago, a mate of mine did a presentation on his country Malaysia as we were all required to do of our countries.

Significantly, Ghana and Malaysia both got their independence from Britain in 1957, Ghana in March and Malaysia in August.

Described as twins, both had a GDP per capita of about $600.

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In 2020, Ghana’s GDP per capita was $2,200, while Malaysia’s was $11,400.

An analysis of the two countries shows that while Malaysia has been politically stable, Ghana has had a chequered history with long periods of instability.

Obviously, without political stability, there can be no meaningful economic development! 

The ongoing tit-for-tat-politics of vile insults and dangerous rhetoric not only reduce our image internationally but also create an atmosphere of fear that does not promote economic development.

Using the 4 x 110 yards relay as an example, Usain Bolt, who has always anchored Jamaica to win gold, has never claimed that because he runs fastest, his gold medal is more gold than that of other members of the team.

Neither did the fastest runner of Ghana’s gold-winning team in Jamaica in 1966.

Much of Ghana’s woes have been attributed to past military rule.

Now, we do not have military rule.

So, why are we where we are?

Politicians, remember teamwork!

Do not lead Ghana to the abyss for UN peacekeepers to come in!

For, once we go over the cliff, Ghana will never be the same again!”

Sports is a unifier and makes a major contributor to national pride.

It also shows the importance of teamwork in national development.

In the recent 16-day 10,000 km journey by road from Accra to London, arriving on August 6, 2023 by 13 Ghanaians in what they called Wanderlust Ghana, the mentioning of Abedi Pele’s name secured them instant passage/police escort in Morocco!  

However, victory in sports can only come with investment and proper selection, training and conditioning of athletes/sportsmen over an extended period.

Way, we shall not suffer the “most-unkindest cut of all” of our 110 x 4 relay team in Budapest, Hungary.

Leadership, lead!

Fellow Ghanaians, wake up!

The writer is former CEO of African Peace Support Trainers Association, Nairobi, Kenya/Council Chair Family Health University College, Accra.  

E-mail: [email protected]

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