The other side of town

BY: Doreen Hammond

Life is made up of two sides. You are either with the winners or losers. Nature, being fair, has fashioned it that most of us will have a bite of the cherry at both sides of the divide in our lifetime, though it is also possible for a few to remain at just one side of the coin.


But for the majority of us, we will taste success and failure during our life’s journey. It is for this reason that it is important that in victory, we must be modest in our celebrations. This phenomenon holds true, especially in political life where the pendulum of power keeps swinging every four years.
Talking about power reminds me of how some flaunt it when they are in charge and how they recoil soon after losing it. The story of Teacher Appiah, the District Chief Executive (DCE), readily comes to mind. Teacher Appiah was loved by his community because socially he was everywhere. He was a choirmaster and also doubled as the colt’s football team coach.
It, therefore, was no surprise to many when he was appointed the DCE. The following week, he was seen at the back of an SUV being chauffeured. In front of the vehicle was an AK47-wielding, camouflage-attired police officer. Honourable, as he came to be known, cut off all contact with his past. Teacher Appiah even avoided the road that led to the town’s draught club of which he used to be a patron. In fact, he was one of the three best draught players in the whole district.
He kept cruising until his party lost elections. The following week, with itchy fingers, he arrived to play draught with his friends. No SUV and no police escort. Unfortunately, people do not forget easily. As soon as he arrived, as if he had been afflicted by the plague, they all left.
I have encountered the pride of some of these men at the high side of town. I would like to share two such experiences. After an old acquaintance was made a minister of State, I saw him arrive at a programme in a sleek V8 and in an excited mood I waved at him. We made eye contact alright but he quickly turned his head away and pretended not to have seen me. My hand got stuck mid air ! As the Gas would say, I was given “asla”.
Fortunately, when I scanned around, I saw that most people were minding their own business and had not taken note of my embarrassment. Fast-forward to a recent encounter with the same person. It was at a funeral and somebody embraced me fondly in a gay-like manner. When I looked up it was him! I mean the same ‘honourable’ who had treated me with contempt a year ago. I just stood there with a dropped jaw as he murmured something about not seeing me for ages and how we needed to look for each other!
The other encounter was with the one who had the character of a bulldog and a penchant to spew the unprintable. Apparently when he forgot that he had moved to the other side of town, we all remember what happened to him. Meanwhile with this same acerbic tongue he fired left, right, centre and was rather hailed for his exploits. As some Takoradi people are fond of saying, the things that you may do in your mother’s house and receive praises may earn you a spank in your father’s house.
The long and short of it is that no condition is permanent, and in the political arena, one can find him/herself on the other side of town. Sometimes we get into certain positions not because we are the brightest and best but because of the goodness and mercy of God, or just because mother luck smiled at us. How we behaved when we were in power will determine how we will be accepted by society when we are no more at the helm of affairs. In fact, this extends to all areas of leadership. If you start barking like a dog and raising your feathers like a peacock to the extent that pride consumes you, be ready to face whatever awaits you on the other side of town.

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