• Peter de Vries, Dutch investigative journalist who was shot on July 15, 2021
• Peter de Vries, Dutch investigative journalist who was shot on July 15, 2021

What motivates you to continue writing?

When he picked my phone call, my attack on my big brother was swift and surgical! 

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“Look, Abednego! The last few times we have talked, I called you.

Why have you not called me all this while?

Do I always have to call?

What prevents you from calling?”

Visibly on the defensive, he apologetically started in a low voice which gathered momentum as he went on.

“Hmm, Dan! The perfidy of our politicians is killing me!

Conditions in Ghana have made me despondent! Conditions in Ghana have made me depressed!  Conditions in Ghana have made me lethargic.

I am simply unhappy!”

But for my interruption, he may have added, “the individual bonds equivocation from no hair-cut to full head-cut for pensioners like us is disconcerting.”

With his choice of English words and poetic style presentation, your guess as to which secondary school he attended in Ghana in the 1960s will certainly not be wrong!

After pouring his heart out, he asked me this. 

Question

“Dan, what motivates you to continue writing when it is obvious that those at the helm of affairs who can benefit from your writings do not read.

Indeed, even if they read, they don’t care about Ghana.

So, why do you waste your time writing?”

Abednego’s question took me back to my article in August 2021 titled “Writing – Safe or Dangerous Enterprise?’ in which I stated:

 “The Dutch investigative-journalist Peter de Vries died on July 15, 2021, nine days after being shot in Amsterdam for his writings.

“On July 20, 2021, Moroccan journalist Omar Radi was jailed for six years, 10 days after colleague Soulimane Raissouni was jailed for five years.

According to their lawyers, both were jailed on trumped-up sexual offences, for their writings.

“In her article in the Daily Graphic on June 15, 2021 titled “534 kids dead… and their blood was red,” the pediatrician Dr Adoma Dwomo-Fokuo Odame lamented the loss of 534 children in Ghana in May 2021.

“While a response said, “this article moved me to tears,” a reaction read, “complaints, complaints, complaints!

What will governments do that will satisfy Ghanaians?

As a pediatrician trained by taxpayer’s money, what has been your contribution to healthcare apart from complaining? …

Gosh, let us be satisfied with the little we have.

Rome was not built in a day!” 
 

Reading

“While the expression “Ghanaians don’t read” has unfortunately become accepted, where Ghanaians read, they do so not primarily to enjoy the educative/informative/entertainment value of books/articles but to fault-find.

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Otherwise, what did the pediatrician write, stating facts/figures as a professional,that was so offensive that it rocketed the reader into space?

“Her offending submission stated, “I am a pediatrician. I speak for children…

During the four weeks that you have been debating which government has done more for healthcare, the young ones have fallen.

In May 2021, we lost 534 children under the age of five…

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Imagine Parliament with 534 MPs dead in one month.”

“The accuser only saw the pediatrician’s submission from his perspective.

Once it did not fit his mold, it constituted an affront.

“Following the publication of his book, The Satanic Verses in 1988, Indian-born British-American author Salman Rushdie was accused of blasphemy.

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A death sentence was pronounced on him by Ayatolla Khomeini of Iran in 1989.  

“In October 2017, Maltese blogger/investigative journalist Daphne Galizia was blown-up by a car-bomb for her corruption-investigations in Malta.

Conclusion

“While writers express opinions candidly, some readers impute unintended motives, for which a death sentence could be imposed as in Rushdie’s case or outright murder such as the Galizia and de Fries’ cases.

In Ghana, investigative-journalist Ahmed Suale was murdered.

“So, while writing may not offer any economic gains, it could also be a dangerous enterprise. However, for the principled/objective writer, it is a risk worth taking for national development.

“Whatever people may have against writing the truth, every society needs writers such as pediatrician Dr Adoma Dwomo-Fokuo Odame, who must be protected by the state, as stated by the Maltese independent-inquiry.”

Discussion

I stated in the article that, “like Shylock, those who feel threatened by writings often fight back furiously relishing the opportunity to take their pound-of-flesh, to the point of killing!

Writing can ,therefore, be dangerous not only for professional journalists such as Elizabeth Ohene/Ajoa Yeboah-Afari/Nana Gyan Apenteng/Enimil Ashon, but also for amateur hobbyists like me.”

Meanwhile, Ahmed Suale’s January 2019 murder remains unraveled.

To Abednego and those who think writing is an exercise in futility, and therefore, not worth the risk, my simple answer is that writing never dies!

In our 21st century, newly qualified medical doctors still take the Hippocratic Oath, named after the Greek physician/philosopher Hippocrates who wrote over 2000 years ago!

Thanks to writing, his ideas, together with those of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and many others, have kept humanity going.

Pan-Africanism continues in spite of Dr Kwame Nkrumah’s books eg, Africa must Unite and Imperialism, the Last Stages of Neo-colonialism being set ablaze after his overthrow in 1966.

What motivates writers to write is that, the educational, informative and entertainment value aside, writings will outlive us all, including evil-doers who try eliminating or indeed kill writers who expose them.

When revolutionary Colonel Oliver Cromwell killed King Charles 1 in 1649, little did he think his skeleton would be exhumed, tried, stripped of his rank and sentenced to death 12 years later in 1661, and thereafter remain a controversial villain in British history forever!  

Since ‘‘History repeats itself,” so shall it be with those of Cromwell’s ilk whose revolutionary legacy is indiscipline, disrespect, corruption and “let the blood flow” mentality, who unconscionably brag about their expertise in blood-letting violence!

“The world is not waiting for us,” as Lee-Kuan-Yew told Singaporeans in 1965 when Singapore was expelled from the Malaysian Federation.

“We either swim together or sink. We are not going with begging-bowls to the world!”

Showing strong leadership, he led by example with absolute integrity!

Seventeen-time a-begging at the IMF and now foreign “supervisors” embedded at the Bank of Ghana and Finance Ministry as reported, demeans us as a people with no leadership!

Leadership, Lead! Fellow Ghanaians, wake up!

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

E-mail: [email protected] 

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