There is no doubt that Heath Cliff Huxtable and his family in the sitcom Cosby show made great impressions on our lives over the last couple of decades. The physician and his attorney wife gave us all the important reasons for making education a priority in life and building a sound character to become good citizens. The spinoff of the show, ‘A different World” also maintained the same ethos where building of refined individuals capable of making wise decisions in a college environment was the theme.
Bill Cosby, the man who play Heath Cliff Huxtable, did a lot of good and I dare say single handedly put a lot of kids through college. The shows were an inspiration to many. Through the show, Bill Cosby made it possible for the average kid, especially the minority to believe that college education and staying on the right side of the law inspires a top middle class and beyond life style. I can credit my own zest and desires for further education to some of the show’s influence.
But the public perception of the man we adored so much, Cliff Huxtable, hid behind a dark side of Bill Cosby. Bill Cosby had all the good intentions to inspire society through comedy, but the demons of his innate character emerged to hunt him. It took another comedian to expose him.
Is Kennedy Agyapong the comedian to expose Anas? Kennedy is a loud mouth politician. He hasn’t got the training in fine language and one is tempted to immediately dismiss him as a braggart. He beats his chest like a gorilla in the forest, the king Kong of Ghana. Recently he has been crying foul, showing his own video of Anas allegedly involved in criminal acts. Is Kennedy Agyapong peeling the surface of something to look deeply into or is he blowing hot air? Not to discount the great work done by Anas, (as in the Cosby Show). The Anas exposĕ is admirable, but is he hiding his own demons?
Is Kwaku Baako standing by his man as Camellia Cosby continues to stand by Bill Cosby even as the courts prove him guilty? 64 women came forward to accuse Bill Cosby of inappropriate behavior, only one was admissible in court, yet, that was enough to convict Bill Cosby. Kennedy claims there are several people allegedly running to him with stories about Anas collecting bribe from them. These allegations should be thoroughly investigated, and even if one is found to be true, Anas should equally face the law. However, if these are found to be false, that, Honorable Kennedy Agyapong and his cronies fraudulently pieced clips together to tarnish the image of Anas, the honorable must be dealt with squarely.
Anas has filed a defamation suit of GHC25 million against Honorable Kennedy Agyapong. The honorable is quoted as saying; “GHC25million, I sit on that shit”. The pronouncements of the MP, Kennedy Agyapong, can often be distasteful. It is alleged that he was such a fine gentleman when he was a taxi driver in New York. Ghana politics must have rubbed him of his finesse. I hope the honorable will take a leaf from what Mrs. Obama said; ‘When they go low, you go high” but no, Kennedy Agyapong will wallow in the mud with his adversaries.
A breakdown in our legal system.
The Anas investigative work has been warranted because of the disregard for law enforcement in our society. The lack of political will on the part of our politicians and the legislature to act. Corruption and some traditional customs have rendered our laws and legal system impotent. As a matter of fact, everything Anas has uncovered hasn’t been a secret. They were and still are well known practices in the country that the institutions and legal apparatus have failed to address.
The entire country knows the Chiefs in Ghana sell land to multiple bidders. This is criminal, but how many Chiefs have been prosecuted, let alone jailed for this crime. How many Chiefs (including Otumfuo) have called a town hall meeting to declare to their people the cedi amount of the number of plots or acres of the township land that have been sold or royalties realized from companies of which the town or village will use for some identified development projects? None, (no accountability!).
Land in most villages and towns are sold as the Chief’s personal property, just as ministers use government coffers as their personal bank accounts. This behavior, big and small is paramount with people in positions of power and in law enforcement in Ghana. The partisan politics of cover ups is what has made necessary such sting operations, undercover investigation and set ups that Anas is using. The average Ghanaian is at a loss, running to churches, rivers and fetish priests looking for answers, all because, the laws in the land do not work to protect them.
Apparently, everything that happens in Ghana is spiritual and one needs to seek a spiritual doctor for directions. The judiciary system is like our hospitals in Ghana, “hit and miss”; one may need to try a few hospitals before finding a bed. And when a bed is found, a doctor may not be available or no diagnostic tools available for the doctor to work with. When one reports a case to the police, in many cases one has to pay for the transportation of the officer to attend to the case.
The bigger picture of this contention between Anas and Honorable Kennedy Agyapong is all because the laws in the land are not enforceable; mostly in conflict with tradition and culture. Kennedy Agyapong, an honorable minister of parliament, a member of the legislative branch, could announce on national television and to the world that he is married but has a girlfriend; proudly confirming that his wife knows he has a girlfriend and its part of Ghana’s tradition. So it is part of Ghana’s tradition to have stool wives.
So it is part of Ghana’s tradition to have stool servants or shrine slaves. So it is part of Ghana’s tradition for some chiefs to adjudicate on some cases. So it is part of Ghana tradition to find an influential elder to get you off the hook even when guilty. So it is part of Ghana’s tradition to send gifts to the Chiefs. In some cases, the Chiefs have aids who arrange for such “gifts’. No wonder even our judges are confused. Some of the judges claimed they acted in the traditional capacity to receive gifts but were not bribed.
Even some journalists (including Captain Smart who claims to fight corruption) gets confused discussing the subject; a gift for ‘influence peddling’ and a bribe. It is wrong and must be punishable to use the office of the state to travel and conduct transactions as if its private business. It is unethical if not criminal to use one’s position in the capacity of public service to receive gifts, solicited or unsolicited in any form with the intent to influence an outcome.
It is time Ghanaians evolve from those traditions that bring shame, turning the country into a bunch of jokers and elevate those elements of our culture that speak to Ghana as a constitutional democratic republic; a country with enforceable laws that govern the land. For this to be realized, Ghanaians must rise from the grassroots to the top; demanding accountability from the Chiefs to the ministers and to the President, call for a change to some of the antiquated traditions and customs that disadvantage the commoner and fly in the face of human rights, else there will be no progress in Ghana.
Commentator…..George Oteng Attakora
Akeredolu And Katsina’s AK-47 Trainees by Lasisi Olagunju
In Lawuyi Ogunniran’s Yoruba play, Ààrẹ-àgò Aríkúyẹrí, we see how a happy polygamous family is ruined by the indiscretion of the family head. Ògúnrìndé Ajé, the Ààrẹ-àgò Balógun of Ibadan, a man with three wives, throws a party to worship his ‘ori’; he lines up his wives in a singing and dancing bout; the second wife outshines the others; the husband celebrates her, publicly proclaims her as his favourite and shoves aside the other wives. The party is over, three children of the third wife die in quick succession – poisoned; hell is let loose. The first wife secretly tells the mother of the dead children that her Babalawo has revealed the favoured wife as the ‘witch’ who ate her children. The bereaved tells her husband the discovery, and, the man, in anger, shoots dead the ‘accused’ wife; the town steps in. Ààrẹ-àgò Balógun is accused of murder and brought before Baṣọ̀run Ògúnmọ́lá and the council of chiefs. The truth is revealed: the first wife is the culprit; she tells the chiefs that the wives loved one another before their husband picked his favourite in public. She confesses to killing the kids to punish the family head “who knows the slender wife that fits her husband on the day of the feast, and (knows) the fat wife fit only as a labourer on the farm.”
Nigeria is ineluctably rolling towards its destiny; it is approaching its final destination. That was the summary of my thought after watching the Katsina vigilante training video, the trainees’ open display of dexterity in handling AK-47 rifles, and Governor Rotimi Akeredolu’s charge at the double standards of the Federal Government. The governor alleged that South-West states applied for and got a no for its Amotekun from the Federal Government while Katsina State got a yes for its security outfit to bear military-grade weapons. The firm became firmer after I read the police’s explanation that what the Katsina vigilante boys got were not AK-47 assault rifles but mere training in the use of AK-47 guns. We live in a ghostly society ruled by funny, deadly ideas.
You saw the devastating effects of bias and favouritism in the Ààrẹ-àgò Balógun story above: Three children die of poison; one wife is shot dead by the husband; a jealous wife is sentenced to death; the family head is sentenced to death – but escapes to the miserable life of a fugitive. Even, members of the jury – the chiefs who sit on the case – become victims; they are busted as bribe takers and lost their privileges, and the bribe deliverers are sold to slavery. The lone survivor is the last wife who escaped with the morbid scar of the loss of three children. This story is Nigeria and its future in their very raw form. Clinical psychologists have a description of a household of bias and iniquity. They say a family of parental favouritism is one of shame, fear, and fight. Wherever you have the blight of bias, you see cohesion in flight; you feel disengagement and conflict in full swing. A home where the favoured child sees the parents as enviable and helpful, and the disfavoured child perceives them as wicked, selfish, and authoritarian is no one’s dream home. It cannot ever achieve its full potential. It is a house of commotion and destruction.
Human existence, Sigmund Freud theorized, is all about two basic urges – he called them drives: One is Eros (the desire to live); the other is Thanatos (the wish to die). Both cohere and contend throughout the journey of life. If Freud saw war as “the prevailing of death over love,” then Nigeria is the ground of that battle. Every step that is taken here, solitary and collective, is a shortcut to death and decay. Nothing is an accident; the virus ravaging our giant came with its bad birth and breath and feeds on the deformity. Imagine what the Nigerian government has made of a decision as basic as what weapons to deploy in fighting a collective enemy. The regime has costumed it in sectional arrogance, governmental infidelity, and unfaithfulness. The result is the outcry from Akeredolu and the shameful silence from Abuja.
Except the state armourer is the forest bandit, he should have no problem arming law enforcement agents and agencies against banditry. If terrorists in the forests of Katsina and Borno use AK-47, and terrorists in the forests of Ondo and Oyo use AK-47, shouldn’t the respective responses be similar in ways and means? We insist that our country’s full name is the Federal Republic of Nigeria, yet, we hate what real federations do. The United States is a federation with more than 17,000 state and local police forces. They are many and, yet, they get the job done in an atmosphere of cooperation and mutual respect. Why is it difficult for us to do what others do so that we get what others get? We cannot insist that Nigeria’s unity and oneness are inviolable and non-negotiable while having one standard for the north and a different standard for the south.
Our founding fathers fought for and got Nigeria as a federation of disparate units. They voted for federalism because they knew it would stop the madness of one part from becoming a national epidemic. It is about balancing of power – and even of terror. America’s founding fathers opted for federalism because they sought “to balance order with liberty…avoid tyranny, allow more participation in politics and use the states as ‘laboratories’ for new ideas and programmes.” The fourth president of the United States and father of the country’s constitution and its Bill of Rights, James Madison, argued (in The Federalist, No. 51) that power must be set against power, and ambition must be made to counteract ambition if his emerging nation of many parts would progress in peace and plenty. Earlier in The Federalist, No. 10, he had explained how the adoption of federalism would engender peace and development: “The influence of factious leaders may kindle a flame within their particular states, but will be unable to spread a general conflagration through the other states. A religious sect may degenerate into a political faction in a part of the confederacy, but the variety of sects dispersed over the entire face of it must secure the national councils against any danger from that source.” Drawing from Madison’s argument, an analyst says “federalism prevents a person that takes control of a state from easily taking control of the federal government as well.” What do those sentences tell you about Nigeria and its owners and why the nation’s ailments are incurable? The US experience apparently influenced what legal icon and elder statesman, Chief Afe Babalola, SAN, argued for in April 2022. He called for a total constitutional overhaul of Nigeria instead of limping towards the next elections. We asked him to shut up.
Five months ago, Chief Afe Babalola looked at Nigeria he was living in and cried out that he could not recognize what he was seeing. Then he issued a statement and said he “decided to talk because this country is now different from the one I used to know.” He said he saw a gradually collapsing country, a half-dead nation with a currency that was N199 to $1 in 2015 but which had gone down to N570 to a dollar as of the time he issued the statement. “The external debt, which was $10.7 billion in 2015 is now over $38 billion. The government is borrowing more, and spending more, but earning fewer revenues. The worse thing is that the debt servicing level is also rising. In 2020, Nigeria was ranked as the poorest country in the world with over 50 percent of Nigerians living in extreme poverty while over 70 million Nigerians are in urgent need of life-saving assistance.” Chief Babalola said he was “of the firm conviction that moneybags now control the lever of powers.” He said if we allowed the present constitution beyond 2023, what we would be getting is recycled leadership, who would continue the old ways. “We need a constitution that will throw up young, brilliant, dedicated people to save this country. We can’t get all these under the present constitution. We need a new set of leaders in our nation; leaders who will not see themselves as Mr. Know-All and who will not see themselves as above anyone,” he said.
That was five months ago. How many bags of naira must you carry before you can purchase a dollar in Nigeria today? A thousand dollars may soon trump a million naira. If you are an optimist, you have something to chew on here. It is said that a witch who would stop being a witch would not build an all-female nest. Nigeria is that witch. It breaks the backbone of whatever is good and strong; it does not build or rebuild; it listens not to the voice of knowledge and understanding. How did we take Afe Babalola’s counsel that we rearrange our lives productively instead of going for the poisonous feast of the 2023 elections? We dismissed him and his words. The old man has since been minding his business, eating his pounded yam, mounting his horse during the day and ‘the other one at night. But for Nigeria, denial cures nothing; the country remains “a contagion of disgrace.”
Bloomberg, last week, in a damning report said bankers were bailing out of Nigeria’s stagnating economy. It mentioned ‘japa’ the new fad for brain drain. The drain is with the traumatized – made up of everyone: young, old, read, and unread. It is the result you get from a cracked system that won’t submit itself for reconstruction. Nigeria cannot work unless it has the right leaders. It cannot have the right leaders unless the structure is right. The tormentors of Nigeria run to the United States. But they won’t accept that that country works because it preserves the choices its founding fathers made at the beginning of their journey. Nigeria robs the world of hope and puts the optimist to shame. “The fountains are dusty in the Graveyard of Dreams; The hinges are rusty and swing with tiny screams” (H. Beam Piper in ‘Graveyard of Dreams’). We tempt fate and tamper with destinies; the result is the shrill death of hope. Fuji music’s grand old megastar, Kollington Ayinla, sang in the 1980s that Nigeria is the world and it would never die (Nigeria, ayé ni kò lè kú…). My starry-eyed generation (and the ones before us) sang and danced with Baba Alatika along the rich creeks of that optimism. But, life has taught us lessons on how not to be optimistic. If musicians are true poets, today, I would borrow from Odia Ofeimun and chant ‘The Poet Lied.’ I am not sure the lyricist in Kollington believes any longer in the spirit of his song of an eternal Nigeria. Nothing that is born to sink will swim – even when it is offered lifelines.
Let us all grow bananas, make more pads, distil more Waragi by Jenerali Uliwengu
We are now getting used to Kenyans chalking up achievements in areas where all of us should have been eager to prove our worth in. And it looks like there is neither atomic science nor black magic in what they beat us in. All they have needed is a little thinking space in which to exercise their minds, and, surely, that should be available.
This time round, I learn that a couple of Kenyan students, Paul Ntikoisa and Ivy Etemesi in the Rift Valley, have been putting their heads together around a problem that has been dogging young female learners in all our countries; some female students sometimes drop out of the school system because of the biological imperative of having to go through the menstrual cycles in an unfriendly environment.
Though we all know that this is a natural imposition of womanhood that no girl — unless seriously disabled — can avoid, we seem to think of it as a girl’s problem that she and her mother – not father — should deal with.
It has been with us for a long time, and we have knowledge of the impediment it places on the path to women’s emancipation which should come through attaining modern education, and yet we do little to alleviate the inconvenience experienced by school girls. It has often been stated that many girls cannot stand the discomfort and humiliation they have to go through when the inevitable happens, every month because they are shunned and mocked by their uncomprehending male colleagues who treat them as if they were unclean, though it is obviously through no fault of theirs.
It is estimated by Unesco that to more than 2.6 million girls are faced with this problem in Kenya alone, and it is easy to imagine how many more will be affected across the continent.
Now, some Kenyan youth have come up with a brilliant idea that will radically change the way we look at the banana plant. Taking a cue from the traditional use of the banana stem by Ugandan women, these young Kenyan students went one better, by obtaining banana trunk fibre and processing it into wearable fibre that can be deployed as a sanitary pad.
Immediately, I heard of this big news I rushed to google it, and spent some time buried in the literature. Till I understood the processes. I am not a techy buff myself but I could kind of understand what they had done with the banana stem: take out the soft inner flesh of the stem, and wash it thoroughly to remove impurities…
Well, I must stop there lest I give misleading information to DIY enthusiasts, but my point is made.
What these young people have done is a practical demonstration of the can-do spirit with which many youngsters are imbued, and they are to be found not only in Kenya but in all our countries.
It is only that the Kenyans tend to get there before the others and get all the bragging rights. If I sound envious, it is because I am.
But better late than never, and all our youngsters in the other countries can take up the challenge.
First, we have the advantage of knowing what the Kenyan lads have done with the banana plant. That is not the only way to go, because someone could try to utilise some other tissue. I wonder how baobab bark would fare in this context, since ‘orubugu’ is hallowed textile in the Lake Victoria area and could do the trick if it is properly pounded and softened. What about papaya stem?
On a general note, we need to encourage our youth to be more adventurous, to experiment with what has never been used but is plentiful.
A long time ago I got some wisdom from a visiting young French man who told me, unforgettably: to make progress, you either identify something useful and acquire plenty of it, or you identify something that you have plenty of and find a use for it because you already have it. It is the case of banana plants all around us.
This might create a banana revolution in which people will uproot other plants to replace them with bananas, and find that the bananas have numerous advantages:
They can be eaten as fruit when they ripen; they can be cooked before they ripen to provide matooke and katoogo; the banana juice is sweeter than Coca Cola; fermented, it gives the alcoholic beverages, rubisi and mbege, from which a moonshine is extracted for serious Waragi and Konyagi gins consumers.
In addition, banana plants in large numbers help to decorate the land, cool the earth, and freshen the air.
I see no reason why people all over East Africa do not plant as many bananas as they can in all the areas with a moderate rainfall pattern. DR Congo, which enjoys such plentiful rains, should take the lead in creating this luxuriant and extremely valuable agricultural belt.
We could all soon celebrate the banana plant as a liberator on so many fronts, and since some people have been trying very hard to make banana republics of our countries, we might as well complete the picture meaningfully.
Jenerali Ulimwengu is now on YouTube via jeneralionline tv. E-mail: email@example.com
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