Feature Article of Saturday, 20 April 2013
Columnist: Phebih-Agyekum, Charles Kwame
– An Opinion from an Unsung Ghanaian
Charles Kwame Phebih-Agyekum, Ph.D.
Kofi Manu has 23 siblings, sixteen on his father’s side and eight on his mother’s side. His parents never married. He attended one of the slummiest secondary schools in Ghana, West Africa Secondary School (when it was located in Accra New Town, a.k.a. Lagos Town) as a day student for five years, walking from Maamobi each and every day. He continued on to do his sixth form at St. Peter’s Secondary School for another two years, first time in boarding school. He subsequently went through The University of Ghana, Legon, and did his national service as a teaching assistant at the same university for two years. After that, he left Ghana to study abroad. He now holds a Masters from Emory University and a Ph.D. from Cornell University. He has the documentation to prove all of this. Would it not be tragic if, after all his years of hard work and suffering, someone should kill off Kofi and assume his identity for personal gain? Equally, what would you say if a person never committed such a crime and another alleges that they did just because the accuser hates the guts of the accused?
Justice Francis Yaonasu Kpegah, has brought a case against Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo-Addo, a would-be President of Ghana, alleging that he, Akuffo-Addo, is an impersonator and, probably, a murderer. The crux of his statement of claim is as follows: “…Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo-Addo stole the identity and is impersonating one WAD Akuffo Addo who was called to the bar and is No. 1190 on the Roll of Lawyers in Ghana who may have been murdered in London or Ghana..” (Akuffo-Addo Should Come Face Me… Pg 2, Para 5.)
This is a very serious matter. It is not just for the courts alone to listen, discuss, decide and put things to rest forever. This is an imprimatur for the whole of the nation of Ghana, indeed, for all persons in the world who have an interest in the wellness of Ghana, to examine the bones, blood, flesh and skin of Ghana with the ultimate intention of comprehending the status of the nation in terms of its ethos and pathos, fairness, identity, justice, and morality. This piece is my opinion after mulling the issue for quite a while.
There are three sides to this very important matter.
First, Justice Kpegah has stirred up a very troubling allegation at a very sensitive time, that is when the accused, Mr. Akuffo-Addo, has also gone to court to challenge the results of an election. Does Justice Kpegah have the documentation, witnesses and all that it would take to prove his case or is this just another asinine political gimmick?
If the Justice has his guns well prepared, I am of the opinion that he should press his case as hard as he can. I remember way back in the 1970s, a Sunyani lawyer was indicted for murder because he took the life of a citizen following the misguided advice of a witchdoctor in a quixotic quest to become the President of Ghana. The case ran its course in the courts, the man was found guilty, and he was appropriately sentenced to life in hell.
If the Justice is not so sure of his allegations, then he is engaging in character assassination (which is tantamount to murder) and must be held accountable for that.
Second, Nana Akuffo-Addo must come out to defend himself. He is a man who has served his country in every way, in and out, far and wide. We all know this: he is the progeny of aristocrats. Unlike Kofi Manu, he never had to walk to school; there were never any problems of food, clothing, shelter, transportation and entertainment; he rose to become a lawyer, was Attorney General and Foreign Minister, and finally came close to the Presidency of Ghana.
Did he achieve all these laurels on the shoulders of impersonation and murder?
If so, then he is an affront to the conscience of the good and hard working people of Ghana and must be put before the courts and judged rigidly. If not so, then Justice Kpegah is guilty of high crime and must be given the appropriate corrective action.
Third, Justice Kpegah has brought his case to the whole of the world, not just the courts of Ghana, by publishing it in the print media and on the internet. Every living soul on the planet who has access to the internet, can read and write, and has a modicum of decency and uprightness has the right to have a say. We all have to be very concerned and worried, because the whole world is listening, watching and reading.
Is this how the nation called Ghana is in reality? You just have to be an aristocrat, and you can impersonate and murder your way into high offices. Really? Or, once you challenge a ruling government on the veracity of an election result, are you calling for vilification and questioning of your authenticity? Can one decide to cast aspersions and throw mud at another just for the heck of it (or for political gain) and get away scot free with it in this nation?
The average Ghanaian person is just like Kofi Manu – a hustler. We go to great lengths to get ahead, study hard under difficult conditions, do all kinds of odd jobs for our daily bread, walk to school and work when there is no money for transportation, suffer from curable diseases for years because we cannot afford health insurance, go hungry for long hours in order to save a pesewa, write tough examinations on an empty stomach, and generally face the vicissitudes of life without any help, except from God.
If what Justice Kpegah is alleging is true, then Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo-Addo must be incarcerated for the sake of posterity, the image of Ghana abroad, and as a deterrent for future generations.
If what Justice Kpegah is alleging is untrue, then it implies that he is a very dangerous person and must be quarantined.
In the interim, my advice to all parties with a vested interest in this matter is to remain objective and cool headed. We must put blind partisanship and tribalism on the back burner and let unadulterated reason prevail for the time being. Nana Akuffo-Addo must be presumed innocent until proven guilty by a court of law, as it is with all cases that are brought before the courts. The winner can celebrate and the loser can mourn after the cat is out of the bag, not before then.
The most important question in all this scrimmage is this: what image are the cognoscenti of Ghana casting of the nation internally (within Ghana) and externally (for the whole world to behold)?
The implications are manifold, but the manifest reality of this matter is that either we are a nation where members of the elite – who are supposed to know better – are mere mud slingers and porns of political entities, or that they are a bunch of mendacious identity thieves and power-thirsty murderers. However you slice or dice it, this portrayal does not augur well for us; it sets a monstrous precedent, not just for the present generation, but also for future ones. It also belies the profile of Ghana as a peaceful, law abiding and generous nation in the eyes of our friends abroad. Unfortunately, the damage has already been done.
Intelligentia tibi dabo.