Thursday, March 31, 2011

When Ghana becomes a theatre for political jingoism

by Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

Ghana, once and always a beautiful country, has now been turned into a theatre of some sort for the display of the theatrical skills of a few in a play I choose to call “political jingoism”.

Never mind what I mean. You don’t have to look far to make meaning of this title. Simply pick any Ghanaian newspaper you can lay hands on and read just the front page. You will find the meaning of the title of the play.

It is the misdirected struggle for power we call politics. The abuse of power, corruption, cronyism, patronage, and lack of respect for due procedure, statism and the lethargic performance we are told to call statecraft.

The story is both an irony and tragedy intertwined between sheer sarcasm and surprisingly some hazy sense of altruism, rather beautifully scripted to excite the restless minds of the millions of hapless Ghanaians and to lull them into taking some sort of placebo.

I shudder to say, that not only is the stage filled with self-conceited and self-appointed so called political elites, they have also arrogated to themselves the right to determine how the rest of Ghanaians think, live or even die.

The scenes are haphazardly arranged and the lines are muttered in most often inaudible tones, letting out not so much discernible phrases.

Hasn’t our kind of politics become the bane of Ghana? I would say it has, quiet clearly the meaning of politics has been so obscured that it is not what it ought to be anymore. It is now like an auctioned piece of valuable, only the highest bidder can afford. The ordinary man, no matter how wise or gifted he is in leadership would not dare to show interest in it. Because it has been made expensive too.

Meanwhile, the waters have been so muddied and the path so murky that nothing decent would be permitted to appear on the stage.

Believe it or not, the harbingers of truth, the media, and the press have been cajoled into endorsing and applauding this perfidy.

The media, watchdog of the society, ‘Fourth Estate of the Realm’, has become lethargic, often appearing moronic and absolutely clueless, not knowing what its role in the lounge of this theatre is. Eventually becoming a lapdog! Lapping up every and anything the paymasters spew out!

Truly, no matter how hard the media has tried to justify her connivance in the gargantuan fraud of an opera that is been inflicted on Ghanaians, she could not exonerate herself. Because, Ghanaians are not so credulous, they are knowledgeable enough, and so they know. They know that the media has shirked her responsibility for a pottage of meat. For temporary pleasure and personal gain, the media has become part of the theatre - acting roles, applauding and sometimes reviewing the play with cooked up surveys and public relations gimmicks that are obviously tailored to massage the ego of the dramatists.

Ghanaians are not so irreverent of life, they have for so long held the sanctity of human life with high regard, but the show has so inundated their collective conscience so as to maim its ability to show open disdain for ignominy. And possibly this could be accounting for the public show of the open thirst for human blood that is exhibited in unrestrained callousness and brutality before our very eyes.

Daylight robberies and murders are being witnessed with its concomitant heartlessness. In the face of these plagues, the theatre still goes on undisturbed. The actors are acting with such fervour and excitement as though possessed by the one time famous Tigari shrine. It is difficult to tell what is goading them on.

What could be their inspiration? I mean the actors in this theatre of political jingoism. Probably, their motivation is the greed for popularity and filthy lucre and or the sheer delight of being seen on any part of the stage regardless of what role they are playing either major or minor. Or it is to satisfy their insatiable hunger for power? May be, no one knows.

I could guess that if Karl Marx was alive today in Ghana, he would do one of these two. He would either abandon his ideas and dreams for a socialist world in despair or he would simply gather the masses to resist the pretenders on the stage and upstage the cast to bring the reveling actors’ hypocrisy to an end.

Marx’s historical materialism was rejected in his time, but became very popular during the 70s, especially in Latin America and in parts of Africa. But sadly, it was practiced and followed by half-baked zealots wearing the garb of politicians and revolutionists.

And then there was western democracy which certainly stood at variance with Marxism, but both ideologies were clear as to what they wanted their worlds to look like both ideally and realistically.

Western democracy preached freedom to live and to have as much as you want if you are strong enough to, while Marxism believed in equality for everyone including equal access to resources, where the supremacy of the state reigns.

For western democracy again, the guidelines included an open and fair playing field for all or so it is said, and it comes with a baggage, known simply as capitalism. The unfettered officially and morally authorized greed for profit by all means possible. It comes so often with truncated and vague labour laws that always make the employer the king and the employee the loyal servant, locking the two in a marriage of convenience to the disadvantage of the worker.

It also comes with a judicial system that always lends itself to manipulation by the rich and famous, and mostly treated with suspicion by the ordinary person.

Just take a look at the so called socialists among the cast, they are simply mischievous. They claim allegiance to Marxist ideology but cling so tightly to the fringe cloths of unfettered capitalism and its insatiability for vulgarity, ostentatious living and intellectual skulduggery.

Ghanaians are a very noble and dignified people. But they have been dealt a raw deal. They did not bargain for this kind of tragicomedy, in fact, they have been shortchanged.

I remember one politician in this country referring to his opponents as ‘riff-raffs.’ It was in the heat of some political speech of some sort on a political platform of a kind. He was said to have made the statement in the heat of party political campaign. Of course they all do that and always too. They mount party platforms and say things they couldn’t say even to five-year-olds.

This nice fellow who most probably got drunk with political fresh wine and labeled his opponents was later reported to have apologized and even hoped for a role in the cast. But he never got it.

Others have even called their own colleagues thieves, when they haven’t caught them stealing anything. And when they are reminded that the lines in the script are not clean enough, they plead temporary insanity sometimes from the blinding effects of high anticipation of being in power and ruling the whole country or some part of it like a constituency.

But you see, on this stage where mediocrity is sanctioned and applauded, these actors can say anything and get away with it. Sometimes, it appears Ghanaians like it that way. It appears as though, they really do not care, and ably supported by the media, these actors continue with careless abandon to go on with the show in clear disregard for any rules of etiquette on stage, decorum or even show some restraint for the sake of posterity.

Well, the play goes on, the theatre of political jingoism which premiered long ago and is in top gear is revealing to discerning minds the ludicrous and yet not too hilarious part of some of the actors.

As the show goes on, it is not likely Ghanaians would like to continue watching it, because, it is getting rather boring. It is yielding very little returns for most Ghanaians. They can hardly derive any mirth from the show being put up by an amateurish cast acting in frenzy.

What could have become a beautiful show has been twisted into a scary re-enactment of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, where treachery, blood thirstiness, greed, betrayal and disguised corruption have become the norm.

But hopefully, these theatricals would have to come to an end one day. The curtains would surely come down.

And then the day would come, when Ghanaians would be entertained with the most beautiful and appropriate play that they so much deserve, and with it, the quality of life that the Ghanaian must rightly enjoy.

1 comment:

Sam said...

You're so right. As a journalist I'm surprised how every syllable of ghanaian politicians hits the news.