Feature Article of Saturday, 18 July 2015
Columnist: Appiah, Papa
Mrs Amissah-Arthur is no politician. If she was, she would know how to lie, nicely, in the manner that would make Ghanaians happy, and do nothing. We are a people who have been trained to say ‘please’ for everything – please let me chop your money; please let me destroy your economy and leave your children hungry, please allow me to destroy the NHIS so you can no longer get basic healthcare and perhaps, I should agree with Mr Kwasi Pratt, that a media person assigned to advise the spouses of our president and vice president would not be a bad idea at all.
Since the incident in Kukurantumi, I have read and listened to all shades of opinion on the response of Mrs Amissah-Arthur and so I very much understand, that my position on this issue is in the minority and I don’t need anyone reminding me of that. It is a position that I will wear like a badge of honor, for there is no way on earth I will ever agree with my fellow Ghanaians that begging for chalk from a vice presidential spouse, not a Minister of Education, who has kindly presented a few computers to your school, is the proper or even sensible thing to do.
We’ve acquired the “begging” mentality in Ghana. Any one who has lived in the diaspora would understand. “Oh, as for the 100 pounds you sent, it’s ok, thank you, but……” There always has to be a “but”. Whose job is it to provide chalk to our primary schools? Who does a head teacher report to if there is no chalk? Is there a District Director of Education, a Regional Director of Education? What about the District Assembly and all the decentralization that is being touted? If a basic item like chalk is not getting to the schools, then there is a fundamental problem with logistic distribution in the education sector that has to be addressed by somebody in the district well before the Minister of Education intervenes. And surely this cannot be an issue the Vice President”s wife has to be bothered with.
And I guess the head teacher knows all that, and that casts a rather sinister hue on her speech. It perhaps, was not out of ignorance or stupidity but a calculated attempt to ridicule the wife of the Vice President. It was to say, go and tell your people to address the basics here first and stop showing off with a few computers. It is a fair point, but one that has to be made to the appropriate personnel and on a more appropriate platform. if any request is going to be made to the wife of the Vice President, it should be for something that is beyond the remit of the usual channels of the Education Ministry and believe me, she would have got a more positive result with a private word in the ear of Auntie Matilda.
I recently watched a news item on Joy News, when a school teacher had invited cameramen to film the state of furniture in her classrooms. It was quite an impressive display of nonchalance. All around the classroom were pieces of broken furniture with sharp nails sticking out dangerously from them. She then went on to call over a pupil who had recently been injured by a nail. According to the teacher, a nail had pierced right through the child’s foot and she was lucky to be alive. She begged on the government to help them with new furniture for the kids.
On the surface it sounded sensible and I was almost touched, till I started to ask myself a few questions. So, why are these pieces of dangerous furniture still in the classroom. Did the head teacher need Accra to remove dangerous broken furniture and make the environment safe for kids? Could parents, Chiefs, District Assembly and yes, old pupils not help out to replace broken furniture? It seemed much easier for the head teacher to invite cameras and give the newspapers a story.
Any platform these days is as good for begging for the ridiculous as any. Only recently, the president visited Bekwai to inspect some on-going projects and the Chiefs felt that was the most appropriate opportunity to beg for toilets. Again, they got an “appropriate” answer. And Ghanaians fumed because we just don’t see anything wrong with begging for trifles anymore. And they see the blunt responses to these requests as reckless exhibition of gross insensitivity. They are not. Sometimes, people have got to be told the truth…….without a “please”.