Shall we ever be guided by this African proverb? “If the palm fruit of your farm is not meaty or fleshy enough, it is you yourself who must munch it in such a fashion that others may even envy you!”
If the Ghanaian Media and for that matter the African Media do not know what is good for Ghana and Africa, other foreign media will dictate to Ghana and Africa what is bad for Ghana and Africa.
On Tuesday, January 23, 2007, the icon of the black race, the torch-bearer of global diplomacy, Busumuru Dr Kofi Annan the Immediate-Past Secretary-General of the United Nations, safely landed on the soil of his mother land, Ghana after over 40 years of selfless and dedicated service to humanity abroad.
One had expected that the following morning, almost all of the newspapers in Ghana, if not all at all, would have, for once, devoted their front page banner headlines for the arrival of this Living Monument of our time. Sadly, however, it was only a few newspapers in his land of birth saw the triumphant return of this hero of international diplomacy as front page news. (I am just wondering what the Nigerian media scene would have been like, if Kofi Annan had been a Nigerian-born African citizen).
This is why this writer wishes to doff his hat to the two leading public newspapers in Ghana, namely “the Daily Graphic” and “the Ghanaian Times”, for demonstrating why Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the first President of Ghana, established the Ghana Institute of Journalism in 1958 for the benefit of African journalists.
My commendation of the Daily Graphic is even more profound because, apart from devoting the entire front page of the Wednesday, January 24,2007 edition to the arrival of Kofi Annan, the Paper also wrote an editorial on the matter under the heading ” AKWAABA, BUSUMURU!”
Daily Graphic’s Editorial
In this write-up, I will dwell on the salient points of the twelve thought provoking paragraphs editorial of the Daily Graphic that welcomed Kofi Annan to Ghana. It is important to bear in mind that the traditional significance of the expression AKWAABA in Akan and WOEZOR in Ewe is deeper than the English term “Welcome!”
Before I review the Daily Graphic’s editorial in question, it is relevant to say a word of appreciation to the Government of Ghana for having staged what could be described as STATE WELCOMING CEREMONY OF BUSUMURU KOFI ANNAN, led by the President of the Republic, H.E.John Agyekum Kufuor himself on his arrival in Ghana.
Most Ghanaians are only familiar with “State Funerals.” We seem to be a people who place premium on dead bodies rather than eulogising living beings. So when the Ministry of Information and National Orientation officially announced the welcoming programme of the great son of the land and called on all patriotic citizens and well-wishers to be at the airport to give a hero’s welcome to H.E.Busumuru Dr. Kofi Annan to Ghana, it was clear that a national event was at stake. As a nation we should not only wait for our state men and women to die before we give them state funerals. There is a Chinese proverb which says: “If you want to honour a man, honour him while he is alive.” Kudos to Ghana Government.
Amazingly, the first paragraph of the Daily Graphic’s editorial for that day started with a quotation from a book written by a renowned Nigerian author, Chinua Achebe. The title was IN ANTHILLS OF THE SAVANNAH. The quote reads:
“The cock that crows in the morning belongs to one household but his voice is the property the whole neigbouhood.” The Paper continues that the famous Nigerian writer notes that, it is always a source of pride to own the cock which serves the needs of the community, saying, “You should be proud that this bright cockerel that wakes the whole village comes from your compound.” This point explains why Ghanaians should be the first citizens on this planet of heroism and dwellers of the African continent to be proud that Kofi Annan originates from Ghana.
When this writer happened to be in Singapore in November last year, he had to use the name of Kofi Annan, then UN Secretary-General to indicate Ghana on the African map.
Apart from Kofi Annan, it was the National Football Team, the Black Stars that I was able to use to tell most people I came into contact with over there where I came from called Ghana. I told those who have never heard of Ghana that Ghana was the only country in Africa whose national team went beyond the preliminary stages in the just-ended world cup in Germany. Then people instantly started shaking my hands saying: “Your country is great!” This is why Ghanaians should not joke with Kofi Annan and the Black Stars at all. He is simply the Living Monument of the 21st Century.
The second paragraph of that editorial made one vital point: “Those who lived in the rural areas appreciate and understand the importance of the cock, especially the one which crows at appropriate times to wake up people to begin their daily economic activities. It is only the lazy who ignores the cock crow.”
Whoever wrote that particular Graphic’s editorial deserves a national award. I could not agree more with the Paper on this point. Today, most people, especially city dwellers cannot appreciate the value of cock crow because of availability of communication technology tools such as radio, television and even hall clocks and watches. People will readily tune to radio stations at dawn to listen to the voices of radio Pastors than to wait for the cock to crow. The sound some people will expect at dawn is the “korkorkor –korkorkorr” beats of the shoe shine boys in most cities in Ghana today and not the crow of the cock.
Do you remember that when the Network Africa section of BBC wanted to change the cock crow for its signature tune last year or so, the entire continent kicked against it? Even in the Bible, when Apostle Peter proclaimed that he would follow Jesus to the grave, Jesus looked at him and said : “Peter, Peter, I say unto you that even today, before the cock crows once, you will deny me three times!” That was the value of cock crow in those good days.
The third paragraph of the editorial said: “Busumuru Kofi Annan has been Ghana’s gift to the world through the United Nations, which he served with distinction long before he assumed the mantle of Secretary-General.” It went on,” Indeed, he did us all proud when, as the Chief Executive of the UN, he did not feel intimidated and stood up against injustice and unilateralism, even to the extent of disowning the United States in its misguided crusading mission in Iraq.” That was the humble Kofi Annan of Ghana. And if you are a Ghanaian and you are not proud of this man, then, you may have to go for check-up somewhere beyond this planet.
Another wonderful point the editorial made was that : “Busumuru Annan carried to greater heights the image and integrity of Ghana which had been brought to bear on the UN system by our illustrious first President, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, Alex Quayson Sackey, Dr Robert Gardiner, Kenneth Dadzie and E.Y.Amoako (Dr). This is an indication that before Kofi Annan, other sons and daughters of Ghana had played their parts at various stages in the global endeavour.
However, the editorial made it clear that: “He capped it all up when he led the UN to win the coveted Nobel Peace Prize.” The Paper then quotes a Ghanaian adage to the effect that: “A man came to play his part, not to do everything. Busumuru Annan has done his part and we are proud to receive him back home. In typical Ghanaian tradition, as when a cherished person returns home, we say heartily: Akwaaba, Busumuru Kofi Annan!!!”
Listen to this point in the said editorial: “We are mobbing Busumuru Annan today because when he was given responsibity, he discharged it with a conscience based on cherished and valued principles. We applaud him because he did not bow to pressure, nor did he condescend to any parochial interests.” As a matter of fact, it was this part of the editorial that motivated me to sort of review the entire view of the Daily Graphic of January 24 this year.
The simple question is: How many of us in Ghana or Africa and elsewhere, will be able to discharge our responsibilities with integrity and conscience? If Kofi Annan had not performed his duties as UN Secretary-General with conscience, he would have been devoured by the international media like a lion does to its prey. Do you remember what the international media did to him when his adult son, called Kojo was involved in some so-called oil-for-food saga?
The truth is that Kofi Annan is a human being and as such can err like any human being in the course of his duties. But for some one to work in the UN system for over 30 years or so and then served as Boss of UN for ten years without any concrete evidence of corruption against him, I can only characterise him as an angelic soul. I don’t want to say that he has attained perfection in this incarnation yet. But to paraphrase what God told Noah in the Christian Bible: “If I can find 10 of Kofi Annan’s type on this planet, there will be no more wars on earth.”
Graphic’s editorial therefore postulates that that unique leadership quality, gem, jewel, precious stone of character , demonstrated and exhibited by Busumuru Kofi Annan, “must be a great lesson to us all. Sometimes when people are given job to do, there are others who evaluate them positively only on the basis of the many favours they bestow upon certain interest groups, irrespective of whether such favours breach or give dignity to established principles.”
Graphic is of the opinion that it pays for public officials to be motivated and encouraged to discharge their duties with utmost commitment and dedication to the public interest. “More importantly,” it noted, “public officers must be unwavering in the discharge of their responsibilities in so far as they err on the path of the general good. Once they eschew selfishness, they are bound to succeed.”
In the concluding paragraph of that memorable editorial, the Paper wrote: “We are equally thankful to the government for acknowledging the worthy contributions of Busumuru Annan and also for its active participation in the welcoming process. That demonstrates that we recognise and appreciate our heroes. A Hearty welcome! Akwaaba, Busumuru Kofi Annan!!!” the Daily Graphic editorial ended.
On Thursday, January 25,2007, a day after the Daily Graphic’s editorial on Kofi Annan, the Paper carried another front page banner headline , screaming with joy: “KOFI’S ,MAGIC AT WORK:-His iconic nature pulls Mills to Castle, first time in six years.”
For that day, I commend all the Ghanaian media for magnificent job done. If Kofi Annan can use his mere physical presence in Ghana to attract all political opponents including Professor Atta Mills like magnet and drag them to the seat of Government for the first time in half a dozen of years, then you know the kind of soul we are talking about in the man. For that feat, the man must be rechristened as the Paramount King of Peace.
May I make two simple suggestions for the consideration of the nation?
1. The State Protocol must organise a Special Nation-wide tour for Dr. Kofi Annan to visit each of the 138 districts of Ghana. There he must be seen, touched and spoken to by all school children. The inspiration will be such that in the next 50 years time Ghana may produce more Kofi Annans for the world.
2. The Ministry of Tourism/Tourist Board must create a National Festival of Peace in commemoration of the Triumphant Return of Busumuru to the mother land and the bringing together of all political opponents at the seat of Government.
The day Dr.Kofi Annan will land in the Ewe land, he shall be hailed: TOGBEGA BUSUMURU, WOEZOR LOOOO!!!!! WOEZOR KAKAKAKAKA!!!!!!!