Published: 29th April 2013
These days you don’t know if our youth find any wisdom in the ways of our ancestors anymore. It seems all they know is Nintendos, Gameboys, Wiis and all that. And if they were industrious enough to attempt a quote I dread who they would be quoting.
In my day, our parents used stories and fables to illustrate timeless lessons to us. And without blowing my own horn may I demonstrate that I still remember at least some of the wisdom of the elders.
Three blind men were asked to describe an elephant. (Not the elephant you know, people…the one with one leg up. This is an ordinary elephant from the Mole Game Reserve). The First man felt around and touched the elephant’s trunk. The second touched his tail and the third groped around till he touched the beast’s belly. This is what ensued:
FIRST MAN: (Sneering) Much ado about huge creatures…this creature is no larger than a medium-sized snake.
SECOND MAN: No its not…it’s much smaller… it’s no bigger than a small snake.
THIRD MAN: What are you guys talking about? This creature is gargantuan…I cannot even run my arms around it…
SECOND MAN: What? You must be from Lilliput then my brother…
THIRD MAN: Don’t start with me, Friend. I know what I touched.
FIRST MAN: And so do I!
SECOND MAN: Me too…and I say the much fabled king of the forest is no larger than a small snake.
FIRST MAN: Be judicious Sire, it’s actually bigger than a small snake. I would say a medium sized snake.
THIRD MAN: And I maintain…it’s much larger…much much larger.
The argument went on for hours, each one not ready to concede, until a hunter passed by and asked what the melee was all about. After being briefed, he simply re-positioned the Three Wise Men and then asked them to touch the beast again.
FIRST MAN: Whoaaa… the animal is actually the size of thirty anacondas…
SECOND: I don’t know about that but I know it’s much bigger than I thought
THIRD MAN: Well, I thought it was big too but realize it’s somewhat smaller.
It only took another repositioning for our heroes to finally compromise on the size of the elephant.
I hope I have not already bored you to death with my little “Anansesem”. All I was trying to do was to establish a scenario for my observation on the ongoing 2012 election Supreme Court hearings and how it is reported by almighty citizen journalists on social media. I must say, we used to have pocket lawyers; especially in Ghana. Now we have some serious pocket journalists too, thanks to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and all the rest of them. (I personally love Keek! My only complaint is; what can I say in 36 seconds? Not much for a talkative like me! Anyhow…Check out my keeks. Follow me: Jahbeloved)
Logging on to Facebook especially and being privileged enough to find yourself on the page of my good friend Yaw, you would think the NPP has already won the case. You would come across a post like: “So has the best lawyer, I mean the wower of the court done anything different from the rest?” To which you will get responses like: “Don’t mind him. He’s just some Aliguntugui Lawyer”, with tons of likes.
If on the other hand, providence takes you to the page of my other good friend Belinda, the post is more likely to read something like:”Luk at how Dr. Pinksheets is suffering like a pregnant frog who is about to give birth. My God the day of giving birth is drawing near Dr. PINKSHEET” with responses like: “Bawumia is politically demolished” and the accompanying likes. I have decided not to use the more adverse comments for fear of being branded a fool. But this is a reflection of people’s opinions on the proceedings.
I had the misfortune of getting caught up in one of these discussions on Facebook. Someone in my Friends list had posted a comment to the effect that the EC’s lawyer was ‘useless’. This had attracted a barrage of insults flying in all directions with even women insulting people’s mothers. I made the mistake of joining in these uncouth exchanges thinking I was going to be the Voice of Reason with my harmless one-liner requesting calm and civility from the contributors. Instead, both sides turned on me; each side accusing me of being sympathetic with the other side. (As if that was a crime). I had to withdraw from the conversation and leave the simpletons to chew on their own teeth.
Some will say this is the beauty of democracy and I am highly tempted to agree, only that I have this habit of looking beyond blind semantics. I have developed a tradition, which some may construe as negative but which to me is only pervasive. So, beside being good for our democracy or whatever it is we want to tickle ourselves into believing, does anyone else realize that these carefree social media comments could also be setting the tone for people’s perceptions on the eventual outcome? If the NPP followers really believe that the ‘Aliguntugui Lawyer’ did not make a good case to defend the ‘Spare-Tyre’ President but the 9 erudite Judges say otherwise, what is the likely effect? If on the other hand the NDC’s disciples believe that Dr. Pinksheets did nothing but embarrass himself in court but the learned adjudicators think differently, how are they going to take it? That possibly is one of the reasons why some progressive elements were against the live broadcast of the proceedings in the first place but were not bold enough to bell the cat and hint that people may not necessarily understand what is going on.
So I ask; are we not putting the cart before the horse with all this talk of “good for our democracy”? There is a reason why the aggrieved parties decided to go to court and we all know how befuddling the court processes can be. Are we pretending my cousin Kofi Yaakwa in my beloved village of Gomoa John really understands pinksheets and all the endless legal jargon being bandied in the courtroom? Are we really sure that Yaa Janet, who sells oranges in front of the lotto kiosk and has been told by my cousin Kofi Yaakwa, who is a driver’s mate and by default travels frequently to the ‘big town’- that her beloved party is winning the case, will understand when eventually the court declares otherwise? And are we making sure that the politicians do not escalate the matter but truly let it end with the Supreme Court’s verdict?
There are lessons to be learned from Kenya. They went through a brutal civil war and ended with a good lesson; to let sleeping dogs lie. So Raila Odinga with the benefit of recent history gracefully conceded albeit gingerly to Uhuru Kenyatta.
In Ghana, I see comments like “It will be war…”, ”Ghana will burn…” and so on, on Facebook and it makes me wonder if Ghanaians want their own version of Ivory Coast, Kenya, Liberia and Sierra Leone before they wise up. Hopefully, these are just cowards blowing hot air. I can say that for my friend CK for sure, but I don’t know all these others who are threatening mayhem should the Supreme Court rule against their party. And that is cause for worry.
Social media is good; in fact excellent. Citizen journalism is great but when these are controlled and swayed for selfish interests, for mis-education; for the same things these media stand against; for the purpose of inciting needless strife, then we are- without being blind- worse than the three wise men who only see the part of the elephant they are touching. We must learn to make good use of good things but not make good things suck us in and make fools of us instead.
May I end this piece with an adage of the Wise Heads of yesteryears? “Wosisi Ananse a wosisi woho” To wit; if you cheat Ananse the Spider, you cheat yourself. Again, “If you say your mother is asleep when you know she is dead…” It’s up to us all.
DISCLAIMER: The Facebook comments are real but are edited to suit my editorial style.