“Who wants to be President?” – the sword of Damocles and the presidency

Date: 26th-january-2017 Time:  10:15:54 am

 

Back in Junior High School, I stood for the position of Girls’ prefect and won. The journey of becoming a prefect ; through the campaign and tenure of office was not an easy task but I thrived nonetheless.

This experience brings me to the realization of how difficult it must be to be President because even within my small school, the task was not so simple.

The President’s seat is a very hot one.

Every decision taken in that seat may become policy so whoever has the opportunity to be in that position must play his or her cards very well. Despite the difficulties faced in decision-making, there are also security issues that he/she would face once that position is attained.

Therefore, there is an automatic need for the president to be protected from all forms of danger in order to ensure a successful term of office.

That said, it would not be out of place to juxtapose the presidency with the Sword of Damocles story given the number of similarities between these two. Let the story begin.

The Sword of Damocles is a Greek story that brings to light the constant danger that faces people in positions of power. The character Damocles (which means fame of the people) worked as a courtier during the reign of Dionysius II of Syracuse, Sicily.

So Damocles always told Dionysius II (the king at the time) about how privileged he was to be in such a high and commanding position while being surrounded by magnificence.

Eventually, The king decided to switch places with Damocles (the courtier) so that Damocles could have a feel of the magnificence he was always referring to. Damocles accepted the proposal without hesitation but little did he know that he was not only in for a surprise but a lesson of a lifetime.

Before Damocles sat on the throne, the king had ordered that a huge sword should hang above the throne. The hanging sword would be suspended at the pommel by just a single hair of a horse’s tail. Hearing this, Damocles quickly pleaded with the king to withdraw his decision to allow him to sit on the throne indicating that he no longer wanted to be as fortunate as the King.

Damocles finally came to the realization that positions of power come with great danger and responsibility.

It is the same way with the Presidency; from a distance, we see the pomp and pageantry with everybody hale and hearty but the task is an arduous one which requires a lot of calculated risks.

Most of the time, people tend to give derogatory remarks or in simple terms hail insults on presidents (both past and present). I think this is a negative practice that must be brought to a halt. Regardless of who is in power and what they have done, it is not right to insult anyone.

Rather, it is more effective to take an objective stance on issues which we feel haven’t been addressed and even go further to suggest ways of how we can improve them. I think that way, everyone wins and no one gets offended.

In as much as the duty of the opposition is to keep the incumbent government on its toes, it is also important that praise is given where praise is due. Yes, I mean that regardless of whichever political party is in opposition, I look forward to a time in Ghana where there would be constructive criticism only and praise for the good work done (if any).

If a government can take a decision for the benefit of the country despite the fact that it may not benefit their individual party, I call that – political will. This is very much needed.

There were a few reports of ballot boxes being destroyed during the 2016 elections. To address this issue, I do not think that any disagreement is worth a fist fight. The factions involved could have had an effective dialogue in the presence of a mediator so that all skirmishes would be ironed out.

There is really no need to fight to prove you are right.

Lastly, I would like to touch on the issue of defending the indefensible.  This refers to a situation whereby one party is wrong but tries to justify the wrong-doing at all costs. Wrong is wrong and right is right, if you decide to prove otherwise, it doesn’t make you smart, it just makes you a puppet.

By:Naa Adzoa Adzeley Boi-Dsane

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Riddle Riddle : Can you guess the answer before it ends? (Cc)

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Not all riddles are mind-boggling but I bet most of them are interesting because of the suspense they build. Without further ado, let’s press play –

I have no cutting edge but I could make you bleed.

Don’t confuse me with FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) because we both make sex a traumatic experience.

To those who hit the gym every new year, look no further ; I could make you lose weight drastically but remember not every weight loss is good.

Remember all those junk food you were cautioned not to eat? I mean the pizza, fried rice etc? I could prevent you from eating those by making you lose appetite but that does not guarantee good health.

In your diagnosis, don’t just label me as pedal oedema, I can do more than just excess fluid in your legs.

I can’t promise you motherhood but one thing I can make you experience is pelvic pain that is synonymous with childbirth.

Don’t think you know who I am yet by calling me osteoporosis because I break just a few bones. You would be so wrong.

When I advance, I engage in something that is called metastasis. That is when I spread out my wings because my environment is too small for me. Here, I behave like the colonial master or mistress (since I affect mostly females) ; I want to rule your body and conquer as many territories that are available. I could go to your abdomen, your lungs or anywhere I please.The longer you take to visit the hospital, the more time you give me to travel and explore.

My initials are CC (as in Carbon Copy). That was even in the title.

Still haven’t figured out who I am? Let me just save you the time so that you can have the chance to get tested after reading this. People gave me the name – “Cervical Cancer” because I am an autonomous overgrowth of cells at the cervical region of a woman’s body. In most of my adventures, I usually travel with a virus – it could be HIV or HSV. However, HPV is my closest alibi in most cases.

The following activities are termed low risk but it doesn’t mean I can’t use these as a medium to get to you – multiple pregnancies and the use of oral contraceptives.

Lest I forget, this is to the chain smokers : “I am coming for you, it won’t be long so turn off that lighter before I hang on you like a leech.” To the passive smokers, make sure you are safe before it is too late because I could increase your risk of coming into contact with me.

Call me ubiquitous; about 70% of me is found in developing countries.

Want to know how you can escape my icy hands? Well, it’s simple! Just draw closer to that Pap smear.
Don’t wait till we get to the surgical, radiotherapy or chemotherapy stage. By then, a Pap smear can’t help you.

By : Naa Adzoa Adzeley Boi-Dsane

naabd61@yahoo.com
Twitter – @Adzeley

When celebrities step into political quicksand

‘No condition is permanent.’ This statement applies to almost all aspects of life including politics. ‘Politics’ the subject most people fear to indulge in or even discuss for fear of being ridiculed or insulted. But why must this be the case?
Growing up, I have listened to all kinds of political discussions and sometimes the argument gets so heated up that panelists insult each other resulting in the issue at hand not being addressed at all.
In the end, you have angry panelists and an apologetic journalist (for such uncouth outbursts on air).The truth about insults is that they lower the status (in terms of objectivity) of whoever performs the action and they do not make one articulate.
At first, the performer feels good but later it may lead to regrets given that nothing is permanent. Remember, political positions are not thrones ; they are avenues to serve ones country.

The 2016 Elections have been full of drama from the Onaapo to Nana Kalyppo songs. However, there are a few events I would like to highlight concerning this particular issue.
Mr. Kennedy Agyapong who is popularly known for some of his derogatory remarks (some of which I cannot mention here) during discussions but one that struck me was his attack on Madam Charlotte Osei.He told party supporters at a rally in Kumasi that Madam Osei landed her job by giving sexual favours.
Not much was done about this allegation aside the protests from fellow women who found it derogatory. Some people even cracked jokes about the fact that there was nothing new about what he did because that is his nature. So much for gender equality, isn’t it?
Meanwhile, Mr. George Andah (former member of the Occupy Ghana group) was reported to have asked Hon. Hannah Tetteh where her husband was (in an offensive manner) while displaying members of his family during a rally. He claimed that he did not find it derogatory so he was not obliged to apologise.
Most of the time, I find it difficult to maintain respect for people who are involved in the ‘politics of insults game’. That is what I am struggling with here. I cannot simply understand why men who have had the opportunity of obtaining higher education from some of the best schools in the country choose to slip their degrees and laurels under the rug only to muddy the waters that are supposed to reflect their true character.
There are many other people who are guilty of this within the two major political parties but these two are just examples I choose to dwell on because their attacks affect several people especially women. I hope these two and any other person indulged in such shameful activities put a halt to it by learning how to speak honorably so that they can be worthy of being called ‘honorable’ which is going to be adjacent to their names in a matter of days.

After all, Mr. Kojo Oppong Nkrumah (incoming Member of Parliament for Ofoase-Ayirebi) and Dr.Zanetor Rawlings are proof that one can do politics without any insults. I have never heard any of them use any derogatory remarks on any platform(at least not yet). Rather they focused on their message for the people instead of dwelling on their opponents with an air of ridicule.
I believe these two need to be applauded especially in an era where such great minds are able to win the hearts of people without indulging in the usual path of ridicule.

Popular actress and television personality, Madam Grace Omaboe (also known as Maame Dokono) entered the political arena during the 2012 campaign and became unpopular with the people because of the way she decided to go about her campaign for the New Patriotic Party.

On the brighter side, Mr. Dele Momodu promoted Ghana through featuring photographs of our new infrastructure in his Ovation Magazine. I think that is laudable.

Recently, Mzbel is currently ‘under fire’ concerning her comments on President-elect Nana Akufo-Addo. She could have just sung like Daddy Lumba did during NPP’s rallies. Instead, she is reported to have said that ‘Nana Akufo-Addo is not presidential material’ while she was campaigning for the National Democratic Congress.
The backlash after these comments was great and it resulted in her deleting most of her pictures and videos from her Instagram account (particularly those that had campaign messages).In my opinion, she could have campaigned for the NDC without focusing on the NPP candidate in a negative way to the extent of saying Ghana would come to a standstill if Nana Akufo-Addo wins.

The Gbese Mantse may not be your regular celebrity but for the sake of this article, he is a respected traditional figure. He lost the admiration of some when he vehemently stated that if the NDC does not win the election, he would abdicate his throne. He is being called upon to honor his word while some people await his destooling ceremony.

Well, when people decide to throw caution to the wind (disregarding objectivity) and make derogatory comments concerning people that is when I say that they have stepped in Political Quicksand. You can guess what happens next.

By:Naa Adzoa Adzeley Boi-Dsane

While a student at Wey Gey Hey, I wrote to John Mahama. And he replied

 Naa Adzoa Adzeley Boi-Dsane

It was a normal afternoon at Wesley Girls’ Senior High School when I received a parcel from the General Office.

It was during the period of the WASSCE therefore my parcel had already been scanned (which I was not too happy about but it was for the good of the school).

Well, I was not really expecting any gifts from anyone because my mother had already visited me two weeks earlier hence my ‘chop-box’ was running over with provisions. So I opened the parcel and to my surprise the gift was from the Office of the President!

It contained an autographed copy of his book ‘My first coup d’etat’ (which I started reading as soon as I laid hands on it) along with a letter. Then I remembered that I had written a letter to H.E President John Mahama some weeks back.

In the letter, I gave suggestions on various topics – education, infrastructure, tourism, interaction with citizens and even went ahead to talk about the nature of the roads to most of our tourist sites which need to be improved. Even though I wrote the letter, I doubted that I would get a reply but I wrote and posted it anyway.

So it was quite surprising and humbling to know that my voice was heard.  This experience along with current occurrences has taught me a lot concerning the President (some of which I would share soon).

Though I may not agree with some of the decisions and actions he took during his term of office, I would like to focus on the positives in this article.

First of all, I would say that his letter to me taught me a lot of things:

1. My voice was important. He could have ignored whatever I wrote in my letter (after all I was just a second year General Science student who had little experience about matters involving governance at the time) but he chose to respond. This made me realize the power of communication especially through letters.

2. His reply was encouraging. In the letter, he was very appreciative of the fact that I took initiative to express my thoughts and he expressed keen interest in my progress at school. He went ahead to give me some encouraging words as well.

3. His book was informative, intriguing and entertaining. I learnt a lot about leadership and decision-making through his book. From what I watch on television, I think President John Mahama has a great sense of humor and an entertaining personality therefore I wasn’t surprised that I kept flipping each page with some form of excitement wishing the stories never came to an end. I also got the chance to have a peek into his youthful years of life.

These last two points are not based on my direct interaction with him but on certain events.

4. Respect for the rule of law. The Election Petition revealed a lot about the President and our country at large. However, one of the lessons I will never forget is to respect the rule of law irrespective of one’s position. Even though President John Mahama was in power at the time, he went through court proceedings and allowed the systems to work as they should hence corroborating his respect for the rule of law in this situation.

5. A patriot, lover of peace and democracy. Today, I use these words to describe the President because of his courage to accept defeat and respect the will of the people despite his wishes.

This is not to imply that he is perfect. However, I believe that Ghana is blessed to have had such a president.In the same spirit of happiness and patriotism I say congratulations to President-elect Nana Akufo-Addo. I have not had the opportunity to interact with President-elect Nana Akufo-Addo but from a distance, I admire his courage,persistence and resilience.

Lastly, I am not a member of any political party; I wrote this because I believe in acknowledging good values. I want to assume he replied to many others like me, which would really be a good thing.

 

The CNN Backlash & The Danger of a Single Story

 

 

After peaceful and successful elections, I woke up on a bright Sunday morning to the #CNNGetItRight hashtag. Like many Ghanaians, I have been worried about the way some international media organizations always portray Africa in a negative manner; some even go to the extent of telling stories that are untrue. The article on the CNN website claimed that Ghanaians had elections in 1998 (which is false).

The report also stated that : “Ghanaians are struggling to obtain food and day-to-day services. Rolling blackouts are common and citizens often stand in long line (correct expression being long queues) to obtain products”.  These words attempted to paint a mental picture of famine and hunger to the rest of the world especially to those who never have the chance of experiencing the good things in Africa. Today, the tales of the hunter are over and the lions have decided to tell the tales of hunting because we have our own historians (figurative).

There are a number of things wrong with the CNN article hence the reason why Ghanaians must not stay silent :

1.The CNN reporters who wrote this particular article were in Nigeria and Atlanta hence they were not reporting from Ghana at the time they were writing.

2.Ghana holds elections every 4 years and there is no way we could have conducted presidential elections in 1998.

3.There was little or no research done about our country (Ghana) before reporting hence the huge number of mistakes in the report which has now been edited

4.The desire to report on the negatives of Africa. Growing up, CNN has been one of the major news networks in the world (there is no doubt about that). However, I have noticed an unpleasant trend – the network is usually one of the first (if not the first) to report news concerning Africa especially when it is negative. They reported the May 9th football disaster as well as the June Flood and Fire Disaster which occurred in Accra. There were a number of things CNN could have reported on concerning Ghana’s 2016 election – conduction of a peaceful election, Ghana’s infrastructure and so on. Yet they chose to focus on irrelevant information most of which were invalid.

Dear Friends, this is a clear misrepresentation of Ghana and Africa at large. We must rise up and condemn such negative reportage. People in Africa do not live on trees, neither are we in a state of perpetual poverty and hunger. We live just like any other country does. Africa is not a place of disease and good things come from Africa too. If we do not correct some of these negative perceptions, people begin to believe and associate them with us. In the words of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie,a Nigerian novelist, “That is the danger of a single story”.

By : Naa Adzoa Adzeley Boi-Dsane

Eric’s Diary IX : I am on death row

ix“You are on death row” is the statement that was blurted out from a classmate of mine after we had a heated argument. I will not say that I blame him.

However, when people decide to use certain aspects of life that cannot be altered to enable them win an argument then the matter at hand does not seem worth discussing because of the myopic reasoning involved. Of course, I was enraged because I knew I was right and my family history of ALS had nothing to do with the argument.

I stormed out of the class and went into hiding to reflect on my life.

My name is James.  I’m only 16 and I love to play basketball. In fact, I met my good friend Eric on the court so don’t be alarmed to see me writing in his diary. Now, back to the wonderful sport.

I have no idea what keeps my love for the sport alive despite the risks involved. Maybe it is just the thrill of one day becoming a LeBron James. I used to do long-distance running too but I put that on hold so that I could concentrate on my studies alongside being able to play the sport I love.

My father had been diagnosed with ALS five months ago. He had to urgently seek medical attention after a lot of people complained of his nasal tone and his boss once reprimanded him for being too slow with his tools while working as the lead engineer on the Electrify Africa Project.

Then he started to have a ‘slapping’ gait and would involuntarily laugh or cry without provocation.  During one of our family tennis games, he kept missing the ball and fell to the ground five minutes into the game. I was scared that he might have had a heart attack.

He did not want anyone to know what was going on after he was diagnosed so he quit his job to divert attention and went into teaching. But he could not endure standing in a classroom for close to 3 hours because his involuntary motor actions gave him away. He still persevered despite the illness and when anyone asked how he was doing, he would reply: “Never been greater”.

I was really curious about what was going on so I decided to research on the illness. Not like I was eavesdropping but I overheard him discussing it with our family doctor over the phone. That was the first time I had heard the acronym – ALS.

Given that I live in an era where information is easily accessible, I resorted to my best friend (Google) who never disappoints me and sometimes even overwhelms me with information. Here is what I found.

Image result for als disease

ALS stands for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (also called Lou Gehrig’s Disease) and it is described as a fatal and degenerative motor neuron disease.

It could be inherited (due to the A4V mutation) with a mean survival of 12 months after onset or it could be sporadic with a mean survival of three years. Patients with the familial form have early onset at ages 46-55 while those with sporadic origin have theirs around age 65. The risk factors for the sporadic form include smoking, sports (mainly boxing and Amerian Football) as well as military service.

Some patients may experience the following symptoms besides the ones that I have already mentioned regarding my father’s case – wrist drops, muscle cramps, muscle wasting, drooling, tripping, stumbling and awkwardness when running.

ALS is very difficult to deal with aside the fact that it is incurable at the moment. A drug called Riluzole only slows the progression of the disease but it does not halt it altogether.

Regardless of these gloomy facts, I draw inspiration from great people like Prof. Stephen Hawkings, a theoretical physicist and cosmologist, who has won many awards including the Albert Einstein Award and Medal alongside being a lecturer despite being struck with this illness.

With this evidence, I can confidently say that having tendencies to develop ALS in the future or battling ALS does not mean that there is nothing to life anymore.

I will not allow the thought or the probability that I may develop it in the future deter me from what I want to achieve. ALS cannot imprison my future so I am definitely not on death row.

Image result for als disease stephen hawking
By : Naa Adzoa Adeley Boi-Dsane