I was there seven yam festivals ago, when the members of the elephant family who were then in the position of opposition in the house of lawmakers, walked out of the house when the then national chief rose to address the people of the chiefdom about the state of the chiefdom. It was on the 22nd day of the 2nd month of the 13th year of the 2nd Millennium.
I was also there when the people of the umbrella, who now find themselves sitting in the position of opposition in the house of lawmakers, walked out just when the current national chief rose to address the chiefdom. It was a few minutes past the 10th hour of the 20th day of the 2nd month of the 20th year of the 2nd millennium.
Seven years ago, whilst the people of the elephant walked out from the chamber of the house, they held in their hands, placards that read “stealers”. That word “stealers” made me cringe. I will explain later.
Thursday, February 20, when the people of the umbrella decided to walk out, they did so in typical secondary school jama style. They sang and almost danced to a refrain in the national anthem “and help us to resist oppressor’s rule”. “oppressor’s rule”? That phrase too made me cringe. I shall explain later.
You see, over the years, the elephants and the umbrellas have been engaged in a certain battle. That battle, contrary to other battles in other chiefdoms and kingdoms, where the weapons are ideas of development and progress, has been one where the two ‘fighters’ stand facing each other. One pokes the other in the eye, and waits to see what happens. The other, having borne the pain for a while, pokes back in equal measure. “You do me, I do you. You poke my eye, I poke your eye”.
This is what the clans we have since 1992 elected to govern our chiefdom, been doing to each other for 2 decades and 7 years. Now it appears that due to too much poking of the eyes, both clans have lost sight and are now guess walking. A guess walker, walks like a drunken man. He takes two steps forward and 4 steps backwards. Just like a drunken man, after several hours of walking, we are farther away from our destination than we were when we started the journey.
Otherwise, how on earth could the umbrella clan, whose members complained, cried, wailed and lost sleep over the walk out staged by the elephants seven years ago, be so hearty and gay over their own walk out staged in a similar fashion? How – just how on earth could the elephant clan who staged that infamous walk out, become so worried and perturbed about a walk out on the national chief?
What was wrong yesterday, can certainly not be right today. Wrong is wrong. In our culture, we never walk out on an elder. An elder, in our culture is not necessarily the oldest person. Our national chief, regardless of who he is, is at any time, our elder. When we disrespect him or her, that disrespect is eaten by the very people whose powers are vested in the national chief.
Those who are absent are always wrong. That is what our elders say. Those who were absent when the national chief addressed the chiefdom, were wrong!
Our people say when a needle falls into a deep well, many people will look into the well, but few will be ready to go down after it. It has been very convenient for politicians to complain when they are in opposition, but it appears the senses that make them see evil, hear evil, feel evil, and talk against evil suddenly, just like the needle in the well, disappear when they sit on the chair of power.
By poking each other in the eye for so long, the elders in our house of lawmakers are beginning to forget that old and new millet seeds end up in the same mill. When the people lose trust in them, the people may not care who is umbrella or elephant. All that the people will see are people who fight for their own parochial interests and not for the masses.
When or maybe, from the way things are going, if our chiefdom succeeds, it is they who will enjoy the most. After all, is the woman who feeds the baby not allowed to lick her fingers? When the chiefdom is seen to be running smoothly, will they not be the ones to whom privileges will first pay a visit? The big animal often appears when the hunter has given up the hunt for the day.
Dissent is good. I dread the thought of a Parliament without opposing voices. That would be disastrous. However, I also dread a chiefdom where wrong and right are dependent on whether one is riding an elephant or sitting under an umbrella. Even as the archer loves the arrow that flies, so too he loves the bow that remains constant in his hands. Our chiefdom, Ghana, is a constant in our hands. Our politicians are just the arrows and we are the archers. Should I repeat this for emphasis? A wise child is spoken to with proverbs. Or?
Ah, one more thing. The elephant does not limp when walking on thorns. But the thorns put on its path by the umbrella when they walked out on the national chief, has made some elephants begin to limp. Some members of the elephant clan have spoken about the walk out using words that I cannot repeat here because my father will not be proud of me, if I did so. Our chiefdom belongs to all of us. It has no fake owners and real owners. Anyone who says otherwise, may have stepped on thorns and needs to apologize and retract. Those who put the thorns there in the first place need to bow their heads.
If you have a bad itch at your back and can’t stretch to scratch it, it will take another person to help you to scratch your back. No man is an island. Our chiefdom is certainly not an Island. We need each other – elephants, umbrellas, Cockrells and coconuts. One foot isn’t enough to walk with.
I pray that this will be the last time our lawmakers will ever show such gross disrespect to our national chief. I pray that henceforth, since the score card now reads 1:1 that none of the sides in the house will, in the future, attempt to be the winner of this needless game of poking each other in the eye. A canoe does not know who the leader is. When it turns over, everyone will drown.
Nyaba, a weaning baby that does not cry aloud will die on its mothers back. As for me, I have cried out. I hope the lawmakers have heard. “You do me, I do you” go fit make God vex.