PROPHETS of DOOM…on education, tribal politics and pesticides……
Doom. That is the actual name of the product. It’s a pesticide. It’s dangerous. The company who makes it says so. And yet a South African pastor – a self-styled prophet - is spraying it into the faces of his congregants. He’s also spraying it into their body parts. His claim? Deliverance. The consequence of his claim? A police investigation. I could write many lines about the dangerous stupidity of a grown man spraying pesticide into the faces of other grown women and men. But really, I would need to deal with grown women and men stepping forward to have pesticide sprayed into their bare faces. And there are not enough column inches to adequately articulate the depth of that much wahala. So, we’ll leave it to the South African police and hopefully the prison cell this fraud of a pastor will languish in for claiming religion but offering rhetoric that is dangerous.
That pastor was a literal prophet of doom, a bringer of bad news.
Other bringers of scary news include our current President and UNESCO. The latter launched a report in Ghana announcing 63% of women and girls in Ghana are illiterate. 63%. Only 3% of Ghanaians have tertiary education, and only 21% have gone to SHS, or senior high school, according to the report’s findings. The 2016 Global Education Monitoring (GEM) report entitled ‘Education for People and Planet: Creating Sustainable Futures for All’ is apparently a new series of reports used by UNESCO [aka the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization] to monitor the global state of education. To say the numbers are bleak is a gross understatement. They were followed by our Minister of Education announcing a National Action Plan had been drafted by the Ministry and begging stakeholders to participate.
I am sickened. I am outraged. I am livid. Are you? Are the Ministers? Is the government? Is the president?
We are a nation who speaks of education with reverence. On our political presidential campaign trail it is used as the kind of cheap rhetoric that scores political points and may hold the promise of additional votes. Schools built, or in some partial form of completion, schools promised, free text books, free sandals – the promise list is long. The outrage feels suspiciously muted. President Mahama has called on the nation for an additional four year mandate to complete the school buildings he has started. Nana Akuffo Addo’s NPP invites us to call for change in education and vote for him. Frankly, neither seems to have an urgency, a vital anger, a resolution oriented outrage focused on this issue.
Education is about many things. The acquisition of knowledge, the expansion of possibility, it is crucial to nation building, it is at the heart of poverty eradication. And yet, we have a curriculum that belongs in colonial times not the modern landscape of a global village. We fail to explore the content of our education juxtaposed with the necessities of a growing economy. Chew and pour. That is Ghana education’s tag line. Enough.
We have chewed more than enough. Our teeth are rotten. And we cannot continue to pour and progress. The two are contradictory. Our colonial legacy plants colonial seeds that fertilize in colonized minds and settle for colonized education that makes for colonized economies. And colonized governments unable - or unwilling - to do the transformative work of reimagining an education in order to move a people forward, settle for continued colonization.
This cannot be the imagined progress we dreamed of. Previous generations fought for independence, voted for Nkrumah, navigated the long years of military turbulence, fought back to multi-party elections, voted again and again, and continue a call for progress that reflects Ghana’s nation’s needs – not those articulated as necessary by the West.
Progress? We need to define that for ourselves. Right now, it is virtually an irony when we scrutinize these figures.
And then came the President. The bringer of tribal politics news in the last days before ballots are cast and a nation delivers its verdict via vote.
Tribe. Complicated. Manipulated. Elevated by our President in a bid to stir up years old resentments and divisions, designed to detract and deflect from the issues and once again call an electorate to hone in on individuals. I am sick of this. Aren’t you?
The prophets of wahala should still their tongues, curb their rhetoric, cease their verbal shenanigans and give us all a break. The campaign trail has been long, the end is near. It is bad enough that the newspapers have turned into one long rallying cry of MP vs. MP, insults exchanged, claims and counter claims, accusations and counter accusations. Enough.
Frankly, the election can’t come soon enough. I am a lover of politics, I believe it is breath and food and life. I have long thought the media does a poor job of connecting Ghanaian lives to the policy, politics and issues explored in Parliament and government. That failure to connect creates and maintains a disconnected electorate – one that can be bought with cheap asides focusing on tribe rather than one committed to pressing both candidates on policy implementation that would better serve our progress.
The pastor may have been the literal prophet of doom, but a president who resorts to tribal politics in a bid to stir up old resentments is himself a prophet of tribal doom. And the electorate should not stand for such cheap manipulations in pursuit of votes.
Respect each pair of hands able to deliver a verdict on the current government or offer a mandate to the current opposition. Those hands are not tribal, nor party political – they are electoral. We are the electorate. We are also the congregants. We hold the key, the ballot, the vote, the verdict.
We decide. We have power. We need to remember that.
Politicians, pastors and presidents should remember that too.