I am drawing the inspiration for this article from the Gospel according to John Chapter 18, verse number 10, “Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear”.
Judas the betrayal of Jesus Christ had led a detachment of soldiers, chief priests, and the Pharisees to arrest Jesus, after betraying him. Peter had been angered by Judas’ actions, and elected to defend his master. Peter, known amongst the Disciples to be self-motivated, and enthusiastic, wanted Jesus Christ to know how loyal he was to him, and that is why he drew that instant sword, to please the man who had come to save the world.
Enough has been written about the conduct of the Police and the masked National Security commandos involved in the just ended Ayawaso by-election. I sympathize with Sam George, and all those victims, for the slaps visited on their faces. It has been condemned, and I do same too, that it was needless, and nowhere in our governance life should we allow such abrasive behavior to occur.
And those of you my friends in the NPP who are celebrating the violence, please, stop it. Today it is Sam George, tomorrow Sam George could be in power, and it might be you. That is when you will realize the pain of the palm.
But I am glad, that, that unfortunately needless slap was visited on no other person than someone who has been in power before, and who, perhaps, might have been a perpetrator of smuggling unqualified persons into the security services, and who himself might have been a perpetrator in the past. If while in government he had ensured that no unqualified Police person was employed, he would have had qualified professional police persons who would have protected him against those masked men.
I was told of a story that happened last Sunday, of a woman who caused her pastor to make an announcement for his son MP, that there are opportunities for individuals to be recruited into the army, Police, Immigration, and all the security services, and her son has said that anyone in his constituency who was interested in joining any of those security forces should contact him for immediate enlistment. The announcement added that the MP said that there is no need for any interested persons to have any qualifications, and that even if the person has never been to school, he, the MP, would ensure successful enlistment for those interested illiterates.
Do you see how the seeds of Ayawaso are sown? If you populate the security services with unqualified unprepared and politically motivated persons, then you reduce them to ordinary unwilling clueless persons who are wearing the uniforms for the sake of drawing their salaries, and who are unable to defend even the chickens in their own homes.
My biggest disappointment has to do with the damage the vandalism has caused the government. I want to believe, that, regardless of how the NPP saw the acts, they know that it is a damaging communication. It must be admitted that the acts and its attendant publicity did not add any vote to the NPP’s 2020 agenda.
What we have to remember is that modern communication is both science and art. I have seen some really interesting content in recent times, in Winneba, and sometimes I wonder what they were thinking when they were generating the content. Communication is no longer what you say, and how you say what you say. It is no longer the availability of platforms. Communication has moved beyond putting information out there, whether truth or lies. The effectiveness of modern communication is an action-based content building art that dovetail itself into predictive elements.
I am unwilling to go into details, for the sake of the something something that I am involved in. But let me remind you that nearly all those who have lost power in Africa, have lost their power at their peak of their wealth, and also at the peak of their violent reprisal attacks, and at the peak of the unlimited power itself. The will of the people braze itself, and at the risk of their lives, surge forward to face the bullet. When people are determined for change, the bullet means nothing to them. And for bullets to mean nothing to the people, the leadership of the insurrection feed themselves on both the content generated by incumbent, and their own generations of hope, building villain and portraying heroes.
I know you will dispute this, but trust me, whatever happened never added a single vote to the NPP, and whoever sanctioned the actions of the strong men might have done that to show power, but brought the party down. The candidacy of the woman, Lydia Alhassan, was simply a gold mine, and could simply have been used, on her own circumstantial merit, to prosecute the campaign to victory. No need for built men.
Remember constituencies in Accra are mainly compact, similar to the Effutu constituency. Information flow is quick and nearly manifest in the form of floods. If you take a constituency like Asikuma-Odoben-Brakwa, it has several remote towns and villages, with some hardly hooked on the internet. So you could localize situations and avoid the consequences filtering to other towns. But Ayawaso is similar to a compound house where rumors take seconds to consummate. If your opponent knows the arts and science of communication, he could blow you off with a spike!
And I believe Jesus Christ knew of this incumbency communication disadvantage, and that is why he rebuked Peter, for cutting off the ears of the Pharisee. If Jesus had allowed him, Peter would have even made an attempt on Judas’ ears. But Christ knew that all things are permissible, but not all things are desirable.
The irony is that the NDC can afford to generate negative content, and it will still be to their advantage. That is why the all-die-be-die mantra was planted, and it worked. That is why the Afoko/Kobena Agyapong Tsunami did nothing to affect the NPP’s victory. That is why the NPP was able to turn a common kalypo drink into a fortune for its party. And that is why ex President John Mahama has emerged with boot-for-boot.
So as I condemn the violence in the just ended by-election, I regret that we did not think through to know that this constituency is sitting on a rumor-fertile landscape, and a media saturated environment. Those built men were definitely determine to merit their pay, but the Jesus amongst you could have ordered them to draw away their sword.
Still, the battle is the Lord’s!
James Kofi Annan