Friday, 17 July 2015

It Is Ridiculous For MPs To Call For Ghana's Interior Minister To be Sacked - For Using The Phrase "Violence Begets Violence"

I was saddened to hear that Major Derrick Oduro, a member of the Committee on Defence and  Interior, of Ghana's Parliament, has asked President Mahama to sack the minister of the interior, the Hon. Mark Woyongo - over remarks the minister made during the recent (7th July, 2015) Talensi constituency by-election.

The Hon. Derrick Oduro, a retired military officer, knows perfectly well that Mark Woyongo was briefed by those in charge of security for that by-election - and reacted to questions from the media about violent clashes between youths from the National Democratic Congress (NDC), and the New Patriotic Party (NPP), on the basis of what he knew from intelligence reports that day.

One can understand, and forgive, the inability of journalists who have failed to master the basic tool of their profession, the English language, to comprehend the meaning of the phrase "violence begets violence", which was used by Mark Woyongo during his interview with a Kumasi-based reporter, for that city's Ultimate FM radio station - who unfortunately read his own meaning into the phrase.

(A typical example of the affectatious English language broadcast journalists in Ghana, who affect foreign accents - his being a mish-mash of accents of indeterminate provenance - my humble advice to him is to read more widely, and always be himself. Over time, perhaps it will help him avoid hurrying to read his own meaning into what he hears when conducting  interviews - and avoid lines of questioning that could trigger unhelpful controversies: such as the Mark Wayongo  "violence begets violence" controversy. But I digress.)

Whiles one can forgive ignorant media types,  it is unpardonable for members of Parliament to misconstrue the fact that in using that phrase on the day of the Talensi constituency by-election,  Mark Woyongo was simply admonishing violence-prone youths in society, to desist from acts of violence - as it only leads to a never-ending spiral of revenge attacks. What is wrong with that, one wonders?

It is unfortunate that  a simple biblical phrase used by responsible leaders from around the globe - including the late Martin Luther King, who used it  frequently, to appeal for tolerance between the races in America  - to admonish the violence-prone in society, to desist from acts of violence, should cause such widespread consternation in Ghana.

Perhaps an old acquintance of mine is right, in saying that it speaks volumes about the abysmal depths, to which the standard of English has sunk in Ghana, that Mark Woyongo is being pilloried for using a phrase used to admonish violence-prone individuals, not to resort to acts of voilence, by responsible people in societies around the world. 

It is a pity that it was amplified by the FM radio stations that replayed the  tape-recording of the interview in which Mark Woyongo used that particular phrase.

Incidentally, I listened carefully to the entirety of that interview, when it was replayed by Peace FM, and can say with confidence that (speaking hypothetically, that is),  if there had been violent clashes between extreme right-wing English youths, and young Britons of Asian and Afro-Caribbean heritage, during a by-election in a constituency in the northern English city of Bradford, and the British Home Secretary, Theresa May, had repeated the entirety of Mark Woyongo's response in that interview, word for word, no one in the UK would have condemned her response - because it would have been understood by all that she was merely admonishing violence-prone youths to desist from acts of violence.

It is ridiculous for MPs in Ghana, who make laws that require precision of language, and therefore ought to know better, to demand the sacking of Mark Woyongo for using the phrase "violence begets violence".

With respect, Ghana's MPs must spend their precious time, on more important matters of state. President Mahama would be wise to ignore calls for Mark Woyongo's dismissal for using the phrase "violence begets violence".

Violence does indeed beget violence - which is why all Ghanaians must eschew acts of violence: if we want our nation to remain stable and become prosperous.

Given the chaotic and violent circumstances prevailing on the ground, in parts of the Talensi constituency that day, it is unreasonable and unfair for  anyone to demand that President Mahama should sack Mark Woyongo, for using the phrase "violence begets violence" to admonish young people from engaging in acts of violence.

Those hypocritical politicians (such as the Major Derrick Oduros), seeking to put a positive spin, on the appalling and unjustifiable behaviour of a number of their own party's youthful supporters up north, during the Talensi constituency by-election, must bow their heads in shame for their double standards.

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