June 20, 2024


The war over whether there is too much silence or too much noise is on.
Madam Elizabeth Ohene, who became an icon to many of us with her seminal editorial on “Let the blood flow” has weighed in. She opined, “Far from silence, we are suffering from too much noise, so much so we can’t hear one another. Far from a culture of silence, we have a culture of noise.”She went on to challenge those complaining to “tell us who is taking the money that belongs to the state and let us see if President Akufo-Addo will do something about it or not”.Before engaging, respectfully, Madam Ohene, I should state that I didn’t agree completely with the characterization of the “culture of silence ” by Sir Jonah, which was echoed by Prof. Asare( Azar). There is, in candour, a difference between a silence enforced by killings, imprisonment, “shit-bombing”, open torture etc, as occurred routinely under Rawlings and the mostly self-imposed silence of social climbers, office seekers and sycophants who fear being excluded from the spoils of office. To equate the two risks diminishing the bravery and sacrifice of Kugblenu, Tommy Thompson, Kweku Baako, Kwesi Pratt, Ben Ephson, John Bilson, Nana Akufo-Addo and many others.

To return to Madam Ohene, her opinion unleashed a vigorous reaction from a sedate Professor who is in the frontlines of the Covid fight, directed at me, because I have been a life-long admirer of Madam Ohene.

He wrote, “Arthur K,

Can you ask Auntie Ohene where she has been for the last 4 years? She wants names? Can we remind her of the attempted Agyapa deal? the ECG–PDS scandal, the Osafo-Marfo loot for which the A-G was sent on leave and finally retired? Where is the money that was advertised as being used to build hospitals in each district at the onset of Covid in the country?

What about ownership of Frontiers Healthcare?
Now that she is part of the party in power, it is all noise?”
It seems that not all words or speeches or noise matter equally.
Not all music is music.

The Vandal Choir singing at the observatory is not the same as Ramblers or Osibisa or A.B. Crentsil singing.

When Madam Ohene wrote her famous editorial calling upon Ghanaians to stand up on the blood that was flowing, there was noise in the country like people chanting “Let the blood flow” — but there was silence, as she pointed out.

When Adu Boahen attacked the “culture of silence” there was noise, from the minions of the PNDC and the supporters of Hearts and Kotoko arguing– but there was silence too.

Today, let me respectfully address, out of love and pain, my brothers of the Danquah-Busia-Dombo tradition.

Our real founder, Okyeame Baffour Osei Akoto, risked his life, his treasure and his time to fight for limited government.
J.B. Danquah argued for the rule of law in RE: Akoto and suffered imprisonment and death, fighting for freedom.

Dr. Busia once said, ” The real test of a democracy is not even the right of a minority to disagree– it is the right of a lone dissenter to disagree with his group, his country and still feel secure in it.”

John Agyekum Kufuour ended the criminal libel law to expand freedom.
Nana Akufo-Addo has fought for freedom– from the PMFJ era to Kume Preko and been justly celebrated as a human rights advocate.

My fellow kukrudites, why are we being lectured by the leader of the party of J.J. Rawlings, who was the author of the “culture of silence ” , on tolerance?
Why are we parsing words, to explain away intolerance?

Our place, my friends, is not with those who make excuses for any “culture of silence “.
Our place, as genuine kukrudites, is with our illustrious forebears and leaders, on the side of freedom– not just freedom of expression but all freedoms.

Finally, my fellow Ghanaians, we should resist the temptation to be suckered into an argument over silence versus noise. That was not Sam Jonah’s central concern. His central concern was that Ghana, our country, has lost its way– on governance, the economy, our national resources, security, education, etc.

We should engage on the substance of the concerns he raised. Our refusal to engage on the substance is the real culture of silence.
Long live Ghana!
Aluta Continua!
We shall overcome!
Arthur Kobina Kennedy
7th May, 2021.

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