No To Religious Intolerance

Sam George

The time is here for us as a people to redefine democracy in our local context.

The advent of local language radio and television has introduced new definitions for concepts and long held positions. In local parlance, democracy is basically not about people any longer but “kabi na menka bi”, loosely translated “say some and let me say some”. Thus in our present dispensation, everybody should necessarily have an opinion, otherwise that person is not part of the process.

In the circumstance, all manner of opinions are foisted on the society including outright lies and hate speech. The Ghanaian version of democracy has reduced most of our compatriots, especially journalists, politicians, members of academia and civil society into Jack of all trades, masters of none.

And it is for this same misconception of democracy that a group of democracy theorists and others who think like them feel the time has come for constitutional reforms because our democracy is failing.

We do not know why such characters cannot call on the government to implement the reforms recommended by Prof Fiadjoe. Perhaps, they are doing the present exercise for personal reasons, and in all these projects, so long as they would cause disaffection for the government one would find some media houses and social commentators lending their support.

Already, this group is propounding some wonderful theories including a ceiling of 25 ministers of state, no deputy ministers and regional ministers. Fantastic. But we wonder whether those theorists have ever served in the government structure, local and central, to be recommending such utopian answers to our temporary challenges.

We again wonder whether they are familiar with the saying that democracy is expensive but the solution does not lie in such elementary pathway.

We believe that it is for this same warped conception of democracy that has driven the Member of Parliament for Ningo-Prampram,  the cryptic Sam George, NDC apparatchik, Edudzi Temakloe and their setting the records straight scribe, Fifi Fiavi Kwettey to engage in hate speech, tribal bigotry and religious extremism against the Vice President, Dr. Alhaji Mahamudu Bawumia.

If we are amazed at the behaviour of these gentlemen, then the loud silence of bodies like National Peace Council, the National Catholic Bishops Conference, the Pentecostal and Charismatic Council, the Christian Council of Ghana, Office of the Chief Imam and the NCCE make it more frightening because these bodies are required to help moderate and sanitise our national conversation.

We all need some education about the dividends we want from democracy. The over simplification of the pathway to success would not benefit anybody, not even the theorists who are currently shouting on rooftops. These people claim to be advocates but they forget that for national projects to succeed, they must be acceptable by majority of the people.

We do not pretend to know it all but when we see the danger sign, we would not like them to shout in a crowded place that there is fire to cause pandemonium and disaster.

We would, however, draw attention to the pitfalls in the hope that since one person’s hands do not go round the baobab tree, all of us in concert would work to overcome the challenges.

And since some of our compatriots think they know it all, some understanding would help our democracy project to succeed. We are aware that the criticism of democracy has been a key part of the process and its functions.

But generally, many democracy lovers agree with Winston Churchill’s famous remarks that, “No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”

Plato also claims that democracy is a danger, due to its excessive freedom. He also argues that in a system in which everyone has a right to rule, all sorts of selfish people who care nothing for the people but are only motivated by their own personal desires to attain power. Many years ago, Plato spoke about excessive freedom under a democracy and although civil liberties promote the growth of multi-party democracy, we cannot look on in helpless amazement while a few try to destabilise the democratic architecture with their reckless, irresponsible and dangerous hate speech under the guise of freedom of speech.

We leave all Ghanaians with this wise counsel in Ecclesiastics 9:17-18 thus, “The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded than the shouts of a ruler of fools. Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroyed much good.”

We have lived in peace all these years tolerating our religious differences. We should therefore resist those who in the name of partisan politics want to knock the heads of Muslims and Christians together. Let us all say no to religious intolerance.