Saint Sandongͻ the Shadow of Chairman J.J.

Saint Sandongͻ the Shadow of Chairman J.J.
Source: Ghana| Joseph Aketema | University of Ghana|
Date: 03-12-2017 Time: 11:12:12:am
Joseph Aketema

The political heat was at its peak. The presidential candidates were making their last campaign tours.  On that particular evening, the villagers of Vuga were waiting in anticipation of the coming of one of the political parties. The atmosphere was charged with drumming and dancing, and other forms of entertainment. After they had waited for about two hours, they began to hear the sirens. The local entertainers intensified their drumming. The atmosphere became intense with some terrifying euphoria.

Bare-footed children with protruding bellies and big heads hanging precariously on craned necks took to the dusty road. Awed by the types of vehicles they were seeing and the strange noise of the sirens, they paraded the roads to satisfy their curiosity. The politicians arrived at the campaign ground where the chiefs, opinion leaders, and electorates were already seated. After a rousing welcome from the crowd, the Tindaana and the chief formally welcomed them to the village.

When they delivered their campaign message, the chiefs and opinion leaders took turns to deliver their speeches. The last of the speakers that evening was Sandongͻ. Sandongͻ was a little over sixty years and regarded as one of the luminary figures of Vuga. During the early days of the revolution, Sandongͻ joined what he called the Young Pioneers and had served them well. He had often lived above reproach and suspicion. Though this had earned him a high reputation, many, a few think that his principles are too antiquated and impractical in current times. I had the rare privilege of meeting Sandongͻ once in his house. The ending was not pleasant. I had complained bitterly to a friend that my first posting as a newly trained teacher was to a very distant place. This village had no electricity, proper lodging facilities, and no accessible road. My friend asked that we go to Vuga and visit Sandongͻ. “He is well ‘connected’ and would help us”, he said.

The next morning, having waited in a queue of five people, it was our turn to see him. He called us into his room. As we sat down, I noticed two giant pictures hanging on the wall. One was of Thomas Isidore Sankara embracing Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings and the other was the young pioneer Sandongͻ shaking the hand of tall lanky sharp-jawed Chairman J. J. After we had narrated our problem we stated that we were informed that Mankarigo my remote school was under the jurisdiction of the education directorate that his friend presided over. He got up from his old sofa, paced to and fro the room and asked me how I ever got to be posted to Mankarigo. I informed him I took a sponsorship from the district.

He looked at me squarely and asked, “Did you not know that Mankarigo is in that district?”  I replied that I knew. Then he added, “Are they not Ghanaians? Don’t they deserve education? I could not answer anymore. Then he told me he was going to personally inform the director that his son is in his directorate and was posted to Mankarigo. He should ensure that I never change a school until I had served for three years. As we got up to leave, he added, “Who will teach the pupils if all of you the young teachers run away from the villages?”

The crowd was deafening as Sandongͻ got up to speak. He commanded for silence and began, “You know I have been with this party since the days of Chairman J. J. In-fact but not for Chairman, I will not be here. We cannot claim to be better than any other party if in deed and practice we cannot draw from the inspiration and principles that culminated to the formation of the party. This is the party that have your interest at heart” The crowd applauded. The drummers throbbed their drums and the women ululated. I cannot in my life time desert this party. However, this party may choose to desert me if those sitting here after winning refuse to adhere to the very principles that hold the party sacred. This time around, the presidential aspirant and his entourage clapped for him.  Sandongͻ ended by calling all to vote for the party of his Chairman.

The chiefs, Tindaanas and the entire village reposed their trust in Sandongͻ. He was their walking stick in many matters. He had chosen to serve his community with dignity and humility. Having retired after almost forty years of active service as a teacher, he still uses his old rickety bicycle. As a party treasurer under the governorship of Chairman, he had championed the building of a primary school and the construction of four bore-holes one each in the four communities within Vuga. Sandongͻ was their god in leadership. His incorruptibility and impartiality was incomparable. Having headed five institutions in his life time, word has it that anytime he is posted to a new institution, in his handing over, he would organized a durbar call opinion and traditional leaders together and make a public office audit of himself in their presence before handing over.

 Ten years after, I visited Sandongͻ to thank him for facilitating my going to Mankarigo. The experience was great and rewarding. I further asked him of his party and Chairman J. J. He looked at me sadly and told me a lot has changed in the general politics of the country. People are not talking issues but personalities. And there is so much noise about nothing in the airwaves. Coming to his party Sandongͻ revealed that there were many things to rectify than just unity walks. Going back to the principles of Chairman J. J. he argued is the surest way out.



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