Last week the Member of Parliament (MP) for Akwatia, Mercy Adu Gyamfi, who is affectionately called Ama Sey became a laughing stock when she addressed her constituents as part of the Ghana 60 years on celebration.
I shed tears when I saw the MP on TV expressing her melancholic feeling on the grounds that she became a laughing stock and an object of mockery after she had delivered a message which content and substance was par excellence.
“I wonder why people are ridiculing me on social media. If you are fluent in the queens language correct me don’t laugh at me,” she said. This statement of hers drew tears from me.
I respect this woman a lot because of the admission of her inadequacy in the language which is not our mother tongue. This exposes the sub-culture of the Ghanaian that we prefer to mock instead of correcting those who are deficient in certain areas. Leo Strauss, a German-American Political Philosopher maintained that “the distinctive trait of the philosopher is that he knows that he knows nothing.” It is the acknowledgment of the lack of knowledge and proficiency in the English language that will propel Mrs Sey to seek further knowledge and reach her dream.
A headresser by profession, she had traverse the hurly burly of the Ghanaian local politics to become a member of Parliament. It is a truism that Parliament transacts its business in English language, but the constitution of Ghana does not require one to be proficient in English language as a qualification to become a MP. Perhaps the framers of the constitution knowing very well that ‘brofo y3 du’, to wit ‘the English language is difficult’, decided not to compel those seeking the mandate of the people to exhibit their dexterity in that language.
But on a more serious note the House of Parliament does not only make laws otherwise lawyers would have been the only professionals the constitution will recommend to be there. By the set-up of the house, every profession is deem important and required to be there in order to ensure that outcomes of decisions are all encompassing and as much as possible consultative enough.
As if she applied the saying of Thomas Tip O’Neil, a former Speaker of the House of Representative in the United States that “all politics is local”,this MP has lived all her life in that town plying the trade she learnt as a headresser. It is not for nothing that her constituents reposed their confidence in her, knowing very well that she lacked what it took to speak the language correctly. The position was not given to her on a silver platter as she had to cross a double hurdle by beating a Doctor in the party primaries before conquering the almighty Baba Jamal who was a Deputy Minister and a lawyer in the general elections.
Personally I do not see any shame in her inability to communicate in English because she did not hide that fact; it even became a campaign matter in the run up to her being elected. Why should we be in state of shock now that she struggles to string sentences together? I consider the electorates in the Akwatia Constituency as very sophisticated people. Why do I say so? In 2008 they voted for a Medical Doctor, whilst in 2012, they voted for a Lawyer. Like our elders say they have tasted water and Akpeteshie (alcohol) and they know which is heavy. This time they decided to vote for a headresser to represent them after all what they need is development and so it does not matter who brings them that.
Again, I do not see any shame in her in ability to correctly speak English also because there are those who have had the opportunity of formal education to the extent of graduating in all kinds of degrees, make very elementary grammatical mistakes. Note that the Member of Parliament who goofed about “Trees under School” instead of “Schools under Trees” has double master’s degree. Madam AmaSey is only a form 4 leaver. That makes the criticism of her very unfair.
I am very happy for the MP because knowing very well that she can be very effective as an MP when she speaks English, decided to take a two hour session in English lessons everyday According to 1 Timothy 1:7 “ God did not give us the spirit of timidity but of power, love and self-discipline”. Obviously Madam Sey knows her God who gave her that strength of character to contest for this position will ensure that she sails through successfully.
Thomas Hobbes posits that “timidity and indecision are the two fundamental enemies of man”. It is a fact that because of fear many people have shy away from taking decisions which would have had a positive influence on their lives in perpetuity. Today they regret it because not mustering the courage to frontally take the bull by the horn has annulled what otherwise would have been an experience to behold. Today they look back and they curse their stars.
There are so many Hon. Ama Sey in society who for whatever reasons did not have the benefit of formal education but are blazing the trail. It is therefore remarkable that the promise of government to reintroduce adult education is given the necessary support.
Disclaimer: Views expressed here are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the position of Multimedia and Myjoyonline.com. The writer Ernest Boateng is a political and social commentator.
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