Don’t Cheapen the Noble Concept of Statesmanship – Urges Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jnr., Ph.D.

Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jnr., Ph.D.

Maybe we need to clearly define what it means for anybody to be described as a “statesman” or “stateswoman,” for that matter. For it is not clear to me exactly what Mr. Isaac Osei, Ghana’s High Commissioner to Britain under President John Agyekum-Kufuor, means when he calls on Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to retire from active politics in order to “avoid sullying his statesmanship” (See “Akufo-Addo Must Retire from Politics – Isaac Osei” / 1/7/14).

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It well appears to me that in Ghana, our understanding of “statesmanship” regards the status of a political retiree who contends himself largely with playing the peripheral and nondescript role of a commentator on national and public affairs, obviously because he has been immobilized by age or he has failed to achieve his highest political goal in life. In Ghana, the latter situation invariably involves the presidency. But, of course, outside Ghana, in the rest of the English-speaking world, a statesman is an actively engaged politician who is healthily foresighted enough to be able to look beyond partisan ideology and vote counts to focus on the greater, far-reaching interests of the nation at large.

In other words, contrary to what Mr. Osei, a former Chief Executive Officer of the erstwhile Cocoa-Marketing Board (presently Cocobod), would have the rest of us believe, Nana Akufo-Addo, a twice-failed contender for the presidency of Ghana, can still, at nearly 70 years old, stay actively engaged in our national politics and still retain his remarkable reputation as a dynamic statesman. For being a statesman, or a stateswoman, for that matter, is more about one’s moral outlook on national affairs, than simply a matter of whether one belongs to a particular political party, and therefore one is perceived to reason and operate according to the tenets of any of the globally recognized political ideologies.

For an even clearer perspective on what it means to be a statesman, this is how defines the same: “Statesman – a person who is experienced in the art of government or versed in the administration of government affairs.” Further, notes: “A Statesman is a person who exhibits great wisdom and ability in directing the affairs of a government or in dealing with important public issues.”

Then also, measuring the need for Nana Akufo-Addo to retire from active politics on the mere basis of his age does not stand to reason. For it goes without saying that age is subject-relative rather than its being absolute. In other words, even by Ghanaian standards, Nana Akufo-Addo seems to be far more politically savvy, agile and visionary than, say, President John Dramani Mahama, who is nearly two decades younger than the former.

It thus pathetically appears that almost every one of the nationally recognizable voices calling for Ghana’s former Justice and Foreign Minister to disengage himself from active politics is cynically pleading its own cause. It is therefore not surprising to also learn that, in fact, Mr. Osei, a failed presidential aspirant of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), is seriously pondering the possibility of re-contesting his party’s presidential primary.

Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D. Department of English Nassau Community College of SUNY Garden City, New York


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