There is a good reason why I joined the PAMBASS in my teens. Fighting was forbidden for a PAMBASS. Too many of the neighborhood chaps along the corridors of Accra New Town and Kotobabi were too eager to settle misunderstandings with their fists. In these circumstances, you must be well equipped to dish out blows and take them in equal measure. Unfortunately for me, I wasn’t endowed with those muscles and tissues that thrive in such environments. Wearing my PAMBASS cap was a dignified way out of a duel. When I receive the first blow, I simply walk away, ostensibly, because I am a PAMBASS. I am spared the follow-up punches which graduate in severity as the number increases. I learnt very early not to use being a Christian as the reason for not fighting back. If I do, the dude will demand the other cheek for the second slap to fulfill scripture.
Even fools understand that they must pick their fights. It is sheer idiocy to pick one with a spirit. The great Chinua Achebe in the book, Arrow of God, told the story of a chap who beat every wrestler in town and threw a challenge to the spirits. They sent him his Chi (personal god) and he was floored one time. I don’t know what came over that smart dude, Jacob, in the book of Genesis. He struggled with an angel all night and left the battle ground with a crocked hip. Sadly, you do not always pick the fight, the fight picks you. That is the situation confronting the Ghana Institute of Languages in Accra. The learned director of the institute Dr. John Rex Gadzekpo, told a radio station “We have been having very serious nocturnal strange happenings at the Institute of late. It’s becoming very alarming, threatening the life of security guards. I am talking about ghosts and evil spirits who have been coming, banging doors and struggling over doors with the security guards and at times strangling them…”. Brutus, this is no laughing matter. The erudite gentleman consulted all the knowledge that earned him a permanent head damage (PhD), and came to this conclusion, “…We do not know what is happening. It is exoteric and cannot be handled normally…”. So for what his long years of education hid from him, he got a traditional priest, who I suspect has wasted less time in the classroom, to expose and exorcise the spirits. Some guards told reporters that the ghosts have asked for a fowl, but Dr. Gadzekpo went a step better. He has sacrificed a whole goat to quench the insatiable appetite of some bad ancestors who still demand meat from the grave. I don’t envy the Institute’s accountant. How will he describe this transaction in the books? What will be the reaction of auditors if he opens a ghost account? Parliament’s account committee will be livid at the sight of that entry.
Brutus, while Dr. Gadzekpo was working hard to extricate his Institute from the grips of the spirits, some loonies have unwittingly walked into a big fight with all manner of deities. It all began a few weeks ago when an obscure online publication called the New Free Press made a ludicrous accusation that the great traditional ruler of the Asantes, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II was a conduit for a 5 million US Dollar bribe to sway the verdict in the supreme court ruling that affirmed President Mahama’s victory over Nana Akuffo Addo in the 2012 election. If you rule out mischief, anybody with a modicum of common sense should realize that the publication wasn’t worth the bytes it occupied on computer memories. But some chaps in Kumasi (capital of Asante Region) of all places, went on radio, obviously possessed by Gbeshie, and elevated the online thrash into a publication that was worth a discussion. After doing what we do best in Ghana- talk, talk, talk- the original authors of the publication remain unknown and cannot be held to account.
I am particularly pained by the fact that with all the IT knowledge in Ogyakrom and the coercive power of the state, we cannot smoke out some un-savvy cyber hoodlums who manifest mischief by sending emails to Ghanaweb. Some have even suggested that these chaps are ghosts. But the great monarch is having none of it. The power of our traditions and the richness of our historic culture are vested in our traditional authorities. If anybody should know a thing or two about spiritual kokonsa, the glue that binds our mindsets to ancestral thinking, it is our traditional authorities. You see, Ogyakromians have always been suspicious about technology. The highlife musician AB Crentsil believes these iron birds that fly people across oceans is nothing short of white witchcraft. The telephone is a lying rope (ahomatrofo).The monarch will not allow miscreants practicing white witchcraft to get away with it by parading as ghosts. So he tree-struck (duabor) them. It has widely been reported in Ogyakrom dailies that the Powerful One has summoned these chaps before three different spirits- The smaller gods, the golden stool and the Omnipotent himself. My brother, these chaps are finished. Their path to appeal a verdict has been blocked because different hierarchies of spirits were co joined to arbitrate at the same time. I strongly suspect that common law will frown at this behavior, probably describing it as triple jeopardy, which is not fair to the cyber kubolo boys.
That is the difficulty in relying on the gods. The rules are spiritually discerned and the human brain has no capacity to rationalize them. We will not even know it, when a verdict is given. This is unfortunate because I want to see justice done. Nonetheless, I will keep my ears to the ground. After the date of the tree-strike, when I hear that the fingers of a man are withered without cause, and that man once used a computer or other devices to send an email, I will know that the gods have struck.
These miscreants have successfully united an academic and a monarch in the palace of the gods. Perhaps the meeting place is more important than the union. Our ancestors have been there several times before us. Those visits were a powerful line of defense against invading colonizers from Europe who sought to enslave us on our land. The outcome is enshrined in our history. But the similarity between the visits and my behavior in the eighties at Accra New Town is not lost on me. Just as I joined the PAMBASS to abdicate my fighting duties, a visit to the gods is a perfect alibi that excuses us from finding human ways to overcome difficult challenges.