“Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth.” – Albert Einstein.
I heard it again last week. Yes Sir, Master no spoil job. Typical advice by Ghanaians when someone is going to start a new job or going into a new environment. The advice is: Don’t challenge authority. You will be fine and successful.
Not only do I disagree. I think this is one of the causes of our problems in Ghana. We have too many Yes-men. Insincere people who just want to keep their positions. It happens in politics, in academic institutions (even at the tertiary level) and everywhere. The president and ministers are told that they are doing well, when in fact they are not. Students tell their teachers they are doing well when the teachers are not doing well. Employees tell their bosses that they are on track when things are not going on well. Sadly, these same people in private complain and criticise those in authority.
I believe in sincerity. And I appreciate more those who are frank with me than those who are always praising me. Last month, I blocked someone on my WhatsApp who put in three thumbs-ups for every post I put up. My reason was that I could programme a computer to do that. Nobody is perfect in this world. To improve, one needs people around him who will let him know when he is not right. Even if you are right, you need to accommodate people who disagree with you to see other perspectives of life.
My late father trained us to be critical. This was when we were very young. When you came home and said: we took a decision at the gathering but I don’t agree…. His first question was: did you express it there? If you didn’t, he would not listen to you. So my siblings and I learned early to express dissenting views at meetings where decisions are made. Even if our views were not taken, we had done our part.
I have taken this with with me all my life. I have made many enemies, but also found some genuine friends who know that I will express myself when I disagree. It will not be out of hatred, or with a motive to bring someone down.
Ghana needs people who sincerely make those in authority aware of what is not going right, not out of malice or to gain personal/political points, but in the supreme interest of the country. And we need authorities who accomodate positive criticism that will encourage those who have different ideas to express themselves. Only then shall we get on the path to prosperity.
This piece was written on August 27, 2017. It is in the upcoming book by Dr. Kofi Effah titled ‘Ghana on her knees: Reflections of a village doctor’ that features over 50 of his pieces.
You can read some old and new pieces from the author at www.drkofieffah.com