Let’s call him Kwame Antobra. He was my year mate in the University and a very popular guy in the greatest hall in all the Universities in Ghana, Katanga. Kwame was the typical fun-loving student, who believed in the philosophy of our hall: play all you can, and learn all you should. The reason was simple: youth was short and must be enjoyed, but learning is what University is for and good grades are not only desirable but also necessary. With this principle in mind, Kwame indulged in all the activities that the hall had to offer, including the notorious proce (short form for processions) known as BWT.
Processions were organised at various times within each semester and for different purposes. There was the “First on asphalt” proce, which was done early in the semester to commemorate our return to school for another semester. Katanga had the right of having the first of such proces for the semester. Then, there was the Matriculation proce, when the hall escorted its new members to the Great Hall for their matriculation ceremony. The “Sharp brain” proce was conducted just a day before the start of the end-of-semester exams, and the idea was that if you had an exam early the next day, yet made time to go on a two-three hour proce that night, you were a “sharp brain”, an expression used to denote one who is intelligent. Those who went on “sharp brain” proce came back so tired they couldn’t learn again that night! The “Jesus March” proce was organised during our hall week and was usually well patronised, though it was not unusual to smell some un-holy incense within the march, exuding from the mouths! That was Katanga – all play all! The most notorious of all the proces was the BWT proce. I won’t go into the details of this proce but suffice it to say that it bordered on the obscene and the participants always went on this proce disguised, with masks on their faces and so making it difficult to know who was in the band. It was difficult to find out who wasn’t, also. Any one who indulged in the BWT proce was tagged as immoral, especially by our lady folks, who usually poured water on the guys when their obscenities went beyond the limits of sensibilities.
During our third year in the University, Kwame decided to stand a Student Representative Council position and suddenly it dawned on him that he needed to re-create the image he had created for himself in the three years he had spent on campus. And, certainly, he had to redeem himself from the BWT label. To do this, he decided to dress nicely, in a suit and follow the BWT train! It served two purposes: to show that he wasn’t in the disguised band, and to clear any doubts, there he was in person, behaving civilly!
Ghana has been practising democracy again since 1992 and within the last ten years, we have been really consolidating this system, since the then-opposition NPP party first won the general presidential elections in 2000 and lost again to the NDC in 2008. Increasingly, the vetting of appointees for ministerial, judicial and other public positions has been interesting. It has been said that when you become a public official, everything you do, even in private, becomes public. Thomas Jefferson put it succinctly: “When a man assumes a public trust, he should consider himself as public property.” Unfortunately, the domain for investigation is not only limited to the period within which you are a public property, but also includes your past, all of it! I have always maintained that we grow up, mature and occupy positions of authority in our nations and the world with our peers and friends and mates, especially from the tertiary levels of education. Test it. Watch around and take note of the persons occupying your equivalent position in similar organisations in your country and you will realise that they are likely to be your peers. As we grow up and behave or misbehave, people who would one day be our assessors, judges, appointers, and what have you, watch us. The opinions these people are forming about us will be the framework against which they will evaluate us in the future.
Some years ago, an MP who won a bye-elections to represent his constituency in Parliament, nearly run into a ditch when someone charged that he didn’t undertake his statutory National service. Fortunately for the MP, he had done his National service. I still see students finish school and dilly-dally with their National service. I wonder. See, your past omissions will always catch up with you. You may miss an opportunity to serve in a prestigious position someday, and the only fault could be that you didn’t afford to spend nine months today to satisfy a legal obligation.
Today I see a lot of young people involved in politics, which is great. What is not great is how some of them conduct themselves, especially in terms of their utterances. Some of these young guys need to know that there is a bigger world out there beyond politics.
Therefore, we need to act knowing that our deeds today will be used to judge us tomorrow. We have to act with the future in mind. Live in a way that you will not regret what you did today, when tomorrow comes.
Live today such that your name will be a good legacy for your child tomorrow. We live for a while here on earth, but the memory of this period lasts for eternity. It is incumbent on us to leave for our descendants a legacy of our names. As people who know that Christ is coming again, soon, we ought to also live so that on the day of His coming, at the end of time, we shall be found worthy to stand before the Jugdement Seat and pass the test, as people who have lived with long-perspective in mind!
Think about five, ten, twenty years from now. Reflect on what you are doing or saying today. Will you be proud of it down the ages? Will what you said today come to haunt you later?
Time present and time past,
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
Whatever you do, do cautiously, and look to the end.
We are told never to cross a bridge until we come to it, but this world is owned by men who have ‘crossed bridges’ in their imagination far ahead of the crowd.
And it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgement.
For this reason, as we are circled by so great a cloud of witnesses, putting off every weight, and the sin into which we come so readily, let us keep on running in the way which is marked out for us, Having our eyes fixed on Jesus, the guide and end of our faith, who went through the pains of the cross, not caring for the shame, because of the joy which was before him, and who has now taken his place at the right hand of God’s seat of power.