Ei, young man, it’s been a long time! How is life? I saw you on Multi TV yesterday addressing the youth wing of the party and something you said to them caught my attention.
You told them that victory for the party was to quote you: “Inevitable”. I thought that was not strategic and I will explain that later, but jolted me was that you actually went ahead to tell the youth of the party that if the results are not declared in favour of the party, there will be a Rwanda in Ghana.
My dear Kumi, are you serious? First of all my son, it is very dangerous for any foot soldier OF ANY party to plant the minds of the young enthusiastic followers, that victory is inevitable, but even more dangerous is to prepare their minds for violence if the election results do not favour them. Kumi, I call you my son, so son, let me be frank with you, what you said was immature and very infantile and can be very dangerous to the country.
As a young leader, you should understand the importance inspiring hope without planting seeds of agitation. As a young leader you should master the ability to ignite in them unconditional optimism. You should be able to get them to understand that win or lose, life must go on, win or lose challenges must be met, win or lose it is not the end of their lives. Your reference to a possible Rwanda in Ghana broke my heart.
My son, I was in Rwanda last year and I had a chance to visit their war memorial. Trust me, if I had enough money, I would sponsor all the foot soldiers to go to Rwanda just to visit the war memorial. It is a frightening sight to behold and it reveals the painful truth of how human beings can degenerate into the lowest state of inhumanity. It is a striking evidence of how cruel human being can be. The memorial is a huge museum containing hundreds of thousands of human skulls, and you could actually see the cracks in the skull from cutlasses and machetes, there were thousands of limbs and skeletal remains. These were the remains of all the people that were massacred in their conflict.
Kumi, my son, the fascinating thing about this war memorial is that the people of Rwanda, to date remember with fear and trepidation that horrific moment in their history. They have built that memorial as a constant reminder of the horror and revulsion of that moment in their history. It has been built as a monument to remind them that NEVER AGAIN should we do this to each other: NEVER AGAIN should we slaughter!
My son, you know what is sad and ironic? That the people of Rwanda who lived through this dreadful period in their lives have built a monument to say NEVER AGAIN! NEVER AGAIN!! They are saying NEVER AGAIN!!! Kumi, do you know why? Because they want to enjoy the KIND OF PEACE that we in Ghana have and take for granted. They desire to live in the kind of peace we have in Ghana that all of Africa envies. That is what the people of Rwanda strive for. That is why they are saying NEVER AGAIN to war.
The irony and tragedy Kumi is that our gallant foot soldiers like yourself are clamouring for the violence Rwanda is running away from, if your party does not get power. My goodness! Getting power at the expense of war?
When I heard you say that, I bowed my head in sorrow and my mind was filled with images of my trip to Rwanda war memorial and tears filled my eyes! I prayed for you, Kumi; you and all the foot soldiers. I prayed for you and said “Father forgive them for they know not what they are say. But therein lies the danger, Son. You may not know what you say, but those who are listening to you do not know that. And they are ready to fight.
Listen, son, I understand that as foot soldiers you owe your party a duty to inspire people to vote for the party. And I wish you all the best in that endeavour. But Kumi, Ghana is bigger than any party. Ghana was here before the party and Ghana will be here after the party, so at no point, I mean absolutely no point, should we sacrifice the peace of Ghana on the altar of the interest of any political party’s desire either to win or to stay in power.
It is better to live in a peaceful, tranquil country under a party I did not vote for than to live in a war-ridden chaotic country under a party I voted for.
For what shall it profit us, if we gain political power and preside over a war-torn country?
Here are a few pointers that I think will be helpful for all your foot soldiers:
Inspire your party members to focus on victory for the party, but while the focus is on victory, it is very important to let them know that anything can happen and that victory might slip and if it does, accept it and move on. It is not the end of the world.
Please do not mislead the youth into thinking that their success is tied solely to the electoral victory of the party. That is a lie.
Educate your youth to understand that regardless of what party is in power, the world does not stop and that their focus on personal development should be paramount.
Let your youth understand that politics is not a game of life and death. Elections are not a “do or die affair.” Trust me, those who call for death will never die from political violence. For your information, the general profile of those likely to be killed in political violence are most likely to be:
Young males aged between 18-26 years.
Chances are he is economically deprived
Will be coming from a slum or deprived environment
5. Prepare the youth and challenge them to think analytically.
Now my three lessons for the top hierarchy of the party:
Your influence in the party is like the wind; your foot soldiers are like the grass. The grass will always bend in the direction of the wind: if you declare violence, your foot soldiers will oblige, if you declare peace, your foot soldiers will oblige. The power is in your hands. Use it wisely
It is important that leaders to stamp their authority through visibility to strengthen the hand of their supporters. A leader that is not visible weakens the hands of his supporters and risks opening the party to structural weaknesses
Your duty as a leader is not to strengthen and maintain your core base, your duty is to cut into the support base of your opponent as well as make yourself appealing to the floating and independent voters selling the benefits of your ideas to the electorate.
My final words, Kumi, are inspired by a Methodist hymn:
Land of our birth we pledge to thee, our love and our toil in the years to be, when we are grown and take our place as men and women of our dear nation….
Kumi, my son, by all means pledge your support to your party, but never forget, that whilst you work for your party, your love, your toil and passion, SHOULD BE FOR THE SURVIVAL AND SUSTENANCE OF THE PEACE OF YOUR COUNTRY.
GHANA FIRST!!!!!…. GOD BLESS YOU MY SON!
NB: This letter to an imaginary foot soldier was read by Kwaku Sintim-Misa (KSM) on the Nation Building Series on Springboard, Your Virtual University, on Sunday 10th June, 2012. You can listen to the entire broadcast at http://legacyandlegacy.com.gh/springboard-virtual-university/radio-playback.htm