21st May 2024

By Abdul Hayi Moomen


Since the day the white man came to our land and told us that our ways were bad while his ways were good, we have all been making efforts to become like him by learning his ways.

Before the white man landed on our seashores, our people had their own ways of teaching and learning. The blacksmith’s son learned the trade from his father. The son of the fisherman became an expert fisherman, just by observing how the “old man” did it. We had our own schooling.

When the white man came and instructed us to learn his ways, he only provided us with knowledge. It was very much unlike our way of learning, which came with not just knowledge, but wisdom and intelligence.

Nyaba, I have seen fools who have chains of papers conferred on them for having acquired knowledge. Oh yes, I have. If beards signified intelligence, the goat would have been a genius. But we all know that the only time a goat shows any ingenuity is when it comes to the subject of sex. The goat makes no distinction between a neighbour, a sibling or a mother. To the bearded goat, every female goat is a potential sex partner. So you see, despite its generous amount of beard, the goat isn’t that intelligent after all.

Since we accepted to go to school and learn the ways of the white man, every family has had to, at some point, sell their maize, or yam, or cassava or plantain to pay school fees. Yes, school fees. Learning the ways of the white man comes at a cost.

The scheme

Over a period of time, the people of our chiefdom realised that not everyone was capable of paying the fees. Not every family owned a farm or a canoe or carpenter’s bench. As a result, wise men and women of our chiefdom devised a strategy to cater for the schooling needs of children from such families. They called it a scholarship scheme.

In a scholarship scheme, cowries are taken from our collective national purse and given to such persons to go and learn and upon completing, they are expected to come back and implement the ways of the white man in our chiefdom.

In the last market day, the gossip under the huge baobab tree in our chiefdom has had to do with some persons who may have been given some of these cowries to go and learn the ways of the white man. Gossip has it that some of these persons do not qualify to be described as needy people and therefore do not deserve to be given any cowries from our collective national purse to go and learn anything.

Nyaba, I do not entirely agree with the critics. Until I see clearly written in our laws a definite definition of a “needy person”, I shall find it extremely difficult to criticize these so-called “not so needy people“. To a man who earns 100 Ghana cowries at every moon die, the man who earns 500 Ghana cowries is rich. To the man who earns 500 every moon dies, the man who earns 5,000 is extremely rich. For the man who earns 5, 000, having to pay 160 thousand Ghana cowries before he earns a paper for leaning the ways of the whiteman, that amount might be impossible to raise, unless he is a thief.

Needy and brilliant

So, for me, the argument has got very little to do with “needy”. The argument, I believe, has a lot more to do with morality and suspected abuse of power, and the “who you know syndrome”. If all those “powerful” people who have been mentioned as part of the list of beneficiaries of the scholarships acquired the scholarships after having gone through the entire application process like all other people of our chiefdom are required to do, then so be it.

However, if it is confirmed that they bullied their way through, or that they “connected” their way through, or that they could actually afford but intentionally subjected our national purse to a gala rape, then they must bow their heads in shame. Then, the laws must be tested.

A ripe mango falls by itself. That is what our elders say. Many of these beneficiaries have told us that they are self-made. If so, why has the ripe mango failed to fall by itself?

Nyaba, is it any wonder that the horse has four legs, yet it often falls? If it is the case that some of these persons actually intentionally just wanted to willingly gala rape our national purse. Just like the horse, they may be preparing for their own fall, even though they may seem to have four legs.

The brother of my mother once said that had I known what bees eat, I would not be so crazy about the sweetness of honey. The means by which some people become “big” isn’t always honourable.

Nyaba, let me send this message to our people through you. Tell them that a man with a small piece of meat is better off than one with plenty of mushrooms. I know I haven’t made much sense. That is because I don’t have a scholarship.

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