Incompetence and poor grammar feature in Ghana @ 59 fete
By Kwabena Opong
In spite of the fine display of military and para-military discipline as well as a march past of school children and other civilian groups in addition to entertainment by some hilarious actors and comedians, the program of events for the 59th anniversary of Ghana’s independence was found to be a complete syntactical flop. Not only that: mistakes by the state protocol at the end nearly marred the positive impressions garnered by invited guests Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya and Jose Mario Vaz of Guineas Bissau.
The brochure for events such as independence celebrations is a rather very important document whose significance cannot be over looked. It details the course of events of the celebration while it is laced with some useful information, notably history that relates to the event. It could be a significant keepsake. Ghanaians, already questioning the significance of this celebration were angrily surprised to learn of a brochure riddled with grammatical errors, poor syntaxes and inaccurate information. To worsen matters further, some of the information was about Kenya, whose president was invited as a guest by the Mahama administration. Characteristically the issues raised by the errors provided fodder for media discussions on radio, television and print not only in Ghana but in Kenya and possibly in other African countries. And as usual the political divide featured prominently as na who cause am assumed a political flavor.
In an election year such as this, the errors have stirred the cynicism of the opposition to ascribe incompetence to everything that happened on Independence Day and to impress on Ghanaians the truth in Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo’s real state of the nation address.
Among some of the errors in the brochure is the listing of Uhuru Kenyatta as the president of Ghana. The program also states “Ghana is now recognized as having attained low-income status in the world,” the brochure states in part. The West African country is actually considered a middle-income economy. It goes further as follows: Coat of Arms was misspelled “Coat of Arm.” “Ghana has a checkered but interesting history in the true sense of the word. As if by divine designed, Ghana is strategically positioned on the equator, making her the centre of the globe. And like the sun she radiates light to all parts of the world.” In reality Ghana is four degrees north of the Equator. It is rather the Greenwich Meridian that passes vertically through the country. The syntactic and informational errors in the above are not only clear but strange at a time when Ghanaians are supposed to be better educated. If indeed we are better educated it does not reflect in the brochure of events for the independence anniversary. So many Ghanaians, especially the literati are not surprised and ashamed at the turn of events. It is not unusual to find similar mistakes in the media, both print and electronic. Movie subtitles and credits are similarly riddled with errors in grammar and spelling of names. But it is hardly questioned. The importance of proofreading is obviously overlooked. But this one is especially grave because of the international implications and the shame it brings on the country.
The acting director of Information Service Department, Francis Kwarteng Arthur is alleged to have admitted at a press conference that just hours to the event he found the mistakes in the brochure but he could not do anything to stop it from being distributed because of the large number of brochures that had already been printed. He is reported to have accepted full responsibility for the errors.
Rather unfortunately and adding insult to injury, grammar was not the only culprit on March 6. An unpardonable error in protocol occurred when at the end of the parade, the two august visitors from Kenya and Guinea Bissau specially invited for the event, had to wait in the scorching sun for 15 minutes for their rides. Ex-President Jerry Rawlings saved the situation by engaging a clearly angry and confused Uhuru Kenyatta in a conversation until his car arrived.
“Enti Ghana paa nie?” are the words on the lips of many Ghanaians.