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ORDER! ORDER OF THE FACE OF AGYA KOO (FULL MEMBER)

I received a national honour, the Order of the Volta, at the National Awards Ceremony two weeks ago.  I took it with both hands.  And I’m very proud of it.

I wished though the conversations around the awards hadn’t been of a partisan political nature.  But, hey, that’s democracy.  However detestable, I would rather have the political cacophony than silence enforced by a handful of arrogant, hypocritical, megalomaniacal sociopaths.  When the noise is unbearable, you can always turn off the radio.  And, often, I do.

I must confess, however, that I had questions myself when I first saw the awards list.  I, too, thought it was rather long and it had too many Ministers.  But the explanation that the President was trying to clear a backlog, and that some of the Ministers who were also MPs, along with their opposition counterparts, were being honoured for serving more than three terms in the legislature, tidied up some of the doubt.

As to the justification for honouring all the Ministers who have served since 2001, I suppose we can have a beer over it.

But let’s put the politicians aside for a moment. I want to dwell on some of the recipients who touched my heart.  There were the Cuban doctors, who along with the young Ghanaian doctor, Sukenibe Seidu, went where others wouldn’t go, wiped the pus others wouldn’t touch, and stayed in Bawku when others fled.  They were decorated for gallantry.

There was Mrs. Salome Francois who, decades ago, established and runs the New Horizon SpecialSchool for mentally-challenged children in Accra, I was stunned to learn that had never been honoured by our country.

How could 84-year-old K.B. Asante, teacher, civil servant, diplomat and patriot, who has served this country since independence with all his intellect and soul, be sidelined in the national honours lists for over 50 years?  How ungrateful could a nation be?

Did you see Louisa Enyonam Ansah, a woman without arms, who went through school and teacher training college writing with her toes. She’s been a JSS teacher for nearly two decades!  She’s not in the streets begging for crumbs and pity.  She took her scroll with one foot and shook hands with the President with her other foot. She had a big smile on her face.  I had a lump in my throat.  What a role model!

These are just a few.  For me, to count what it cost to decorate these heroes and heroines is truly silly.

And who are we to suggest that Agya Koo and his work are too pedestrian to deserve a national honour?  For ordinary folks who aren’t privileged enough to have cable television, and whose arts heroes don’t originate from Los Angeles, theirs is Agya Koo.  Our national honours aren’t reserved for the elite of our society.  They’re for everyone.  Agya Koo is a reflection of us.  If you ran into Agya Koo anywhere in the world, you wouldn’t need to ask where he came from.  His head may not be oh so cute.  But that’s your head.   Agya Koo is all of us.

And now that the former speaker Peter Ala Adjetey has passed away less than a fortnight after his national honour, everyone says “Oh, what a great man he was!”

But I guess there’s no need to have a funeral for him.  It’ll be a waste of money.  People don’t have water.  Others haven’t eaten.  There are school fees to be paid.  And the price of gari is up.

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