One could almost hear the voice calling out to the Messiah. This voice, however, did not sound like the desperate and genuine voices that called out to Jesus Christ as he moved among the multitudes, healing the sick, raising the dead and giving hope to the hopeless. This voice did not come from any of the “outcasts” who needed attention from the Messiah.
It was the voice of one of the most senior disciples of the second most powerful Messiah of a land blessed by God, but which has been cursed with greed and thievery and insensitivity.
“Look, Messiah, there sits a woman who cannot walk but has managed to make it to the crusade.”
“I came here to preach for followers. I did not come to heal the sick,” said the Messiah, frankly.
“You don’t get it. It’s an opportunity, a photo opportunity,” the experienced disciple said.
“Oh! I see. How do I take advantage of this opportunity?”
“Go and kneel beside her, not in front of her. Kneel just beside her so that we can get a good photograph. Make your face ‘mmobo mmobo’, I mean wear a sad face, a face that shows that you care. Fake it.”
“That’s easy,” said the Messiah. “Faking is one of the first things I learned when I joined this profession.”
“Great! We will take a photograph that shows that you are very caring. We will circulate it and tell the whole world that you are a listening and compassionate Messiah. It can win us more souls.”
“That sounds like a good idea,” the Messiah lightened up.
“Oh yes,” the disciple agreed. “In America, they kiss babies, but here we take advantage of the vulnerable. And it works.”
“You are a genius,” the Messiah praised the disciple.
“Well, I don’t need to be a genius to know this. Didn’t you see Nana Akufo-Addo with the head porters (kayayei) in Kumasi and his followers want us to believe that he wanted to listen to their concerns? Do you think he really needed them there to know about their concerns? Any idiot knows that they need decent jobs. I can tell you he brought them there to make a political statement. You know those miserable girls and women who have become beasts of burden are from Northern Ghana. And it made political sense to create a scene that suggested that the kayayei from the north have even fallen for him.
“After the rally, they will go back to the slums and street corners and in-between shops. There, they will endure the hardships of the weather. They will endure rape and defilement and other untold human rights abuses. And that’s where they will remain after the elections. They will remain there if Akufo-Addo wins. Their benefit, if he wins, is that they won’t pay market tolls. They will remain there if Mahama wins. They will be left to their miserable fate until another crucial election beckons.”
“But that is not good,” the Messiah said, genuinely concerned.
“Well, we all do it,” the disciple reminded him.
“Have you not seen huge billboards of President Mahama visiting the sick in the hospital, which are mounted across the country? And when you passed a derogatory comment about short people, didn’t you see President Mahama posing for a photograph with a midget this week in the Volta Region?”
“But, if we take this photograph with the disabled woman, won’t people want to know what my government has done for her and persons with disability? When a journalist from Adom FM recently asked my wife this question when she went to the Accra Psychiatric Hospital for a photo opportunity, she was nearly embarrassed. What saved her was that she used her ‘patapaa’ to say she did not know.” Even that was news.”
“Sir, that’s not your headache. Those people have always been with us. What we need now is how to play on the emotions of people and win,” the disciple assured him.
“Haven’t you seen the huge billboards of President Mahama putting sandals on the feet of school children? Those photographs were taken in Ada when he launched the free school sandals programme for basic school children in June 2015. In all, 10, 000 sandals were distributed but we have more than 5,000,000 basic school children in the country.
“In Ada East District where he launched the programme, we have over 17,000 basic school kids. This means that if all the sandals were given to only that small district, it would not be enough. We gave that District 1000 pairs of sandals.”
“Four months after the launch, that silly boy at Joy FM called Manasseh Azure Awuni followed up and found about 300 pairs of sandals were still locked up in the Ghana Education Service stores after the distribution…”
“Wow! Did Jesus perform a miracle?” the Messiah interposed.
“No, Sir. Those were oversized sandals. He found out that they were sizes ranging between 38 and 42. The District Director of Education said they could not get children whose feet were big enough for those sandals,” the disciple explained.
“That must be very embarrassing. So why do we still talk about it as an achievement?” the Messiah asked, very concerned.
“That did not stop us from proceeding with our agenda of listing it in our almighty Green Book as a monumental achievement and erecting gigantic billboards across the country to project the President as a loving and compassionate father of the nation,” the disciple said. “And I can tell you the cost of the billboards is higher than the amount we spent to provide the sandals.”
“I see,” the Messiah sighed.
“So this is your opportunity, too. Go and squat by the woman and let’s get our paid propagandists to make this picture go viral. You won’t be the first person to ignore the actual needs of persons living with disabilities.”
“Even the district assemblies have refused to give them the 2% the District Assembly Common Fund allocated to them,” the disciple continued. “SEND Ghana has published research upon research, indicating how that money is being misused but nothing has come out of it and nothing will come out of it.”
“This is sad,” said the Messiah.
“P.K!, ei sorry, Your Excellency, we don’t have time,” the disciple said, looking irritated. “There is a crucial election to be won. This is not the time to feel sorry for people whose predicaments you did not create. I have asked that they clear the people in front of her. Go and squat by her and let’s take the photograph. If there is anything you want to do for her, we can sort that out later.”
[The photograph was taken. The Messiah received a lot of praises from bystanders. “Awww… That’s caring! Such a kind man. We will follow him always,” the Multitude chorused. “How do you feel that the second most powerful Messiah of our land came and spoke to you?” that was a question from a journalist who cared more about his stomach than the plight of the people who were left behind. The Messiah was back in his air-conditioned Japanese Toyota V-8. He had forgotten about the what had happened until the disciple brought it up]
“That was a good one, Messiah. You did it better than I imagined. You even put your hand on the ground.”
“That was to support me. I would have fallen,” the Messiah confessed.
“But the people will not know that,” the disciple said. “One of these days you have to help a woman wash her panties. I will have to arrange that for you. Things are not looking very good and we have to exploit every situation.”
“Wash panties? Are you sick?” the Messiah protested.
“I’m sorry, Your Excellency, but that’s the only novel thing I can think about. Dr. Kpesah Whyte stirred banku and it did not help him. Dr. Bawumia is pounding fufu and Okoe Vanderpuije is stirring banku and braiding hair. Akufo-Addo and his wife are going about eating kenkey with youth they would not associate with in normal times. I don’t think there is anything left to be done. We must up our game. It will soon be over. You have to wash panties in order to stand out,” the disciple said thoughtfully.
“And do you think that will work?” the Messiah said.
“It will work like magic. I heard someone say the other day that Okoe Vanderpuije ‘is very down to earth. For such a high government official to braid hair means he really loves his people.’ I cringed when I heard this. This is a man who refused to resign when the Melcom building collapsed and killed 14 people and injured over sixty others. The building had no permit and his excuse was that he was not in charge when the building was put up.
“Last year, more than 150 people were killed in the flood and fire disaster in Accra. He was in charge. Not only did he not resign but when the BBC asked whether he would apologise to the people of Accra, he said no.” If such a person is braiding hair and winning souls, what can’t you win by washing panties?”
“So what’s the colour of the panties you want to select for me to wash?” the Messiah asked.
“It should either be black or red, any colour apart from white. We don’t want Bawumia to say you are incompetent even in the washing of panties.”
“I thought as much,” the Messiah said, and fell into a deep sleep of thinking, thinking about how to surmount his next gimmick before December 7!
The Writer, Manasseh Azure Awuni, is a senior broadcast journalist with Joy 99.7FM. The views expressed in this article are entirely his and do not represent the views of the station. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org