“Daddy, my friend Akosua’s mum told us that before I was born, you were a very big man. So does it mean your stomach was big like this?”, and my son proceeded to circumscribe a wide circle with his little seven-year-old hands. I smiled because I understood his question. But the torrents of memories that came with the answer to the question were the demons of my life, red gnarling demons that I had spent the better part of the past seven years exorcising.
As far back as my primary school days, politics was in my blood. I was school prefect in basic school, middle school, secondary school and even managed to clinch the SRC President position in the university.
It was, therefore, no surprise when the political parties of the day, having heard of my exploits, tried to woo me to join their camp. Initially, I was sceptical. My political life was a very honest one, and anyone who schooled with me would attest to that. And that was also why I did not want to engage in politics after school. That game was too bloody and nasty for my liking, achieving nothing but the enrichment of the few at the top and impoverishing the masses. At the same time, I tried to convince myself that it could be my chance to change the system. The mental conflict was serious.
To cut a long story short, I joined one of the minority parties at the time. I did not do so because the bigger parties were beyond my reach or because of any personal inadequacies. I joined them because I felt I could exert more influence there than in the other parties, where egos were big and friction was hot.
With time, I got closer to my constituents, showing them love, care and compassion at the least opportunity. They loved me, I loved them. They voted me their Member of Parliament. Then everything changed. Only power can reveal a man’s true character.
I started enjoying the perks of the position: free accommodation, free fuel, and free healthcare, at least a 500% increase in my monthly salary, various funny allowances and a lot of other things I have even forgotten. I began regarding myself as being better than the people I was serving.
As the days went by, I started to develop a cancerous sense of entitlement. I did not see why I should share the money allocated to the constituency equally to all the districts when the poor lazy illiterates were not even ready to work for themselves. So I started to divert funds.
My wife advised me severally about the sudden worsening of my human attitudes. At the time, I did not pay attention to her. She was a ceremonial wife; who the hell did she think she was to show me how to live my life?
The road that connected my district capital to the regional capital was so bad that it took three hours to complete a journey that would have taken forty-five minutes if the road were a bit better. I promised the people that I would improve the road if they gave me the mandate. When the money for the road finally came, I put half in my personal account and gave the other half as loans to my party faithful. The recipients hailed me and promised me that I would be the MP for as long as I wanted. I was happy that at least, there were people who still loved me.
Two years into my assumption of office, my wife got pregnant. Around her estimated time of delivery, I was out of town with some of my cronies and some bad university girls who we shared and passed around like PK Chewing Gum. I got a call one cold night.
“Hello. Is this Honourable Kofi Titi?”
“Yes, it is. How may I help you?” I barked into the phone. Whoever it was had to talk fast; I had to go handle some ‘hot businesses’ on my king-size bed.
“Sorry, Sir, but please come to the Marcus Boye Regional Hospital now.” The line went dead. All the blood in my groin rushed back to my head. I rushed to the hospital.
The news? My wife had developed complications and had been rushed to the regional hospital from the district hospital. The doctors said if she had come an hour after the complications started, she would be alive; three hours was too much, she had lost too much blood. But they managed to save the baby.
To say I was devastated is an understatement. The poor innocent woman had paid for my sins. Then it dawned on me that my actions might have killed even more people. I could not forgive myself.
The very next day, I returned all the money I had stolen. I resigned and said goodbye to politics.
Now, as my son stares into my face, I remember his mother – that beautiful innocent angel I killed.
I do not know whether to tell him the truth now or later when he can appreciate it better but I know one thing: it was Ghana’s Independence Day and people like me are the reason why after 59 years of so-called independence, we are more dependent on foreign aid now than ever before.
If Ghana will work again (has it ever worked?), it will depend on every single one of us but will depend most on our leadership.
Author: Leslie Akplah, threesixtyGh Writer
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