Dampare’s humility shatters ‘big man’ syndrome – Article

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Professor Kwesi Yankah, former Education Minister, has weighed in on the recent social media buzz surrounding a photo of the Inspector General of Police, Dr. George Akuffo Dampare, purchasing roasted plantain by the roadside.

Professor Yankah praised the police chief’s humility and noted the rarity of high-ranking officials engaging in such mundane activities.

Professor Yankah revealed in a Facebook post that he contacted the IGP, who confirmed that buying roasted plantain by the roadside is part of his routine.

The academic emphasized the significance of Dampare’s actions, claiming that many “big men” avoid such activities in order to avoid public scrutiny.

In reflecting on the incident, Professor Yankah mentioned his memoir, “The Pen at Risk,” in which he exposes the pretentious lives of people in positions of power.

The post honors Dampare’s ability to defy the ‘big man’ syndrome, challenging the notion that people in positions of power cannot appreciate the simplicity of everyday life.

Below is the full article by Professor Yankah

THE IGP CAUGHT RED-HANDED

In the early 1990s when Ghana had not quite recovered from military rule, I took the risk and did a story which almost earned me a haircut, and a new home address. The story appearing in my weekly column for the ‘Mirror,’ was entitled, Arrest the Ghana Police, in which I listed vehicles in Accra polluting the skyline of the capital, virtually spraying poisonous exhaust fumes all over the city. These included a BMW saloon with registration number GP 3, dedicated to the third-in-command of the Ghana police. Days after the daring story broke, I ended up in the grips of the Ghana police for a traffic offense and was rescued in the nick of time. It was a happy ending, and I ended up keeping my own haircut and home address.

I have since learned my lessons toying with screaming headlines. But since we are several years into constitutional democracy, let me dare reveal an unusual spectacle on earth that recently made headlines in the social media and raised eyebrows: the nation’s Inspector General of Police, Dr George Dampare, ‘caught’ buying roasted plantain and groundnuts by the wayside. But for vigilant media men and paparazzi who recorded the scene, the gentleman would have escaped unnoticed and spared the charge of ‘dragging his high office into culinary disrepute,’ or rather ‘causing fear and panic by the streetside.’ It is an offense for big men to behave that way or rather be themselves. This explains my sensational headline today, ‘IGP Caught Red-Handed,’ which could as well cause a stir and haul me before Mr George Sarpong and the National Media Commission.

I have since made further inquiries from the IGP himself who admits his ‘offense,’ and ‘confesses’ that it is his normal routine, and may have happened in March 2022 when returning from a funeral in the Eastern region. The No. 1 Gentleman in charge of law and order thus ‘confesses’ being a serial offender, and unfortunately shows no signs of remorse or repentance. Given another chance the IGP will probably buy roasted plantain by the wayside again and raise eyebrows!!

The entire episode puts me on the spot, and justifies the several beans I spill in my memoirs, The Pen at Risk, where I expose the pretentious lives of ‘big men’ including professors, and the ordinary world they dearly miss. Let me steal a page from the last chapter: ‘My Parting Confessions’:

“Coping with your new status, as ‘professor’ the trickiest challenge has been curbing your appetite for street side finger foods: banana, roasted groundnuts with corn (‘Graphic and Times’), boiled or roasted corn with dried coconut pieces; atadwe (tiger nuts).

“The best of my favourites is bofrot (not quite doughnuts), but also koose (often denigrated as bean cake). It is often not a question of availability of your delights in shops or stores: Accra Mall, Achimota Mall, West Hills, or Kumasi Mall, and all the other mauls. You may stock all such malls with bofrot, atadwe, roasted corn, roasted plantain, and all, but still lose your professor clientele. My colleagues and I may prefer the street side finger treats, but are socially handicapped to say it aloud.

“As for tiger nuts, the biggest dilemma has been how to buy it without looking over your shoulders. Ogyakromians would better understand the parable of the tiger nuts here. The rest better forget our coded legend. The daring challenge has been how to roll down windows of your airconditioned car, and reach out for atadwe or atadwe milk, at Nkawkaw without being arrested by cctv cameras or a past student of Legon. The front pages of the Daily Guide, or other social media portals may have a great headline the following morning, which could keep people whispering, ‘at this old age, why does he still need atadwe milk?’

“But there is a solution to all this. Make sure you are in good company if you are not using a personal driver. Between you and your driver (if any), there could be a secret pact. He would then know what to do, and how to pretend he is buying it for himself, and not for his unseen boss doing social media at the back seat.

“Opanyin Kofi Agyekum may be spared divulging this; but on the several trips I did with him to Kumasi in the 1990s, he knew where we routinely stopped for hot steaming ‘bofrot’ at 9am. It was Akim Asiakwa. This was a delight for which you could easily turn down a free flight from Accra to Kumasi.”

Considering all these the IGP, Dr George Dampare, may as well be acquitted of all charges filed. IGP was not caught red-handed after all.

He was seen maintaining public law and order with double barreled plantain loaded with groundnut bullets.

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