4 July 2017

Ghana: The Upsurge of High Indiscipline Syndrome and the Saga of the Quiz Mistress' Handbag


It was after the launch of a book by a Roman Catholic Priest in Christ the King Church, that I had a rude shock of my life. That was maybe ten years ago. I was one of the guest speakers, and was still seated on the high table having a chat with a reporter who came up to see me.

Soon after he left, there was a report of a missing phone belonging to one of the senior priests. Soon the phone was downgraded to stolen. It turned out that the suspect was that reporter of a once popular newspaper.

That night I traced his place from the old offices of the newspaper to their new offices. And from there I was directed to his house, surely to miss his absence. His disturbed mother and aunt were shocked, but not surprised at the news, and promised me to give them two days, they would get him to return the phone.

They kept their word and gave me the phone without the chip. The reporter had thrown the chip away and pawned the phone to have money to buy hard drug. He had to buy the phone back.

Gradually, some demonic invasion into the heart and soul of our youth is gaining grounds. Today, we have what I call, high indiscipline syndrome (HIS), which makes some of our youth see evil as fun and good.

Today, the youth go out to acquire whatever they want for themselves, and it seems their parents are either not bothered or fed up in asking how they got what they possess.

The desire to live like the Joneses, and belong to the higher ups in their group, has led some of our youth engaging in scary things. Some years just gone by, we hear of students from some well-endowed schools engaging in armed robbery. Such students wanted only to acquire basketball shoes which made them belong to the top of their class of youth. So they could walk into a shop and pull a gun on the attendant to generously choose between"the sneakers or your life."

Another report was about a young student who tore a leaf from his parent's chequebook and went to signature experts to forge the signature, and went to cash the cheque, only to be grabbed at the cashier's counter.

These sad stories seemed to have been dead and gone, only to be found to have resurrected in recent ages, which included the report of the stolen handbag of the Quiz Mistress of the just-ended National Science and Maths Quiz (NSMQ).

Dr. Elsie Effah Kaufmann must have had a shock of her life, when after the jubilant crowd of students invaded the stage to hug and cheer the winners, her handbag disappeared when the dust settled down. Thursday June 29, 2017 will be a nightmare for this woman, who only went to carry out her national obligation of sorting out the best among equals.

Reports have it that a CCTV camera audit has identified the one alleged to have stolen the bag. The question is, when he is apprehended, would he have been a student of the winning school, Prempeh College, or someone who decided to take advantage of the situation to do what he did?

Whatever the case may be, this single act of lawlessness and indiscipline has robbed the shine off the celebration of victory well deserved by the winning school in particular, and all Ghanaians in general, who followed this event to the end.

If this common thief is a student of any of schools at the finals, or any school anywhere, it will be such a tough case for his school to wash off this dirt.

But we need to expand this act to the right prospective. It is a show of growing indiscipline in the land, especially among the youth. If so, then one will have to shiver and shudder about the future.

During our days, we, indeed, played pranks for amusement, and so cannot be excluded from acts of gross indiscipline. At school, we invaded the school farms at night, sneaked into the school kitchen to sample breakfast simmering on the lazy fire to be given to us the next morning. The Fathers' orchard was not immune to our pranks, and we thought we were having fun.

So, whenever the Asst. Headmaster, Mr. D.D. Dumfeh, called an emergency assembly and raged on in our faces about our indiscipline, those of us, the culprits, would sit in the front row. It was a psychological tactic, for, obviously, it is only natural that the guilty would hide at the back, and Mr. Dumfeh always focused his attention there. And we sat right in front of him and focused our ears on his raging face as he said, times without number, that "there is no thread too fine enough not to be seen in the sun." On hindsight, those acts were bad enough, and with time we repented. I met Mr. Dumfeh in church one day and confessed. He looked shocked and added, "I have forgiven you."

Now the dynamics have changed from harvesting cassava and fruits to sampling what was going to be served for breakfast. Today, it is high crime among the youth, with some ready to clear their parents' bank accounts, to cases of armed robbery and snatching of handbags.

Ghana needs to bring back the discipline we enjoyed whenever we went wrong those days. You did wrong at home at and get beaten, and then your parents went with you to school and asked the authority to discipline you. You got canned at school and got a top up extra at home as well. But not today, some Child and Human Rights could be violated here.

So, what do we do? I suggest we review the laws and see what is best fit for bringing back discipline in society. After all, the USA, which trumpets rights of the child at roof tops, has cases of child marriages among children as young as eleven.

We should look at ourselves and culture; the youth cannot be allowed to go this way.


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