Tuesday, April 17, 2012

REPOST: Ghana Politics 101: To avoid unnecessary damage, control your loose cannons

Very recent events in the BAD (Beacon of African Democracy), Ghana, have prompted me to repost this from 2010. Clearly politicians in Ghana never seem to heed advice proffered freely in my lectures for Ghana Politics 101. Maybe they are all taking the course pass-fail. 

Cannons at Fort Antonio in Axim in the Western Region, Ghana
Source:  My personal album of fabulous pics
In military history, cannons transformed the art of warfare and were essential artillery for some key battles dating back to Ancient China. Cannons were also vital to naval combat and the phrase 'loose cannon' alludes to the fact that if your cannons were not secure, they were likely to roll about on deck and cause damage to your ship.  It is not surprising therefore that modern English has adopted the term:

Main Entry: loose cannon
Function: noun
: a dangerously uncontrollable person or thing
Source: Merriam-Oxford Dictionary Online

Over the years, a number of colourful 'loose cannons' have dotted the Ghanaian political landscape. Just like improperly secured cannons, these are usually from one's own armory and cause damage to one's own interests.

Class, the take-home message is simple: if you do not want your political opponents to make mischief of ambiguous statements emerging from your camp, then control your  loose cannons. If you are unable to do so, the ensuing damage could be serious. You would then be forced to field spokespeople who have the excruciating task of explaining the indefensible to the general public. At that point, you just have to hope that the spokespeople are able to use enough circular logic to dazzle the populace and prevent further questions.

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