A few days ago, the headmistress of a primary school in Kukurantumi, Ghana, Juliet Oppong, met with Matilda Amissah-Arthur – wife to the vice-president of Ghana – as the Second Lady presented the school with five new computers.
After thanking the Second Lady profusely, she made a plea for chalk, uniforms and basic necessities:
The elderly say if you want to communicate something to God, you say it to the wind. We are therefore requesting of you to tell government to try and come to our aid with these things which are in short supply in the school
Well. Mrs Amissah-Arthur was not amused and had this to say in response:
The Head teacher has shocked me…she said you lack chalk and log books…I am very shocked that you are today asking me about chalk…how much is a box of chalk…I won’t give you chalk today, I won’t give you chalk tomorrow.
“Design a database of old students of the school and together with the PTA and teachers, provide your own chalk. The government has ‘spoilt’ Ghanaians by providing for even basic needs and that has led t parents becoming reluctant to acquire school uniforms for their wards and are instead relying on the free school uniforms by government… I will even feel shy to go to Accra and call on the government to come and provide chalk…it would be very difficult for me to do so.
Needless to say, this did NOT go down well with the good citizens of Ghana, and there was a lot of negative feedback. None quite as beautiful, as poetic, as acerbic, or dripping with sarcasm as this letter below. As it started with “Dear ‘Auntie Matilda’, I knew I would be in for a good time. I got some coffee and sat down for the burn-fest. And what an incineration it is!
Seriously, if you have no tact or diplomacy, just go home and cook for your husband. Politics ain’t for you if you cannot see the need of the common man. Enjoy, my people:
Dear Auntie Matilda,
I wish to apologise on behalf of my head teacher for making that bizarre request. It is very silly to ask government to provide us with chalk, log books and other teaching and learning materials. We all know that is the work of those American NGOs. They always bring us pens, pencils, chalk, crayons and books, not the government.
I will also like to apologise on behalf of all parents and school children who received free school uniforms and sandals. Auntie, it is very true what you said. Government has spoilt us with all these freebies. Government officials don’t enjoy such freebies so why should children like us? Auntie, I bet you’ve never ever enjoyed any government freebie before. It is unfair for us to expect government to give us free uniforms and sandals when the president, his vice- your husband and the ministers and various appointees do not receive any freebies at all.
Oh sorry auntie Matilda. In my haste to apologise, I’ve completely forgotten to ask about your journey back to Accra. Please forgive me. I hope you had a comfortable drive back. I know your four-wheel drive wouldn’t have any problems gliding over those giant potholes in our village. And your seats looked very well padded so you wouldn’t even feel the bump if your driver was careless enough to go through the biggest pothole- which is about 10 times the size of my head. And you had the whole backseat to yourself. It must have been a real hustle-free journey. Nothing like how we travel to Accra. We travel on those rickety Ford vans. My father can’t afford to pay for a seat for me so I always perch on my mother’s lap- one hand holding onto the side of the seat for balance and the other hand masking my nose from the dust. It must be really nice travelling in dusty and hot conditions in your fully air-conditioned vehicle. Maybe one day my tiny buttocks will get the chance to sit in a 4×4 like yours.
A vehicle like that must be really expensive. And it must consume a lot of petrol too. It must be really expensive to own and maintain a vehicle like that. Someone told me the Taxpayer bought that 4×4 for you. I wonder who that Taxpayer is. He/she must be very very rich. God bless him/her for making your life so comfortable. I wish the Taxpayer will buy us some chalk to help us learn at school.
Auntie, I really have to end here. I need to finish my homework before the lights go off. It’ll be off for the next 48 hours but when it’s back on, we will be able to test those computers you brought. I hope they work, I hear those second-hand computers blow up often because of the dumsor. Anyway, bye for now auntie.
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