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'Ghanaian thing' or 'Tanzanian thing' or 'African thing'

Discussion in 'Jukwaa la Siasa' started by MPIGA ZEZE, Mar 23, 2012.


    MPIGA ZEZE JF-Expert Member

    Mar 23, 2012
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    Wana JF hii mada nimeipenda na ninaiwasisha kama ilivyoandikwa. tafadhali jisikie huru kutoa maoni kwa lugha yo yote kati ya lugha zetu kuu: Kiswahili, Kiingereza, au Kiswangereza

    A title is a prefix or suffix added to a person’s name to indicate veneration, an official position, professional affiliation, or academic qualification. Generally, Africans love titles but most Ghanaians particularly are obsessed with them- both the ones written at the beginning of names (prefix) or those at the end of names (suffix). Prefix titles are traditionally common in Ghanaian society, especially among people of Akan extraction. “Nana”, “Opanin”, “Ohene”, “Ohemaa” “Okatakyie”, “Okomfo”, and Abrante are common prefix titles among the Akans. However, most of them are for honour and veneration.

    The British colonization also increased the desire for titles in Ghana, as it brought along with it institutions such as the church, wage employment, police, army and education that warranted the use of prefix and suffix titles. Not only that, old Britain itself was obsessed with titles. It was structured in a hierarchical order based on titles like Duke, Marquess, Earl, Viscount, Baron, and Knight. Little wonder, such obsession also infected its Ghana colony via those institutions.

    Recently, during a Metro TV interview with Hannah Louisa Bisiw, the deputy minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing, she demanded that she should be addressed by her titles. Apparently, one of her titles was “Dr” (doctor). She innocently asked, “If titles were not to be used, they wouldn’t have been created”. Certainly titles are to be used that is why they were created but they have to be used for the proper purpose and in the appropriate context. It should be noted that a Ph. D. (doctor of philosophy or doctor) is not a professional, hereditary or traditional title. It is an academic qualification with no permanent entitlements attached As well, it has no local, national or international significance. It has significance only within the academic institution where it is awarded. Medical doctors carry the title of Doctor (Dr.) because it signifies their professional affiliation. While it has local or national significance, it is not an international or universal title. Consequently, a medical doctor in Ghana will not be recognized as such in countries like Canada, the UK or the United States unless she/he had completed the certification processes of those countries.

    Similarly, a professor is a job title or position in a particular institution of learning. It is not a universal position or title, nor is it transferable from one institution to another. In formal settings, people with PhDs and have a professorial title or position are introduced such as Mr. or Ms. X (Ph.D in law at the university of…), for example. Thus, we are stunned at statements like “Professor Doctor Atta Mills”, in reference to Mr. Atta Mills, the president of Ghana. He is a professor of what and where? We know that Mr. Atta Mills was a professor of tax law at the University of Ghana. However, he is obviously no longer a professor of that educational institution. Why then should we continue to call him professor? Is he a professor of “Ghana”? If so, is Ghana an academic institution? Bill Clinton, the former United States president, has a doctorate degree in jurisprudence from Yale University and was a law professor at the University of Arkansas- Fayetteville. Yet he was never referred as such during his political career either as governor of Arkansas or president of the United States. Nor did he ever call himself a professor during his political career. Again, Mr. Gordon Brown, the current British Prime Minister, has a PhD or doctorate degree in history from the University of Edinburgh. In his position as Prime Minister, he or nobody has ever referred to him as a Dr. In both cases, these powerful individuals know that the title “doctor” is an academic qualification, not a transferable title to the world of politics. For Bill Clinton his job title as a professor of law ended when he became a politician. Commonsensically, Mr. Bill Clinton could not be a professor of law and at the same time either be the governor of Arkansas or president of the United States. Obviously, the academic achievements of these individuals are part of their biographies, a fact we think nobody disputes.

    We wonder why most Ghanaians with doctorate degrees (PhDs) bear these titles in our political institutions. How can an academic qualification such as “Dr” be a national or transferable title? Some people say that it is a “Ghanaian thing” that has the function of informing others of the bearer’s academic achievements, but how many times do they want to inform other people of their achievements by wearing those professorial and doctorate titles? In fact, this “Ghanaian thing” is morally deceptive and repugnant. Its main function, from our perspective, is to show off such titles in the public domain. But the academic title of PhD and the professorial title must never be pieces of exhibition, nor do they signify extent of one’s intellectual prowess. Anyway, an intellectual is a person who engages in inquiry, reflection, analysis, speculation, in-depth thought and application of ideas to solve abstract or concrete problems.

    Consequently, intellectuality is not equal to the wearing of titles. Titles must be worn in the appropriate contexts, and the examples we have given should serve to educate Ghanaians about the superfluous use of these titles by our politicians and others.

    F, Ahia and Fredua Kwarteng, University of Toronto, Canada.
    Ghanaian Obsession with Titles! | Feature Article 2010-01-27
  2. K

    Kamundu JF-Expert Member

    Mar 23, 2012
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    Tanzanians with only Honarable PHD they want you to call them Dr!!!. even Prisident