African News

A Moral Mystery: NUGS’ Self-Pity

15 April 2006 at 04:47 | 389 views

Kofi Akosah-Sarpong, in Accra, reflects on the National Union of Ghana Students’ moral crisis.

By Kofi Akosa-Sarpong

Since 1965 when it was founded to protect and promote the interests of Ghanaian students, the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS) has been at the vanguard of correcting all that is wrong in Ghana’s progress, especially during the one-party autocratic regimes and brutal military juntas Ghana has come to experience, but less on moral campaigns.

NUGS helped midwife Ghana’s democracy. Over the years, despite its huge contribution to Ghana’s progress, sometimes resulting in some deaths, NUGS is seen as an unnecessary confronter, an unrealistic critic, and a forum for immature play.

Here may be a key to moral mystery. Suddenly, as if responding to Ghana’s Vice President Aliu Mahama’s long-running war against indiscipline and general moral decadence, NUGS appears to have had self-awareness, gone into itself for moral refreshment, and is talking of halting “general decline of moral standard in schools.” NUGS’s self-pity on the moral crisis of Ghanaian students, and more appropriately the youth, was further shattered when Ghana’s leading independent newspaper, the Accra-based The Ghanaian Chronicle, in an investigative expose, published that students in Ghana’s second largest city, Kumasi, patronize prostitutes.

This has created a huge public relations problem for NUGS. How do Ghanaian students keep on in the face of moral decline that may come in the form of anti-sanitation practices, spitting, defecating, and urinating in public, examination crimes, prostitution, irrationality, mendacity, weak grasp of their country’s cultural values, entrapped in foreign values, weak civic virtues, and general spiritual weaknesses? How do they explain themselves to themselves, and themselves to Ghana?

NUGS has found an amazing solution: they feel sorry for themselves. They wallow in self-pity. In NUGS own minds, they have solved their own formidable moral problems by declaring themselves the injured party in a nation that is increasingly counting on the moral virtues of its youth to carry on its generational developmental mission.

A devious, if disgraceful display of moral crisis; this is a tactic one encounters in child abusers, an area where NUGS is yet to incorporate into its claimed new moral vision in a country which human rights culture is growing, who skillfully manage to convince themselves that they were driven into it by the appalling behaviour of their victims. A filthy conscience often goes to hide in the refuge of self-pity. NUGS is getting help in its self-pity. As the Accra Daily Mail editorialized, “NUGS has cried, let us rally and help!” And the leading mass circulation, the Accra-based the Daily Graphic, found NUGS self-pity so troublesome that it not only carried NUGS moral dilemma in its front page but shouted “NUGS WAGES MORAL WAR.”

NUGS have other means to talk themselves into an attitude of aggrieved innocence in its sociological sub-culture of Biblical Sodom and Gomorrah, and calls for the “reactivation and strengthening of the counseling system in schools” to contain the group’s moral crisis. This will help NUGS to take head-on the mounting emotional challenges Ghanaian students face in the face of never-ending poverty and unemployment, mounting filth that impact on their wellbeing, elders who rip-off their future, growing individualism against Ghanaian/African value of communalism, increasing occult and superstitious beliefs, anguish and increasing despair, moral predicament brought about by globalization, hatred and tribalism, mounting stupidity, elders who do not nurture their children well, and a country that appears not to have realistic youth policies to tackle youth problems.

The deeply disturbing NUGS self-pity has projected all around itself a siege of malevolent conspiracy. Actually, as NUGS opens itself up, in some sort of nation-wide therapeutic session, in the climate of Ghana’s developing democracy and human rights culture, the Accra Daily Mail, among others, is urging it to fight the vices that have brought its long-running self-pity: “rape, drug abuse, sexual excesses, pregnancies, vandalism, nudity, stealing, alcoholism, occultism.” As a group, NUGS has the dynamic super-force to wage a national moral campaign to correct the deep-seated vices it has found itself in over the years and which is entangling Ghana’s progress. In this sense, it has the will to transform its sense of narcissistic self-pity that is merely personality contempt to moral heroism in its group context: a fierce, virtuous assertion of NUGS as a group. It is from here that NUGS can change its self-pity to selflessness and, by its moral mission, righteousness.

The Ghanaian Chronicle expose of the Kumasi students patronizing prostitutes, in addition to NUGS’ own acceptance of its moral sicknesses, is an indication of how democratization of Ghana’s communications is bringing a reign of sunshine in which the germs of decline of moral standards of students is having trouble surviving.

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