ââŚif he were a young lad, I âd talk to him about it and try to teach him better, but who can be a school master to a child of sixty years old?â John Ploughmanâs Talks: Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
âWhen I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish thingsâ-1st Corinthians 13:11, read by British Prime Minister Tony Blair at the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales on 6th September,1997.
âLike as the waves make towards the pebbled shore, so do our minutes hasten to their end; Each changing place with that which goes beforeâŚ Nativity, once in the main of light, crawls to maturityâŚ Time doth transfix the flourish set on youth and delves the parallels in beautyâs brow, Feeds on the rarities of natureâs truth, And nothing stands but for his scythe to mowâŚâ- Shakespeareâs âSonnet 60â.
A group of young men and women were taking routine training drills at Burma Camp Accra, in the mid -80s and I was one of them. The exercises were so strenuous our only consolidation lay in our ardent belief in the catch-phrase: âThe young shall grow.â The âyoungâ (Not: The âyoungsâ) here is an adjective used as a noun; for example, in the case of: âa young manâ or âa poor workerâ, âyoungâ and âpoorâ are adjectives modifying the nouns âmanâ and âworkerâ respectively. But when such adjectives are preceded by âtheâ and not followed by any nouns, then the adjectives refer to the collective of people who fall into the categories mentioned in the adjectives, e.g. Government must provide shelter for the homeless (=the homeless people); A word to the wise (=the wise people) is enough; The meek (=the meek people) shall inherit the earth. Some book titles make use of these adjectives: for example; The Wretched (=the wretched people) of the Earth by Frantz Fanon; The Naked (=the naked people) and the Dead (=the dead people) by Norman Mailer; The Red and the Black by Stendhal and the Beautiful and Damned by Scott Fitzgerald; the titled The Departed by Martin Scorsese, so also is the American soap opera titled the Young and the Restless.
Also, a ânominal adjectiveâ may be used to donate nationalities, e.g. âThe French are noted for their love of leisureâ. Compare this with the âdenominal adjectiveâ, e.g. âThe French people are noted for their love of leisureâ.
Ever since the âYouth Revolutionâ of Europe in the 1960s, there has been due recognition of the significance of the youth, especially in the socio-political life of modern societies.
The German post-war society (i.e. after 1945) was âprudish and ultra-conservativeâ. The common rule of behaviour was not to stir attention. Family life was dominated by strict rules: the father as head of the family was to be obeyed unconditionally, he being responsible for everything and having the last word in all decisions. Children were enjoined to be well-behaved, and not to bring shame upon the family. Any âmisbehaviourâ was roundly punished with a cane or a slap. The womanâs role was the three Câs- Cooking, Children, Church.
In 1967, however, two students at Hamburg hurled a banner before their professors on which was written; âUnder Their Roles Thereâs Fug of 1000 Yearsâ. An angry professor retorted: âYou should be sent to a concentration campâ.
A series of protests, demonstrations, repressions and crack-downs followed, and in 1968, the youth had their way: the reforms were very wide (and gargantuan): English was taught in all regular schools; children of all confessions and both gender could sit together in one classroom; obligatory school years were raised from eight to nine, with an optional tenth; flogging was forbidden at school. The collective name for the movement was âanti-authoritarianâ, and the youth would have no âtrustâ for anybody over 30 years of age. The youth had nothing against true authorities; âPeople whose thoughts appeared to be essential and important and helpful to us- these people were accepted, their books were studied and passed around, we could listen to them for hours, and discuss their ideas the whole night long. But the arrogant bumptious authoritarians who had nothing but orders and laws and rulesâŚ were only laughed at and ignored. In the darkest epochs of our history always too many Germans had unscrupulously obeyed to every order, even if the laws were inhuman and the orders were criminal, and we were determined to break with this disastrous tradition now.â The students had studied Marx, Engels, Lenin, Luxemburg, Gandhi, Mao and Ernesto Che Guevara, and they were ready to put into practice what they had read.
There were similar youth movements in the United States of America (with the âflower powerâ idea against the Vietnam War), Great Britain, France, Japan, Denmark, Italy and Japan. In France, for example, the situation escalated quickly owing to mistakes by the government which included the closing of Sorbonne. Thus, what had begun as studentsâ protest against the police became a massive (gargantuan) outcry against the âstatus quoâ, turning the events into a national crisis. The youth revolution (also called âcultural revolutionâ of the 1960s) glorified drugs, denigrated traditional values, and defamed âformal democracyâ. These were the only concepts and attitudes that were seen as âpolitically correctâ.
When I entered the University of Ghana, Legon, in 1974, I found almost every studentâs room adorned with the picture of Ernesto Che Guevera, the Argentine Marxist revolutionary, with the inscription: âAluta Continuaâ (The struggle continues) which is in line with one of Cheâs philosophies: âThe revolution is not an apple that falls when it is ripe. You have to make it fallâ. The correct wording of this Portuguese phrase is not âAluta Continua, Victoria Acertaâ; it is rather: âA luta Continua, Vittoria e Certaâ- âThe struggle continues, victory is certainâ.
When I returned to the University again in 1979, the mood of the students had been whipped up by the June Four Movement (1979), and the likeable student leader was the âcharismaticâ guy who could rattle ârevolutionary rhetoricâ and âMarxian Logicâ. Students were more prepared to listen to such orators more than they were prepared to listen to others whose speeches could at best be described as humdrum, mundane or commonplace. The military leaders were being urged to âlet the blood flowâ, especially on anyone who was above forty years. The Revolution was not âfriendlyâ to Ghanaians above the age of forty. The average age of students at the tertiary level was around twenty three (23), and at this youthful age, anyone above forty was seen as an âoldâ or âelderlyâ person. These persons had ruined the country-socially, economically, and politically, and the wisest and noblest thing to do was to eliminate them. The age of the leader of the Revolution, Flight Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings was thirty one, with some of the ruling clique aged between twenty six (26) and thirty (30), and being at the lowest rungs of the society-the dregs of society. They identified themselves with the âstruggling massesâ or the âlumpen proletariatâ- who had nothing to lose but their chains-and had no compassion on the rich and the successful- the âbourgoisieâ or the âeliteâ. There was so much impatience in the country that when Dr Hilla Limann promised to flood the markets with âessential commoditiesâÂ Â and he could not fulfill his promise after two and a half years in power, he was overthrown by Rawlings who had said in his handover of power to Limann that his government was on âprobationâ. President John Mahama, now fifty-four (54) in 2012 was only about twenty-one (21) when he entered the University of Ghana in 1980. He and his mates at that time were consumed of the fire of the ârevolutionariesâ, willy-nilly (i.e. whether one liked it or not). In a ârevolutionary zealâ, he filed his papers at the nick of time and contested the Junior Common Room (JCR) Vice-Presidency and won unopposed in one of the halls of the University, preparing him for the Studentsâ Representative Councilâs (SRC) Entertainment Secretary. At this point in time, while he was Vice-President, his room-mate, Yaw Boadu-Ayeboafo was the President of the hall.
By Africanus Owusu-Ansah Â