COMMENTARY: The First Pink Judgement In Our History
BY: Cameron Duodu
“– KOO, as for this pink judgement dierrr….”
“– Koo, what in hell’s name is a pink judgement?”
Ho, so you are the only stranger in town? I mean the judgement that everyone is waiting for, which the Supreme Court will deliver on 29 August!
Oh, you mean “Judgement of the Supreme Court of Ghana Re Petition Re December 2012 Election”? You’ve left out a few Re’s and a few brackets, but, yes – it will be titled like that. Though for the majority of people, it will be “The Pink [Sheet] Judgement.” And this popular name will be the one that gains currency? You bet. Of course, the ‘Pink Sheet Judgement’ will not be strictly accurate. Because the case was not only about pink sheets, but also about whether there was “over-voting”; whether polling stations should have codes or numbers or names or a combination of all three; and whether the Electoral Commission’s announcement of results was based on data compiled from pink sheets collated from polling stations which…. Oh all right. . . Bored already? I say, who would be a Supreme Court judge? Hmmm! You need to ask. Whatever judgement the SC gives, some people will say that it was not “good enough”! So should the Supreme Court Judges have told the petitioners to take their trouble back home with them? It would not have been such a bad idea! I mean, what is the point of spending seven good months on a case, poring over thousands of pieces of information, and worse, the verbose literary output of of lawyers trying to show off their “learnedness” in “addresses – both written and verbal! And – then discovering that after all, your judgement is being dismissed with contumely….
-But how can a noun end with “ly” – it is only adverbs that are supposed to end with “ly”?
–Small Boy! The English language was meant to fool people like you. Lovely is not an adverb, is it? Same with “comely”. The lawyerly version is even more complex.
Ei – “lawyerly” too is an adjective? – Yes! But “contumely” on the other hand, is a noun!”
I go die finish!”
Those people don’t wear wigs and gowns for nothing. They speak a language that no-one alive on earth actually speaks. It is called Latin.
Oh I know Latin: puella pulchra est! Hahahahaha. Everyone knows that, it seems: the girl is beautiful. I also know amo amas amat…I can even say puellam amo! Hahahahaha! The kind of Latin the lawyers declaim, my friend, is heavier than that, Heard of habeas corpus! What? Hahahahaha! Mandamus! Awirade Nyame ei! (Good Lord!) What about certiorari! You want to say cerfiticate or what? No! You see, the law practised in our courts has history built into it – Greek history, which gave birth to Latin philosophy, whose expressions gave way to ‘Olde’ English, which was replaced by Medieval English, which was sprinkled with laws brought into England by William The Conqueror, which gave us the English of today. There are carry-overs from the language used to describe legal situations in earlier periods: recently we heard that a person who commits contempt of court is called a contemnor! Sounds like condemnor? But there is no such word as condemnor! So what are you saying? Simply that the law is so complex, what with all its technicalities, that it is not the best way to settle political issues. Hmmm! Left to me alone, elections in countries where the level of integrity and/or efficiency among public servants is low, would not be entrusted to nationals of the country concerned. We’ve had electoral disputes in Nigeria (some lasting two years or more!) We’ve had election disputes in Kenya, Zimbabwe; Cote d’Ivoire; and – now, here in Ghana. So we shouldn’t hold elections any longer? Unfortunately, there is no better way of selecting governments in a democracy. What we must guarantee, though, is that elections should be held in such a fair and clean manner that EVERYBODY can accept the results.
I agree, Koo! The strength of feeling that rises to the surface of African society at election time, suggests that the current way of choosing our governments, originating from the late colonial period, can be totally suicidal. I see! Also, here in Africa, the economy is usually so centralised that the stakes in the ‘win-or-lose’ politics we pursue are so much higher. Enormous differences are suddenly brought to bear in the economic status of those who ‘win’ elections. In countries with a developed private sector, that does not usually happen. Okay, I take the point. But what must be done? We must accept that our national election commissions can no longer be entrusted with the life-or-death responsibility of deciding who has won or lost an election… … You’re thinking of the United Nations?
Why not? The UN will come in if we start to fight. Remember the trouble after the Ivory Coast election? Ghanaian troops had to go there to help restore peace. Yet the UN under whose auspices they went there, has tremendous experience in supervising plebiscites, referendums and post-conflict elections in extremely volatile situations: Ghana-Togo plebiscite (1956), Nigeria-Cameroon (1961), Namibia (1989), Haiti (1990), Angola (1992), Cambodia (1993) and Mozambique (1994). The UN was also partially involved in elections in Eritrea (1993), South Africa (1994) and Malawi (1994).
Did these elections produce acceptable results? Yes. So why can’t the UN institute a permanent electoral organisation — in the same way the peace-keeping operations are now almost permanently instituted – to supervise elections in dangerous political situations? Why should the UN wait until bloodshed begins – as in the Ivory Coast – before intervening, at the cost of the lives of peace-keeping forces? Hmm – there is food for thought in the notion – much food for thought, in fact.