When your temper becomes a free ticket to prison…



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Back in Pope John Secondary School, an incident happened that was etched on my mind for a very long time. Then, I was a second year student. One final year student was teasing another― supposedly a friend. The latter expressed his utmost displeasure but all such fell on deaf ears. Before anyone could stop the teasing any further, the one being teased had gotten hold of the lid of a tin of canned fish… and dismembered the face of his supposed friend.

With blood streaming down his face, the victim of the physical attack was rushed to the hospital and the victim of the verbal attack… the police station. Two people had been attacked at that point in time but only one was visible. No one knew the cause but everyone saw the effect. An uncontrollable temper can be a sure ticket to prison because no one cares about what provoked it!

We all get angry sometimes. When situations get on our nerves, we express various forms of anger. That makes us human after all. However, while we all have freedom to be angry, no one can promise us freedom after our anger. When people provoke us to the extreme, the best we can ever do is to walk away. Any other reaction may come with responsibilities too heavy for us to bear.

Many a times, the angry one is the right one. Unfortunately, if they don’t manage their anger properly, they become the wrong one. Little wonder the Bible warns that one should do all they can not to let the sun go down on their anger. When anger persists, its effects are terrible. Like a mighty wind, it destroys everything in its way.

There is nothing new under the sun. Every happening today is a repeat of yesterday’s. And… that is why we should be careful not to relive other people’s regrets. What happened decades ago can always be repeated. It goes without saying, thus, that every man should learn from the past to enable them live carefully their future.

When we all watched with disgust what happened at the recently held Vodafone Ghana Music Awards (VGMA), one unforgettable event kept pacing back and forth on my mind― the Gemann incident that marred his flourishing career, sending him to jail for as long as 14 (fourteen) years. As our two talents and their gangs waged war on that eventful night of VGMA, I wondered, “Have these perhaps heard or read about Gemann and how he ended despite his fame?”

Gemann was a Ghanaian pop star. Famed to be the African Michael Jackson, his fame traversed the spheres of the continent as he travelled across the length and breadth of the world to sing and dance. He was a classic definition of success.

On 9th January 1995, he had an altercation with a taxi driver after which the cab driver reportedly collected some footprint sand of the singer― probably for black magic. The popular singer burst into his room, returned with his gun and pulled the trigger. There laid a dead man!

Gemann had a right to be angry but he as well had a responsibility to manage that anger. He was right to be angry at the driver collecting his footprint sand but pulling that trigger made him the wrong one. No one cared about what the driver did anymore. Everyone was interested in how a man could take the life of another after an argument.

The irony of anger is that even though it may leave one man dead, the one alive may be as good as dead. Between 1995 and 2009, Gemann had one of the worst moments in his life. Perishing in jail, his fans hurled insults at him. When the party of his life was over, those who once hailed him deserted him. No one wanted to be associated with him.

There is indeed nothing new under this sun. So, when I see our young, exuberant stars throw themselves around as though their kind hasn’t been seen before, I smile. When I see them flaunt their guns, I wish they knew that their pride and ego would force them to pull a trigger… but will not be with them in jail.

Fame is a thief. It steals our identity, making us feel we are not as human as everybody. It makes us feel above every other being. It is when we get in the way of the law that we remember that popularity is not an excuse for insanity!

Anger can take us places we never imagined and this why each man, whether famous or not, has to guard their heart against any shade of it. An uncontrolled anger soon becomes like wildfire that consumes anything it comes across. Anger makes victims out of people. Those who unleash it become as much victims as those it is unleashed on.

Our two great talents ought to be reminded that a man’s greatness is not in the awards he receives. It’s not even about the hit songs they make. It’s about how well others can model their lives after them to make an impact on society. Crisis is when our talents become the reason lives should be lost.

A man’s greatest enemy is not another man. It is his emotions. Anger in your heart is like a gun in your hand. Pull it… and you have a free ticket to prison. No one cares about what provoked it. The easiest way a boy with a stony heart can shatter his dream is to pull a trigger!

Kobina Ansah is a Ghanaian playwright and Chief Scribe of Scribe Communications (www.scribecommltd.com), an Accra-based writing firm. His new play, THE BOY CALLED A GIRL, shows on July 20th at National Theatre.