One of the typical examples that are taught about how clever people attempt to pass off fake consumer products for genuine ones was a case between the brand owners of Peak Milk and Peacock Milk.
The label on Peak Milk has a prominent peak of a mountain. The colour of the label is normally silvery green and the lettering of the product name is done in Informal Roman font.
The story goes that at one time a company from The Far East put another milk product on the market called Peacock Milk. In every visual sense, Peacock Milk looked the same as Peak except that instead of a mountain peak on the label, it had the hump of a camel. The brand owners of Peak sued Peacock for “imitation and passing off.”
The question that the jury was to consider was what the ordinary consumer thought he was buying when offered a Peacock Milk. Additionally, they were to determine whether an untutored ear could differentiate between the pronunciations of the two products.
The case of Mensa Otabil
Imitation and passing off can also occur in use of words, especially when they could lend themselves to imagery and several interpretations. In that case, context is very important in the elucidation of meaning. Such was the case when Pastor Dr Mensa Otabil, televangelist, motivational speaker, founder of the International Central Gospel Church and Chancellor/Owner of the Central University College, spoke at a book launch recently. The book is titled, “Dare to Dream” and is authored under the Legacy and Legacy brand by Albert and Comfort Ocran, who have been in the motivational business for many years.
For the past week, this scribe has been looking for this book without success. Nonetheless, comments read on the Internet claim that “Dare to Dream” is a summary of the steps required to harness talents to succeed in a challenging environment. Choice of Dr Otabil as speaker at this launch, therefore, is very apt.
Uncharacteristically, for the past seven years or so, Dr Otabil gets disenchanted with society and he jabs a pointing finger in the direction of the eyes of those who rule our society. In so doing, he has sometimes cast himself in the figure of a holy man trying to do the bidding of the Ghanaian opposition parties without the courage of mentioning names. Indeed, in a couple of cases, he has drawn the ire of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), the party in power.
At the launch of ‘Dare to Dream’, Dr Otabil has stuck his finger in the beehive again by urging revolution. According to the recording of his speech, which is freely distributed on WhatsApp, the unmistakable Otabil voice urges, “Ghana needs salvation from incompetent people who have determined to run us to the ground...The citizens of the country need to take charge of affairs in order to direct the course of the nation to the desired direction. It’s really a revolution…We have to battle, we have to fight, we have to wrest the destiny of our nation from incompetence and from people who have determined to run us to the ground.”
My blog reacts
My blog finds the use of “revolution” (anathema in our volatile election year political atmosphere) as highly inappropriate. All the reputable English dictionaries give definitions of revolution that connote sudden and violent change. To propose this course of action when general elections are only some seven months away amounts to jumping the gun. Otabil’s message would have been far more credible if he had simply urged his audience to vote out the ruling party. After all, they are incompetent.
Dr Otabil was quick to say that he did not mean taking power from one party to another. The suspicion here is that he might have seen the disapproval on the faces of some in the audience. He,therefore, came up with that afterthought, a ruse that reminds the reader of a tactic in ancient Rome by defence lawyers in criminal trials. Called praeteritio, counsels would cleverly savage their opponents while claiming to be referring to different characters.
Has Otabil offered Ghanaians Peak Milk or Peacock Milk? In the noise of the marketplace in a Third World country where the consumer may not look too closely, any creamy liquid extracted from the udder of a lactating cow is Peak Milk. Dr Otabil may only be advocating actions that drastically change mindsets (a la Karl Marx); he may not be calling his listeners to arms but the word “revolution” connotes violence.
That is not the type of vocabulary to be bandied about by a holy man who commands a huge loyal audience. Even the present day Ayatollahs no longer preach revolution, seeing the devastations that the Arab Spring has brought in its wake.
(Author: Blame not the Darkness; Akora; The Sissain Bridge)
Source: Joe Frazier/Daily Graphic
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