Feature Article of Thursday, 1 February 2007
Columnist: Yeboah, Kwesi
A drama as profound as the primordial tale of the creation and fall of man is being played right before our eyes in Ghana. But alas, our pundits are too mired in the petty politics of the ‘coffee shop Mafia’ to recognize the import of this drama. When Milton tells this ancient tale in ‘Paradise Lost’, certain uncanny similarities to Ghana’s socio-economic-development struggles become apparent. In Milton’s tale, Satan, after banishment from heaven, plans a long journey to newly created Earth, specifically to corrupt man and woman, God’s new darlings. As he leaves hell to pursue his arduous undertaking, he encounters two hideous creatures, Sin and Death, sentries posted by the Almighty to guard the gates of hell. It turns out Sin is actually Satan’s daughter whom he had incestuously raped, and Death, the offspring of that incest. Eventually, they follow Satan to Earth to complete the corruption of man.
What do all these have to do with us in Ghana? I’m sure some of you may be asking this by now. For sure, our profundity is of a different nature, but much like Satan, we have our own little journey to make. This journey is what Mr. John Evans Atta Mills calls, ‘the walk to the Castle’, from which, he says, ‘there will be no return’. The thing is, just as Sin literally popped out of Satan’s head, Atta Mills popped out of the head of Rawlings and then was duly seduced in a vain attempt by the Chairman to replace himself, with himself, by himself, in the aforementioned ‘walk to the castle’. Similarly, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), itself another baby that popped out of the Chairman’s head, was subsequently seduced and imposed on Ghanaians. Today that chain of incestuous seduction and imposition continues unabated.
Scientists tell us that the offspring of incestuous relationships may suffer certain deterioration in gene quality as a result of in-breeding. Just as rebellious Satan spawned tempting, evil Sin, Mr. Atta Mills’s qualities as leader are highly compromised by his incestuous political parentage. Fiery, garrulous, murderous Junior Jesus begat the obsequious, invisible Kohinko. And in Kohinko’s political infancy, when he began his own seduction of the Ghanaian population for his ‘walk to the castle’, he promised he will seek a return of ‘banker to banker’ lotto if he were elected president. Today, full grown and mature, Kohinko has put more sophistication on his silent agenda. He has even rejected the idea of walking to the castle. Rather he proceeds in triumph riding on six horses along Legon’s boulevards, serenaded by Jama and Kpalogo drumming and dancing, astride his father and seducer, owner and controller. And trailing them all, the melodious tunes of Mr. Eddie Annan, who like Death, says he possesses the keys to hell – I mean the castle. And on Kohinko’s website, where friends and admirers have neatly compiled his erudition, we are treated to a semantic compendium of flaccid development clichés as profound as the delightful stench that gently wafts daily over the denizens of Accra.
When incest persists through multiple generations, the defects in genes become even more pronounced. The offspring of evil deteriorate exponentially in depravity. Death as the incestuous son of Satan is even more sinister than Sin, his mother. He holds the dart that would terminate one’s immortality, which he unfortunately visited on hapless man. And that is why the latest offspring of the incestuous Rawlings, NDC and Atta Mills tryst, the Democratic Freedom Party headed by Obed Asamoah, looms up as such a troubling monster. No sooner had this new political party inaugurated itself than it promised Ghanaians at Gomoa that, when elected, they would make sure Ghanaians produce ‘billions of tons of garri’. Out of the political purgatory that Mr. Obed Asamoah and Francis Assiam had fallen into as a result of their disagreement with Father Rawlings, they had emerged with the epiphany of garri.
Garri! At this point, like Death, I sighed and cried to Asamoah and Assiam,
“…….back to thy punishment,
False fugitive; and to they speed add wings,
Lest with a whip of scorpions I pursue
Yes, you heard right, garri! Mr. Obed Asamoah’s pretext for rebellion against his dictatorial father, which he explained as seeking more democracy and freedom into the party, was rather because the NDC was not committed enough to garri. To think Mr. Rawlings, an Ewe, would abandon a major staple of his own tribe. Obed and the Democratic Freedom Party will put a giant garri factory in each region and export garri all over the world. Millions of Ghanaian unemployed youth will inhabit the new factories churning out tons of garri. Our impoverished and starving brothers in some parts of the continent will be rescued by the generosity of Ghanaian garri. Even the Middle East, the DFP says, will be touched by this promised garri capability. The religion of garri shall replace the religion of cocoa. If Obed and the DFP succeed - and God forbid that they should - we might even see videos from Al-Jazeera, of the great leader, Osama, relishing a meal of garri before and after his more challenging skyscraper removal exercises.
How such low value-added economic activity stands at the center of this party’s economic program is a testament to the ingenuity of this incestuous offspring of Junior Jesus. Luckily, Mr. Rawlings has rejected this son of his. Much like Satan’s initial rejection of Sin when she first calls him father, Jerry has told Obed,
“I know thee not, nor ever saw till now
Sight more detestable than…..thee”.
Cassava, the raw material for garri, the object of desire of not just the DFP, but even of Mr. Kuffour’s Special Initiatives, has been a much-maligned crop in our dear country, and indeed, some other African countries. Our Nigerian brothers make no mistake about their disrespect for this humble raw material. They are the world’s largest producers and they eat it all. Thailand, on the other hand, is a tad smarter. They are the world’s largest exporter and make almost a billion dollars a year from the crop. Ghana generally, like Nigeria, consumes its cassava either as ‘ampesi’ for the very poor, fufu and garri for most, and the unwholesome ‘kokonte’ for the deprived. The Kuffour government took this a little further by encouraging the production of industrial starch, another relatively low value-added commodity. But as the Obed’s DFP pointed out, the NPP’s flagship Ayensu Starch factory, established with so much fanfare, has after only a few years of operations, been classified as a failure. Today, it struggles for a secure source of raw materials as many farmers abandon their role as suppliers due to low purchasing prices of raw cassava.
In all of this, we have missed the great promise of cassava as a source of fuel ethanol, a high protein animal feed, human protein supplement, and industrial carbon dioxide production. These are all of high value-added processes that would provide larger incomes for our farmers and save the country tons of foreign exchange in gasoline imports. Even the United State's, the world’s highest gasoline consumer, is seriously considering fuel ethanol from agricultural feedstocks as a major source of their fuel requirements.
Poor, Poor Ghana! We are almost 50 years old, but what can we expect from those who will have us appoint them as our liberators and saviors? Given the palpable prospect of a political alternation from NPP to the NDC after eight years of minimal progress squeezed out of NPP ineptitude, we have to face the possible advent of Kohinko and the garri ambassadors walking and horseback-riding to the castle. It would be the rule of the incestuous children of a man, who for nineteen years, ‘raised impious war and battle proud’ all to our collective ruin.
Immersed in this nether world, like Sin,
'….. I fled and cried out Death’!
“Hell, trembled at the hideous name and sighed
From all her caves, and back resounded Death”!