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Feature Article of Thursday, 30 September 2010

Columnist: Mensah, Nana Akyea

The NPP Asante-Akyem Divide Is Not A Hoax!

Deal With It!


by Nana Akyea Mensah, The Odikro.*

A rejoinder to: "NPP Asante-Akyem Divide A Hoax" Feature Article of
Monday, 16 August 2010, by Columnist: Yeboah, Kwaku

It might be easier for the new NPP apologists to deny events that
happened several years ago than the ones that keep unfolding with each
passng day! Whilst a simple review of current discussions around the
subject can be used to debunk such a silly propaganda that the NPP
Ashanti-Akyem divide is a hoax, my own ideological objectives for
writing this article compel me to go down a bit deeper into our
collective memory lane, and try to understand what went wrong and what
could be done to repair the harm that this is causing to our
body-politic, and to confront the phenomenon of ethnocentric politics
head-on. I am going to argue that the current petrifugal forces
tearing the NPP apart are as old as the Busia-Danquah tradition
itself. My thesis is that before and after the formation of the United
Party the motley groups of disperate ethnocentric chiefs and the
ruling aristocracy in general were separately mobilized by the agents
of the colonial power that was eager to undermine the radical demands
for self-government by the CPP Thus it was that almost in all the
then principal regions of the Gold Coast, from the Trans-Volta
Togoland we had S. G. Antor and his Togoland Congress seeking to break
away from the new nation. The same pattern was repeated in the Ashanti
Region through the Chief Linguist of the Asante King, Okyeame Baafour
Akoto, whose slogan "Mate Meho" meant nothing other than secession
from Ghana. Even in the very capital city of Ghana, Accra, we had a
group of people who were inspired enough to worry exclusively about
the welfare of the Gas over and above every other Ghanaian in Accra.
It was the passage of the Political Parties Law of 1955 after the
threats posed by these inward-looking groups to the political health
our new nation became evident. It was this law that brought together
in one political party, people who hitherto were either suspicious of
each other or even hated each other were forced to come together to
ensure their individual survival as political entities.

The methods of mobilization and the political narrative of this group
has always been through the various ethnic networks and the
exploitation of prevalent ethnocentric biases and prejudices within
each of these communities that predated the formation of the Unity
Party. Thus we saw from the remarks of Mr. Akufo-Addo's spokesperson,
Dr. Arthur Kennedy made plain on Myjoyonline.com on Election day as
the results started coming in, in the Ashanti Region, the NPP is
unofficially extremely dependent on the Asanti King in mobilizing
voters on the voting day, or for example, their recent insistance on
who must be the chief of the Gas in the hope that those loyal to the
chief would not forget them in the ballot box. The recklessness of
such a behaviour was in full display when candidate Kufour sided with
one faction of the Gbewa Palace and promised the removal of the Ya Naa
who was subsequently murdered with a large number of his entourage in
his own palace later on when Kufour became President! The
Ashanti-Akyem divide is thus a sympton of a very big disease, or, as
they say, just a tip of the iceberg. Far from running away from it
and denying its existence as a reality, this problem needs to be
recognized and confronted head-on. This has been the motivation behind
this article. I know that any paradigm shift within the NPP against
ethnocentric politics shall benefit this country immensely since this
would imply a change in the political narratives that continue to
divide us as a people.

The significance of such a change is enormous for the simple reason
that they would have to look for a common denominator to appeal to the
ordinary Ghanaian voter, such as class interests. The CPP which is
completely opposed to all forms of ethnocentric politics stands to
benefit from this so let no one tell me this is none of my CPP
business. The poor of this country stand to benefit from the weakening
of the systematic attempts by the property owning class to hoodwink
them with primitive tribal appeals that have no connection with the
ends of their daily struggles for sheer survival. The NPP
Ashanti-Akyem divide is not a hoax. One only needs to read the works
of the leading protagonists of the Asante-Akyem divide to get the
picture, if this is a hoax or a reality that the party must sit up and
deal with. Just this week I have read a lot of feature articles on
this subject. The most notable has been the attack by Kwame
Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., on the former President Kufour as being an NDC
sympathyser. That in itself would not have mattered much, if someone
had not bothered to advice Okoampa to tone down his attacks on
President Kufour and to plead for both Akyems and Ashantis to come
together for the sake of Nana Addo, whom Okoampa also happens to
support. The response from kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr. to this appeal
should explain to any doubting Thomases anywhere whether or not the
Ashanti-Akyem divide in the NPP is a hoax.

Under the title, "Comment: Did I Impress Your wife?" Okoampa responded:

"Man, are you good at spewing crap! All of a sudden, it is the fault
of Owusu-Akyem Tenten Nana Kwame Okoampa-Agyeman! That I served as
Local Government secretary under Rawlings when the judges you so much
cared about went missing.

Yes, the Akyem-Mafia killed the judges!

Barima, ask those who went to secondary school with me: I was editing
"The Mountaineer" when Kufuor was a Kwaku Baah lieutenant and B. B.
Ofori was my genius Geography tutor!

In 1932, when the real Asante-Mafia ran my maternal grandfather, Rev.
T. H. Sintim out of the Adum section of Kumasi and off his job as the
first native-Ghanaian headteacher, for being criminally culpable of
Akyem descent and heritage, as JUstice Sarpong put it rather mildly a
few days ago, Nana Yawbe Sintim-Aboagye was "acting high and mighty,"
as the expression is the exclusive behavioral preserve of Akyemfo.

Don't talk about Dr. Richard Anane now: I saw and read your large
corpus of protest literature on Ghanaweb. Rather, let's talk about Mr.
Osafo Maafo. Oh, no, no, no.... Why? Because he is only an
Akyem-Kotoku bastard!

My friend, where were you when the Ejisu-Piranhas ran me out of
NPP-USA because I had dared to call Uncle Kofi Diawuo his real name?

And where were you when my own father, the founding-libator of the
Amansie Society of New York was banished because one of your royal
Asante-Angels suddenly discovered that his tabooed Akyem identity was
stalling the progress of the organization?

My friend, you are lucky you are spewing such guff tens of miles away;
else, I would strangle you and face execution by lethal injection!" -
Author: Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Date: 2010-08-12 23:48:31 (See
Comment to: "RE: “Kufuor continues to campaign for Atta-Mills" Feature
Article of Friday, 13 August 2010, by Columnist: Boahene, Peter
Owusu,)

The NPP must not be encouraged to play down the canker of ethnicity
that is eating its own soul away! The earlier they dealt with this,
the better it would be not just for the NPP but our dear country as a
whole! This should not be so difficult to do. A great majority of
modern Akyems and Ashantis do care more about the national economy and
how to make ends meet more than whether or not to love or hate any
ethnic group. Most Ghanaians are enlightened enough to instinctively
shy away from divisive, "tribal" or paroacial etnocentric politics in
these modern times. Unfortunately as this is a phenomenon that did not
come about on its own, it shall most certainly not go away on its own.
It is even worse when we fail to confront it. The building of modern
Ghana was realised through the collective efforts of the ordinary
Ghanaian from all walks of life, irrespective of ethnic origin, who,
knowing that their economic hardships and lack of social mobility,
were linked to the system of colonial domination which permitted a
naked system of mass robbery and generalized economic looting by
foreign companies and their local agents, prosecuted a bitter
struggle, culminating in the 1948 riots against what came to be known
to this day as AWAM. The ex-servicemen whose tales recieved the rapt
attention of all the people of the Gold Coast were speaking directly
to them in all their various languages, as they were virtually
everywhere!

Our history tells us clearly that the colonialist stooges of the epoch
who later founded the UGCC were completely overtaken by events after
the war, and were merely taking steps to usurp the people's authority
and to abuse it as it is usual and expected from them. With inflation
running high, cost of living becoming unbearable, the people of the
Gold Coast were becoming very restive. This mood was reinforced by the
returning ex-servicemen who became centres of attraction throughout
the country with their tales of conquests which unmasked white
supremacist superstitions, helped to remove colonialist inferiority
and dependency complexes, and created a powder keg for the
anti-colonialist struggle waiting to be ignited by Kwame Nkrumah.

Hitherto, the only available leadership to the Gold Coast population
were principally composed of individual members of the ruling Gold
Coast elite, seeking their personal advancement in the representation
of their class in the colonial legislative and executive structures.
They were not per se against colonialism. They were against being
excluded from the booty. Their highest political ambition was not
independence, but to share political power, albeit in a very
subordinate position with their colonial masters maintaining the power
of veto. Initially, they were very satisfied with this arrangement. It
was the self-mobilisation of the people, ably assisted by the
full-time General Secretary of the UGCC, Mr. Kwame Nkrumah. that
changed the whole ball game! For example, the highest political
ambition of Dr. Joseph Boakye Danquah, the doyen of proto-nationalism
in the Gold Coast, was to be a Colonial Secretary. His dream of the
Gold Coast independence was no different from the cynicism that the
Foreign Office staff greeted the UN Declaration of Self-Determination
by Colonised Peoples.

Of course, it is true that President Roosevelt had managed to secure
Britain on board with the UN declaration supporting
self-determination, as Sir Brian Urquhart, who was a member of the
staff involved in the setting-up of the United Nations in 1945, and
has advised every Secretary-General of the United Nations since its
inception recounts, the achievement of Kwame Nkrumah, even though the
British committed themselves openly to self-determination for the
colonial territories, most people at the foreign office involved in
these affairs really thought this was going to be a matter of hundred
or hundred and fifty years after the declaration. This is why they
were very comfortable with the slogan: "Self-government within the
shortest possible time". Many of them were thus rudely upset by
"Self-Government Now!" Thus it was, that instead of the 150 years that
the colonialists were dreaming of, "It took twenty years!" You may
come to my blog to watch this interview in which Sir Brian Urquhart
asserts:

"When I first joined the UN in 1945 I was astonished particularly by
the Foreign Office people would say "Well, Decolonisation, small
matter, hundred years, hundred and fifty years maybe. Well, actually
it took twenty." Sir Brian Urquhar in "Decolonization in Africa (Kwame
Nkrumah Sekou Toure)" available on Youtube.

Sir Brian Urquhart rightly credits Kwame Nkrumah for such an
extraordinary leadership! From this interview, it is clear that the
very slogan, "self-government within the shortest possible time", was
music to their colonialist ears! After years of intensive
indoctrination, the colonialist investments in the education of the
some of the aristocracy among the natives was paying off. They even
went as far as to create first class and second class citizens. Those
with landed property would have the right to vote, whilst those who
had nothing, became commoners without even the right to vote! Danquah
is credited to have also been instrumental in bringing the Ashanti
Kingdom under the framework of the Burns Constitution of 1946. Even
though his influence was waning rapidly after he was found steeped to
the neck in a Kyebi murder case involving human sacrifice. This
notwithstanding, JB Danquah managed to agree with the British to
disenfranchise a good majority of Ghanaians! The calls for universal
adult suffrage by Nkrumah for all Ghanaians of legal age was greeted
by howls of "communist!" from no other person than JB Danquah!

"On 12 June 1949 Nkrumah parted ways with the leadership of the UGCC
and formed the first political party in the history of Gold Coast,
namely, the Convention Peopless’ Party (CPP), to fight for
“Self-Government Now”. Initially the CPP opposed the Coussey
Constitution and on 8 January 1950 declared “positive action” that
urged a strike and non-cooperation with the colonial Government.
Nkrumah and his associates were arrested, tried and imprisoned for
instigating a strike. However, notwithstanding CPP’s opposition to the
Coussey Constitution it soon changed its mind and contested the first
General Elections in the history of the Gold Coast scheduled for 8
February 1951. The CPP won the General Elections securing 34 out of
the 38 popularly elected seats in the 84-member Legislative Assembly
with Nkrumah himself winning the seat for the Central Accra
Constituency obtaining 22,780 votes out of a possible 23,122. On 12
February 1951 Nkrumah was released form prison and appointed Leader of
Government Business in a cabinet of three expatriate and eight African
ministers. The Governor, however retained his reserve powers." (Very
accurate information from History of Ghana » Independence,
www.businessghana.com)

Kwame Nkrumah thus came to spearhead these struggles as a leader who
saw all Ghanaians as one people and treated all as such. as could be
seen from his entourage right from the very beginning, they
constituted primarily of Ghanaians with fundamental contradictions
with the colonial system of domination and exploitation and control of
our common destiny as a people. Thus it has to be clear right from the
onset that the disperate ethnic groups hitherto governed through the
divide and rule colonial policy of indirect rule, came together as a
united people mainly to defend themselves. It has to be obvious that
not all ghanaians were unhappy with the colonial system. those who
were directly benefitting from it could not care less, or in all
probability began to care only when this had a bearing on their
priviledges. It has to be pointed out that even though chieftaincy has
been a very potent force in governing ourselves as a people and
defending our interests in our various ehnic enclaves, before the
advent of colonialism, we must not forget that the colonial policy of
indirect rule altered its nature as a democratic institution and gave
it an authrity that made them answerable to the colonial authrities
rather than the people they represented. This colonialist alienation
of the people from their chiefs was the first condition that helped to
unite all Ghanaians irrespective of ethnic origins under the
leadership of the nationalist agitators.

It has to be noted that the chiefs and people of the Gold Coast did
not capitulate to the colonialist conquest without resistance. Our
history speaks of several wars in which some of these chiefs were
either defeated militarily or even deported from the Gold Coast.
Others were very successful in defeating the British and even
beheading their military commanders. Whilst all these struggles were
going on, a new social class was slowly emerging: the elite of the
Gold Coast. In pre-colonial Gold Coast, that is the period following
formal contacts and trade with the European merchants, a new economic
class developed in the Gold Coast. This class was basically made up of
business individuals with royal backgrounds. Through the Castle
schools, the colonialists also trained a select group of people to be
enrusted with the smooth running of the colonialist enterprise.Our
colonial boundaries were not created with our welfare in mind. They
were drawn primarily as an agreement between competing imperialist
powers not to interfere with each others' interests. The history of
our nationhood is also at the same time a history of the political
alignment to the tutilage of the colonialists by some sections of the
emerging african elites whose interests coincided with the
imperialists.

These included the urbam elites, mainly businessmen, chiefs and the
professional classes: lawyers, accountants, doctors, etc., who were
benefiting from the system as the common people suffered. Before the
Second World War, most of these social forces were engaged in very
paroachial forms of struggle. They were not necessarily against the
colonialists, they did not want to be grouped in the same category as
the illiterate natives. they wanted recognition as firts class
citizens for themselves, including their rights to vote and to be
voted for to represent themselves, because they could read and write
and speak English, unlike the illiterate natives. It must be recalled
that before the formation of the UGCC, the highest poloitical ambitio
of someone like Dr. J. B. Danquah was to be a Colonial Secretary. It
must also be recalled that Danquah's own ideal political constitution
for the gold coast was modelled after the Fante Confederacy in which
the right to vote was restricted to tax payment receits on personal
immovable property.

Thus at the time, even though the organization of the Gold Coast
elites had followed ethnic lines, their interests were cutting across
the board and they were aloso united under their respective
professional associations. When the UGCC was formed, the fifty or
sixty chiefs, lawyers, doctors, accountnats and other big men who met
during the Bank Holiday of August 1947, were simply making the move to
pre-empt a tranfer of leadership to more radical groups that the
agitations of the ex-servicemen were provoking. These were not people
who were fighting for the independence of the Gold Coast because it
was good for their health. They were compelled to assert themselves in
order to control and dominate the transition process to their maximum
advantage and to the disadvantage of the general populace, as was
witnessed by their attempts to deny the people of Gold Coast the
universal suffrage, preferring to be contnet with the right to vote
based upon property restrictions, under the Burns Constituion of 1946.

The very successful attempt by the colonialists to hijack the
authority of the people through the system of Indirect Rule in which
the chiefs became answerable to the Colonial Authorities rather than
the people, was as effective as the AIDS virus' technique of attacking
the body's immunity system. Thus right from the beginning, with very
notable exceptions such as Nii Boni, the chief of Osu Alata, the
liberation of the Gold Coast was only made possible as a result of the
emergence and arrival of a new form of a people-oriented leadership
that did not necessarily look up to the chiefs for their inspirations.
These were the brave and battle-hardy ex-servicemen from the big war
and the emerging discontnent and increasing political disconnect of
the teaming masses, "verandah boys" and the announced purposes of the
elitist nationalists.

Kwame Nkrumah worked very closely with these people within the UGCC
before the inevitable break-up. Their time together was very useful
because it showed very clearly that our goal of indepence was bound to
be a mirage in so far as we allowed these morally and ideologiclally
bankrupt imperialist stooges to lead us. Ghana became the first
African country south of the Sahara, to free herself from colonialist
domination, and for that matter the first black African country to
struggle and win her independence. It was by no means the first time
the black people fought and won their freedom. that honour goes to the
people of Haiti. As a slave colony, the african slaves rebelled and
chased out their French colonial and slave masters. But their newly
won freedom was not meant for a good majority of the black people as
some black people began to step into the shoes of the white slave
masters and took their fellow blacks as their slaves in the newly
independent state of Haiti. Nkrumah was very clear right from the very
beginning that he was only interested in transforming the Gold Coast
into a free, open and egalitarian socieity in which the ethnicity of
each citizen is as irrelevant as the size of his or her shoes! A
nation in which there would be nothing like slave and slave-master,
first class and second class citizens. A nation dedicated to Freedom
and Justice for every citizen and not just the few self-appointed
leaders and the selected elites!

It must be noted that the use of the tribal card was in part, as a
result of the background and ideology of the leadership. Theirs was
the creation of a three decker society, with the chiefs on the top,
them in the middle and then the common person shown his place at the
bottom. His their politicis lacked any form of intrinsic appeal to the
masses, they were left to be heavily dependent on the traditional
rulers, like the colonialists before them, in order to reach the
people through public durbars, funerals and traditional festivals.
this often meant that the new appeals were not immoned from whatever
traditional animousities that existed between various ethnic groups
had competing spaces to play out. For one cannot mobilize people on
the platform of their traditional authorities and pretend not to be
aware of the historical differences, tensions and suspicions between
the various communities. The leadership of the UGCC, with the
exception of those who were later to form the CPP, were all associated
with traditional rulers or professional bodies of the urban elite.
Unlike the CPP which found new and innovative ways to mobilize
workers' uunions and farmers and the various nationalist
organizations, the Danquah-Busia-Dombo tradition on the other hand,
has always preferred to talk to the people through the chiefs.

The root cause of most of the intractable chieftaincy disputes in the
country could be placed to these unscrupulous politicians desire to
have chiefs that are friendly to their cause, since without their
traditional platforms there was pretty very little they could do on
their own. We must not forget that these were the same politicians who
not long ago were stumbling over each other to secure the relatively
well-paid jobs as agents of the colonial system. The new forces of
egalitarianism that the CPP represented were seen as a threat on their
authority and priviledges. A reluctant colonial administration
unwilling to relinquish power thus decided to dig in by virtually
doing their best to stretch the CPP-led central government by making
the country ungovernable. In this the political class of the Gold
Coast, the chiefs, merchants, lawyers and other profeesional groups
were one with the colonialists.

The entire game-plan was to do their best to pull the newly formed
nation in all directions and away from the central authority and to
create a failed state, thus denying the CPP the requisite peace and
authority to enact its programmes. Ghana was divided into the Western
Province, Central Province, Eastern Province, Ashanti, Northern
Terrotories, and the Trans-Volta Togoland Region. When after even
imprisoning him, Nkrumah won the elections in 1951 overwhelmingly and
convincingly to be able to walk away from prison to be made the Leader
of Government Business, it prepared the grounds for their long-term
strategies. In Accra, the colonialists organizedthrough their puppets,
the Ga shimo pee and the Tokyo Joe boys were to begin acts of
barbarism unprecedented in our history.In the Trans-Volta Togoland, we
had the Togolese Congress Party battling it out to secede to join
Togo. In the middle belt, we had the National Liberation Movement led
by the chief Linguist of the Asantehene, Baafour Akoto. In the
Northern Territories was the Muslim Action Party, uncompromisingly
blocking any attempts at turning Ghana into a unitary and independent
prosperous state.

What saved our country from falling apart was the passage of the
Preventive Detention Act and the Political Party Law which banned all
these ethnic based and inward-looking political organizations and
threatened to imprison their violent leaders. These sets of laws
transformed the nature of what has been known today as the
Danquah-Busia tradition. Originally formed to pursue their paroachial
trribal agendas, the new political parties law proscribed all such
political groupings. In order to survive, these disperate and
inward-looking political groups were compelled to come together to
form a common front to guarantee their continued exostence. And here,
it must be noted that they did not come together because they liked
each other. They never did. Each looked up to the promotion of their
narrow interests within the broader framework of the new party which
they simply called the United Party. Despite its name, the party never
really got united, as the Ashanti and Akyem factions continued to play
out their historical hostilities and rivalries within the so-called
"united" front. It is often cited that the capitulation of Danquah as
the leader of the party, paving the way for Kofi Busia belies any
tales of rivalries between the two. Nothing could be further from the
truth. Danquah relinquished the leadership position to Busia simply
because he was himself convinced that he was a damaged product which
could never be sold to ghanaians when he was beaten in his own
constituency and home turf by his own nephew. Aaron Ofori-Atta stood
against his uncle on the platform of the CPP and gave Danquah a
roasting at the polls! Busia won the elections with the support of the
Ashantis and thus as a member of parliament, he had more weight.

The NPP needs to change the entire political narrative and its
"tribalistic" focus and begin to genuinely treat all Ghanaians as one
people irrespective of their ethnic origins. We should want to hear
very little about tribes from them before they can adjust to modern
civilization and the democratic way of doing things in the 21st
century, otherwise the entire party shall be falling apart! That
famous quote from Kwame Okoampa-ahoofe Jr., a memeber of the Governing
Body of the Danquah Institute, which bears the date Friday, 13 August
2010, is clearly a very fresh sign that the Akyem-Ashanti divide
within the NPP is as a fresh as Akufo-Addo's new dentures in his
otherwise toothless mouth! The question you need to answer before you
jump into any ridiculous conclusions is why if such rivalry was buried
with colonialism does Okoampa begin to bitterly complain with a litany
of grievances beginning from 1932 right up to his dismissal by the
Ashanti "Ejisu-Piranhas" who "ran [him] out of NPP-USA" very recently?
The only person who can do something about this problem is the stolid
and indolent Akufo-Addo, who is quick to bring to order, the non-Akyem
members of the party who fall out of line, such as the recent rebuke
of the Honourable P.C. Ofori-Appiah over his remarks on Alan
Kyeremanten. Even though several voices have been raised in the past
and continue to be raised by both NPP sympathysers and opponents
alike, Mr. Akufo-Addo has remained strangely silent when it comes to
calling his Akyem cousins to order! Whom is he decieving other than
his own bloody-self as more and more NPP sympathysers begin to feel
frustrated and pissed off by this sinful silence? This is a call for
the first non-tribal political election campaign in our history, and
it will pay a lot if Akufo-Addo saw the light and started his own
anti-tribal campaign of his own and call some of his lieutenants like
Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., to order! It would be a very small thing in
itself, but certainly a good beginning. After all, as Kwame Nkrumah
puts it, even though Rome was not built in a day, the building of Rome
was started in a day!

Please let's stay in touch and on top of the NPP! Give me a follow on
twitter! I shall give you a follow!
Twitter: http://twitter.com/TheOdikro

"To all men of goodwill, organize, organize, organize! The struggle is
far from over!
We prefer self-government in danger, to servitude in tranquillity!
Forward ever, backward never"!
--
Nana Akyea Mensah, The Odikro.
Facebook: /www.facebook.com/people/Nana-Akyea-Mensah
Blog: nanaakyeamensah.blogspot.com/
Twitter: /twitter.com/TheOdikro

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