Feature Article of Thursday, 20 January 2005
Columnist: Ohene-Djan, Kwabena
It is with an increasing sense of alarm and outrage that I write in response to what can only be described as an absolute farce. My revulsion stems from the reported position taken by AMA and the Ga Mashie Youth Association, in objecting to renaming Accra sports stadium as the Ohene-Djan sports stadium.
In what appears to be an orchestrated attempt to ignore facts and appease what I call tribal fascists, the AMA appears to be legitimising the actions of bigots. The unfolding bigotry can be responded to at several levels, but for the purpose of this article I will only focus on a few salient facts.
The stance taken by the Ga Mashie Youth Association and endorsed by the AMA flies in the face of facts and common sense. There are several examples of institutions and monuments named after people in Ghana, who do not have either ethnic or tribal roots to where the institutions or monuments are located.
It is not difficult to name a few to make my point; these are Tetteh Quashie Memorial Hospital, in the Eastern region, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Kwame Nkrumah and Danquah Circles in Accra and finally Okomfo Anokye Hospital in Kumasi. All the above names are worthy of the honour and perhaps in the case of some they deserve more recognition from Ghana not less.
Ghana is a nation state; Ohene-Djan served Ghana and did so exceptionally well, if our current crop of ministers will try to emulate his drive and vision to put Ghana on the world map, I am sure our present developmental efforts will succeed for the benefit of all Ghanaians. As citizens and taxpayers of a sovereign state, Ghanaians have the right to expect that they will be appropriately honoured by the state in recognition of their good work regardless of their tribal, ethnic or region of origin and significantly in any part of the country.
Is it the view of the objectionists that there should possibly be a swap around where the Accra sports stadium should be renamed after Tetteh Quashie because of his origins in Accra and the hospital in Mampong renamed after Ohene-Djan, now that will be plain stupid. Is it also the view of AMA and the Ga Mashie Youth Association that the Kofi Annan Centre for Peace should be renamed after a Ga because it is in Accra, that will also be a stupid idea.
If the sovereign state of Ghana cannot honour its citizens without tribal bigots objecting to such honours, then we kid ourselves about making progress in our democracy. Ghana belongs to all Ghanaians, when taxes are paid they are not distributed along ethnic or tribal lines, resources and mineral wealth from different parts of the country goes to support the whole country.
Ohene-Djan served Ghana very well, certainly better than many public servants can lay claim to. Anybody in doubt should make the effort to find out how and what he did. He deserve better than whatever Ghana can in her present state offer in his memory, nonetheless a good start is naming the premier sports stadium after him.
If this point is lost on people in Ghana, and it is true that majority of people who rang in on phone-in programmes objected to this honour (Joy FM News), then it is time true Ghanaian citizens took to the airways and other media outlets to challenge all the tribal fascists who are spewing hatred and bigotry in the name of freedom of speech. I for one will be more than happy to challenge these bigots in any forum for the sake of our blessed Ghana
As I conclude, I am left with a sobering possibility that perhaps Ghana is not worth living for, working for or dying for if all national issues are ultimately reduced to tribe and ethnicity.