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Politics of Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Source: Qanawu Gabby

FEATURE: Ghana, 27 years under Johnocracy!

Qanawu came across this corny John joke – and please this is no disrespect to the Johns out there: The local police in East Akyem were recruiting for Community Policing. John - who was not exactly the sharpest knife in the kitchen, went in to try out for the job.
"Okay," the Inspector drawled, "John, what is 1 and 1?"
"11" he replied.
The Inspector thought to himself, "That’s not what I meant, but he’s right." "What two days of the week start with the letter ’T’?"
"Today and tomorrow."
He was again surprised that John supplied a correct answer that he had never thought of himself.
"Now John, listen carefully: Who killed Gen Afrifa and Gen Acheampong?" John looked a little surprised himself, then thought really hard for a minute and finally admitted, "To be brutally frank with you, I don’t know."

"Well, why don’t you go home and work on that one for a while?"

So, John wandered over to the beer bar where his pals were waiting to hear the results of the interview.

“How did it go?” they wondered.

"It went great! First day on the job and I’m already working on a double murder case!"

Until recently, Qanawu had up his sleeve a simple campaign message for the NPP for 2008: NO MORE JOHNS! Well, a cursory look at the time of the NPP line-up disclosed no Johns: Aliu, Dan, Nana, Alan, Hackman, Kwame, Yaw, Kwabena, Jake, Nkrabeah, Mike, Paapa, Kofi, Felix, Arthur, etc. So, it was a safe slogan. Well, Kufuor may have a difficulty with any premature lame duck tag now. But, surely for the ‘08 race he wouldn’t have a difficulty with a ‘NO MORE JOHNS!’ campaign slogan, or would he? Ghana will be 51 and quite some change by December 2008 when the presidential election is on. For the National Democratic Congress, the candidate will, for eight years and three general elections running, John Evans Atta Mills. 27 years of the 51 years would have been spent under a John. John Jerry Rawlings (AFRC, 1979), (P/NDC 1981-2001), John Agyekum Kufuor (2001-2009).

It beats Qanawu, why Ben Ephson, some candidates and their supporters are overly obsessed with ethnicity being a major electoral issue in Ghana. They are wasting their time and emotions sending the whole country on a useless diversionary tension cable of religious and ethnic bias. C’mon, let’s shed some load here! The NPP is even buying into the ludicrous hype that if it goes for another Akan it would only confirm the Tony-Aidoo-esque claim that it is an Akan-based party.

But, for those who say that are they saying to us that an important position such as the Vice President of the Republic is merely one given purely to satisfy an ethno-religious cosmetic sensibilities? The fact that the NPP has not an Akan as Vice President surely must count for something! How many Moslems or candidates from the north has the NDC put up to successfully head the Presidency even as the number two? NPP detractors will continue tagging it as Akan but the facts do not support that theory. Since 2000, the NPP has seen its support base grown in the non-Akan areas. Even if you give credit to Vice President Aliu Mahama for the party’s consistent growth in the three northern-most regions, how then do you explain that trend being repeated in the Volta, Western and Central Regions? The NPP is simply a party on the ascendancy and there is more in the shopping basket of the Ghanaian voter than ethnocentric considerations. If, as we are often told by pollster Ben Ephson, 4 percent of voters cast their ballots on ethnic lines then we should proudly say that ethnicity is as significant an electoral issue here as it is in the United Kingdom and even more so in the United States.

Qanawu dares say, ‘We have all missed the major point of concern!’ In fact, the greatest act of discrimination being visited on Ghanaians is by a group of citizens who carry the Hebrew or Christian name John. If more than half of our country’s history has been under the leadership of a John then the public should rather be up in arms against an ‘imposition’ of another John! The bias, Dr Aidoo, is not even in favour of Akans or against Moslems. Is in favour of the elite group of holders of, ironically, a rather common name: John. The mother of the first John head of state is Ewe. That John swears an oath on the Bible, Qur’an and if given the chance, on the water god, Antoa Nyame. The highest form of favouritism ever witnessed in Ghana is having Johns as our heads of state. There is nothing particularly religious or ethnic about it, Tony.

For Qanawu, December 2008 was to bid farewell to the Johns, including the NDC flagbearer. There was even a very credible speculation that his probable running mate was also to be a John – John Mahama. All was set for the NPP to (well, first seek the permission and pray for the understanding of JAK) go to town against the prospect of another John becoming Head of State. But, then one of the NPP candidates had to spoil it, didn’t he? As part of his campaign, the former Trade & Industry, PSD & PSI Minister now gives his full name as: Alan Kwadwo John Kyerematen. He has seen the name John as a winner and wants to claim it even if belatedly. But, such are his traits, if we regard his Kunta Kinte excursions in tracing part of his roots to Elmina. Alan wants to bring back the Johns! At a time when Qanawu was all set to say: Enough is Enough! How treacherous, Alan! John is a Middle English name, from Old French Jehan, from Late Latin Ioannes, which is from Greek I ann s, which is also from Hebrew yô n n, Its meaning is in its Semitic roots:Yahweh [he] has been gracious. John is probably the commonest name in the Christian word. One of the 12 Apostles, author of the fourth Gospel and the brother of James the Great was John. Indeed, beginning from as far back as the popery period 523 to 526, 23 heads of the Catholic faith have been Pope Johns, this list discounts the John Pauls. According to a legend in circulation in the Middle Ages, Pope Joan was a female pope who supposedly reigned from 855 to 858. There was even an English King called John “the Coward” who reigned from 1199 to 1216. King John was compelled by the barons to sign the Magna Carta at Runnymede in 1215 – an important historical document that took some power away from the king and gave some rights and freedoms to the people.

Four American presidents have been Johns out of the 43. Three of the first ten US presidents were Johns, including a father and son act. Well, they’ve had two more Jameses than Johns. And as many Williams as Johns. But, who cares, really. The Johns are back with a bang, knocking but not gaining entrance to the White House. The British have also had a few Johns. Russell, John (1792-1878) 1st Earl Russell, John Russell was a prime minister in the 1830s, followed closely by the 3rd Viscount Palmerston, Henry John. Former British premier John Major was one such colourless John. Tony Blair became Labour leader in 1995 after the death of the great reformer, John Smith. John Prescott, was Blair’s punchy deputy prime minister. Another number two was Sudanese first-vice president John Garang, who was killed in a helicopter crash two years ago.

But, in terms world leaders, one can think of Australia's prime minister, John Howard. A former president of Trinidad and Tobago is Raoul John. Since the death of John F Kennedy some 40 years ago, several Johns have tried but failed to rule America. Currently, Democrat John Lewis, a Congressman and civil rights campaigner is somehow in the presidential contest for 2008. John Cox, the Chicago millionaire, was the first declared Republican candidate (as of March 2006). Democrat presidential candidate and John Kerry’s running mate against Bush in 2004, John Edwards is very much in the race. Though, his opponents are quick to describe him as a rich, shallow pretty boy. That may sound cunningly familiar to some back home.

Both John Kerry and John McCain have tried and may still try again. So confident are the Johns that a complete non-starter, John K Bootie is also putting his name forward for the most powerful job on earth. On his website selling his candidacy, John Bootie proudly states: “I dedicate my candidacy for President to My family Jason and Tasha, Amber, Madison, Jayden. I also would like to add my beloved brother Robert E. Bootie Sr. passed away on 7-15-07.” You go, John! There is even supposed to be a Hollywood failure, John Joseph Kennedy (JJK) who is in the 2008 race. His claim to fame is that he is part of the acclaimed Kennedys of Charleston, South Carolina family that immigrated to America seven generations ago. He is also the great-grandson of South Carolina statesman, Congressman Michael Francis Kennedy Snr – the first of the Kennedy bloodline to hold political office in America, serving from 1882-1886.

Perhaps, JJK is the first to note that pedigree does not endow a man with greatness.

Same way, carrying the name John does not endow a Ghanaian with the stuff of presidency. That, to borrow from the JJK hymnbook, comes from the principles a man lives by and the actions he takes in order to honour them.

Alan, please make up your mind quickly if you want to be seen as seeking to entrench the nomentocracy of the Johns or to open a new chapter as your own man. You run the risk of denying Qanawu his slogan: NO MORE JOHNS!

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

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