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Opinions of Sunday, 4 November 2012

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

Hey “Little Dramani,” Stop Playing Tribal Politics With Kayayei!

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

Once again, as his fervid desperation to entrench his transitional presidency reaches its electioneering crest, Mr. “Little” John Dramani Mahama has morbidly resorted to playing the false ethno-regional card that he is so notorious for. In the latest of such lurid instance, the Bole-Bamboi native caustically assailed Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s rather laudable promise to considerably meliorate the precarious plight of female head porters by having affordable housing facilities built for them in the various urban centers across the nation where these bona fide Ghanaian citizens honestly ply their trade (See “Nana Addo’s Promise to Kayayei ‘Most Insulting’ – Mahama” 10/31/12).

In responding to the foregoing Akufo-Addo gesture, this is what Mr. Mahama had to say: “If you want to solve the issue of Kayayei, then you would do what [the] NDC is doing; we are going to the South and registering our little sisters who are Kayayei and putting them in training; we are teaching them how to be dressmakers, hairdressers and giving them other equipment so that they will come back and work for themselves.”

Needless to say, no remark, coming from a Northern-born leader like President John Dramani Mahama, could be more insulting than any policy proposal that has so far been articulated by the presidential candidate of the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP). First of all, Mr. Mahama speaks with the deceitful and insufferable arrogance of a man who pretends as if this is the very first time that he is coming to public awareness of the harrowing socioeconomic circumstances of the Kayayei. But what is even more annoyingly laughable about the man who has been busy digging presidential graves with Chinese contractors to glorify and immortalize himself in the South, Accra to be precise, is the paradoxical fact that while he has done absolutely nothing to meliorate the Kayayei situation in the twenty-odd years that he has been in active political practice, even as he himself clearly acknowledges in the participial clause of, “We are [only now] going to the South and registering our little sisters who are Kayayei and putting them in training,” Mr. Mahama, nevertheless, is foolhardily insistent that such non-existent programs such as “dressmaking and hairdressing” have already been put in place by the National Democratic Congress, and that all that needs to be done presently is to simply register and enroll these woefully underprivileged young women into these non-existent programs.

And when he cavalierly says that, “We are going to the South” to register and enroll the Kayayei into these non-existent ventures, precisely who is President Mahama trying to fool? At any rate, where has the Bole-Bamboi native “proudly” spent most of his life but in the very southern-half of the country that he is now pretending to be located somewhere on the planet of Jupiter or Saturn?

And then also, can any levelheaded Ghanaian voter trust the man who is bitterly sworn against the constitutional provision of a fee-free basic education to all capable Ghanaian youths, regardless of ethnic descent or regional origin, to, somehow, be either willing or capable of providing fee-free professional training to the legions of Kayayei fanned out across virtually each and every urban principality in the country? And also, just how did our CHINESE-MAGICIAN PRESIDENT come by the rather infantile notion that almost each and every Kayayo is a Northerner?

And still further, what makes “Little Dramani” believe that every Kayayo either avidly desires or has the requisite talent and aptitude for being trained as either a seamstress or hairstylist? And then, also, exactly what sort of “equipment” does Mr. Mahama intend to offer these Kayayei, gratis, other than as a matter of urgency, first, easing up the present patently unsavory working conditions of these multicultural and multiethnic female head porters before making other more profitable avenues and ventures readily accessible to the same?

Then also, there is this rather no-brainer notion that, somehow, the honest work/job of a Kayayei lacks, perhaps, the implicit dignity of prostitution which, I am quite certain, many of these economically vulnerable women are wont to fall prey or victim to at one time or another. In sum, what plans has Mr. Mahama put in place to drastically ease up the phenomenal upsurge of the sex trade which is even far more ignoble and/or humiliating than being a Kayayei, as well as being far more life-threatening? We think we know the answer; but, of course, we prefer to have our readers make up their own individual minds.

Now, maybe Mr. Mahama ought to be bluntly told this – and it is the fact that his bleeding-heart and rancorous stereotyping and all, I personally have several relatives in the fufu-pounding and turning business, as well as in the Kayayei business itself. Anyway, recently, a lost Afropean Ghanaian soul resident in London presumed to insult me by foolishly suggesting that, unlike another lost soul and former relative of mine who prefers to be genetically linked to Dr. James Watson, I had an inordinate penchant for claiming to be related to every great-achieving Ghanaian citizen. Well, I am not sure that I like reading about some vulturous village brats in Levi jeans…. But, anyway, would Mr. Mahama also care to send one of his teeming fleets of helicopters and school buses to help my rural relatives avoid having to carry foodstuffs on their noggins?

And, surprise, surprise; guess what? Many of my colleagues, friends and relatives are convinced to the high heavens that I could make a far better president than presidential also-runs like Messrs. Mahama and Amissah-Arthur. I am beginning to think that these astute folks couldn’t be more accurate in their assessment!

*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is Director of The Sintim-Aboagye Center for Politics and Culture and author of “Selected Political Writings” (, 2008). E-mail: ###