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Opinions of Saturday, 16 July 2011

Columnist: Berko, G. K.

“What Is In A Name?” An Age-long Question that keeps Chivying the CPP.

I have no doubt that the mere mention of certain names invokes in all of us certain sentiments. For those names that arouse in us sentiments we wished we never experienced again, we have always hoped we would never hear them again, either.

The UP and the CPP seem to be such Political Party names that many Ghanaians have shown to be too sentimentally attached to or detached from. Over the years, the UP seemed to have taken the psychological inference from that phenomenon seriously and repeatedly incarnated with different names: The PP, PFP, and NPP in the main. Records show that such nominal transformation, however superficial it seems, has paid off well for the UP-descendant Parties. I have always wondered why the CPP hasn’t done similarly to directly counter its Political arch-nemesis in thinly veiled, cosmetic update by name, even though, the evidence is conspicuously available that when the CPP was forced to stay out of active Politics, and the PNP was formed as its incarnation under Dr. Hilla Liman, Ghanaians moved in drones to support that Party which eventually won the impending general Elections. Other factors did contribute to Liman’s win, I admit. But I think the new name the Nkrumahists chose for their new Party enhanced its attraction to the voters.

It seems that the UP leadership had noticed and accepted the fact that many Ghanaians, especially, among the Youths, refrain from the Old Parties because they do not want to be associated directly with any ignominy linked to these Parties. The new names for the Parties seem to offer them an excuse to believe that the incarnated Parties are either really new that would not tolerate any of the evils associated with the Old Parties, or probably have changed from their old mischievous ways. The reticent denial by the leadership of these descendant Parties of any existing blemish attached to the Old Parties then become more easily believable, and allows even relic members of the Old Parties still occupying prominent positions in their incarnated versions pass the litmus test, almost squeaky clean.

It is in this setting that I have also wondered if the badly damaged reputation of the CPP suffered under the National Liberation Council (NLC), might be the reason the Nkrumah’s Party has had enormous difficulty in re-emerging to the center-stage of our Politics, today. I think the notoriety the NLC and its local allies, plus its bankrollers in the West, dumped on the CPP was so thick and gluey that even the Youths of today, some 40+ years later, find it uncomfortable to join, even though the Party may have abandoned much of its old unappealing ways, and most of the allegations and tarnishing stories that were told of the CPP have been revealed to be only fabricated propaganda to dissolve all myths propping up the ‘demi-god’, Osagyefo.

The opponents of CPP did a great job in sinking its name in so much anti-democratic attributes that the younger voters feel they deserve to belong to other Parties, instead. It is most interesting that while the opponents of Nkrumah were relentlessly and vehemently denouncing his one-Party State concept, for instance, the same folks were ‘lovingly in bed’ with Houphouet Boigny of the Ivory Coast who had firmly established the same concept for that country, and riding high and comfy on the admiration of the West, with no more benign grip on his foes than Nkrumah employed on his. Well, I guess one could safely say such was a typical manifestation of “the-enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend” relationship between Nkrumah’s Opponents and the Ivorian President who was not really fond of Nkrumah.

I think the CPP should do what the UP has done so far. It has to change its name even as it keeps touting the ideals of its Pioneer and hero, Nkrumah. It has a lot of PR to undertake to shake off most of the unfounded or mistaken attributes associated with it. It could then contest the NPP and any other Party on really equal footing, without having to reach back into its past to justify any actions by, or feel the pressure to explain or deny the heinous stories about, the CPP of old.

On the other hand, if the CPP would adamantly keep its name, and I know the die-hard Nkrumahists would strain every muscle in their bodies for that, the reasons for certain actions by the Party in its earlier days must be given a wider, deeper and louder explanation, if the Party thinks such reasons were deliberately misconstrued by its opponents. There are a lot of things going on today that exonerate Nkrumah on his much criticized position on many things. If only the CPP could exploit that changing realization to change people's perception of it, it could go far in reclaiming the center-stage in our Politics. But I would rather put my bet on changing its name for good. I should also emphasize that J. B. Danquah, the stalwart leader of the NLM/UP, has also been better understood today, given the struggle between efforts to protect what naturally belonged to his native homeland and people, in tradition and material wealth, and the need to share with other parts of the country that were not known to be well-endowed. And that new understanding of Danquah’s stance has been well utilized by the UP-descendant Parties to placate any alleged misdeeds the late Opposition leader.

“What is in a name?” That age-long question seems to be dogging the CPP. Many Ghanaians do not want to be directly associated with the dirty Politics of the Past, be it with the UP or CPP. So, the names of those brutally antagonistic Parties of old, both of whom have engaged in embarrassing behaviors in the past that tarnish their reputations, don't have much appeal anymore. I have a friend who also presents an interesting angle to this dogged problem of the CPP’s. She claims that while the CPP had been embodied in the person of Nkrumah, the only target of the Party’s opposition, the identity of the UP seemed to have been more diffused among its plural leadership of Danquah’s, Busia’s and Dombo’s. And as a consequence, it had been easier for the UP to change its name and move on, while the CPP seems stuck with the same name, since it cannot dissociate itself from Nkrumah, even slightly.

While that might be true of the CPP, I still believe the PNP name adoption during the Liman era, serves as a likely proof that the name-change could work as well for the CPP as it has for the UP, if not better. To many, citing the significance of each Party's hero is all that is needed to encourage them to join. But using the old names only bring the bad things the Parties did to mind and chills the enthusiasm of the Youthful voters of today for joining them. The CPP may have to give up its name to keep its legacy.

Folks, what do you think?

Long Live Ghana!!