Feature Article of Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Columnist: Mensema, Akadu Ntiriwa

Mahama is a “Tribalist”

MILLS’ CHRONICLES: Mahama is a “Tribalist”

*By Akadu Ntiriwa Mensema


Our quotidian struggles
Foraging in dustbins of democracy
We excavate and incentivize “tribe”
Poise “tribe” in victory laps
Disguise hate as heritage
“Tribe” is the gem
In our library of struggles
In our archives of disfiguration

Where “are” the Asantes
They “were” with Kufour
Where “are” the Ewes
They “were” with Mills
Where are the “Northerners”
They are with Mahama
Where are all others
They are also in Ghana


**Culled from John Evans Atta Mills, Chronicles of Decaying & “Tribalizing”
Democracy in Ghana (Osu-Accra: Castle Publishers, 2012), Chapter 1.

President Mahama, as usual I managed to jog out of the Castle, where you had
quarantined me. I saw my tomb along the way. I wish that a Ghanaian company had
built the tomb, not a Chinese one. Thanks to Osagyefo Nkrumah, we have trained many
Ghanaians, including architects, building technologists, engineers, land economist,
artisans, etc., yet you chose not to hire any of our local companies to build my
tomb. You are right: I should know that you like doing dubious business with foreign
companies. When you campaigned in Cape Coast and promised my people that you would
rebuild Kotokoraba Market, you presented the Chinese who would do the job to my
people. You see Nkrumah, and Kutu Acheampong were not amused. The former called it
dependency defined by inferiority. For his part, Acheampong said his “Operation
Feed Yourself” also means build it yourself. Anyway, it is another chapter in my
book: “Chronicles of Decaying & “Tribalizing” Democracy.”

As always, I met with our predecessors and many others. We spoke about a lot things.
I took a long walk with Osagyefo Nkrumah. On our way home, I bought a copy of Daily
Graphic. I read in the Daily Graphic that you have appointed only “Northerners.”
They include the following: “Dr. Henry Seidu Daanaa for the Ministry of Chieftaincy
and Traditional Affairs, Mr. Mark Woyongo for Ministry of Defence, Mr. Haruna
Iddrisu at Ministry of Trade and Industry, Abdul Rashid Hassan Pelpuo, Ministry of
Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts, and Mr. Nayon Bilijo, Ministry of Fisheries and
Aquaculture Development.” I heard on the news that the list of “Northerners” is
growing. This is disheartening to say the least: you have the advantage of hindsight
and should not be repeating past mistakes.

In fact, I later spoke with Nkrumah who had stopped by the Castle for a cup of
nighttime tea. He was very disappointed that you, Rawlings, and Kufour have
introduced “tribalism” into Ghanaian politics. For my part, I told Nkrumah that I
was not a “tribalist” and further explained that I rejected what President Rawlings
had articulated in Cape Coast during the 2008 campaign as “Adze pa wo fie a oye,”
which meant, among other things, a Fante leader for and on behalf of Fantes. As a
result, I used only Ewes and Northeners in my administration. You may guess
Nkrumah’s position on this. At any rate, I will pick up Nkrumah’s contention and
ideas in another chapter. For now, let me tell you what I think about your “tribal”

The above “tribal” appointments have made me sad. You know that I was a nationalist
who feted inclusivity and equal opportunity. Simply put, I hated “tribalism” and
nepotism. Of course, I appointed Cad Mills, my brother, to protect me in the Castle,
but he let me down on the day of my death as did many of you. That is another
subject that I have addressed in my book, and I am sure that future historians will
have a lot to write about. Let me return to your “tribalism.” It is obvious that
unlike you I did not use the Rawlings Doctrine of “Adze pa wo fie a oye.” You well
know that I did not appoint the Fante elites as Ministers, etc. Absolutely, I
ignored the Fante fishermen who fished out votes for the NDC during the 2008

Again, based on my philosophy of inclusion and nationalism, I appointed Ewes and
Northerners. In the end, everyone was happy. Fantes know that I was not a
“tribalist.” In fact, every Ghanaian knows that I was not Rawlings’ poodle because I
didn’t practice what he wanted me to do: appoint Fantes as the philosophy of his
“Adze pa wo fie a oye” teaches. Paradoxically, Rawlings vilified me daily, but never
complained that I was overusing his Ewe people, not Fantes and other Akans. I am
sure that Rawlings knew that I was doing an excellent job in the areas of inclusion
and equal opportunity. Well, I tried hard to satisfy Rawlings, but he hated me even
in death. In fact, Colonel Roger Felli who was shot during the AFRC era for taking a
loan of 50,000 old cedis or so, holds the opinion that Rawlings is a hypocrite and
that time will catch up with him.

In sum, “Adze pa wo fie a oye” worked very well. For instance, I gave many of the
Voltarians their first jobs as Deputy Ministers apprenticed to cacophonic noise. I
hope that you have not revealed to Ghanaians that I was not privy to the cacophonic
noise of insults, insinuations, and political baiting that seized the public space
which were the handiwork of my inexperienced appointees. I didn’t hear anything: the
various medicines I took put me to sleep all day. You did not help matters by
quarantining me in the Castle. Rawlings was right: Kofi Awonoor appointed many of
my Aides and Spokespersons, including a rapist, car thieves, etc. I miss my office
boy who could not speak good English. I liked his gibberish English though! Yes, I
mean the office boy from Togo.

I hope that you would adhere to my aversion to “Adze pa wo fie a oye.” This means
that as a “Northerner” you should appoint people from the Western, Central, Eastern,
Volta, Bono-Ahafo, and Asante Regions. Don’t worry that during my tenure I focused
on only two regions: the “Northern” and Volta. You should appoint Ministers, Aides,
Spokespersons, Drivers, Cooks, Tailors, Security Men, etc. from all our regions
except the “North” where you come from. Don’t worry that we lump together the
Northern, Upper East, and Upper West Regions and call it the “North” and its
inhabitants “Northerners.”

The fact of the matter is that you are a “Northerner,” however, defined. Also you
think that Kufour, an Asante, represented all Akans. Given the arguments that the
NDC made, Akufo-Addo, was an Akyem, who represented some Akan groups. Of course, I
know that you are a Gonja man, but who cares whether you are not a Sissila or a
Grunshie man: you are all up there in the “North” eating tuo safi from the same
political bowl. I know that you see everyone from the Volta Region as an Ewe who
eats akpele. Remember that people in the Northern Region, Upper West, and Upper East
vote as a clan. Of course, you believe in that theory and put it into practice
during the 2012 elections. You asked them to vote for you because you are a
“Northerner” and they are “Northerners.” And they gladly did. Just imagine
Akufo-Addo asking Akans who eat fufu to do same. Ah! fellow John, don’t shift in
your chair!

Brace yourself. My book, “Chronicles of Decaying & “Tribalizing” Democracy in
Ghana,” is a bold and fearless project and will reveal a lot of what happened in the
Castle under me, what is happening now, and what will happen in Ghana.


Hmm! Where are all others
Where are the Denkyiras
Where are the Ga-Adangbes
Where are the Nzemas, Kwahus
Where are the Fantes, Akuapems
Where are the Agonas, Bonos
Where, where are all others
They are all in Ghana
Like Asantes, Ewes, “Northerners”
They are also in Ghana
Mahama they are all in Ghana

Our quotidian struggles
Foraging in dustbins of democracy
We excavate and incentivize “tribe”
Poise “tribe” in victory laps
Disguise hate as heritage
“Tribe” is the gem
In our library of struggles
In our archives of disfiguration

**AKADU Ntiriwa Mensema, Ph. D., is a nationalist Denkyira beauty. She is a trained
oral historian cum sociologist and Professor in the USA. She lives in Pennsylvania
with her great mentor and teaches Africa-area studies at a college in Maryland. In
her pastime, she writes what critics have called “populist hyperbolic, satirical”
poetry. She can be reached at akadumensema@yahoo.com. Herpoems and essays on
Ghanaweb and elsewhere must not be reproduced in full or in part for any academic or
scholarly work without her written permission.