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Opinions of Thursday, 3 August 2006

Columnist: Amankwa, Kwame

Amanfuo - The Ashanti Bashers:

Amanfuo, constructive criticism of one’s tribe can be considered healthy if only it produces results that can be deemed justifiable and useful. There are many tribes in Ghana, but none has come in for heavy bashing in print media than the people of Ashanti and this insomniac act has gotten louder since the elephant party came to power. Permit me to say that these souls often express what I will consider to be cognitively disorientated and impaired talk devoid of any coherently logical content. In the midst of this provocation, the kingdom has remained calm, mature, unfrigthened in the belief that what the ancestors promised many years ago that the soul of the nation can never be destroyed or corrupted under the watchful eyes of Nana Nyame will prevail.

Ashanti bashers come in all sorts of funny shapes and sometimes unrecognisable forms. Worms, half baked journalists, educated illiterates, “awam” politicians, “kirachi banza” etc is what I call them. These people, some of whom may have benefited generously from AR resources have had an unfounded grudge or two over the years. If it was in the developed world, we will refer to them as racists or fascists. I see Ghana and Africa still slumbering when it comes to tackling the issue of tribalism in spite of the devastating effect it has had on economies, human lives, geography etc.

One such offensive article was recently posted in Ghanaweb. This person, who claims to be a naturalised Ashanti, skewed his analysis of the people in a way that was flatly full of contradictions, innuendos and cow shit. It was an article with a familiar ambiguous and strident content which unashamedly implored respectable people from other tribes to be wary of Ashantis on the charge that they may be politically using them for their own ends. How possible is it for mature politicians educated to degree and postgraduate levels allow themselves to be manipulated to achieve ends from which they least benefit beggars belief. Politics has always been like a game of chess. Some win and others lose. Your gains or losses will depend on which team you side with. Yet some people have a problem with this fact of life.

Ashantis like other tribes do have their heroes and would loudly mention names like Nana Yaa Asantewaa, Nananom Asantehenes etc whom they adore and draw inspiration from. This is in no way meant to offend anyone. Yes Ashantis can be cheeky but that is often tainted with an air of innocence and sincerity. Some writers and their comrades- in –mischief, strengthened by an inner bursting venom of hate, jealousy and haunted by their own inferiority complexes have over the years plotted effortlessly with blinding thought to undermine Ashantis. There is also something vaguely shocking about such attacks. That the rantings have often been aimed at cutting existing political and socio-cultural tribal ties, with the displaced hope of eventually destabilising the nation state and this is uncalled for. I put this down to the feeling of insecurity.

If these nation wreckers had a genuine case originating from a past association with the region and its people, then that could be excused. But such people are often remotely unconnected to the region. Ashantis are very tolerant people and have over the years shown remarkable patience because they believe that ahwinea pa nkasa (good beads do not talk).

There are several national cankers eating away at the socio- political and economic prosperity of the nation. These evils include corruption, selling out the nation to outsiders, tribalism, nepotism, thievery, murder, torture etc. Such evils are not the preserve of only Ashantis. Infact on the contrally some tribes in Ghana will score 200% in the execution of some of the critical evils like the tribal question.

Now let us consider the concerns of these bashers in detail.

Many of Ashanti’s leaders have been brutally and appallingly murdered due to the strength of their firm characters, but the old saying that wo kum apem a apem beba has held sway. Some bashers even went to the extent of jealously confisticating personally hard won and genuinely acquired assets because that was the only way they could have it. They have never known sweat and gain, except kill and gain. They tried to keep the people quiet but the people resisted and with time got the protagonists running with their tails between their legs.

Unfortunately in Ghana and Africa as a whole, power is everything. So which group of persons or tribe will not want to dominate or majoritise the seat of government? In the developed countries you do not have to be part of the government or ruling machinery to be counted or influential. So the bickering, jealousy and struggle for political power and control is less.

Ashantis had their own political systems in place even before the advent of modern day Ghana. They ferociously fought the Brits for years with the help of its friends to secure the borders of our nation. Have Ashantis gained any political benefits far greater than anyone else? My answer to that will be a big no. The fact remains that successive governments since independence have sought to rather undermine and disintegrate one of the oldest kingdoms on earth. Nkrumah tried in many ways. So did comrade JJ and his rampaging team. JJ once cheekily said or I would say ignorantly remarked that he will never allow any tribe to dominate another. Yet it was unclear who was trying to dominate who and what he was going to do about it as if he was going to be on the throne for a hundred and twenty years. Years later he was bold to come to Kumasi of all places to ask for the votes of the Ashantis. What a farce. Why was he able to do that? Because Ashantis are a very open minded and tolerant people and that is why all the various political parties have some significant foothold in the region unlike other areas. Ashanti’s political arrangements are consensus – based, not forced and blindly applied voting regimen. Ask Kutu Acheampong and his Unigov. Many a tribe would have supported his nonsense but not the people of AR.

When it comes to political dominance, Kotoka and Afrifa’s governments were not dominated by Ashantis, neither was Busia’s. Acheampong’s regime was well balanced in terms of its ethnicity. The AFRC was well balanced when it started, but its advantage seeking and murderous follow up group was one tribe dominated and these were not Ashantis. They even swelled their ranks with Ashanti sounding names to give it some semblance of balance and hence acceptability and respectability. The Ashanti bashers ignorantly fell for this bait.

During the 1980 elections, Ashantis voted massively for the PNP of Hilla Limann instead of the one headed by the brainy Victor Owusu, an Ashanti. Limann will later ignore Asanteman but they did not complain. Amanfuo, the nation’s history is very clear. Ashantis are rather power –brokers and not bias as the ultra – tribalist chauvinist cows will make us believe. These know the truth but will continue to throw the huge tribally – offensive spanner into the works of the body politico by openly insulting, rubbishing the kingdom under pseudonyms and false personas so they will be difficult to spot and challenged to justify their jazz.

Let me also add that the culture of deliberate murder, indiscriminate abuse of political power in an attempt to monopolise political power is un-Ashanti. The Ashantis who did that in the past were those who for the sake of a small bowl of porridge like Mr Adjei Boadi joined forces with the devil even to the extent of drinking human blood to achieve their devilish ends. Acheampong arrested Kojo Tsikata and his knife wielding gang but did not painfully execute anyone of them. When others tried to topple the PNDC regime (including those who were framed up), they were brutally tortured and dismembered. Yet when Quashigah allegedly tried to unseat the government, the regime sent emissaries to his parents, entreating them to “talk” to him. What a double standard based on tribe.

Certain individuals have always held the belief that if you captured the Osu castle, seized broadcasting house and blocked the major airport, roads etc you will end up controlling the nation, its soul and people. Well Ashanti and it’s friends have proved this theory wrong. Once they had their land and livelihoods (which may not come from the government ministries), they did not give a hoot if the nation wreckers sat in Accra and played koliko roulette with the nation.

Again there were attempts to undermine the very institution of chieftancy in Ashanti, by rightly or wrongly arresting some of the prominent chiefs and persons like Kwasi Agyeman and making them carry “human shit”, the worst of any form of humiliation and punishment, all with the sinister aim of making Ashanti fall. Instead Ashanti grew stronger. That is the difference my friends.

Ashantis abhor tyrants and despots. They hate nation wreckers, people with sweet tooth and less thought for the mortar and bricks.

The typical Ashanti believes in fair play, transparency, non-aggression, respect, care for ones neighbour (wo yonko da ne wo da), sharing of societal burdens, integrity and these values are ingrained in every aspect of tradition. They believe that if you are used to wearing wretched clothes you avoid physical play. That you do not wash your dirty linen in public and also if a liar challenges you to tree climbing, let them climb first. But the one I like very much is “ehuru a ebe gwu” - it may boils to hot point but will eventually cool. Tell that to the mad revolutionaries who illegally occupied our sacred seat of government only a few years ago. .

Ashantis are very enterprising and business minded people. That they were engaged in the art of trading, accounting and managed micro and macro-economically before these became formal and official is not in doubt. Many a times they have conducted their business with breath-taking ferocity and non-suicidal greed. But that is the nature of business.

It can be argued without doubt that this group who believe strongly in social cohesion are very sociable. That if you are unsociable, the best place for you to be is in the animal kingdom and even they have a social structure. That is why Ashanti has been able to welcome and integrate and provide sanctuary top people of all national, tribal, cultural, linguistic and religious persuasion including those fleeing from devilish pranks like juju and kaikaimotobi in their homeland which would have normally killed them.

Ashantis are endowed with massive natural resources – gold, timber, food etc. Many may dispute this fact, but with the amount of resources that is extracted from the region on a daily basis, I would argue that Ashanti has had very little by way of returns. Many mining towns from Obuasi to Konongo are poor infratructurally and economically, yet millions of dollars are spirited out and used to balance Ghana’s economic books.

In terms of development in Ashanti, the only person to have done something small was Kutu Acheampong and even that was not only in Kumasi but many parts of Ghana. What development there has been has been patchy and at best patronising. Paltry royalties are ever paid to these communities if any at all, yet people who use to wear “Charlie wote” and toonabu to lecture for a living, or borrow yoko gari before going to bed are today in a position to sell and pockets huge sums of the people’s money and still boast about it. Ashantis have not taken to the bushes like the Ogoni people because of this injustice. Yet these bashers have preoccupied themselves with raw misconceptions and cynical propositions to try and turn everyone against Ashantis.

Every tribe in Ghana has a very rich history and if all were put together in a big socio-cultural pot, the aroma and sweetness and delivery to an appetising audience will be overwhelming. Sadly apart from the Acheampong years when indigenisation and cultural renaissance was given due attention, that has gradually faded with all trying to be socialist, then democrat, then blah blah blah.

It is also undeniable from the nation’s history (and this may be one of the areas which the bashers have a problem) that some tribes are inherently predisposed and genetically programmed to be characteristically violent all the time in their talk, actions, conduct and organisation. Ashantis are not such people.

Conclusion:

I realise that such diminished, non-obligatory, nauseating write ups that smells like the shit of a thousand donkeys will continue to be laid into mainstream media and deserves condemnation. We risk jeopardising the enormous gains in peace, stability and coexistence terms achieved over the years if we allow those who have never seen a gun fired in anger, continue to fan the flames of conflict through their rhetoric and diabolical preachings. Such people need re-educating, counselling and medicating.

It may also help if parliament were to enact laws similar to anti-racist legislation prohibiting the use and reference to any tribe in a way that may be considered derogatory, vexatious and conflicting. By this they would have been orally catheterised so that their “tribalistic” instincts and venom are contained in a tolerable way.

Not that Ashanti is afraid of its enemies, because it has chewed the strongest metals in the past and would not hesitate to use the woods as chewing stick. Mud slings do not stick on Ashanti neither does it on any genuine tribe in Ghana.

Such preoccupation with everything Ashanti may well in the end send such flat heads prematurely to their graves and Ashanti and its friends will once again have the last laugh.

God Bless Ghana. The most peaceful place on earth.



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