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Opinions of Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Columnist: Adofo, Rockson

Are Cocoa Farmers Offended at the Statement "Kumasi Kookooase Kuraseni?

Kobby Acheampong, the Deputy Minister for Tourism in President Atta Mills' government has subjected a group of Ghanaians to the effusion of the mother of all diarrheic insults - "Kumasi Kookooase kuraaseni". There is a saying that goes, "More haste less speed" Kobby in haste to stand tall to be counted as a macho defender of President Mills, is now seen to prostrate to his victims, pleading for forgiveness. What has he achieved by being that much senseless; a dent in his self pride, a disgrace? Become a laughing stock in the end? Yes, he has.

One Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie aka Sir John, the Secretary General of the NPP, also with a motorised chirping mouth had this time around sought to express his genuine concern about the political performance of President Mills. He had said two things that angered Kobby Acheampong so much so that Kobby felt the best way to soothe his anger was to castigate Sir John as hard as he could. Sir John had opined that President Mills' political performance in foreign policy is not worth the index grading of B for a good job done as awarded him by the Africawatch Magazine. He said they had rather given him A+ for bad performance. He however preceded his supposition with the TWI word "Tweaa".

The word "tweaakai" coupled with the statement, "they had better give him A+ for bad performance" is Kobby's problem with Sir John, the place he was raised and the group of people he belongs in. To Kobby, Sir John has insulted President Mills by his statement as indicated above. Let me explain "tweaakai" and when it is employed.

"Tweaakai" is a Twi word which means never true; cannot be possible; with emphasis laid on the impossibility of the truthfulness on what is being alleged. It is used to negate a statement being made in favour of someone or something with the degree of the negation well emphasised. "Tweaakai" is simply an emphatic refutation of an assertion made in favour of someone or something. How does this then constitute an insult as allegedly understood by Kobby Acheampong, the wise Accra boy? For instance if I were to say, public toilets abound in Accra and every household has a toilet. One can say "TWEAA" meaning to the contrary of what I have asserted. This is because it is never true. People defecate in any available bushes and on refuse dumps in some areas in Accra. Does "Tweaakai" become an insult or purport to establish the truth in this instance?

In response to Sir John, Kobby Acheampong became so infuriated that he thought he had better castigate the entire people of the community and the background from which Sir John originates. He said, "For the fact that Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie has resided in Kumasi for almost all his life, he behaves like Kumasi Kookooase Kuraseni" It is up to the individuals residing in Kumasi, Ashanti Region, and the cocoa producing areas in Ghana to make their own informed decisions.

I am disgusted at Kobby Acheampong's teasing reminder of the social and economic deprivation in which lives most of the Ghanaian cocoa farmers and the cocoa caretakers. The government sets the purchasing price for their precious and much sought-after cocoa beans. The prices are set such that the government can acquire enough money from their toil to carry out infrastructure and other developmental projects in the country. These farmers live on their cocoa plantations where they have absolutely no provision of social amenities yet their sweat helps to provide the cities with the bulk of the good things that they enjoy.

In the mid to late 1960s, one Yaw Amoako from Juabeng - Asiampa was expelled from Tweneboa Kodua Secondary School for non-payment of school fees. Just as he went to Form four, his uncle who was sponsoring his education passed away. This uncle was a cocoa farmer at Mim in the Brong-Ahafo Region. Tried as his father, Nana Yaw Donkor, also a cocoa farmer, did, he could not raise enough money to pay for his lodging and boarding fees in addition to that of his senior brother Kwadwo Asare who was also at the same school. It was decided that the younger brother be pulled out to give the elder one the chance. In 1975, I met with one senior going by the nickname Lawyer, a citizen of Juabeng who had completed Tweneboa Kodua Secondary School in 1973, in Juabeng. In the course of our conversation, he told me about how brilliant Yaw Amoako was at school and wondered why he left school midway. Yaw Amoako was Lawyer's senior. I could not bring myself to tell him the reason why though I was conversant with it.

A brilliant son and nephew of cocoa farmers for some reason could not complete his Secondary school education. If he had had a scholarship, he could have pursued higher education. The Cocoa Marketing Board (CMB) scholarships were rather being granted to the sons and relatives of rich men who would later look down on the families of the farmers with scorn. Is this not exactly what Kobby Acheampong has done? Has he not all the while been seeing them as "kookooase nkurasefo"; uncultured people living in the wilderness of cocoa plantations?

I respect the mother of one Senior Pianim, a product of Tweneboa Kodua Secondary School. He is the junior brother to the renowned Ghanaian Economist Kwame Pianim. According to this senior who I used to chat with for hours whenever we met at Walthamstow in London, his mother had advised them thus, "Never look down upon any poor person or anyone you are better off than whenever you come into contact with. Don't underestimate them. They may not have had the opportunity to pursue further education because of poverty but not for the reason that they were not capable. If you are fortunate to acquire higher education, you are to use the knowledge you have acquired to help the less fortunate ones in society but not to lord it over them etc." How many parents can impart this society-caring wisdom to their children? If the old lady was still alive, she would be in her nineties.

If Kobby Acheampong's parents did whisper similar wise advice into his ears, no matter how waxed the ears are, he wouldn't have dared say what he said.

I take Kobby's apology with a pinch of salt. He must resign. Failing to resign voluntarily as any sensible gentleman will do, President Mills should force him out. The failure of President Mills to show him the exit from his government will soon bring in its trail some worrying repercussions. If President Mills feels people of the likes of Kobby Acheampong, Koko Anyindaho, Okudzjeto Ablakwah, Tony Aiddo etc. are there as his comfort Spin doctors to insult Ghanaians, then he had better think twice. A day is coming that they will be called to account. "If you have a difficult task, give it to a lazy man - he will find an easier way to do it" - Paul Sorensen.

I am calling for the head of Kobby Acheampong now! A word to the wise is enough. Sir John should also mind his motorised mouth as "nothing ventured, nothing came".

Rockson Adofo