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Opinions of Saturday, 5 September 2009

Columnist: Hammond, Samantha

“In This Ghana in which we live in it”

I believe some of us would be familiar with the above title. We used to come up with that line anytime something incredible or bizarre happens in Ghana. There were times that we used it to refer to anything that falls within the status quo. When an overloaded truck overturns, killing innocent pedestrians, we wonder how such a truck went past a police barrier in the first place and we can only conclude: “in this Ghana in which we live in it” I just finished reading the article “The Case of’ Asabee’ And The Moaning Of An Ewe Gunshot Victim” by one Onipaba posted on ‘Ghanaweb’ and dated 25th August 2009. After reading the said article my initial reaction was:”in this Ghana in which we live in it” I don’t know whether Onipaba is a he or a she so I would use the name as is. Onipaba brought to the fore some concerns that many have had for many years but for some reason have been unable to openly discuss them.

I do not agree with everything Onipaba wrote but that is my right, I guess. For one I think Asabee’s case is or should be a separate issue from the main thrust of the said article but at least what that showed is that there are people in this country who truly know what’s gone on and maybe still going on. I would take this opportunity offered by Onipaba’s article to put forward what I know about the subject. Of course I expect denials and rebuttals from certain quarters; and insults too. They are all welcome. My only wish is that in responding, people would stick to the issues and not just ‘attack’ for the sake of it! From time to time I try to read some of the articles on ‘Ghanaweb’ and I must say the webmaster needs to ‘do something’ by way of checking the filthy and abusive language that seem to be the hallmark of the ‘comments’ section. I have seen too many of those on ‘Ghanaweb’ I don’t think we are any better for it. We can always have intelligent and informed discussions but I will have no part in silly tribal-based rants that have so commonly come to represent comments on ‘Ghanaweb’. Anyway, let me get back to the issues:

‘Miawo de’ as I understand it means ‘We alone’. The philosophy seeks to promote the particular tribe in question in all endeavours, and anything and everything good should be for ‘We alone’. In light of Onipaba’s assertions let’s take a look at its full implications.

I do not believe that such a philosophy is good for our democracy and for the peace and quiet of our society. I believe it is also very dangerous for any other tribe to have any such agenda-hidden or otherwise; and more so if the tribe makes up 11% of the entire population (Census 2000).

I disagree with Onipaba on the initial premise of the article: no one tribe or ethnic group has the monopoly over armed robbery. Armed robbery is a menace carried out by peoples of all ethnic identities. Unless and until Onipaba comes up with the statistics to prove otherwise, I will not go for such an argument. Onipaba’s question as to why Rawlings did not murder Gbedema for stealing from the State Treasury would be best answered by Rawlings himself so I leave that to him. But the issue raised about the Scholarship Secretariat cannot be ignored. I happen to have some information regarding that. It falls directly in line with the ‘miawo de’ thing. Ewe scholars tell us that after ‘Notsie’, they vowed never to go through that experience again. They would never be that ‘helpless’ and ‘defenceless’ again. According to these scholars, the Akans -particularly the Twi-speaking groups- were/are a force to reckon with, and so for their own self-preservation and protection, they decided to ‘embark’ on this ‘miawo de’ enterprise. The ultimate goal is to take control of the economic and political power and through that control the other sectors as well. Interestingly the Ewes of Togo (also in the minority) have been trying to do similar and may have succeeded but for the late Eyadema. So let me put all of this in context before you start wondering what the point is: Jerry Rawlings appointed one Shirley Ababio to oversee the affairs of the Scholarship Secretariat. This is one of two women who wielded such tremendous power under Chairman Rawlings. The other was Valerie Sackey but by far Shirley Ababio was the most diabolical. I have no doubt in my mind as to what her mandate was, for records at the secretariat show that clearly. She was to ensure that majority of scholarships are given to Ewe students. In order not to make this too obvious, students from the Northern regions were also to benefit and then a few Akans and others would be thrown in there to complete the picture. Now let me state categorically that anybody who has a problem with this assertion can go to the scholarship secretariat and check the records. You can go through the records from 1979 to 2000 and check all the names of scholarship recipients. I want to believe that nobody has tampered with the records as yet.

This is what Onipaba had to say on this matter “During my school days in Ghana, the Scholarship Secretariat was a place that any Ghanaian could go to apply for state scholarship to study abroad, regardless of his/her tribe. During the terroristic reigns of the Ewe/Rawlings entity (1979-2000), the doors of the secretariat were literally closed to non-Ewes, especially Akans. The Ewe administrators at the secretariat would selectively tell Akan student visitors to go back to the Akan Kings to seek scholarship supports. This unacceptable and blatant act of tribalism at the secretariat was unheard of during my school days in Ghana.” The reason why this is so important is that one of the areas identified to promote the ‘miawo de’ thing was Education. There is nothing wrong with education. In fact everybody should be entitled to education. The problem arises when one group decides to appropriate to themselves resources of the State by way of scholarships to the detriment of the other groups. Onipaba also asserted that between 1979 and 2000 “..practically most jobs in Ghana were held by the Ewes even though the Ewes are a minority and the Akans are a majority. The Ewe could even go to the extent of offering employment to Ewes from other West African nations (Togo and Benin)..”. Names that easily come to mind include the Anaglates, the Amegashies, the Kumedzros, the Asisehs, the Abodakpis, the Adoms, the Kpordugbes, the Portuphys, the Bleges, the Quainoos, the Dumashies, the Tsikatas, the Akafias among many others. I believe by “most jobs in Ghana” Onipaba was referring to the Civil/Public sectors. To the extent that Ewes from other West African countries were schooling in Ghana for free, it is little wonder that they would be offered jobs when they were out of school. What should not be lost on this point is that this ‘West African’ connection is part of the broader agenda of the ‘miawo de’ philosophy. Shirley Ababio was not the only one appointed to push through this agenda; Sylvia Boye formerly of WAEC was another. Hers was to ensure ‘safe’ grades for as many Ewes as possible both at the O and A levels. Now the Ewes, like all other tribes, can boast of some very smart and intelligent people; so that is not the issue. This was something to help those who may have otherwise fallen through the ‘cracks’. Again, the people involved may deny this but what we should know is that nothing remains hidden forever and nothing happens in a vacuum!!

Onipaba also touched on the recently reported news of a proposed State University in the Volta region. Onipaba raised concern about whether such a university would serve all Ghanaians or just a section of the populace. For this to even be an issue tells me that there is something really wrong in our society that we are refusing to address. My interest in this would be to see the ethnic backgrounds of the faculty. The Volta region is the only region that for so long a time has refused to allow non-Voltarians to head any educational institution within the region. This is so even when you have people from the Volta region doing exactly that in other regions. One can go through the secondary schools and training colleges in the Volta region and find out for one’s self. So would a State University in the region be operated along similar conditions? Besides the use of education in this way, population, marriage and juju are the other areas identified for the ‘four-prong fork’ attack. Again there is nothing wrong with either population or marriage though I cannot say the same for juju. But as always, good things can be used to achieve not-so good things. Marriage is a good thing. Inter-tribal marriages have been singled out as one of the major factors for social cohesion in our society so I have nothing against it. But when there is a grand design to promote such marriages in order to achieve a goal beyond marital harmony and bliss then there’s a problem.

If you lived in Rawlings’ Ghana, as I did, then you don’t need anybod y to tell you that Rawlings does not like Asantes. The question then becomes why did he marry one of them? I have no doubt in my mind that Rawlings genuinely loves Nana Konadu but seeing how much hatred he has for Asantes, isn’t it a bit intriguing that he would marry from amongst them? An Ewe friend of mine told me they (Ewes) and the Asantes are the two most powerful tribes in Ghana; and being married to Asantes provides the ‘best of both worlds’ to their ‘offspring’. I have no proof and so I cannot say for sure whether that was Rawlings’ motivation but I must confess that I have given it some thought. The other point to note with this inter-tribal marriage agenda is the fact most Akan groups are matrilineal whilst Ewes are patrilineal. This means offspring from a marriage between an Ewe man and an Akan woman ‘belong’ to the man; but since inheritance is through the woman (for the akans), the offspring-being an Ewe with the appropriate name to match-then becomes the nephew or niece who inherits from his/her Akan uncle. I have also learned that the closer the Akan woman is to ‘royalty’ the better. Yes, I know all of this may sound very bizarre and a bit far- fetched but I did not dream this up; it’s been planned by a group of people and it is already operational. I just happen to know about it and reporting it. So is it the ultimate goal of this agenda to see an Ewe sit on an Akan Stool someday? We should note also that for situations where the woman is Ewe and the man Akan, there is really no issue since the offspring cannot lay claim to anything in Eweland what with the father being Akan.

Politics is about numbers, especially democratic politics. If you intend to take control of the economic and political ‘superstructures’ within a democratic environment, you need to have the numbers. If one looks at the ‘coverage area’ of Ewes in the country one cannot but wonder about the accuracy of the 2000 Census figures. 11% Ewe against 49% Akan paints one picture but a different picture could be painted if one breaks down the Akan groups individually and compares each to the 11% Ewe population. I will suggest that this upcoming Census in 2010 captures the population of each individual Akan group (Akyems, Asantes, Akwapims, Kwahus etc) instead of just ‘lumping’ them together. Again the strategy involves ‘dominating by numbers’ all sectors. One can check the ‘population’ within the Civil/Public services, CEPS, Immigration Services, and the other Security Agencies. Would the ‘population’ in these areas reflect a proportional representation of 11% total population?? ‘Miawo de’ implies whenever an Ewe finds himself or herself in a position of authority or influence, he or she must get as many Ewes as possible into the ‘system’. This is no secret and any objective Ghanaian would attest to it. Yes other tribes may also practice same but the prevalence amongst Ewes is unmatched by any other tribe in Ghana!! Many a Ghanaian has been intimidated by threats of ‘juju’. I remember one time when this lady (who had come back from studying abroad) was offered a job; but after realizing that she was going to be the boss of a man, who believed the position should have gone to him, declined the offer and went back abroad. She had one and only one reason: she was not ready to gamble with her life over a job; if the man wants it he can have it. Yes, you guessed right, the man was from the Volta region. Now I am not saying that every Ewe dabbles in ‘juju; no but for some reason some Ewes have succeeded in creating that impression in the minds of non-Ewes. To the extent that it is commonly said that one is not ‘safe’ if one finds oneself either ‘in front’ or ‘behind’ an Ewe at the place of work. The ‘joke’ goes like this: When ‘in front’ one is likely to be’ eliminated’ so the Ewe can take over and when ‘behind’ one would still be ‘eliminated’ so another Ewe can be put in one’s place. I believe and know there’s more to this than just a joke. There have been instances when some Ewes would waste no time at all to let you know where they come from and that you dare not ‘mess’ with them. Such threats and intimidation have put the ‘fear of god’ in so many people. In fact some Ewes are even scared of their own kith and kin.

Having said all this, the question is do we really believe that we can continue like this and build a prosperous, peaceful and harmonious society?? I guess if the status quo remains, maybe we could but what if other tribes decide to embark on their own ‘agendas’ similar to ‘miawo de’? What then??