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Opinions of Saturday, 31 March 2012

Columnist: Adoli, Kofi

Kenkey Politics: When Akufo Addo Publicly Eats Kenkey.

When President Mills recently toured markets in Accra and bought some balls of Kenkey, the carefully coordinated refrain from the NPP media and the spineless ones was that the President was engaging in cheap populism.

But no sooner had this topic vanished from the media scenes have we seen Akufo Addo in pictures, almost regurgitating pellets of Kenkey. These scenes seem to suggest that not only does Nana Addo desperately want to be identified with the ordinary Ghanaian, but that he wants to go a step further than President Mills in the Kenkey politics which his party started.

In substance Nana Addo remains very much an alien amongst these people, with whom he desperately wants to identify. From time immemorial, the image (and reality) of Nana Akufo Addo’s life has been that of a baked beans-eating elite whose suits and ties hail from London's Mayfair and Regent Street. Indeed, never has Nana Akufo Addo realised his detachment from the ordinary Ghanaian until his bosom friend, Dr Kwesi Aning, of the Kofi Anan Peace Centre, advised him to start dressing in Fugu. Until then he stuck himself to the traditions of his fathers; which tradition alienated the latter and his peers from the peasant but brainy Kwame Nkrumah.

Since Dr Aning’s advice was given and duly taken, Nana Addo paraded himself on bill boards and in TV Commercials uncharacteristically wearing mufti. That stunt woefully failed in 2008, and the writings are boldly on the wall in 2012.

Indeed, if through his formative years as the son of an unelected but chosen President of our second republic, and through his flowery but turbulent days as a young man in the pubs and clubs of London, he had not learned or realised his affinity to the ordinary Ghanaian, what chance is there for him to wake up to that reality now?

For sometime now the opponents of Nana Addo have identified and harped on his consummate desperation to become President. But I have noticed one other phenomenon which they have not; that is a clear lack of originality which pervades his team. Nana Addo has a very mediocre campaign team, whose activities further exacerbate the consolidation of the idea of desperation in the minds of voters.

It is this other factor which is proving to be the undoing of Akufo Addo's bid for President. For, why would a well organised campaign team, which has recently lost a debate regarding the price of balls of kenkey, closely follow up that debate by letting their candidate engage in a public kenkey-eating stunt? Is this not a humble pie eating stunt? Could there not have been any alternative to that? If the need to eat kenkey was that urgent, could the campaign team not have realised that President Mills' recent kenkey purchasing tour is still too fresh in the minds of the public? From this move and the recent one by Nana Addo to re-ply the areas recently plied by President Mills in Accra, it is clear that the campaign team is bereft, not only of policy ideas but also of a feasible campaign strategy.

It is possible to explain this clear lack of internally generated ideas, by suggesting that they planned to be flexible and responsive. But even with that strategy, the responses must be towards issues that do not have the shadows of President Mills all over them. To do this is to portray a clear lack of originality and copy-cutting. That is what is further deepening the already precarious woes of Nana Addo.

It is hoped that the NPP will stop chasing the shadows of President Mills. But, even as I hope for this, I also know that in matters of this sort, when the NPP is concerned, it is better to be hopeless. God bless our homeland.

Kofi Adoli