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Opinions of Thursday, 1 December 2016

Columnist: Kwarteng, Francis

Mahama’s 'northern brothers', Akufo-Addo’s 'yen akanfuo' 5

By Francis Kwarteng

“We are fighting so that insults may no longer rule our countries, martyred and scorned for centuries, so that our peoples may never more be exploited by imperialists not only by people with white skin, because we do not confuse exploitation or exploiters with the color of men’s skins; we do not want any exploitation in our countries, not even by black people” (Amilcar Cabral).

Finally, let us remind ourselves of these scandalous statements reportedly made by Yaw Osafo-Marfo:

“…You have all the resources, but you have no say in the management of your resources, and that is what is happening. Your development depends on the one who has no resources…You can’t say this openly…We should protect ourselves, we should protect our income. No one who is the source of income, the source of revenue, the source of resources allows another person without those resources the chance [to rule over them]…

“It’s never done anywhere in the world. In the world over, it is the group with the most resources that rules and not the other way round.”

Closing remarks

Political ethnocentrism and ethnic politics do shape or influence policy strategies in the important matter of development economics.

For one thing, some ethnic groups in certain regions around the country tend to vote for certain political parties and are in turn handsomely rewarded with grand infrastructural projects.

For another, those that do not tend to vote for a political party which eventually ends up in power are underserved in terms of infrastructure output.

Then there is the special case of ongoing infrastructural projects in certain regions which were reportedly discontinued, because voters of those regions did not allegedly vote for that party that ended up in political office.

Let us not however oversimplify these policy questions, for they are not simply questions of ethnicity or of identity politics.

It does happen that policy determination of these questions appeals to a set of complicated covariates insofar as the policy framology of the political economy of Ghana goes.

That is, a simplistic vista of these policy questions totally ignores the variable of strategic prioritization regarding national and regional needs, the standing health of the national and global economies, identitarianism, and public corruption.

All told, there exist political leaders who, while in political office, do relatively less for their native regions for fear of public backlash, derived from perceived notions of those political leaders diverting undue favoritism to their native regions—which we might call regional ethnocentrism.

Other leaders while in political office do a lot for non-native regions within the unitary political structure, yet their enormous efforts in this regard are largely ignored, even detested, possibly on the sheer basis of their regional ethnicity and party affiliation.

President Mahama’s soulful political jeremiad—“Dead Goat Syndrome”—speaks to this dangerous social malady.

All these do not mean ethnic fixation is a necessary bad or negative thing.

Alternatively, it means that ethnic fixation is a good thing to the extent it offers a conceptual vista into the beauty of nature.

Ethnic diversity is a beautiful thing, more beautiful than Ayi Kwei Armah’s “The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born.”

Let us therefore learn to be politically correct with the moral language of the national discourse on ethnic diversity.

Ethnic balkanization and ethnic condescension are not the answer to our myriad problems.

Again, as a people still actively combating racism we should long have learnt to make technocratic and moral competence, hard work, meritocracy, and patriotic pragmatism—rather than ethnicity and religion—the focal points of political leadership and bureaucratic socialization.

It is our humble opinion that Ghanaians will reject ethnocentric exclusivists who aspire to political office in the land.

They should rather rally behind competent, hardworking, patriotic, and intelligent men and women with inclusive vision for the nation.

In many important ways therefore, Bawumia is only good for the NPP brand so long as “northerners” follow him, not Akufo-Addo, to the ethnocentric party according to the skewed version of Anthony Karbo’s political philosophy.

Left to high-profile ethnocentric hegemonists like Yaw Osafo-Marfo and Madam Ursula Owusu-Ekuful the “Accra Northerner,” Bawumia, should be tending livestock in the north since he does belong in the Akan-centric NPP.

Thus Bawumia’s northern extraction does not give him the right to gatecrash the entrenched privilege of resource-rich, upper-echeloned Akans within the ethnocentric NPP.

Perhaps Bawumia is hypocritically celebrated in the ethnocentric elephant party not because he is uniquely endowed with any economic prowess, but rather because of the potential of his convenient presence in the ethnocentric NPP to peel away votes from the north that have traditionally gone to the NDC.

Bawumia’s dubious economic prowess did not significantly add to the political capital of Akufo-Addo and the NPP during the 2008 and 2012 general elections, and certainly not to the 2012 election petition. Until then the former poses no threat to any political in Ghana as he is not a repository of economic knowledge in the country.

And if he constitutes the supreme economic wisdom of the NPP as some intellectually feeble commentators would have us believe, why has he not been made or encouraged to assume the headship of the NPP even as he plays second fiddle to an old-fashioned politician who does not seem to understand the intricacies of political economy?

Bawumia’s economic analyses have been based largely on a partisan bricolage of unadulterated propaganda, some truths, half-truths, and outright lies. He is yet to account for the identities of those additional Togolese voters he promised the world were on the Ghanaian voter’s register. Thus, he has been a thorn in the flesh of the NDC possibly for all the wrong reasons—mostly for his well-packaged blatant lies, sophistry, half-truths, and heightened sense of apocalyptic economic auguries. This is the more reason why democracy can be funny and dangerous at times.

Funny and dangerous because it sometimes presents dicey situations where an egregiously incompetent, unqualified person is selected over a rather more competent, qualified one. In any case Gaby Asare Otchere-Darko has reportedly apologized for lying about the Electoral Commission (EC) and, Bawumia, the all-knowing economic “genius,” has yet to do same (see “Gabby Otchere-Darko Apologizes to EC Over Facebook Post,” Ghanaweb, November 27, 2016).

The above notwithstanding, Haruna Atta’s cautionary tale or reminder bespeaks Bawumia’s future place in the NPP as a potential dispensable digesta. To prove this working hypothesis however remains in the receding shadows of the future. In a word therefore, the soul of the NPP is marinated in a political ideology of Akan exceptionalism, ethnocentric hegemony and presumed superiority, indispensable subtexts of Arthur Kennedy’s text “Chasing the Elephant into the Bush: The Politics of Complacency.”

This marinade of ethnocentric hegemony, presumed superiority and exceptionalism is rather more complicated than Kennedy’s simplistic politics of complacency.

Maybe “complacency” is just not an apposite titular description for this important book, since an internecine duopoly based on a tacit—even explicit—principle of ethnic supremacism underpins the political rivalry between Akyems and Asantes within the NPP.

This strange current of ethnic sepremacism tends not to make room for non-Akans, especially northerners, in the highest hierarchy of the NPP.

Affirmative-action tokenism has therefore been a means through which some non-Akans, such as Bawumia, have managed to gatecrash the privileged comfort of Akans within the NPP.

Further, Yaw Osafo-Marfo’s xenophobic nativism precludes the fact that his “privileged” Akans did not put the wealth we find in the Ghanaian soil and in the air (e.g., oxygen).

The Guans who autochthonously occupied some of these lands before the arrival of the Akan did not either.

And we still do not know what some of wealth are locked up in the soil upon which non-Akans sit.

Over the years the service sector alone has been accounting for half of the GDP.

Then finally, Akans alone cannot give the NPP the required votes it needs to secure the Flagstaff House and parliamentary majority because not every Akan is NPP.

All these basic facts seem to have been lost on Akufo-Addo, Kennedy Agyapong, Yaw Osafo-Marfo, and the leadership of the NPP (we note that not every NPP member or leader is ethnocentric).

Now, granted, with their entrenched nativist xenophobia hanging loose on their sagging necks, do these old-fashioned conservative politicians expect non-Akans who have been living in these so-called resource-rich Akan lands from time immemorial to have sympathies for the NPP?

What about those Akans who have also been living in non-Akans areas from time immemorial—such as the northern parts of Ghana and Accra?

Was K.A. Busia’s wife—Naa Morkor Ausia—Akan? And are his children Akans or Gas?

Did J.B. Danquah not marry a Ga-Adangme? What about the ethnicity of Akufo-Addo’s wife—Rebecca Akufo-Addo?

What are these examples of xenophobia nativism all about? Have they solved any of Ghana’s, Africa’s and the rest of the world’s myriad problems other than recurring wars, hatred, destructive jealousies, acrimony, genocides and disaffection?

All this is not to say everything in the NDC is rosy as far as equitable ethnic distribution in political and cabinet appointments is concerned. It apparently is not.

Yet, the sharp contrasts between the NPP’s politics of exclusion and the NDC’s politics of inclusion make eloquent sense in the moral language of relativism, and leaves much to be desired.

Lest we are not misunderstood, this is not a direct or indirect endorsement of any political party or leader in the country today. Ghanaians must make the decision or choice themselves since we cannot speak in their behalf.

Of course, we agree that it may not be easy to displace either the NDC or the NPP from the political scene but suggestion is worth a try. Ghanaians need to move past these two major political parties.

What happened to the Ghanaian noetic faculty? Has the Ghanaian’s subterranean anoetic faculty completely taken over his autonoetic consciousness?

Where are Mandela’s and Tutu’s ubuntu, Nkrumah’s African Personality, Asante’s Afrocentric self-knowledge—episodic memory, and finally, Appiah’s cosmopolitanism?

Caveat/disclaimer

Once again, the “Akan” and “non-Akan” labels give a false appearance of a bogus dichotomy, a grudging antithesis of our common humanity.

Nonetheless, for us, their cautious adoption and usage throughout this series follows a formulaic simplicity of narrative convenience. It is not our intention to balkanize African humanity into rigid ghettoized enclaves!

In other words the labels represent a contiguous cosmos within the larger framework, namely a hospitable continuum defined by our common humanity, and thus, for this reason also, serve a great if didactic purpose of narrative simplicity, elucidative convenience, and clarity of narrative diction for the most part.

Finally, let no one remind us that Ewes exclusively constituted the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) or that the House Cleaning exercise the leadership of the AFRC embarked upon was the exclusive work of those Ewes. As the Ghanaian Chronicles once described Rawlings (see “How Did ‘Junior Jesus’ Become A,” June 18, 2009):

“Apparently it was during those trying times that his initials were transformed to Junior Jesus with songs of praise that echoed Akan Christian spirituals. He could literally walk on water at this point in time and perhaps the adulation and the Ghanaian love affair with him went into his head and he lost it spectacularly…”

Importantly, the leadership constitution and followers of both the AFRC and the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) were multi-ethnic in character. The House Cleaning exercise enjoyed popular support and even so, all manner of persons from different ethnic groups lost their lives, properties and investments during this popular but crucial period in our modern political history.

So, whether the June 4th, 1979 revolution was a success or failure is a question only Ghanaians who massively supported the AFRC can answer. Meantime, it is not a question for any specific ethnic group (see the aforementioned article under this subtitle).

Ewe End of series!