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Opinions of Monday, 7 May 2012

Columnist: Antobam, Kobina

NPP, Please Stop The Akan Nonsense

By: Kobina Antobam

If I imagine our history correctly, I can see some of our ancestral tribes roaming through the thick jungles of West Africa, naked, barefoot, marked with hideous tribal marks, and armed with crude weapons, probably spears, machetes, and homemade carved wooden clubs used to bludgeon enemies dead or senseless. I can also see the more amassed tribes engaging in unprovoked armed conflicts with smaller weaker tribal and family groups, pillaging, raping, killing, cannibalizing, and forcing the survivors into horrendous servitude, and using them literally as sacrificial lambs for weird primitive rites, such as the use of human blood and body parts for useless superstitious pacifications of imaginary deities and for the burial of their leaders.

I would also invite readers to transport themselves to that time in the past when there were no roads, no cars, no airplanes, no electricity, or other modern amenities, but only wild animals, wild humans, and the impenetrable forest. Imagine also living with your small tribal group somewhere in the thick tropical forest areas where Ghana is today, and all of a sudden there appears from the bushes a bunch of nasty, mean-looking, loud, screaming, boastful, ugly, charcoal black invaders from nowhere who begin to massacre the men in your little forest enclave, seize the young women and children, and take over your settlement and hunting grounds for themselves.

Well, never ever did you, in your life today, learn in any of your history classes, nor do you remember the elders in your family or village ever tell you that one of those tribes, in those times, used as its war chant, “Akan Kotoko, kum apem a, apem beba.” But I bet you will never forget this: “Asante Kotoko, kum apem a, apem beba.” Translated, “Asante Porcupine, kill a thousand, a thousand will come.”

Now, fast forward to the year 2012 in the now 21st century. There is an ongoing political battle between the two dominant political parties in Ghana today, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the National Patriotic Party (NPP). The campaign has, up till recently, consisted mainly of non-violent jockeying for power, control, and ownership of Ghana and its wealth. In order to appeal to their core supporters and their baser instincts, there has been an uptick in incendiary bellicose rhetoric leading up to the December elections. Calls for armed readiness in order to counter phantom and dreamed-up potential outbreaks of partisan violence have become a political debate staple, notably the “all die be die” impulsive utterance of the hot-head Akufo-Addo, the opposition candidate for president. For Akufo-Addo to call for an NPP “all die be die” strategy, I wonder if he is seriously inflicted with a well-known psychosis fixated on the trembling fear of the public humiliation, disappointment, and shame of losing the national elections again. His “win at all costs” comment is also very eerie, scary, and ominous.

To make matters worse, the simmering political atmosphere in the country has now been irretrievably punctured and ratcheted up by another intemperate, fiery, immature, childish, foolish, shallow, selfish, and reckless madcap, called Kennedy Agyapong, also of the NPP, who has called on the rooftops to all Ghanaian Akans to take up arms and attack Gas and Ewes. His call for tribal vengeance happens to be his extremely inordinate mismatched reaction to political posturing of the leading party, NDC, during the voter registration process in one of the districts in Accra. Only a warped mind will have such a distorted worldview that will make Agyapong to recklessly advocate an open armed conflict against only two of Ghana’s many tribes and to believe that this silly idea of vengeance can be contained in Kumasi. To believe that such crazy twisted advocacy can be limited and corralled to Agyapong’s select targets and location is to be as tribally jaundiced and misguided as any Ghanaian who does not see anything wrong with this Agyapong and who does not to publicly distance himself or herself from him, especially Kufuor and Akufo-Addo. History has ample evidence to support the probability that the ignition of such insanity cannot be contained but will definitely engulf everybody in the country, easily spill over to the neighboring countries, and even engender the self-serving attraction and involvement of world super-powers. This Agyapong deserves some form of punishment up to and including imprisonment. Why in good heavens is he still a member of parliament?

In order to buttress its campaign, the NPP also has a host of television and radio commentators, newspaper and insulting web writers, some of whom are self-deported from Ghana and are stranded in the U.S. and Europe, who tirelessly inject themselves into Ghanaian affairs. Armed with insufficient information, they noisily claim that Ewes and Gas harbor some secret dislike for all Akans. Just as NPP is not totally synonymous with Akan, so is NDC not completely Ewe.

This is where I get very incensed about this imaginary cold war between Akans on one side against Ewes and Gas. I want Akufo-Addo and Agyapong and their blind followers to stop, verify, and ensure for themselves, for once, the distinct tribes they belong to and call on only those tribes to prepare to fight their unreal wars with Ewes and Gas. May I also remind those two chest thumpers that the Akan group is a loose conglomeration of many tribes, and that, when combined without Akufo-Addo’s and Agyapong’s tribes, the sum of the remaining Akans is still a humongous reckoning; therefore, not all Akans subscribe to the deviancy of those two NPP personalities. Simply stated, not all Akans believe in the existence of this make-believe tribal conflict with Ewes and Gas. So, Akufo-Addo, who has said at least once before, “we Akans,” and Mr. “Knives and Clubs” Agyapong, should desist from drawing the Fantses (who stretch from the eastern end of the Central Region all the way to the Nzema/Ahanta districts), the Bonos, the Nzemas, the Wassas, and a host of other Akan tribes into their conflict imaginings.

All the same, whenever Akufo-Addo and Agyapong decide that the time has come to fulfill their tribal war dreams, they should call on only their distinct tribal groups to back them up. I know many Akan groups will refuse to sign up or be conscripted. Anyway, don’t forget to send messages to all those NPP supporters and angry writers in America and Europe to hop on the plane and hurry home prepared to fight for you. Leave out all other Akan tribes who do not want to fight your fight. We love Ghana as peaceful as it is now. Ghana has been peaceful thanks to the foresight of Kwame Nkrumah. Let me also point out that my large Fantse family has relatives who have married into the Nzema, Ahanta, Ewe, Ga, Hausa, Akwapim, and Wassa tribes. And I am proud to let Agyapong know that my late grandfather was an Asante. My family is proudly all-Ghanaian and we are not narrow-thinking people. Will Agyapong’s goons, when they start his surgical war, go to Kumasi where I have a Fantse brother who is married to a beautiful Ewe and attack my sister-in-law? Will you then expect my Fantse brother to agree with you for killing his wife because he is an Akan? What about his children who are half Ewe? Will Agyapong then proceed to Accra where I have another sister-in-law who is a Ga? Wake up Agyapong, Ghana is probably a 50% tribally blended nation. The spear, cutlass, and club war days are over and gone many hundreds of years ago. What kind of Ghana does selfish Agyapong want to leave for future generations? A war-torn Ghanaian landscape?

Remember, readers, also that when the Asante declared their so-called Kotoko wars many centuries ago, they did not include all Akans. They clearly invoked only their distinct tribe. They fought wars to benefit their tribe. They conquered other Akan groups and other tribes and took over their lands. If Akufo-Addo loses the upcoming elections and still wants to go to war, let all Ghanaians get together and help him select a desolate place somewhere in Africa outside Ghana to face his imaginary foes. Leave us here in Ghana and we will be okay. My best friends include many Ewes and Gas. I am a Fantse Akan and I do not hate them.

It is also important to drum it home to all NPP adherents, pundits, and writers that, from now on, they should be clear with their pronouncements and pitch their political positions by specifically linking NPP with Asantes, Akyems, etc., whenever tribal affiliations come up in discussions of party politics, but NOT generalize Akans in their phantom struggles with Ewes and Gas. NPP has over-generalized and linked themselves to all Akans so much so that the Western press has begun to repeat the falsehood of a total NPP-Akan connection. Leave the rest of us the hell alone and in peace. If you believe that you are stuck in the 14th century pre-colonial primitive world and always want to pick fights with everybody, please stay in that frame by yourselves and leave the rest of us in the 21st century.

Finally, a message for my brothers of all tribal persuasions: don’t be suckered by foolish useless politicians into false stances against your fellow Ghanaians. When Rawlings was in power, it was clear, of course, that the long dormant Ewes had found their voice and a sense of empowerment and entitlement. Rawlings, in his violently abusive ways, found security in his tribe and Ewes began to sprout up in many important powerful positions all over Ghana. Tribal nepotism, indeed. When Kufuor and the NPP finally came to power, after 50 long years, that’s according to their own reckoning, Twi-speaking Ghanaians, not all Akans, loudly and shamelessly flaunted their long-awaited, long-desired ownership of Kwame Nkrumah’s Ghana. Tribal nepotism payback, indeed! The evidence of their financial pillaging of the country by the clumsy misfits was seen in their hard alcohol-induced bloated faces and starchy diet-filled distended bellies. They were everywhere in their ill-acquired Western standard super-mansions, sweat-soaked designer suits and Ali Baba shoes, and in their luxury late model sedans and SUVs. Those were the fake pseudo-Honorables (or Dishonorables) who were either only one generation or one footstep out of their single room abode villages, and who went on desperate land grabbing sprees all over Accra and Kumasi. They were suddenly wealthy without breaking a sweat or any visible hard work to show for it. I bet they miss the “good” old Kufuor days. Anyway, I also grew up in a small fishing town that you may consider a village; but you will not find me behaving like those nincompoops and whippersnappers. Now hear this: when an Nzema (Kwame Nkrumah) and a Fantse (Atta Mills) have been in power, we never have noticed an open evidence of Nzema and Fantse tribal exclusive ownership of Ghana.

In spite of it all, let’s get on with Ghana. Ghana, with all its ills, is still a beautiful place. Let’s keep it that way. Just because I indict Akufo-Addo and Agyapong for their silly miscalculations does not absolve the NDC operatives of contributory incitement and provocation. It is important to caution all, including the NDC foot soldiers, to exercise circumspection in their utterances and campaign activities. I have a steady faith in the Ghana armed forces and the police that they will never ever allow any silliness such as an open tribal or any conflict to disrupt the lives all good thinking Ghanaians. A word for the Ghanaian who the shoe fits: Stupid is as stupid does.