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Opinions of Thursday, 20 February 2014

Columnist: Antobam, Kobina

NPP, There You Go Again!

By: Kobina Antobam

Sometimes you hear or read something preposterous and yet you feel inclined to let it go so that you can get on with your life; but, as much as you resist, it keeps gnawing at you till you say something about it. If you don’t, you will forever regret it for not letting the world know what you think.

I am also often flabbergasted at the warped thought-processes of many of these mealy-mouthed runny nose baby politicians and puerile politician-wannabes on both sides of the aisle running around aimlessly in Ghana, who are always anxious to make flippant shallow meaningless sweeping comments about every issue, simply because someone shoves a microphone in their faces. Just because there is a microphone in front of you and you have the uncontrollable urge to talk does not mean that you have to say every dumb thing on your mind.

And if you feel that you are compelled to say something, please be intelligent enough to choose your words carefully, and seriously take into account the impact your comments will have on the rest of us before you open your mouth. Many of you have already debased the long-standing reputation of the Ghanaian as a well educated and intelligent prudent African to the point where, listening to today’s young public figures in Ghana, I am convinced that the damage is beyond repair. Many of Ghana’s public figures are very boring, come across as inflicted with rhetorical blockages and linguistic incapacitation, and cannot make intelligible, meaningful, and coherent off-the-cuff statements expected of knowledgeable and competent leaders and representatives.

A couple of weeks ago, a young man was in the news that appeared on the Ghanaweb in the following article:

“Crabbe: Let’s fight Akan tag by propping up non-Akans First Vice Chairman Aspirant of the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), Sammy Crabbe says his party must strive to give more opportunities to minority ethnic groups as a way of defusing and shedding off the Akan tag. Launching his campaign in Accra on Sunday, Mr Crabbe refuted claims that the NPP is a party for Akan – the largest ethnic group in Ghana. He said the evidence on the ground doesn’t support the tribal ‘propaganda’ used against the party by the opponents. Mr Crabbe nonetheless said the NPP needed to do more to overturn the ethnic perception. He added: ‘We have sat down and they are bringing the propaganda to us. We need to do a lot to make sure that the minorities become active in our party. We should nurture the minorities and push them and we are doing that’. He charged the party to ‘go out there and bring the minority support’, but warned that: ‘let us not allow them to let us feel that we are not representing everybody within our political party. That is not correct at all’.”

Since you brought it up, Mr. Crabbe, may I ask you off the bat: who are your minority tribes in Ghana? At this day and age when many Western countries, especially America, are staying away from the labeling of their ethnic groups as “racial minorities” and “racial majorities,” you, a Ghanaian, still see some of your fellow Ghanaian citizens as “minority tribes.” Is it simply because, somewhere in your life, you rote-learned that the Americans have once described African-Americans and other ethnic groups as minorities, so you thought it was appropriate to apply same to Ghana’s tribal groupings?

How dare you demean your fellow Ghanaians and where do you come from, Mister? This is the 21st century and in spite of the differing sizes of the many tribes in Ghana, none of us, I believe, does consider his or her tribal group as a minority. Our immediate indisputable citizenship claims and identities, our birthright, or you can call it congenital attributes, are summed up as one, GHANAIAN; and especially our nationality, prestige, and importance, in our relationships with one another, are not defined by rankings based on tribal sizes but on citizenship equivalence as Ghanaians. And that is all it should always be. Stated otherwise, though materially a few of us are in yachts and well-equipped boats and many of us are left in fast-sinking ramshackle leaky canoes, yet we are all, as Ghanaians, being tossed about by THE SAME tempestuous turbulent “waters” we’ve been dealt with.

You, Mr. Crabbe, sound like you are inflicted with a case of unconscionable deranged superiority complex. Let me ask you, Mr. Crabbe, why would I want to join a party where I would willingly submit and subjugate myself to a “majority” membership? And, another appropriate question to ask, at what level in your class structure within the party do you place the recent running mate of Akufo-Addo, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia? Is this smart man your kind of a minority?

In an attempt to broaden the scope of NPP’s constricting tribal (Akan) label, Mr. Crabbe, why would you want to attract other Ghanaians to your party and want to “nurture” them, “push” them, and “make sure that the minorities become active in our party”? How long do you estimate it will take for the “nurturing” and the “pushing” education of the so-called “minorities” in order to become full-fledged equal members of your party? And while they are going through the “nurturing” process, do you think they should continue to look at themselves as minorities in your Akan-dominated party until “graduation” time? If that is the case, then we should all soon expect an introduction of an acid test of citizenship classification, or a caste system, for each Ghanaian’s political party affiliation; that is, a questionnaire will have to be completed by each Ghanaian to determine where he or she belongs in the ethnic class structure of all political parties.

Are you really telling Ghanaians that you want to attract Gas, Ewes, the Ahantas, the Nzemas, Hausas, Dagombas, and many other tribes in the country to the NPP, while you look down on them as minority Ghanaians, and have them in that demeaning classification in your party for any length of time, so that your majority tribe can continue to dominate the affairs of the party and garner the additional number of votes needed from those “minority” tribes to win presidential elections in favor of only the predetermined elite majority tribe?

Even the Akan group, which the NPP have chosen to wrap themselves tightly around, is not a homogeneous group of Ghanaians to allow you to classify the whole Akan group or any sub-tribal component of it as a majority or a minority. I have a quarter Asante blood coursing through my veins by the virtue of my dear Asante grandfather, but I see myself as a real 100% Fantse. Considering Mr. Crabbe’s comments, I am confused as to whether I will be a minority or rather a member of the privileged majority subset of the Akan group if I were to become a member of the NPP.

My dear Mr. Crabbe, if you are attempting to court a broader acceptance for your party, then weren’t those the wrong choice of words? “Minority” and “majority” tribal groupings are a politically incorrect way to distinguish between Ghanaians. I do not, and I never will, look at Fantses as a minority tribe in Ghana. Nor will the Ewes, Gas, or any other tribe, in spite of their numbers, ever consider themselves as minorities.

The NPP’s self-imposed strangulating discomfiture of a narrow tribal identification may rather be solved by the use of better professional and strategic methods, implemented with subtlety, sobriety, sensitivity, and humility, than the off-the-cuff “look-at-how-smart-I-am” comments like Mr. Crabbe’s. Mr. Crabbe’s comments seem to have the tendency to discourage other Ghanaians who may entertain even an iota of an idea of an NPP alternative to the current party in power. If the Akan label is not carefully examined and prudently shelved or completely discarded, the party will continue to wear that rigid suicidal tribal neck-brace for a very long time.

When it comes to voting for Ghana’s President, our preferences have not always been based on tribe for many Ghanaians. Ghanaians voted for John Agyekum Kufuor in 2000 because they had had enough of nineteen years of J.J. Rawlings and his National Democratic Congress party. For many Ghanaians who were not Asante, it wasn’t because Kufuor was an Asante!!! When it was time for the NPP to go, it also wasn’t because the late President Atta-Mills was a Fantse.

Likewise, President John Mahama’s victory over Mr. Akufo-Addo was not based on Mahama as a Gonja. Most voters were rather disgusted with the constant harping of the arrogance-filled Akan this and Akan that by people like Akufo-Addo himself, Kennedy Adjapong, and at least four well-known “omniscient(?)” feature article writers overseas who kept the tribal separatist idea alive in the minds of Ghanaian voters.

So far, incontrovertible record shows that the NDC has maintained and tolerated a multi-tribal leadership since its short existence. An Ewe, a Fantse, and a Gonja have become NDC presidents, while the NPP, which claims its length of existence of over sixty years going back to Danquah’s time, continues to struggle with looking so reluctantly to tribes outside the Twi-speaking realm for capable candidates for president. Even when you think about it, it is sad that here is a party that is so arrogantly and destructively recalcitrant that they brag about the fact that they are dominated by a single tribe.

So, Mr. Crabbe, if you want to embrace a broader and a tribally more comprehensive involvement in the NPP, first encourage the party leadership to work hard to loosen and free their oxygen-starved brains from the self-installed “Akan” choking noose, and then study and examine in-depth all that ex-President John Agyekum Kufuor, with his tribally narrow clique, did wrong, ethnocentrically, that is, when he was given the chance and opportunity and he spoiled it so badly for Akufo-Addo, and has made the future winning abilities of the NPP very questionable and doubtful. It’s a pity that most of you refuse to take a closer look at Kufuor, your tribal demigod, and his reign, which prevents you from charting a smoother return path to the presidency.

Good day.