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Opinions of Monday, 20 April 2015

Columnist: Kuvoame, B. B.

NPP is an ethnic-based Akan party with an image problem

NPP is an ethnic-based Akan party with an image problem of lack of inclusiveness

Yaw Osafo-Maafo’s ethnocentric exhortations to the Council of Elders in the Eastern Region and the infamous “Yen Akanfo” speech by Nana Akufo Addo are two sides of the same NPP coin. These politically irresponsible speeches reinforce each other and are distinct manifestations of the parochial Akan nationalism that drives the NPP in Ghanaian politics. The speeches also reflect the divisive intentions of NPP for mother Ghana. The eloquent silence of Nana Akufo Addo, the flagbearer of the NPP, on the utterances of Osafo-Maafo is an endorsement of their common tribalistic bigotry. It also underscores Nana Akufo Addo’s lack of moral and ethical courage to condemn the invidious tribalistic culture that pervades the top brass of the NPP and the ranks of their shameless bootlicking poodles. What they all have in common is that they do not love mother Ghana and lack the moral, ethical and political fibre needed to build a strong and united multi-ethnic nation. They are prepared to appeal to regressive ethnocentric sentiments to capture the reins of power. That is how desperate they can be for power. It was not long ago that Kennedy Agyapong, another leading member of NPP, in his characteristically childish and untutored vitriol, declared a genocidal war against the Ewe and the Ga peoples of Ghana. In the recent demonstrations in Kumasi too, many NPP activists carried placards that slighted and cast aspersions on the integrity of Northerners in the country.

As an Akan party, the two main Akan blocks within the NPP, the Asante and the Akyem, have struggled to control the soul of the party. In this struggle, the Akyem could denounce and challenge what they perceive as unjustifiable Asante dominance of the Akan and try to elevate themselves as the true and original native Akan. In their imperial scorn, the Asante too could look down upon the Akyem as their imperial booty. Other Akan and non-Akan ethnic groups in NPP become mere pawns in this rivalry. But an important aspect of this seemingly acrimonious rivalry is often lost on the unintuitive observer. The rivalry between the ethnocentric Asante and Akyem elements in NPP unravels within the context of their shared Akan ethno-nationalism and a concomitant disdain for other ethnic nationalities in Ghana. They share the belief that the Akan are destined to rule Ghana. In this perverse tribalistic mind-set, other ethnic groups in Ghana are merely appendages to the history of Ghana, and so do not matter. What matters most for them is a thorough Akanization of Ghana, or if that proves to be futile or impossible, the country’s Balkanization. They are united on this stance, albeit their rivalry. The bone of contention between them is who should lead this Akanization or Balkanization process: the ethnocentric Asante or Akyem elements in NPP?

Any wonder therefore that the Asante-based Nationalist Liberation Movement (NLM), formed in 1954, advocated for a federal form of government for independent Ghana with devolution of power to the regions? It was the broad-based and Kwame Nkrumah-led Convention People’s Party (CPP) that called for political centralisation. We are a united Ghana today because of the exemplary nationalist political leadership of Kwame Nkrumah. That Yaw Safo-Maafo could vent those pre-independence separatist ethnocentric sentiments today is a testimony to his political atavism and that of his ilk and stock in NPP. They could attempt to mobilize their gullible followers to destabilize our independence celebrations, because given their compradorial consciousness they did not want Ghana to be independent in the first place. Undoubtedly, ethnic politicians like Yaw Safo-Maafo, Kennedy Agyapong and Nana Akufo Addo, as well as warped and mis-educated provincial minds like Kwame Okoampa- Ahoofe, Jr. and Akadu Ntiriwa Mensema would have been rabid White Supremacists advocating for the rule of Apartheid and ethnic Bantustans in Ghana had they been White invaders. They would have dismissed the fruitful inter-marriages between ethnic groups in Ghana today as ethnic miscegenation and prohibited it by law.

It is in terms of this serrated NPP mentality that we can fathom the marginal status that the ethnocentric stalwarts of the party accord its non-Akan members and the repressed frustrations of these members. Though some of these non-Akans have contributed immensely to the party’s policies, programmes and campaign strategies, they can never be trusted as loyal members of the party, and are marginalised in relation to the top party positions. These non-Akan members of the NPP are regarded merely as a means to an end. They are always reminded that they do not belong. They are often saddled with a painful emotional and psychic tension emanating from the role they are often supposed to play in the NPP: to shout loudest in denouncing their own ethnic groups. Yes, some of them may bear Akan names, say, from the Volta Region, but they are regarded as second or third class Akans or, more accurately, as Akan-wannabes. They are looked upon with suspicion in the party and are often used and discarded.

Fortunately for Ghana, most Akans are levelled-headed. Like other ethnic nationalities in the country, they love Ghana and would like to see her remain united and peaceful. Ghanaians would not have gotten such rare insights into the ethnocentric mind-sets of NPP stalwarts like Yaw Safo-Maafo and Nana Akufo Addo had it not been for the laudable actions of peace-loving NPP members who secretly audiotaped their ignoble and philippic outbursts. Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo’s empty protestations that those who leaked the audio tape did so for pecuniary reasons and to end his political career testify not only to how unrepentant he is regarding his unethical political conscience, but also underscore how out of touch hot-headed politicians like him can be with the nationalistic sentiments of Ghanaians that cut across ethnic boundaries. It is not the common Ghanaian men and women on the street who work to destroy the peace we enjoy in Ghana, but those disgruntled and ill-literate politicians who call themselves the Ghanaian intelligentsia and who over-mimic the mannerisms of their western masters. These ethnic politicians will appeal to and whip up parochial ethnic sentiments in order to gratify their narcissism, quest for personal aggrandizement and perverse will to power.

Nana Akufo Addo and Yaw Safo-Maafo are birds of the same ethnocentric feather. They lead their equally ethnocentric legions within the NPP in their avid march to destabilize Ghana and make her ungovernable. Hence Nana Akufo Addo’s eloquent and deafening silence.

M. B.B. Kuvoame
NDC Norway