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Opinions of Monday, 21 January 2013

Columnist: Mensema, Akadu Ntiriwa

New “Awonoors” & Anti-Akufo-Addo/Akanism

New “Awonoors” & Anti-Akufo-Addo/Akanism (1)

*Part two will follow this.

**By Akadu Ntiriwa Mensema

“Strangely, the NPP has allowed all kinds of lies and propaganda to swallow the
party like the shark. We have not been able to dispel the wrong notion that the NPP
is an Akan Party, in spite of the several reforms and changes we made in the party
hierarchy to reflect the national character. Today, the NDC has changed that Akan
tag to Asante/Akyem party…” (Quoted from Katakyie Kwame Opoku Agyemang, “A Piece of
Advice to the Next NPP Leadership!” Ghanaweb, January 7, 2013).

PREFACE

IN THE aftermath of the 2012 elections, several articles written by mostly non-Akan
NDC supporters, such as Dr. Michael Bokor, Andy Kwawukume, and countless others,
obviously brimming with hubris of the NDC’s electoral “victory,” have been offered
on Ghanaweb. I have been following such write-ups with amused contempt because of
the authors’ appalling poverty of forensic attention to detail. Their themes are
cobbled invocations of “tribalism” in the genre of Kofi Awonoor’s anti-Akanism, and
it may well be a “neo-Awonoor” movement.

These anti-Akan authors write with paradoxical and seeming clinical detachments, but
all the same ferry unceasing demonization and flawed historicizing to Akufo-Addo,
the NPP, and Akans, notably Asantes and Akyems. Additionally, national political
leaders of Akan extraction, including J. B. Danquah, K. A. Busia, and J. A. Kufour
have been vilified. Of late, such write-ups, for example, those of Bokor, cast
aspersive nets on the Asantehene and the Manhyia Palace. Often in search of
analytical sanity, such narratives sadly illustrates the gulf between their authors’
elemental ethnic impulses and what ought to be the refinements of history.

I call on the NPP, indeed, all patriotic Ghanaians, to challenge and debunk such
false and bigoted historicizing that seeks to depreciate the cosmopolitan tradition
of Akans. The NDC previously had told Ghanaians that the NPP was an Akan party.
Today, the NDC’s paid operatives like Bokor have customized the notion that the NPP
is not only an Akan party, but also a narrowly-based Asante and Akyem party of
exclusion. Bokor and co are rummaging in the dustbins of history to feed
ethnocentric political poison to the unwary. In sum, we need to build ethnic
bridges with irons of inclusivity and steels of harmony. One way of doing this is to
offer alternative voices, counter-narratives that distill and debunk such lopsided
and parochial demonizing chronicles of “tribalizing” and political calumny.

IN AGREEMENT with the tyranny of space, the themes that inform such generic
anti-Akan write-ups with their abysmal details, framed around Ghanaweb’s uncensored
authorial privileges, may be summed up as follows:

1. AKUFO-ADDO is a warlord and his metaphorical stretch of empowering his
supporters, unfortunately cast as “All die be die,” is his political undoing among
Ewes, “Northerners,” and other non-Akans.

2. THE NPP is an Akan, in fact, Asante/Akyem-centered party that pivots supremacist
ideologies to exclude other Akans and non-Akans.

3. THE NPP has patented violence rooted in UP/NLM ideologies. For this reason,
Akufo-Addo does not want to nurture peace in Ghana.

4. THE NPP and Akufo-Addo must abandon their legal efforts at disputing the outcome
of the 2012 presidential election.

5. THE NPP leaders’ unwillingness to attend the inauguration of John Mahama was a
political ploy to undermine Mahama because he is a “Northerner.”

6. AKUFO-Addo is derailing Ghana’s democratic tradition.

QUOTABLE QOUTES: CONTEXT OF “TRIBALIZING” & DIVISIVENESS

ALTHOUGH, several writers have served the trajectory of these anti-Akan themes, some
of them, indeed, avid carriers of this epidemic of anti-Akufo-Addo/NPP/Akanism and
divisive themes, deserve mention here. Already noted are Bokor and Kwawukume. The
rest are Kojo Tamakloe, Nii Lantey Okunka Bannerman, John Komla Afoun, and Kormi
Afervi. Equally, Samuel Okudzeto-Ablakwa, aptly described by J. J. Rawlings as
“sharp teeth,” has seized the least opportunity to literally tear apart Nana
Akufo-Addo, describing him among other invectives, as the most violent person in
Ghana. For the purpose of space and brevity, let me summon a few quotations from
these authors as our frontispiece regarding the ways that these anti-Akan writers
demonize Akufo-Addo, Akans, and the NPP.

KWAWUKUME in “Staying in the Frying Pan,” (Ghanaweb, December 21, 2012), gleefully,
but in a convoluted way writes:

“Yes, one must allow for the possibility that, regardless of allegations of drugs
use or leaving Oxford under still cloudy conditions and all that ‘all-die-be-die,’
‘yen Akanfo’ bravado nonsense in furtherance of the Akan Agenda launched by JB
Danquah decades ago, and ably exploited by Busia and the PP in 1969 - posited on a
presumed ‘Akan’ ‘majoritifo’ (always an ‘Asante’ or an Akyem) that must ‘rule by
law’ and ‘democratically’ the ‘minoritifo,’ often defined as ‘Ewe’”

BOKOR for his in one of his incantatory journalese enunciates in “Is the Kumasi
Peace Pact a mere window dressing?” (Ghanaweb, January 1, 2013), that:

“Then again, Akufo-Addo didn’t deem it appropriate to renounce his war-laden
“All-die-be-die” clarion call nor did he consider it worth his bother to
re-conscientize those NPP functionaries who might have already taken up his
war-mongering cry in readiness for acts of destabilization if the polls don’t go the
NPP’s way. Indeed, Akufo-Addo failed to know that peace is not only the absence of
war but that it can’t also be sustained by his insistence on bulldozing his way
through, doubting the integrity of the country’s security services (by labelling
them as not ‘political colour-blind’).”

KOJO TAMAKLOE soaring on his own cultivated ignorance screamed thusly in “NPP and
Nana Addo have lost the ideological bearings,” (Ghanaweb, January 1, 2013):

“Ghanaians use December 7th 2012 to retire Nana Addo, not because of age
necessarily, but because he is idealess and visionless. The question we need to
answer is what has he got to show for his many years in public life? Kuma preko? How
did he transform Akim Abuakwa in 12 years? What strides did he make as Minister of
Justice? What difference did he make a Minister of Foreign affairs? In any
organization you get promoted on your achievements. The Presidency is too important
to be toyed with.”

NII LANTTEY OKUNKA BANNERMAN, with his usual reductionism that pitches stories as
history writes in “Ten Key Challenges Facing NPP,” (Ghanaweb, January 4, 2012):

“Address tribal parity & diversity: It is not unusual to read or hear comments that
clearly shows that the NPP has no respect for other tribes within the country. As
soon as Kufour came to power, there was a concerted effort to put the Asante chief
above all. Government business was sadly and wrongly mixed with royal nonsense. The
NPP was busy messing up royal affairs in Accra, Anlo and the North at the same time
as it gave diplomatic passport to the Asantehene to free drug dealers in Libya.
Non-Asante chiefs who went to see Kufour were treated with disdain, neglect and
contempt. The Asantehene was obviously above the law. Even though his name was
incontrovertibly mentioned in the famous cocaine tape, no one could question him on
the role he is alleged to have played in that disgraceful scandal. Look at a more
recent example of NPP disrespect for other tribes. Why petition the Asantehene after
a demonstration if you intend to contest an election?
Asantehene cannot hear the case or make Nana Addo president. Why Asantehene and not
the Ga Mantse or Anlo chief? I guess it does not hurt to go back to base!! It is
such bias by the NPP that irks other tribes.”

JOHN KOMLA AFOUN with false historical equivalence writes in “Is the NPP turning
Ghana into a banana republic,” (Ghanaweb, January 5, 2013):

“Given the way the NPP treated the late Aliu Mahama, could it be that the NPP and
its flag bearer Nana Akofu Ado are having difficulty in accepting the outcome of the
election because they still believe a northerner should not be president of
Ghana?... The NPP should learn to accept that our northern brothers and sisters are
just as good as the rest of us to occupy the highest office in the land. My advice,
the NPP should get over it already, concede, congratulate Mr. Mahama, re-group and
move on, it is called good statesmanship.”

KORMI AFERVI, the proselytizer for provincialism self-servingly caps it up in “Why
Nana Addo And The Cabal Are Fighting:”

“In the opinion of the Akyem Cartel at the heart of disgraceful maneuvers by the
NPP to usurp the will of Ghanaians and impose Akuffo as the president of Ghana is a
bold attempt to do for the Akyem block within the NPP what Kuffour was perceived to
have done for the Asantes. For members of the cartel, Kuffour for 8 years buttered
the bread of close friends and associates drawn mainly from the Busia side of the
tradition in what is essentially an Asante-Akyem marriage of convenience. As far as
they are concerned Nana Addo remains the last hope in this attempt to assert an
Akyem dominion in an independent Ghana. If the presidency eludes him then a
generation of die hard NPP stalwarts of the Akyem stock will have to be content with
backbench roles in the unlikely event of the party coming to power.”

TOWARD ANTI-KANISM: FLAWED HISTORICIZING OF POLITICS & ETHNICITY

THE ABOVE statements are the forces of countervailing history that push seamless
truth and facts to contradictory margins. In my considered opinion, these
post-election collective meta-narratives of anti-Akanism spiced with condescension,
indeed, self-serving and bigoted perspectives, are dangerous because they nurse the
very blight they seek to uproot: “tribalism” and divisiveness.

WE Don’t have to wrestle with questions emanating from Afervi’s outrageous take on
what he calls “an Asante-Akyem marriage of convenience” to know how many Akyems and
Asantes have ruled Ghana. Afervi and co falsify history and above all conflate
chronology with causality. What these non-Akan writers could not fathom is that our
elections are no longer platforms of national inclusion and integration. Rather they
have become conduits of surrogating power for some ethnic constituencies and
affiliated groups.

ADDITONALLY, the anti-Akan write-ups are informed by narrow and parochial
historicizing that fail to explain the reasons for the overwhelming votes that the
NDC candidates’ get in the non-Akan areas. Indeed, the Volta, in particular, and the
“North” to a considerable extent, have anti-Akan sentiments rooted in the systemic
inequalities and predatory political economies of the precolonial and colonial
epochs dominated by Akans, notably Asante hegemony, which not only exploited, but
stereotyped the “other.”

THE ABOVE is the watershed of our ethnicized politics. Thus we need to reweave our
political fabric so that we can overcome our past histories of ethnic
incompatibilities that are saddling our contemporary politics. The only leader who
brought light to this murky tunnel of history was Kwame Nkrumah, the great seer.
Since then, our other political leaders, have systematically exploited and promoted
ethnic disharmony to cement their political base and what I have theorized as
pen-armed robbery.

THE NON-Akan writers’ false premise that the NPP is an Akan-centered party is
ironically dismissive of the cultivated “tribalism” that characterizes voting
patterns in the Volta, Northern, Upper East, and Upper West Regions. These anti-Akan
writers in question overlook the integrative congruencies characteristic of the Akan
areas. Above all such anti-Akan authors conveniently overlook two issues.

FIRST, the Voltaic people have always voted en bloc for the NDC, what is
euphemistically called the NDC’s World Bank, though the nineteen-year rule of
Rawlings and the pathetic regime of Mills brought nothing to the region.
Paradoxically, it was the “tribalistic” NPP that ferried urbanism, modernity, and
other developments of repute to the Volta Region, including the Keta Sea Wall, major
highways, and provision of water and toilet facilities. Second, the Voltaic
political elites use other non-Voltaic leaders, exemplified by the Mills regime, to
surrogate their hegemony. In the case of Mahama, we are yet to fully see how his
regime will pan out in this regard.

REGARDING the question of drug use by Ghanaian politicians, Kwawukume worships his
tin-god, JJ Rawlings, whose drug use, cannot unlike Akufo-Addo’s, be qualified as
“alleged” because we all know that Rawlings used drugs in the 1970s and 1980s and
possibly still does given his present uncouth temperament in public settings.
Absolutely, Akufo-Addo left Oxford not because of any criminal activity. Then
again, what didn’t Rawlings do in Achimota and at the Air Force Training School, yet
he is admired by the likes of Kwawukume and Bokor.

AGAIN THIS coterie of Anti-Akan writers demonize Akufo-Addo for his obviously
unfortunate mere rhetorical statement of “All die be die” which was meant to empower
his followers. Yes we may all call into question Akufo-Addo’s “All die be die”
statement, but only partisan and “tribalistic” minds see it as a synonym of
violence. However defined, Akufo-Addo said that to empower his NPP followers.

EVEN THEN if we assumed that Akufo-Addo meant violence it was only in the
unfortunate overt oratorical sense. Akufo-Addo, unlike Rawlings who is so much
admired and revered by Bokor, Kwawukume, Bannerman, etc. has never killed any
Ghanaian. Yet Tamakloe and other public figures like Ablakwa have the temerity to
characterize Akufo-Addo as the most violent man in Ghana, among other childish
effusions. They ironically impute violence to Akufo-Addo’s role in the “Kume Preko”
and Alliance for Change movements that empowered Ghanaians to speak up against the
NDC and Rawlings’ democratization of violence and predatory economy.

*LOOK out for the final installment tomorrow, that is, if the Webmaster allows it**

LONG LIVE NKRUMAH & CPP! LONG LIVE DENKYIRA! LONG LIVE GHANA!

**AKADU Ntiriwa Mensema, Ph. D., is a nationalist Denkyira beauty. She is a trained
oral historian cum sociologist and Professor in the USA. She lives in Pennsylvania
with her great mentor and teaches Africa-area studies at a college in Maryland. In
her pastime, she writes what critics have called “populist hyperbolic, satirical”
poetry. She can be reached at akadumensema@yahoo.com. Herpoems and essays on
Ghanaweb and elsewhere must not be reproduced in full or in part for any academic or
scholarly work without her written permission.