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Opinions of Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Columnist: Pryce, Daniel K.

Please, Leave Ewes Alone!

A January 30, 2009, news item that appeared on ghanaweb.com, captioned “The Ewe Factor In the Political Discourse of Ghana” and written by a Yaw Opare-Asamoa, stoked in me embers of anguish and despondency, even as I made an unequivocal decision to not allow the perfidious and malefic contents of the aforesaid piece to go unchallenged, for many of our pro-Ghanaian Internet portals have in recent months been inundated with such blood pressure-elevating and unity-stultifying pieces, a situation if left unchecked can cause the nation’s titular inter-tribal cohesiveness to teeter on the verge of a grand and irremediable collapse. Without a doubt, unless we take collective steps to annihilate this behemoth of ethnic hegemony, or irrational parochialism, in our midst, we simply are creating a bottomless chasm into which all of us will irrevocably be hauled.

I am not sure if Mr. Opare-Asamoa’s unabashed balderdash was an attempt to gain notoriety — we have seen our fair share of unrepentant hallucinators on Ghanaweb.com already! — but if that was his goal, then, at least, I will give him some credit, for it was obvious from the smorgasbord of responses he got to his malefic piece that, he, undeniably, had touched a raw nerve in almost everyone who read his piece, for or against.

The subhuman thugs who inflicted wounds on Dr. Sammy Ohene will, no doubt, face the full rigors of the law soon, for no government should allow such despicable behaviors to go unpunished. However, for the myopic Mr. Opare-Asamoa to blame an entire group for such acts of brutality shows the shallowness and nefariousness of the former's mind, for Mr. Opare-Asamoa’s statement is tantamount to the proclamation that if an Asante man raped a woman then, by design, all Asante men are rapists! For example, on January 30, 2009, Ghanaweb.com reported that a fetish priest, Peter Nana Agyemang (he is certainly not Ewe!), had defiled a 13-year-old girl in Juaso, Ashanti Region, and had thus been sentenced to a nine-year prison term with hard labor. Does Peter Agyemang’s crime thus make all Asante males rapists? Of course, the answer is nay. Do my readers see how easy it is to use the pen to foment trouble and disunity among a populace?

Did I not read on Ghanaweb.com (see articles of December 31, 2008) that the Ashanti NDC Chairman, Daniel Ohene Agyekum, was attacked by members of the NPP because these aggrieved persons were angry that the NPP had lost Round Two of Election 2008 to the NDC? In the said piece, titled “Ashanti NDC Chairman attacked,” Mr Ohene Agyekum would lament, “… three of the people with [Ohene Agyekum] were beaten up, and one of them was [so badly] injured [that Ohene Agyekum] feared for his fate” (Ghanaweb.com, 2008). Ohene Agyekum would refer to this large group of NPP aficionados that had initiated the beatings of the NDC sympathizers as “a horde of marauding crowd” (Ghanaweb.com, 2008). So, I say to Mr. Opare-Asamoa, in his own words, “I stand to be corrected, but I do not think that there is any other part of Ghana where an indigene will be subjected to such barbarism just because the individual is a supporter of the opposing party (or maybe there are)” (Opare-Asamoa, 2009). Yes, such hoodlums can be found everywhere in Ghana, including the Ashanti Region, where I just described to the reader Asante-on-Asante barbarism! One thing is clear: these beatings were politically motivated, and therefore had nothing to do with hereditary traits of members of any group, or sub-group, in Ghana!

And then there are those who come to Ghanaweb.com to splurge their frustrations about the man Jerry Rawlings; in the process, they accuse ALL Ewes of blindly and unapologetically supporting the former head of state, irrespective of the issue at stake. Who has criticized Jerry Rawlings more than this writer? If in doubt, please go back and read my pieces on Jerry Rawlings. I have said repeatedly that everything Jerry Rawlings the Putschist represented I reject; a few things Jerry Rawlings the Democrat represented, and still represents, I applaud — Rawlings is, after all, the man who made it possible for us to enjoy our present Fourth-Republican democratic dispensation. So, the next time another myopic political writer comes on Ghanaweb.com and issues a blanket “fatwa” about how ALL Ewes unequivocally align with Jerry Rawlings, I hope someone with good judgment will expose such a hack!

Mr. Opare-Asamoa would despicably attack Ewes, “[T]he ‘refusal’ of the people of the Volta [R]egion to vote for Akufo-Addo has nothing to do with the man himself or even J.A. Kufuor. Ewes will first of all vote for the Ewe candidate. In the absence of an Ewe candidate, they will vote for the non-Akan candidate. In the rather peculiar situation where all candidates happen to be Akans (sic), then they will vote for the non-Asante/Akyem candidate” (Opare-Asamoa, 2009). What a preposterous claim! First of all, there has been only one elected Ewe president in the annals of the nation, so for Mr. Opare-Asamoa to make such an impish generalization about an entire group to foment trouble borders on lunacy.

If, indeed, John Kufuor won the Central Region in Election 2004, then Mr. Opare-Asamoa must be scratching his head, since he is unable to explain to his readers why Dr. Atta Mills, a native of the preceding region, was rejected by his own people (Fantes) in favor of John Kufuor that year, only for the same Fantes to turn around and elect Dr. Atta Mills in Election 2008! In that case, Mr. Opare-Asamoa is indirectly calling Fantes “inward-looking!” That Dr. Atta Mills won the Volta Region by a large margin has everything to do with that region being a stronghold of the NDC, a fact that I painstakingly explained in an earlier article. Similarly, the Ashanti Region happens to be the stronghold of the NPP, so for an NDC presidential candidate, be he Asante, Fante, Ewe or Dagomba, to assume that his relentless travails in that region will win him a majority of the votes in a presidential election is truly comical indeed! As such, Mr. Opare-Asamoa’s fatuous generalizations reveal nothing but that he hates Ewes!

In my Ghanaweb.com article of December 16, 2008, titled “Vote Prudently, My Fellow Ghanaians,” I made the following statement: “Let me start by saying that those who angrily referred to both the people of the Ashanti and Volta Regions as parochial for voting primarily for the NPP and NDC respectively have gotten it all wrong: in every nation where multiparty democracy is practiced, political parties generally depend on certain geographical locations in the country to deliver the requisite votes. If in doubt, please study voting patterns in the U.S.A., where, for example, Democrats had been unable to capture the states of Virginia and North Carolina, dating back to 1964 and 1976 respectively, until Barack Obama’s victory in both in Election 2008! In fact, Barack Obama won North Carolina by a paltry 13,692 votes, out of a total of 4,233,088 votes cast! Indeed, certain states in the U.S.A. are strongholds of either the Republic Party or the Democratic Party, and even a man like Barack Obama, who rode on a tide of populism, could not alter these longstanding trends, except in one or two states, as mentioned earlier” (Pryce, 2008).

While my article is getting quite lengthy, I cannot end it without touching on Mr. Opare-Asamoa’s strange yarns about the so-called Ewe secretary’s "confessions," as well as the Peki Training College incident. Perhaps, this lady may have had cause to detest her employer, but for Mr, Opare-Asamoa to unashamedly vilify ALL Ewes, by blaming this woman's behavior on a purported upbringing style common among Ewes, is not only disingenuous, it is downright criminal. That ALL Ewes are taught from birth to detest Asantes, as fallacious as it sounds, cannot be extrapolated from such a sardonic tale as this Ewe secretary's! What kind of disjointed logic is that? If the secretary had some ill-feelings towards her boss, it could not be more than a one-on-one situation, not unlike the litany of such misunderstandings and acrimonies common throughout our nation's households, offices and campuses.

Even if the Peki Training College incident were true, does Mr. Opare-Asamoa know the complete details of the case, as students have always shared such lighthearted jokes on our campuses? From Mr. Opare-Asamoa's piece, it is evident that the Ewe students may have actually wondered why the Asante guy did not go to a purportedly superior school, Wesley College, Kumasi! Years ago, an Asante lady friend of mine remarked that it would be difficult for an Ewe man to marry her, because her aunt — the latter was the family matriarch at the time — always wondered if Ewes were also human beings! Was I offended? Not really. Because I realized that the matriarch was simply an uneducated and ignorant person, who needed some education about the nation's intra-tribal realities. My example only goes to show that individuals in every Ghanaian tribal group may hold on to certain prejudices, but to conclude that an entire group, or sub-group, was prone to exhibiting such dastardly traits is absolute garbage and must be condemned by all peaceable Ghanaians.

Mr. Opare-Asamoa may argue that "Osafo-Marfo called out J.A. Kufuor on the issue of the last-minute salary increases" (Opare-Asamoa, 2009), but did it occur to the writer that Osafo-Marfo was, prior to the delivery of his peroration, an unhappy NPP aficionado because of his party's loss in Election 2008? Dan Botwe's "public outrage at the retirement package for the executive" (Opare-Asamoa, 2009) was no extraordinary feat either, for it was clear that J.A. Kufuor was already on his way out of the Osu Castle, and for these one-time cohorts of J.A. Kufuor to now publicly criticize the ex-president does not suddenly make both men objective and conscientious "saints." Similarly, many Ewes and I have continually criticized Jerry Rawlings for the latter's errant and highly provocative utterances, so Osafo-Marfo and Dan Botwe are not the only persons who have purportedly placed country first.

Many of us are truly aggrieved by the incessant and devious ethnocentric publications and perorations that keep flooding our print media and airwaves. We must be careful about what we put on paper, for it is better for us to use the power of our pens to build rather than to destroy; to uplift rather than to demean; to empathize rather than to berate; to elevate rather than to demoralize. We have only one nation to defend, and posterity will demand of us how we employed our talents in advancing our collective goals. By the way, I never cease to ask myself why some of us are so preoccupied with Ewes, a peaceful minority group that makes up only 13% of the population and poses no threat to any other groups! Suddenly, Ewes are becoming the equivalent of the highly persecuted Jewish nation of Israel. Is it some nascent envy?

Written and submitted January 30, 2009

The writer, Daniel K. Pryce, holds a master's degree in public administration from George Mason University, U.S.A. He is a member of the national honor society for public affairs and administration in the U.S.A. He can be reached at dpryce@cox.net.

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