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Opinions of Thursday, 25 June 2009

Columnist: Atarah, Linus

Rejoinder: NPP Needs a Cohesive Akan Constituency to Win and Maintain Power

Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe has gone over the top – A rejoinder Over the years I have occasionally read the writings of Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe and had decidedly concluded that he is not the kind of person worth engaging a debate with or even taken seriously.

But now Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe has written a good article indeed, on political strategy which clearly reinforces him as a tribalist thug. If you cannot win power by means of good mobilisation and a convincing programme, then resort to appeal of racial superiority demagoguery.

After eight years in government the NPP was thrown out and, Okoampa-Ahoofe says it was because the Akans had failed to mobilise themselves around a single constituency on the basis of their superiority over other ethnic groups. The NDC had also stayed in power for two-consecutive terms and was thrown out but no one was heard saying similar things about its failure to mobilise Ewes – to him the NDC is an Ewe party – and other groups because of their racial superiority. In both cases Ghanaian voters had expressed their desire for change because from their perspective, neither of the parties while in power had met their aspirations in terms of improvement in their life situations and material well-being. On both occasions Ghanaians voted on policy issues, even though individuals might have voted along tribal lines.

But Okoampa-Ahoofe now says all Akans should mobilise as one constituency under the NPP in order “to win and maintain power.”Would that necessarily be to the benefit of Ghanaians that Akans “win and maintain power”over all other groups in Ghana? Have they proven to be so much better in government? Is that necessarily the best solution for Ghana’s democracy? These questions, he has ignored. He offers no persuasive argument other than that the Akans are the “cultural and electoral majority”.

Fortunately the electoral system in Ghana is organised along political party lines and any political party irrespective of its ethnical constitution, can come to power if it sufficiently convinces the electorate of its political programme. Unfortunately for Okoampa-Ahoofe that is how politics is done in all civilised countries nowadays. If Akans are so superior, the NPP should not have been rejected at the polls over policy failure – even though unlike him, I don’think the NPP is a party for Akans only.

The NDC which he so much hates as the party of Ewes also has had Akans and continue to have them in leadership position. Even during the PNDC there were Akans in the government so no one person, least of all, one ethnic group could be held responsible for the atrocities in those days. But Okoampa-Ahoofe sees everything through the tinted lens of ethnicism and so cannot make that distinction.

He refers condescendingly to the northerners thus:

“To our brothers and sisters in the three “Upper-North” regions, we can only ask you to examine your own lives and well-being, or lack thereof, under 21 years of P/NDC tyranny and decide whether you want to cast your lot with and become an integral part of the perennially envied great Akan success story, or remain marginalized and taken for granted by the Dzelukope Mafia”. In plain English, the ever childish Northerners cannot think for themselves and make informed judgments. They should fall behind the great Akans who are the envy of everyone else. In any case if Akans could come under constituency, one doesn’t he suggest a similar thing to the Northerners? Apparently because they are so immature unlike the Akans and incapable of being organised under one constituency. And goes on further, “And to the rest of us all, particularly the career politicians among us, may we recommend the greatest novel ever authored about the Akan people, Ayi Kwei Armah’s “The Healers.” Of course no other ethnic group could boast of writers or for that matter any people in other areas of intellectual activity.

We have all witnessed how nations that were once thriving entities rapidly disintegrated on the back of ethnicism – Somalia, the former Yugoslavia, etc. The tragedy of Rwanda is still fresh in our minds and should serve as warning that such things could still happen in any nation state. Yet Okoampa-Ahoofe is rabidly preaching such divisionism irrespective of its dire consequences for Ghana.

Okoampa-Ahoofe is following a long tradition, however. Busia and Danquah his great political heroes were separatists. They supported a federal Ghana at independence – when they realised that they couldn’t defeat the well-organised CPP under Nkrumah – and even sent a delegation to London to request a delay of the independence of Ghana on that basis. However, all that was defeated because all the rest of Ghanaians did believe in one people, one destiny. So it is strange after 52 years when Ghana has finally left behind those divisive attempts at splintering it, Okoamfo-Ahoofe is still fighting a lone battle. In the western countries, we have skinheads and neo-Nazis whose ideology of hatred of other national groups is based on their supposed racial superiority. It is ironic that Okoampa-Ahoofe who should have rather been despised as a black African has found a teaching position in a country, whose multi-cultural diversity allows that no one race is superior to the other and he holds opinions which are essentially similar to skinheads and neo-Nazism. I wonder if, according to Okoampa-Ahoofe’s racial superiority, there would be space for other ethnic groups in the country to get any job if his dream of Akan political dominance were realised.

Fortunately all the 25 comments that have responded to Okoampa-Ahoofe show that he is simply a lonely thug in time a warp. He is definitely entitled to his opinion and should by no means be prevented from expressing them but he should be ignored for what he really is, a tribalist thug intent on creating tribal tensions in Ghana where none exist.

Linus Atarah.

latarah@welho.com