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Opinions of Monday, 22 March 2010

Columnist: Kyei-Mensah-Osei, Kofi

Sacrificing Ghana’s tribal unity on the alter of Political Expediency

Introduction:

I had cause to do a write-up in which I passionately discussed some comments made by prominent individuals leading up to the 2008 general elections and highlighted the dangers such comments posed to the tribal unity of our beloved Ghana. Among the individuals whose comments I found disgusting and dangerous to the unity of the country were ex-President Rawlings and then candidate Prof Mills. I had hundreds of e-mails in response to my write-up: some were complementary whilst others rained unprintable insults and threats of all sorts for daring to take on their idols. If those who sent me the hate mails then had taken time to digest my line of argument, they would have realised that I was discussing very important issues of national interest. Unsurprisingly, a greater majority of the hate-e-mailers were blinded by political and tribal sentiments. I remain unperturbed and steadfast in my conviction that the tribal cohesion in our country is gradually being eroded and events after the 2008 elections have somehow proved me right. I don’t want to sound like the proverbial prophet of doom, but like ostriches, many people have still not woken-up to the seismic divisions steadily developing among our tribes. Shortly after the elections some Ga youths with the backing of some political vampires rose up against ex-President Kuffuor and gave him an ultimatum to quit Ga lands resulting in some Ashanti youths threatening retaliation. Thank God that did not go further than that. Currently, there are issues raging among the Gas chiefs. Problems up north have been with us since the presidency of ex-President Rawlings and one would have expected our politicians to have been more circumspect in their utterances. One would have also expected the executive to order our security agencies to act swiftly to defuse some of these tensions which have the potential to explode into full-blown tribal war. But nay, that wasn’t to be and sadly, the stench of their ineptitude stinks to the high heavens.

Techimanhene’s Misjudged Adventure

In the past couple of weeks, there appears to be growing discontent between the Techimanhene, Tuobodomhene and the Asantehene. Being an Ashanti, I am careful not to offend my brothers and sisters from the Brong Ahafo Region. I entreat my readers from the Brong Ahafo Region to read this write-up devoid of any tribal sentiments. Personally, I was a bit surprised by the action taken by the Techimanhene. I do not profess to know the dynamics between him and Tuobodomhene. Nonetheless, for the former to order his macho men to arrest the Tuobodomhene and brought to his palace was uncalled for and for the Techimanhene’s macho men to manhandle the latter was a dangerous precedent and simply preposterous. Whatever grievances the Techimanhene may have, he cannot and should not have used his palace as a police station or cell against people he perceives to have wronged him one way or the other. To me, he let his emotions overtake his better judgement. He could have channelled his grievances through the regional police commander or better still, channelled it through the National House of Chiefs of which both he and the Tuobodomhene are distinguished members. Nana Techimanhene’s actions were surely going to have a boomerang effect however one tries to justify it.

Was the Brong Ahafo Security Compromised?

The above incident happened on Friday, 05.03.10. Surprisingly, it did not appear to have been acted upon until after the Otumfuo has voiced out his concerns about the apparent ineptitude of the Brong Ahafo security. Any objective observer agrees that the situation degenerated to the level it did due the appalling disinterest of Brong Ahafo Regional Security machinery and they have some very serious questions to answer to the people of Techiman, Tuobodom and Ghana as whole. Did they hear about the arrest of the Tuobodomhene before the latter was brought to them by the machoment of Techimanhene? What charges were brought against the Tuobodomhene? Why did the police decide to put him in a cell considering who he was and knowing the matter was traditional? Did they realise their action or inaction could change the whole dynamics of the security in the Brong Ahafo Region and the country as a whole? Whose decision was it to put the Tuobodomhene in custody? What role did the regional minister play in the whole saga? What action were the police taking about matter between 05.03.10 and 15.03.10 before the Otumfuo brought it into mainstream news? Why is it that General Nunoo Mensah (National Security Advisor) knew nothing about the impasse until being assigned by the President to lead a delegation to Otumfuo and Techiman?

Otumfuo’s address to the Asanteman Council

Ten (10) days after the Tachimanhene and Tuobodomhene impasse, Otumfuo the Asantehene, met the Asanteman Council on 15.03.10 after which he held a press conference. Let me remind readers again that, this was after 10 days of seeming inactivity from the Brong Ahafo Security Council; no arrest was made and the matter was not even given mention in the various media houses. The registration number for the minibus used by the macho men who carried out the arrest (kidnap) and assault has been provided and yet the minibus has not even been impounded! It was like nothing significant has happened! A prominent citizen (Tuobohene) was arrested (kidnapped) and assaulted by the macho men of another and yet no arrest was made; neither was the victim (Tuobodomhene) informed by the police of any action being taken to bring his assailants to book during those 10 long days!! Readers should also bear in mind that, Tuobodomhene pays allegiance to the Otumfuo and that cannot be wished away by anyone. In the face of the blatant inaction and disinterest of the Brong Ahafo Security, the Otumfuo in his press conference 10 days after the arrest and assault of Tuobodomhene, raised a series of queries among them, wanting to know what the authorities were doing about the “beatings Nana Asare Baafuor (Tuobodomhene) suffered.” Readers should be reminded that the physical assault on the Tuobodomhene was confirmed by his doctors. Otumfuo further quipped: “Is the Techimanhene’s palace a police station” where people could be detained? As the overlord of Tuobodom, is it not within the Otumfuo’s right to raise these legitimate questions? The Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II cautioned the security agencies that if they “fail to act on the matter” then he as the father and overlord of Tuobodomhene will also “cause the Techimanhene to be arrested and brought to the Manhyia Palace” should the later step in Kumasi. Otumfuo’s caution though based on the precept of the security apparatus’ continued failure to act on the matter appears to be the catalyst, the tonic and in fact the clarion call the Ashanti-bashers needed to go into overdrive. Whilst they are at it, I want these Ashanti-bashers and avowed Ashanti-haters to ponder over these questions: Would a father worth his sort sit unconcerned when his son has been kidnapped, assaulted at gun point and imprisoned by his neighbour? What would the aggrieved father do after 10 days of stinking docility by the government machinery responsible for protecting our citizens? Isn’t it amazing that, 10 days after the incident even General Nunoo Mensah (National Security Advisor) claimed not to have heard about the matter before being instructed by the President to proceed to Manhyia Palace to meet Otumfuo and Techimanhene? In the face of all these lapses, people would want to hide behind the studio microphones and personal computers to chastise the Otumfuo and Ashantis. That is how prejudiced people are!!

Kwesi Pratt, Allotey Jacobs, Ashanti-bashers et al

Since the Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II raised the above queries, many people have commented on his press conference. Many of those meant well but it is equally true also that many others were dunderheads and nitwits whose sole motive was to have a go at Ashantis and the Asantehene in particular regardless of the injury their thoughtless and senseless comments may cause to our national unity. Comments from Allotey Jacobs of the NDC propaganda team have been typically infantile and the least said about it the better. I listened to the self-appointed king of the airwaves, supreme sports consultant, editor, social commentator, human rights activist, unofficial presidential spokesman Kwesi Pratt on Tuesday, 16.03.10 on Peace Fm and I wasn’t impressed. The problem with Kwesi is that he is deluded and thinks he knows it all. In his eyes he is the jack-of-all-trades in country and only his comments matters. My question is: why did it take Otumfuo’s meeting with the Asanteman Council for the all-knowing Kwesi Pratt to comment on the impasse? Kwesi talked himself into epileptic seizure on the day with special detail on Otumfuo’s comments and challenged Otumfuo to “first advice himself instead of the Dagombas.” How simplistic and stupid can Kwesi be? In any case, Otumfuo did not elect himself to mediate in the afore-mentioned matter and most importantly, Kwesi should not seek to trivialise the Asantehene’s input in the matter with such silly interjections when as important as he (Kwesi Pratt) thinks he is, he has not done anything about the matter himself. A lot of what Kwesi had to say on the day were platitudinised. Between 05.03.10 and 15.03.10 no one heard anything from the all-knowing Kwesi Pratts of this world. Did Kwesi have to wait all this while to engage in his vitriolic after the Otumfuo’s comments? As all knowing that he wants Ghanaians to think he is and a journalist as such, he is not even ashamed that it took the Asantehene’s comments to bring the matter into the national attention. Kwesi is a hollow journalist and an eccentric commentator who is only good at reacting (condemning others) on issues. Ghana needs people who are proactive. Now tell me Massa Kwesi Pratt; is the transfer of the Brong Ahafo Region Crime Officer not a vindication of the Asantehene? Actually Kwesi, you to ought “first advice” your flippant self. A lot of your so-called opinions on some topical issues are condescending and ugly noises.

Kwesi is a hypocrite who when it suits him professes to champion African values and principles. When it doesn’t, he condemns. The confused Pratt had the following to say about chieftaincy institutions on Saturday, 19.03.10 on Peace Fm: He quipped; “What is that institution” He answered his own question with the following: “a most undemocratic institution. No democracy in it at all.” and ended by saying, “yabre won.”, meaning, we are fed up with them. I will like Kwesi to answer the following questions: Is democracy akin to African? Is Africa worst off because of democracy or chieftaincy? Kwesi should name just one African country where chieftaincy has caused civil war. Can he also name 10 African countries where democracy has caused civil war? Yes he can!!! Make no mistake about it, chieftaincy is not a perfect institution; but between the 2 evils (chieftaincy and democracy), which has been the bane of Africa? I believe in democracy but I will condemn the Kwesi Pratts who hide behind it to condemn our unique institution. Will tourists come to Ghana to see our democracy or chieftaincy institution? So much about Kwesi Pratt.

Caution

The Techimanhene/Tuobodomhene and Otumfuo’s impasse is a very sensitive traditional issue which should be left to the appropriate authorities to resolve. However, the Kwesi Pratts should rather be thankful Otumfuo for bringing such explosive matter to the public domain and challenging the security apparatus to act on it which is what every true Ghanaian would want to see. If Otumfuo wasn’t for peaceful resolution of the issue, he would have kept his counsel and acted on it. Yet he didn’t. Isn’t Otumfuo’s action rather commendable? To those whose stock-in-trade is to bash the Otumfuo and Ashantis at every given opportunity, I will like to caution them to be extremely careful in their utterances. Their pronouncements are having serious corrosive effects on the tribal unity in the country. Many people are taking the unity of the country for granted and are pushing the agenda of certain politicians to turn other Akans against Ashantis for their fiendish political interest. But people should not believe the illusion that Ashantis will capitulate under the weight of hatred that is building around them. No we wouldn’t!! It is rather creating a siege mentality in us and may push us into self-preservation mode and that could be really dangerous for the unity of the country. It is not true that the weight of hatred from the rest of Ghanaians against Ashantis will cow us down; rather, it will only strengthen us. I would rather people address issues on merit without having to throw in diatribes and cheap point-scoring comments. Individual hatred will not change anything but will have a counter productive effect of raising suspicion and enmity among Ghanaians. Is that the way we want to go?

Conclusion

Ghana is for all of us and no one can chase any tribe out of it. Politicians should be mindful of their utterances and party sympathisers should not swallow politicians’ comments hook, line and sinker. We could be political opponents but surely not tribal enemies. We have one Ghana and we live or die in it together. Let’s love one another and preserve our unity which is the envy other Africans. Unfortunately, the history of our continent is replete with civil wars: Liberia and Rwanda freshly comes to mind. Ghana need not toil with the fire which burnt the beard of his neighbour. Whatever we do, we should not sacrifice our beautiful national unity on the alter of political expediency. Let those with ears listen.

Kofi Kyei-Mensah-Osei