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Opinions of Friday, 27 October 2006

Columnist: Aidoo, Ato

The Asantehene and other matters.

Verbal exchanges between a section of the media, the disjointed Committee for Joint Action (CJA) and “Manhyia”- the seat of the Asantehene, are not only a disgrace to all Ghanaians, but weaken our moral and traditional judgment.

The ongoing saga offers Ghanaians a good reason to condemn all forms of tribal sentiments being channeled through press freedom and protections of the State.

This “war of words” must stop.

In the same way, those trying to establish a link between the Ashanti King and a cocaine scandal in Ghana must bring to an end this shameful agenda.

It is shameful because we are trying to destroy one of the pillars of our humanity- respect for traditional leadership, and the protection of a “sacred institution”.

Gradually, we are losing respect for leadership. We are also subjecting our traditional authorities to undue scrutiny, targeting the Ashanti King is a typical example.

What kind of a world do Ghanaians live in?

Foremost, I wish to state emphatically, that I am not an Ashanti, but I am prepared to accept any "name" for expressing my opinion.

For the records, I am “just” a Ghanaian who is not interested in “local media aggression”, the United States version of what is termed “immigrant nonsense”.

Consequently, I would not allow myself to be intimidated by “insults”, which have become a regular feature in the vocabulary of the sardonic Ghanaian in recent years.

What was not said about Jesus Christ?

Media personnel and their sponsors now engaged in this tribal onslaught would rather do a great service to the nation if they repackage their intentions to include how to stimulate economic growth, peace, and being fair to all.

From all indications, we (as Ghanaians) have become impatient, and national unity has been tempered with through unnecessary accusations and counter-accusations.

We have been wasting our time and energies in this “talk, and talk-back” business, while serious-minded people elsewhere explore tangible ways to develop themselves.

Are we the same people complaining about the situation in which we find ourselves in Ghana?

It is necessary, that Ghanaians de-link themselves from these tribal biases, unnecessary vituperations generated through ethnic interest, and carelessly directed toward a particular ethnic group.

Why are we so engulfed in this “ethnic business”, or we are becoming envious of each other based on ethnicity?

Right-thinking sons and daughters of the homeland should decline any invitation to join this dangerous adventure.

It is superfluous, how this craving was developed specifically to destroy others based on ethnicity, religious, and social status.

“Leave the Asantehene Alone”- this is the banner headline yet to been seen in the Ghanaian print media.

We should advocate same when Togbe Aniparti’s reputation is unreasonably attacked.

Ghanaians should condemn any verbal attack on the Okyehene, the Omanhene of Wassa-Fiase Traditional area, the Ya-Na, Nana Akuoko Sarpong, or the Juabenhene- Nana Otuo Seriboe.

We should be prepared to defend the Chiefs of Asemasa and Asemko in the Ahanta-West district, as well as the Omanhene of both Oguaa and Nzema Traditional areas, when they are unduly attacked through verbal salvos.The list is long.

I have spent some time commenting on this, because it satisfies a conviction, that the chieftaincy institution in Ghana is a respectable one. We have to protect, rather than destroy it.

Our Kings and chiefs are fallible, and that makes them human. They are not above the law, they do accept constructive criticisms, not criticisms characterized by falsehood and tribalism.

Traditionally, we do have good channels through which a King , Queen, or a Chief can be criticized for any wrongdoing. We can also seek redress through the judiciary, if we so desire.

This is what must be showcased to the world, as it represents the unique nature of our submission to traditional authority, our culture, and the values attached to our national character.

By this attachment to traditions, we also explain to the world how Kingship and Chieftaincy have become inextricably linked to governance, not only from the local level, but from the perspective of a partnership formed with the intent to improve the lives of the people.

Through that, we present ourselves as a people, who define their values and laws to protect diversity, social norms, and of course, traditional leadership.

For these reasons, frantic cynicism currently permeating Ghana’s body politic, a section of the media, and that wasted effort to establish a link between the Asantehene- Otumfuo Osei-Tutu II and a cocaine scandal in Ghana, should be quickly extinguished before a larger ethnic problem emerges.

The truth is that, it must be labeled as a trifling agenda designed by frustrated “media hooligans” (as they call them). Their trademark is that of twisting the truth.

Unfortunately, these journalists are also tasked by their sponsors to make a government unpopular, and to “confuse” the electorates.

Ghanaians should be mindful of this smear campaign. It is extremely dirty, to say the least.

The Asantehene is changing the face of Kingship in Ghana; we can leave it or take it. That is why it saddens me, this politically and ethnically motivated campaign to punctuate his achievements with lies and wrongful “linkages”.

I wish I knew what we gain from all these?

This is the way forward - the Otumfuo educational initiative must be lifted, and fully explained to the people, that it is laudable. It should be explained to the vulnerable, that he is extending help to all Ghanaians not because an Ashanti is the President of Ghana.

The president of Ghana is capable of improving his ratings through good governance, respect for the rule of law and human rights, though these are areas our past governments failed.

Giving every initiative in Ghana a “tribal name” would not facilitate our developmental goals; rather, it would derail good intentions aimed at solving underdevelopment, poverty, and the rising canker of ignorance, hatred, and tribalism.

The Justice Georgina Wood Committee which investigated the “MV Benjamin” cocaine scandal in Ghana has presented its report to the government.

The Committee’s findings must be respected (with all due respect to the trouble shooters). People who disagree with the findings can challenge them through the judiciary. Being speculative would not serve anybody’s interest; it is just a wasted effort.

That is the surest way through which civilized people settle controversies, disagreements (both real and perceived), as well as conflicts.

Those purportedly threatening to “kill” journalists engaged in these “dirty works” should also resort to the law courts if they feel their King has been undeservedly defamed.

Many more journalists consumed by histrionics would emerge when their colleagues engaged in denigrating our Kings and politicians are killed.

In the past, “killings” did not solve problems in our dear country. They worsen them.

On the same note, Ghanaians should be guided by the fact that there are some people who cannot be satisfied by the findings of any “fact-finding Committee” in Ghana, especially under our present democratic dispensation.

Truly, these are people entrenched in weird beliefs.

These are people who would always want to nurture a path for us. In reality, they do not even know our destination.

What findings, government policy, or achievements of a government in power, can satisfy the likes of Kwesi Pratt Jnr, “uninspiring” Owula Mangortey, and this group of acerbic journalists who continue to operate like the proverbial “Kweku Ananse” who thought he owned the world?

It would, indeed, be a wasted effort to engage these people in any meaningful discourse, and no amount of explanation can satisfy that spirit of self-acclaimed righteousness.

It is true, that as Ghanaians they have all the rights to express an opinion, but why should we "destroy " others?.

This headline fits their profile – “Father, forgive them”.

What would force the Asantehene to consider such a cheap and disgraceful method of acquiring wealth through a drug enterprise? Many Ghanaians have overlooked that question.

Ask an “Ashanti” from Ghana - what is the source of Manhyia’s wealth?

According to the controversial afro beat King, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, “Who know, no go Know”, when it matters most.

Until then, let us nip this “war of words” in the bud, as we bring to an end this unnecessary saga likened to a “sublime piece of mythical nonsense” that unsettled Western Europe many centuries ago.

In fact, these “warnings”, so-called “threats”, and counter sentiments expressed about this “Otumfuo palaver” are only palliative; they cannot “cure” the wrongs of journalists and their sponsors desirous to pursue a destructive agenda.

Why then, should we waste our time to defend this concealed agenda when the Asantehene has a bigger fish to fry?

Author: Ato Aidoo, former journalist, Daily Graphic, Accra-Ghana. He now lives in Evans, GA.

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.