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Opinions of Thursday, 16 December 2004

Columnist: Graham, Ekow Appiah

The Fante Betrayal


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His Excellency Professor Atta-Mills lost in the Fante heartland. Piteous spectacle. How does it feel like to be thrust in the heart by one of your own? How can we explain the axis of rejection by ones own people? First cut they say is the deepest but I dare add that the second thrust in the political heart of Professor John Atta-Mills by the Fante nation is the deepest, unkindest, saddest and the most inexorable cut of all. The Fante heartland in 2004 again disgorged one of their own. Twice a Fante presidential candidate, in the person of His Excellency Professor John Atta-Mills, has been presented to them and two times the Fante nation has failed to provide a wind beneath his wings. Two times the Fante nation has failed to provide Professor John Atta-Mills with a shoulder to lean on whilst other nations in our nation-state, Ghana, saw his potential and lent an unwavering, strong and courageous helping hand to enable him propel his noble vision for the greater good of Ghana.

A minority of Fante people, voters perhaps, now find themselves singing a strange song in a strange land that was meant to be their own, Fanteland. A long time ago, my uncle, Uncle Abam, said to me no matter how bitter the back of your teeth may taste, it is the same place you lick. Today it feels like the Fante heartland prefers to lick another's teeth, albeit, rough, unclean and badly discoloured. Any well meaning Fante person should be feeling the pain of this collective and vicious betrayal of Professor Atta-Mills. This is because members of the Fante heartland time and time again showed up in great numbers, sometimes with infants on their backs, climbing up walls, towers and windows and with patient expectations waited to see and hear Professor Atta-Mills. And when he did come, the Fante heartland roared and cheered and broke bread with him. But on the day that mattered most, the Fante heartland and nation politically punctured him badly, perhaps beyond political resurrection. The results from the polls were emphatic with a message of rejection from his own home. This single act of betrayal proves more powerful than all the supposedly epochal utterances and personal attacks on him by the greedy cabal of the current government. Today great many people are looking at the Fantes and asking, why this second and deepest cut. The 2004 Presidential elections have sent a loud message to the rest of Ghana from the Fante heartland, they are happy to provide the political dagger to stab their own. If anyone comes up with another they cannot promise not to do it again?Next! Some editors of some national newspapers in Ghana from the Fante heartland applauded and amplified the collapse of support for the Professor Atta-Mills even on the land of his father's birth. Of course, they tell us they have a job to do and must be honest. What I am wondering is why is it only us, Fante people, that have drawn the daggers against our own when the stakes are so high?

Looking at the political landscape, there is no substantial reason for Fante people and nation to rejoice in the results of the Presidential election in the Fante heartland. Professor Amin Alhassan of York University, Canada, once wrote ?the Fante segment in Ghana may be described as the most cosmopolitan ethnic group in Ghana. Their loyalties are not tied to some primordial ancestral relations, but to the exigencies of the times. Ethnicity is politically insignificant in their strategic calculations... Perhaps so! But what exigencies of the times are we referring to here and why is ethnicity not important to the strategic thinking of the Fante nation? The reality today in Ghana is one of life under a rapacious government who have offered nothing but eloquent justification for excluding the other because they have been in power for close to two decades. The government of the day is trying hard to rally Ghanaians against chemeric enemies by raising the spectre of alarm and fear among Ghanaians using unscrupulous people far and wide and inventing plots whilst the main work is left undone. It is as if we in the Fante heartland are saying that truth, honesty, humility and sense of purpose espoused by the learned Professor are irrelevant.

And oh yes, ethnicity is important in the strategic thinking of any nation on earth!!! To paraphrase William Shakespeare in Julius Caesar, the Fante nation cannot allow any nation within the nation-state Ghana to bestride their narrow world like a Colossus whilst the Fantes become petty men walking under their feet and peep about to find themselves in dishournable graves. Mankind, including the Fante nation, are masters of our fates. Fantes should never make themselves or settle for underlings when they can claim the prize as masters.

Electing one of their eminent and illustrious sons to the highest office of our nation-state would have been a powerful and potent symbol for distinct elements in the Fante nation to aspire to. This makes symbolism an important part of any nation's strategic thinking. So yes, once again the relevance of ethnicity in strategic thinking of any nation is underlined. Today, a minority of Fante people in the Fante heartland sit in a branchy row thinking of beautiful things we know could have been created by a Professor Atta-Mills Presidency. Fantes are dreaming of deeds that were meant to be completed to lift our nation-state by this noble and distinguished man. Dreams and thoughts with far reaching implication have been blunted and replaced by ephemeral frolicking. It will not take long for the full implication to dawn on Fante nation.

To many Fantes, and other political observers alike, the results of the 2004 presidential elections in the Fante heartland are more shocking because, by any form of measure, the main candidate Professor Atta-Mills was running against was and continues to be an inarticulate candidate who was supposedly living on only goodwill in his own backyard. President Kuffour?s ahenfie politics, his dull personality and his insolvency in ideas of governance all contribute to make him the wrong choice. The NPP PR machinery has somehow erroneously packaged these features of Kuffour into a gentle persona and claiming it as his virtue. Lacking basic communication skills, some say he is known for his quiet deliberation but for all his public life there is no evidence of this. I have seen many effective communicators and able people from my high school days, at Mfantsipim School, Cape Coast, to the present and cannot allow myself to be sucked in by this tawdry propaganda. Health, education, living standard, and all other tangible services in Ghana, including the Fante heartland, are risible. This begs a basic question and again to paraphrase the words of William Shakespeare in Julius Caesar, wherefore rejoice in President Kuffour's victory in the Fante heartland? What conquest brings he to the Fante nation? For what the Fante nation can do about this howler, William Shakespeare again gives them an inkling in Julius Caesar. Again to paraphrase, they need to run to their houses, fall on their knees and pray to God to intermit the plague they have brought upon the land, Fanteland. They need to weep into their rivers till the lowest stream do kiss the most exalted shores of all.

Oh yes the congratulations, as hollow and insolent as it may be, will come to the Fantes for voting against their own. Surely, all sorts of superlatives will be heaped on Fantes for this sacrilegious act when they come to visit Fantes in their land. But then, they will go away after the visit and leave us with thoughts of what they will do for them. And maybe yes, we will be invited to visit to have a look in and sip tea with them. That is how many see us, after all. But then where does it leave Fantes when the visits are over? Wouldn't it have been more beautiful and consummate if Fantes did things for themselves with a Professor Atta-Mills Presidency? Some of the remedies of the hopes and aspirations of the Fante nation lie in pushing forward their best people. That would inspire other Fantes to do well for themselves. Another nation applauding Fantes and telling them what they would do for them is simply patronising. Where would that leave the Fantes with respect to their contributions to the political history of Ghana? The title helpers is simply abhorrent and not good enough!

For eight years it was drummed in the ears of the Fantes that adze w? wo fie a oye. And for eight years the dumb drum impaled on the tympanic membrane of the Fantes prevented them from listening and/or hearing. The king that has been presented to Fantes, they have shot down by their thumbs. For this act, it may appear that the Fante nation has no cause to ask for a linguist position. After all if one refuses a crown?

The minority Fantes that voted and supported Professor Atta-Mills in the Fante heartland need to be commended. They have taken a strong, principled and unshakeable position. It is a hard situation and a bitter pill to swallow but all is not yet lost. For now, they can be proud with their small victory for standing firm for one of our own. The current situation the Fantes face can be likened to the moon and stars hiding in the clouds. When that happens, it does not mean they are dead. Because of changing times they will someday reappear. For this reason, it is important not to be tongue-tied at this time. A small stone, as reflected by the minority who stood firm for the learned Professor, may be used to support a big table for it to be strong. The small stone, as you appear to be today, is no less important than the big table. Fantes are still a great family with lots of capabilities and quality within. For all those outside the great and alert Fante Umbrella who have contributed to this great tragedy, it is onerous on all Fantes to work hard, hand in hand, to bring them in.

Never again should Fantes present themselves as underlings when they can claim the great prize. Never again should Fantes thrust one of their own in the heart to be held servitude to the whims and caprices of another nation within our nation-state. And never again should Fantes play catch up and leave themselves to ridicule when the stakes are high. Fantes have sold out their own and for what? Apparently for snares, sneers, jeers and sarcastic cheers.

God Bless All Fante lands?God Bless the Fante People?And long live Ghana!!!

Ekow Appiah Graham, PhD

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

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