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Opinions of Sunday, 22 September 2002

Columnist: Ohemeng, Peter

The Ghanaian and "Nye-Hweeism"

There are many at times that I have had the occasion to admire the proverbial Ghanaian hospitality. But there are certain times too that I have questioned the actual contents and ingredients of this purported hospitality. Ghanaians are known to be smart, literate or illiterate, and humble but sure. These are admirable qualities, but what is the tolerant level for our nye-hwee generosity? Upon all the high level of education among the citizens of the country, many events have come to pass which in fact shouldn’t have happened, had it not been thanks to our nye-hwee culture.

When JJ Rawlings first emerged on the Ghanaian political scene, he came with his own “chain” hanged from his cheek down to the knees. This chain became a national coinage “Rawlings chain”, when his harsh and misguided economic policies spread the chain to the ordinary citizens across the country. After ruling for sometime, starting from the very first year of his rule, the disappearance of his chain became glaring. Today, I am sure he admires himself about the total disappearance of the chain (without relics). A sign of good living and richness. But sadly for the ordinary Ghanaian, his/her chain is still visible and perhaps deteriorating. Chairman Rawlings is still alive preaching morality. The funniest and the silliest thing that looks like daydreaming in Ghana today is, hearing the ex- dictator and later president Rawlings, quacking and barking about harassment in the country under the NPP leadership. Where comes the boldness of the ex-chairman Rawlings from, to have the gust to engage in such quacking and barking? The answer to this question is not far-fetched. He is one Ghanaian who has had the opportunity to exploit this Ghanaian nye-hweeism nearly to exhaustion. He did so for nearly two decades and knows how vulnerable we are as Ghanaians in this country. Ex-chairman Rawlings is again roaring like a hungry lion to have his party re-capture political power in Ghana. The ex-president and his followers’ major confidence and expectation are that Ghanaians will resort, as is usually the case, to the nye-hwee (also known as fama nyame) conundrum. How wrong can we prove them to be? This is a question I would like my reading public to help me to answer or perhaps, only time could provide what we want.

The most appalling type of this nye-hwee syndrome happens at the very higher level in national politics.When Rawlings ruled the country under his dictatorial PNDC and later suspiciously changed colours like a chameleon to become a constitutional president under NDC, we had the opportunity to see the true length of this nye-hwee wahala, at places we did not expect. The then chairman Rawlings had the power to go wild, at will and with impunity, to shout, slap and insult some of the very hotshots in his very administration. What did we see? The nye-hwee hospitality kept many of these so-called top men mute and to keep suffering. Was it because they were enjoying the loot that was taking place at the time? The answer seems yes but, hei, hell no. They were true victims of the nye-hwee conundrum.

Rawlings’ two regimes embarked upon the JSS and SSS educational experiment. When they saw that it was not the way forward, he and his top officials resorted to educating their children and relatives in top schools overseas, financed by the poor tax-payer. Ghanaians didn’t seem to consider this as anything (nye-hwee) and (are supposed to have) voted massively for these guys and gals in 1993 and 1996 general elections. Rawlings started to put his fantasy about sports cars and bikes into reality by purchasing fleets of them, here again nye-hwee and people were/are not even interested about the sources of funding. Rawlings again purchased plush vehicles into the country recently where he was reported to have paid ?500M as custom duties alone. Here again nye hwee and he is freely roaming around and is on top making guy-guy giving “boom” speeches.

Let us take nye hwee through some short memory lane. The late Dr. Hilla Limann (may his soul rest in peace) and his PNP knew the threats and dangers posed by the quest for adventure and power by Rawlings and his band of socialist academics, yet nye-hwee and they never acted until the expected happened. Dr. Obed Asamoah hoarded over ?200 M of the tax-payer’s money under his bed, an act that defied the simple ABC of modern financial management, yet nye-hwee and today he is the elected chairman of one of the two major political parties in the country- NDC. Dr. Kwesi Botchwey, with an accolade of being the longest serving finance minister in Ghana's history, saw the vulnerability in the Ghanaian nye-hwee mentality and took the citizens through one of the worse economic experiments in the history of our country, the scars we are still bearing today, yet nye-hwee and he is currently being hailed to be the dream candidate for the NDC flagbearership. Prof Attah Mills was the vice president for the last 4 years to the demise of the P/NDC and the party’s flagbearer for the 2000 presidential elections, he was reported to be in-charge of the torture section at the Castle (the seat of govt), yet nye-hwee and he is currently being hailed as the learned law-professor with a vision that would deliver the country from its socio-economic woes.

Now on the NPP govt. President JAK’s first curi (query) is, apparently, his frequent and most at times redundant travels abroad. These travels are becoming alarming and expensive for an impoverished country like ours. Yet nye-hwee seems to be once again tightening its cold hands on us. Ghanaians don’t seem to care and those who care to comment about it, are not quite sure of its effects on our economy. Just after joining the controversial HIPC and virtually declaring the country bankrupt, this govt approved 20,000 US dollars as car allowances for every MP in the country. Simple arithmetic will help here. 20,000*200 = 4M. Four million US dollars multiply by ?8000 equals ?32b cash. Here again, Ghanaians seem not to be scared and it is as usual nye-hwee for them, though it is clear that many of the MPs would default in repayment, esp. after 2004.

How do I end this mail, Mr. Editor help me. Okay I will try it myself. The Ghanaian nye-hweeism has never benefit the country neither collectively nor individually. It has rather set our development backwards. It is the responsibility of the hospitable Ghanaian to buy and eat more into principles. Sinners must not be seen going unpunished because nye-hwee. This will help irresponsibility and malpractice to thrive at the expense of discipline and honesty, most needed to ensure the collective good. It is about time Ghanaians ought not to hesitate to say it as it should and, use wisely and with dignity, their power to determine the fate of those seeking power and authority in the country. Let us give nye-hweeism the red card and demand from our leaders what we are dued and justice for all. It is the only way we can defend and prevent our noble Constitution from becoming any ordinary document in the hands of our stewards.

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