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Opinions of Saturday, 23 May 2009

Columnist: Kufuor, Appiah Danquah

Tribe – what tribe? – “Tribe- Poverty


Prior to the 2008 Presidential elections, contributors to Ghanaweb, MP’s of different persuasions, political and social commentators, ethnic associations, young political groupings, seasoned pressmen/women and even matured politicians who should know better were all singing ethnic tunes and dancing to the demonic sounds of “ethnic brass-bands”. Every word, sentence, speech, gesture, actions by well meaning Ghanaians was dissected to get a slice of ethnic flesh.

Many of us thought such irresponsible, selfish and dangerous behaviour would come to a halt after the elections. An election which has placed Ghana among true democratic nations. However, true to form some of our opinion leaders are continuing to let us down.

Irresponsible, unpatriotic, uncaring, unconcerned and extremely selfish Ghanaians have made it their duty either to promote ethnic tensions by demonising individuals and whole sections of society or by adding douses of ethnic pepper to every social/economic issue. They know themselves and must bow down their heads in shame.

“Ashiaman Syndrome”

Many intelligent, well-educated Ghanaians, MP’s, opinion- leaders and even some church –leaders are hiding behind the “freedom to express nonsense” banner and our FM stations to spew out hatred, anger and incite Ghanaians against each other. Any “economic-poverty related incident” is described, perceived and analysed by “so-called panel of experts” on party, ethnic or tribal lines. The Ashiaman toilet and car park confrontation which was a simple issue of poor, jobless, underclass young men battling out their frustrations and pent up anger under different political banners was described as an ethnic and political issue. The inability of the political class to create employment opportunities and an enabling environment for businesses to thrive and prosper would always lead to the “Ashiaman Syndrome”. What is the “Ashiaman Syndrome”- simple- “it is the inability of the ruling and political class to share and spread the Ghanaian wealth equitably and the wish of the poor and under-class to grab their share of the nation’s wealth”.

There is the tendency for the elite, powerful, rich and middle-class to either condemn the Ashiaman-Syndrome as: they are all criminals or they do live by the laws of the jungle. There are other times when we confuse “tribe-poverty” with ethnicity just to bamboozle the poor and make them believe that maybe they are the problem-maybe they must accept the status-quo without rocking the boat. This ethnic non-sense and tribal clap- trap would not wash. Are we seriously arguing that if ex President Kufuor vacates his office to the Ga-State that would make any impact on the terrible and appalling living conditions of some of our brothers and sisters in Nungua? Fantasy world. Our inability to accept and realise that there is only one tribe in Ghana and that is “tribe poverty” would one day come to haunt our children and grand children

What is “Tribe- Poverty”?

Tribe poverty is the binding – wire, the common-bond, the passport of all Ghanaians (no matter their ethnic, tribal or religious background) who live in extreme poverty. The young men at Ashiaman who were urged on by faceless, unscrupulous, quasi politicians turned businessmen to go on a rampage to acquire “illegally” the toilets and car-parks were mostly unemployed, untrained, unskilled young men.

Do you see any tribe in it? No just “tribe-poverty”. One of the young persons who nealry lost his life is still parading round the car park begging for his daily income whilst the “big fishes” zoom around Ashiaman with their four wheel drives. How do I know? Simple: my offices are at Jericho (Ashiaman) and I have personally met with some Ashiaman Municipal Assembly members and leaders of the rampaging guys to discuss their hopes, fears, aspirations and wants.

Do I see any tribe? No – the only ethnic, tribal group that I meet daily at Ashiaman, Tema and Accra is “tribe poverty”. The only common denominator between the guys selling on the roadside; the kayayoo(porters); the unemployed graduates; the under-employed masons and artisans; the homeless at Abeka; the wretched rural peasant farmer; is “tribe-poverty”.

Speech by Togbe Afede X1V

The phrase used by Togbe Afede X1V in his wide ranging speech at Ho “we were made to feel like outsiders” has been commented on by political, economic and social commentators. Many have suggested that it was an anti- unity anti-ethnic and divisive speech. . First, I would like to state it categorical without any ambiguity that Togbe Afede X1V meant no harm nor was there any malice in that phrase.

The phrase was initially u sed by me in a discussion with Togbe. I just said – “now that you are inside and no more outside the power box maybe next time you are in China the Ambassador will meet you”.. It was said in our usual Ghanaian banter where we pull each other’s legs and use jest to get rid of our tensions and frustrations.

I said it in relation to Togbe not being met at China and other personal/confidential issues which we were discussing over dinner. I actually saw the speech by Togbe before it was read out at the durbar at Ho and never did I believe it will cause so much “wahala” among our people. Folks, the economic and social issues confronting our nation are huge. For example:

our per capita income is US$683;

average life expectancy 59years;

women dying at childbirth 8214 per 100,000;

% of people not meeting daily food needs almost 20%;

%of people with access to safe, clean water in the rural areas 53%; Children dying before age 5: 111 per 1,000 live births.

Do you see any tribe in the figures – no just “tribe-poverty”?

Togbe Afede is doing his best to create employment and bring investments to our country. For example:

the Sunon- Asogli Power Plant will be supplying almost 10% of Ghana’s energy requirements by 2010;

Plans are afoot by Togbe to build a World Trade Centre (Dubai model) in Ghana creating 1000’s of jobs;

Togbe Afede is involved with the West Africa Gas Pipeline- the biggest single joint Ecowas Project in history;

He has initiated the Volta Region Economic Development Plan a US$250m Plan to help develop the Volta Region Of Ghana- a project that will create thousands of jobs

Do you see any tribe in the above projects? No just “tribe poverty”.

If anyone was offended by the “we were made to feel like outsiders” phrase used by Togbe Afede at the Ho Durbar I say sorry. Although, there is enough evidence to justify Togbe Afede X1V’s comment’s for the sake of peace and closure he is humble enough to say sorry. Great King’s and Chief’s are the ones bold enough to lead and humble enough to say sorry. His main concern is for a unified, peaceful harmonious Ghana – living at peace with itself and with each other.

Togbe Afede X1V has always worked tirelessly for a better Ghana, fought for the interest of the underprivileged, and acts as a wonderful Ambassador for Ghana.

Togbe Afede’s home in Accra and Ho has become my second-home; we enjoy sharing meals together, bouncing ideas of each other and discussing ways and means of how we can make Ghana a better place. The only tribe and ethnic group that our eyes can see each day as we travel round the country is “tribe-poverty”. Oh yes I see “tribe-poverty” each day on our roads, schools, hospitals, markets etc and also “tribe-middle-class; “tribe- rich” but never come across any tribe in Ghana.

Politics and business is the vehicle that Togbe Afede X1V may used to deliver the goods for “mother Ghana” but believe me his main aim in life is to help create wealth, jobs and employment opportunities for the whole of Ghana.

Kufuor, Appiah-Danquah

NB:”Pathway to Prosperity”- the $250million Volta Region Economic Development Plan -2009-2014 will be officially launched on 16th June 2009 in Accra.