Feature Article of Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Columnist: Boadaa, Nana

Ethno-Politics, The Bane of The New Patriotic Party

BY: NANA BOADAA (kkingofkings@excite.com )

Ethnocentricism is the feeling that, one's tribal orientation has a mode of living, values and patterns of adaptation that are superior to those of others. In politics, ethnocentricism ( ETHNOPOLITICS) is a psychological make-up, forged by members of a particular political group who share same language, culture and territory. It becomes a generalised contempt for members of other groups, and manifests itself in attitudes of superiority, hostility , discrimination, verbal and physical aggressiveness . Ethnopolitics has a hostile edge on national unity, and hampers socio-economic development.

The formation of political organisations in Ghana since the struggle for independence, had been based on ethniciy, with its attendant effects on national unity. Apart from the CPP which exhibited nationalist or xenocentric characters, the others were all formed on ethnic and tribal lines. These included, the Asanti sepertist and secessionist National Liberation Movement (NLM), The Muslim Association Party, The Northern Peoples' Party , The Anlo youth organisation, The National Alliance for the Liberals, (NAL) The Ga Shifemokpee , The Togoland congress and others. These tribal and ethnic political organisation made it difficult for the new Ghana to thrive in its democratic dispensation after the independence . It was not therefore, out of political wisdom, when in 1957, Ghana's Parliament passed the "Avoidance of Discrimination Act', to outlaw parties and organisations engaging in tribal, racial and religious propaganda, and in December same year, all the aforementioned political parties, and the others became illegal. Those ethnocentric parties have no other choice than to merge to form the UNITED PARTY, of which Busia, the Leader of Baaffour Akoto's Asanti NLM, was made the Head. At that time the Anlos, The Gas, The Muslims, the Northers and the other non- Akan speaking political groups, looked beyond their respective tribal and ethnic orientations , and fully supported the Akan/Asanti dominated United Party for a national course.

As noted in my previous article, The Asanti based National Liberation Movement had used brute and physical violence, coercion and intimidation, to convert bulk of the CPP membership in Asanti and Akyem traditional areas, it therefore had a numerical strengh in the almagamated United Party over others.. Through the tribal support and the royal blessing from Asantihene and Okyehene, the NLM in particular, and the UP in genera, amassed a lot of followers and supporters. The Asantihene had made Baffour Akoto, the founder of NLM, his Chief Linquist, impliedly, the NLM, becoming the mouthpiece of Asanteman. And the presence of J.B Danqua, Akyem Abuakwa royal, made Okyeman, a greatest ally of the NLM/UP. This speaks for itself, as why there is much concentration of NPP in Asanti and Akyem, and why most Ghanaians regard the NPP as Asanti-Akyem ethnocentric political organisation.

The Asanti and the Akyems (AKANS), due to their numerical strengh in the UP, began to look down upon the other small tribal groups. The Anlos / Ewes, the Gas, the Muslims and the Northerners were relegated to the background , as far as the running of the united party was concerned. They were alienated against, and classified as the minority, lazy, inward looking, "ntafo and "amanfrafo" (aliens) by the majority Asante-Akyem (Akan) group within the UP. The leadership of these non-akan groups became dicontented and disoriented with the tribal classification, discrimination, hatred and internal conflicts in the party. They realised how they have been manipulated, fooled nd used by the majority. The feeling of unity and nationalism that urged them to defy their respective tribal orientation and concentration, to support an Asanti/Akan based political party to form the UP, began to extinct.

Busia's selection as the leader of the UP was not by coincidence. He was the best choice among the Akans to neutralise the feeling of tribal tension that was brewing up between the J.B Danqua's Akyems, and the Baffour Akoto's Asantis in the UP, over the leadership and control of the party. A non-Akan becoming the leader in the Akan dominated party was a rule -out, and a choice of an Asanti over an Akyem or vice versa, could perceivably be deadly. Choosing K.A Busia, a non Asanti -Akyem Akan from Brong, was ethnopolitically expedient. The tension between the Asantis and the Akyems within the UP in those days, and within the NPP of today, is arguably historical. Nana Opoku Ware, the Asantihene, vowed to avenge the murder of his late uncle, Nana Osei Tutu, by the Akyems. He therefore, renewed the notorious Asante-Akyem war, which went on for years. The Asantis and the Akyems, within the same Akan tribe, never saw eye to eye with each other, even long after the war. It could be deduced, at this point that, the common political ideologies, and the presence of J.B. Danqua, Akyem royal, and Baffour Akoto, Asanti linguist, might have paved the way for the two warring tribes to eat from the same political bowl.

Today, the bickering and wrangling between the Asantis and the Akyems in the NPP should not be seen as a new dimension, "yenim no firi tete". It is an appendage to the historical Asanti-Akyem war, and re-emerged during the formation of the UP, the situation was, however saved by Busia. In 1979, the rift became more tensed between the Asanti's Victor Owusu, and the Akyem's Paa Willie, franked by his nephew Nana Akuffo-Addo.This internal ethno- conflict led to a secessation of the party into PFP of the Asantis, and UNC of the Akyems. Both eventually lost the election to the PNP. In 1992 general election, the Akyems' Adu Boahene did not get the nod to lead the party without protests and rivarly from the Asanti membership of the party. The lack of tribal unity and support, apathy and ethnocentricism, led to their defeat and eventual boycott. In 1996 and 2000, elections, the fierce and violent campaign to choose between the Asanti's J.A Kufoour and the Akyem's Nana AkuffoAddo has brought an indellibel political stigma on the NPP. There were clashes ad protests, physical and verbal attacks against each other and their followers. The bitterness of their campaign is still fresh in the hearts and minds of both Kuffour and Akuffo-Addo, and it really had a negative effect in the last election. Then came the master of all presidential primary campigns in the NPP, in terms of violence, destructions, injuries and near death. Allan Kyermateng from the Asanti camp and the Nana Akuffo- Addo of Akyem fame, castigated immensely, disgracefully and distastefully against each other in the 2008 campaign, that did not bear any fruit. Kuffour had vowed never to help Akuffo- Addo to succeed him, because of the bitterness from their primary election, and also the fact that they dont belong to the same ethic camp. Allan was obviously the choice of the then President Kuffour. The campaign took more serious, uncivilised and unnationalistic dimension. In fact, Akuffo-Addo----Kyeramateng's primary campiagn was reminiscence of the historical ASante-Akyem war In my previous article I delved to find out if the the violence, protests, demostrations and boycotts that have been the hallmarks of the NPP were really acquired by inheritance or through genetics. Can we arguably suggest that ethnopolitics have also been inherited by the NPP or acquired by genetics ? Would the NPP ever choose a leadershp from the non-Akan tribes, or could they choose a candidate from outside the Asante-Akyem ethnic bloc or from those who defied their native tribes to join forces with them earlier? For NPP to win the political confidence of the people of Ghana, they would have to reconstruct their party , and expunge the ethnocentric mentality and tribalsitic sentiments, to form a nationalist party based on the relative cultures of the modern people Ghana. As suggested by Mr Kwame Pianin, a reknown Danqua-Busia, the NPP needs to choose the next leadership from at leas, among the Gas or other indigeneous tribes, in order to become formidable. To the Akyems, their J.B Danqua is the 'Doyen' of democracy in Ghana, and prominent founding member of the UP, yet, they have not have the chance to lead the party or ever be in power, as their rival Asanti conterpart had. " This is our time, this is our turn" has become the growing sentimental defence of the Akyems in the NPP today, and to disallow their Akuffo-Addo a second chance in 2012, by whatever means, would bring an unholy ressurection of the 1979 deep crack in the party. To the Asantis on the other hand, Akuffo Addo has had his chance, and misused it, he is a failure, and the Kuffour groomed Allan Kyeramateng cannot wait. The NPP seems to be heading towards explosion in the coming years, or they are deliberating on a leadeship by rotation or in turns, akin to the Andanis and the Abudus, in the Yendi chieftaincy affairs.

The Asanti-Akyem ethnocentric rivarly in the NPP, which does not win political elections exists and persists, and Ghanaians need no political scientist or a social anthropologist to predict the doom of the New Patriotic Party. NPP IS ETHNOCENTRIC WITHIN AND TRIBALISTIC WITHOUT.