Feature Article of Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Columnist: Coffie, Emmanuel Dela

The Fawning Deification Of Otumfuor And Ethnocentrism!

Last week I took the huge risk of carrying out a critique of Otumfuor and his involvement in partisan politics. While some agreed with the piece it wasn’t all hearts and flowers. I thank those with whom I had a healthy and educated exchange of emails including those who dissented.

Let me state that my motivation to write that piece was not to slander Otumfuor’s character but to bring to fore some mistakes he is making and the challenges of dealing with the numerous chieftaincy problems under his jurisdiction.

But ever since the article was published on many of our news portals, I have received a record emails and text messages from some misguided Asantes who threatened to kill me, claiming I had insulted their chief by suggesting that he should not dabble in partisan politics. Some even warned that, if I don’t retract those uncomplimentary remarks and apologize to Otumfuor, they will skin me alive.

Last time, it was Kwesi Pratt, Raymond Acheer and others, then my good friend Ato Kwamina Dadzie and now is my turn to bear the brunt of these ethnic bigots. Who the heck do these tribal bigots think they are?

Reading all the venom and the bigotry coming from these misguided Asantes, I get the impression that Otumfuor is a god, who is above reproach and cannot be criticized. I am not a fan of this “tribal nonsense” and I detest the filth in our nation’s tribal biases. However, it is worth my time to engage nomadic minds who have abandoned our nations many problems and are making unsolicited careers out of a perverted ethnocentrism. Why should some people think and place the petty parochial interests of their tribes over and above the wider interest of the nation they belong to? I will never retract nor apologize for telling Otumfuor to rise above partisan politics.

I believe in healthy debate and the frank and honest exchange of views. Consequently, I would not allow myself to be intimidated by insults and death threats which has become a regular feature in the vocabulary of the sardonic ethnic bigots in recent years. Of course, not all Asantes are involved in this “tribal nonsense”. Some of my best friends are Asantes and I went to school with a lot of them. Infant one of my closest confidants is an Asante. Many of them agree with me that Otumfuor is not above reproach. Perhaps, the most troubling factor in this fall out is the lack of tolerance for diverse views.

Why are we so engulfed in this ethnic business or are we becoming envious of each other based on ethnicity? Why should a learned mind call me anti-Ashanti for putting on the table a sensitive issue worthy of intellectual discussion? What makes me anti-Ashati, for reminding Otumfuor of his constitutional obligation of not dabbling in partisan politics as a traditional ruler?

By right of birth, and blood, am I not a Ghanaian, and don’t I have the constitutional right to freely express, my views? Freedom of expression is an inviolable right. We must learn to agree to disagree with decorum and tolerance.

It is regrettable that after many years of formal education, people you expect to know better are by their actions demonstrating an inhuman attitude. Today because of tribalism and over inflated egos, we turn to believe that our kith and kin can do no wrongs.

I am troubled by our continual obsession with ethnocentrism. The bigotry is getting out of hand. Those petty minded bigots who are calling for my head are themselves product of irresponsibility and cannot do better than what they are defending. It is absolutely, hogwash for people to threaten others for expressing their views. It is old fashion and unlawful.

To hell with those who think their chiefs can do no wrongs! Is the Asantehene above all others? Those threatening and insisting that I retract my comment and apologize to Otumfuor can do their worst for all I care. They should be made to understand that nobody is above the law!

Most Asantes doesn’t have the confidence and the courage to denounce their chiefs, therefore if you criticize their chiefs, woe betides you! Otumfuor's subjects are scared of criticizing him. It is almost seen as a form of treason and it appears that, there is an element of the “emperor’s new clothes” on him.

Who is Otumfuor or any other chief after all that cannot be criticized or condemned? When one tribe begins to see themselves as better than others, or the entire country, that’s what causes civil strife.

Those anonymous threats against my life are just empty threats which can only come from loose cannons. If indeed those faceless bigots are worth their sorts, they should go ahead and finish me off or forever hold their peace. I feel exasperated by the stupidity and ignorance of people who think we should elevate chieftaincy above the constitution of the republic.

The Asantes must know that fawning deification of Otumfuor and a rose-tainted view of his leadership will not the solve the bread and butter issues that we are faced with as a people.

Some people think being a chief is more important than the constitution. We cannot elevate one tribe above Ghana and the Asantehene’s selfish interest cannot override the greater interest of the nation. No tribe is better or more important than the nation. We must put our tribal allegiance aside and join hands to build a better Ghana. And whiles at it, we must stop behaving as pathetic souls; otherwise our lousy leaders will always get away with their greedy ways at our expense.

The threats will not change anything; it will rather encourage us to do what we love doing best. If they believe their chiefs have been undeservedly defamed, they should go to court and demand justice.

As a nation, we must tap the best out of our differences and move the nation forward. No tribe should be made to feel bigger than the nation and it is the responsibility of all of us to ensure this. Such divisive games and the irresponsible threats on people’s life will not do us any good. It is about time we put our self-centredness and hypocrisy aside so we can build a better Ghana.

Those threatening could as well shove it where the sun doesn’t shine because we shall stand and speak our mind when the occasion presents itself. I rest my case!

Emmanuel Dela Coffie emmanuelcoffie488@yahoo.com / www.delacoffie.wordpress.com