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By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Garden City, New York
July 25, 2014
It is the kind of newsstory that one really does not know what to make out of it. It concerns the kind of broken political promises that most Ghanaian rural residents have had to perennially contend with. It is actually one of global dimension. Politicians everywhere, for the most part, are both professional and congenital liars. And so it is not clear whether the people of Ekumfi-Otuam really have any more right and/or legitimate cause to be angry at President John Dramani Mahama (See "Residents in Mills' Hometown Angry With Mahama" MyJoyOnline.com 7/23/14).
Ordinarily speaking, Ekumfi-Otuam, in the Central Region, is just like any other small town or village in Ghana. What makes it a stand-out of sorts is the fact that it is also the ancestral hometown of the late President John Evans Atta-Mills, a man whose personal and professional achievements equally stood out among the noble and glorious pack of the proverbial cream of Ghanaian society. As President of Ghana, though, he was not known to be as dynamic and effective as many of his admirers and sympathizers had hoped that he would be. He was known to be rather too slow to initiate and/or execute significant local and national development projects; which may largely explain why he is reported to have left so many projects in his mother's hometown unfinished and, perhaps, even unconceived, let alone began.
I make the emphatic distinction about the fact that Ekumfi-Otuam was more the hometown of the late president than his birthplace. For Professor Atta-Mills, my good, old Uncle Tarkwa-Atta, had been born in the Western Region's world-famous mining town of Tarkwa in the early 1940s. However, since among the Akan-speaking people of Ghana, one's heritage is reckoned on one's mother's side of the family, it is perfectly in synch with traditional lore and mores to describe President Mills as a bona fide citizen of Ekumfi-Otuam township. The people of the Ekumfi district of the Central Region are themselves immigrant descendants of Takyiman (Techiman) in the present-day Brong-Ahafo Region of Ghana.
What also makes his natal association with Ekumfi-Otuam township legitimate, is the fact that the deceased leader appears to have fully recognized himself as such. Interestingly, though, President Mills is widely known to have owned a home in the Central Region's capital of Cape Coast (Oguaa), as many rural denizens have traditionally tended to do. The regional capitals are where the proverbial bright lights are; they are also where one has a greater chance of economically and socially advancing remarkably beyond one's relatively static rural nativity.
When he not-so-suddenly died in July 2012, the retired University of Ghana tax-law professor's arch-lieutenant, then-Vice President Mahama, literally cried his eyes red and out. He also hysterically pleaded to be accepted as an adopted son of the soils of Ekumfi and, by logical extension, the Fante nation at large. And then the dead man's remains was lavishly interred in the nation's capital of Accra. His successor had managed to suavely hoodwink "Otuamites" into the politically convenient acceptance of their distinguished kinsman's having, curiously, transcended the parochial claims of his clan and ethnicity into remarkable statesmanship. Rather "curious" because President Mills was widely known to be mischievously tribalistic - remember his campaign mantra of "Adepa de owo 'fie a oye"? (To wit: "A good thing [i.e. the presidency] had better be kept in the family.") In sum, the most intelligent thing for Fantes to do, according to the late president, was to massively and blindly vote for one of their own. In essence, Candidate Mills' most formidable political opponent, Nana Akufo-Addo, an Akyem native, was a complete outsider who needed to be envisaged as such and resoundingly shunned. He would soon have his wish.
Back then, as yours truly vividly recalls, several of us staunch adherents of Akan cultural mores passionately wrote and published reams of dissertations, literally speaking, vehemently arguing that having Professor "Do-Little" interred among his deceased clansmen and women was the best way of ensuring that Ekumfi-Otuam would be duly recognized as a national historic site, thereby forcing the government of the day to initiate remarkable development projects in the township, so as to make Otuam a worthwhile tourist attraction.
Predictably, the now-President John Dramani Mahama decided to make a hugely but, in retrospect, largely vacuous political capital out of the funeral and burial of President Mills, by creating the Chinese-erected scandalous spectacle that is the so-called Geese-Park tomb of the late president in Osu-Accra, near the old European slave castle which, for nearly sixty-five years, visionlessly served as the august seat of the government of postcolonial Ghana.
The very decision to have the mortal remains of President John Evans Atta-Mills interred at Geese Park was done with the curious, but not altogether flabbergasting, complicity of the dead man's own kinsmen and women. And so, really, who killed the legendary warrior-king Osabarima Antwi-Boasiako?
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