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Opinions Thu, 22 Nov 2001

Foreign Minister Disrespected Ghanaians - A Rejoinder

When a similar article appeared on this very spot with the title “Ghanaians in Toronto walked out on Foreign Minister” on November 13, 2001 most of us dismissed it as some form of sensational journalism. This second one that appeared on November 21 as a feature article at ghanaweb.com has provoked my fury, to say the least.

The November 13th article claimed that two events took place during President Kufuor’s Town Hall Meeting in Toronto on November 3, 2001. It claimed, firstly, that Hon. Hackman Owusu Agyemang, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, spoke in Twi when he addressed the over 1,500 Ghanaians who attended the Town Hall Meeting. Secondly, the article alleged that “some Ghanaians and Canadians he was addressing in Toronto walked out on him” because he spoke in a language ( Twi) which they did not understand.

On that historic day, I was one of the multitudes of Ghanaians who gathered at Howard Johnson Hotel in Toronto to welcome the President. I was there about one full hour before the President and those in his company arrived. After the President left, I stayed one whole hour chatting with friends I had not seen for years. I listened attentively to the whole proceedings from beginning to end. Naturally therefore, when I read this November 13th article alleging that Hon. Owusu Agyemang addressed the audience in Twi and that some people walked out on him, I said to myself, “What was it that distracted my attention so much so that I missed this scene?” I called a few friends who were there to verify if in fact the Hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs gave his address in Twi and secondly if some people walked out on him as a result. Some of the people I talked to were my friends, Mr. Kwame Nuako, the former Chairman of NPP, Canada and Dr. Yaw Twum Barima, the man who presented a plaque to President Kufuor on behalf of Ghanaians. The response I received was a resounding “No.” Nothing like that ever happened at that meeting.

I don’t know who authored the November 13th article, what kind of beef or animosity he has towards the Hon. Minister, but he certainly was not at the same meeting that the thousands of Ghanaians attended. He was either dreaming or in a different room.

The second article of November 21, 2001 “Foreign Minister disrespected Ghanaians” by one Dr. Rafak R. Nartey is the one that irks me the most. While I dismissed the first article for the garbage that it was, I cannot let this one pass by without comment. I don’t know if Dr. Nartey authored the first article also. If he did, he shows a grave malice for repeating what he knows to be a blatant lie. If he is not the author of the first article, then, he’s being unforgivably foolish because he is basing his article on an article that has no basis in fact. He could have saved himself some embarrassment by crosschecking his facts before writing that nauseating article. As the saying goes, “The first fool is not a fool, however, the second fool is certainly a big fool.”

All well-meaning Ghanaians must greet Dr. Nartey’s article with the contempt that it deserves. To me, the article has no basis in fact and it is devoid of logic. I cannot fathom such an article coming from a person who supposedly holds a Doctorate degree, unless, of course, he bought his PhD certificate from someone’s garage. The title, itself, does not fit the body of the article. I remember in High School during English lessons we were asked to put a fitting title to the body of a prose. If one was asked to put a title to Dr. Nartey’s article, I am confident that no one would put the title he did. Even if, in fact, the Hon. Minister did speak Twi, how can any one logically conclude that he is being disrespectful to Ghanaians? Is an Englishman being disrespectful to Ghanaians if speaks Twi to them? How then can you say a Ghanaian is being disrespectful to fellow Ghanaians if he addresses in Twi?

Dr. Nartey also makes reference to tribalism in his article by impugning that the Hon. Minister was, in essence, being tribalistic by addressing the audience in Twi. I have already refuted that allegation, but even if he did, does that make him tribalistic? Isn’t someone who draws such inference being tribalistic? Isn’t Dr. Nartey the one who is displaying his tribal bias in the open? It is an undeniable fact that in any Ghanaian gathering anywhere on this planet (Ghana included), 85% do speak or understand Twi. And, I dare conclude that, believe it or not, we cannot say the same for the English language. I personally would rather be addressed in impeccable Twi than in the kind of English Dr. Nartey writes.

I can tell from the way he writes that Dr. Nartey should be the last person to ask anyone to address him in English. He doesn’t even know the English language. If he does, he certainly can’t write it. I don’t even know in which language he wrote his PhD dissertation. I will take this opportunity to edit some of Dr. Nartey’s English so all you readers can judge whether or not this gentleman has any grounds upon which he could stand to ask anyone to address him in English.

Dr. Nartey’s reference to Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, who, he claims, “worked tirelessly to eradicate tribalism from Ghanaian society” is off mark. Dr. Kwame Nkrumah never ever implied that a Minister is being tribalistic if he addressed fellow Ghanaians in any of the Ghanaian languages. Kwame Nkrumah was proud to be African in all

its forms. I am sure that if Dr. Nkrumah had the choice he would prefer one language for, not only Ghana but also, Africa as a whole. And that language would certainly not be English. Dr. Nkrumah’s definition of pride did not lie in the African’s ability to express himself in English. He would rather have been the first to get rid of the language of the colonial masters.

Finally, Dr. Rafak R. Nartey, I urge you to apologize to the Hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs, for telling lies about him and to all Ghanaians for insulting our “sensibilities,” as you put it.


When a similar article appeared on this very spot with the title “Ghanaians in Toronto walked out on Foreign Minister” on November 13, 2001 most of us dismissed it as some form of sensational journalism. This second one that appeared on November 21 as a feature article at ghanaweb.com has provoked my fury, to say the least.

The November 13th article claimed that two events took place during President Kufuor’s Town Hall Meeting in Toronto on November 3, 2001. It claimed, firstly, that Hon. Hackman Owusu Agyemang, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, spoke in Twi when he addressed the over 1,500 Ghanaians who attended the Town Hall Meeting. Secondly, the article alleged that “some Ghanaians and Canadians he was addressing in Toronto walked out on him” because he spoke in a language ( Twi) which they did not understand.

On that historic day, I was one of the multitudes of Ghanaians who gathered at Howard Johnson Hotel in Toronto to welcome the President. I was there about one full hour before the President and those in his company arrived. After the President left, I stayed one whole hour chatting with friends I had not seen for years. I listened attentively to the whole proceedings from beginning to end. Naturally therefore, when I read this November 13th article alleging that Hon. Owusu Agyemang addressed the audience in Twi and that some people walked out on him, I said to myself, “What was it that distracted my attention so much so that I missed this scene?” I called a few friends who were there to verify if in fact the Hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs gave his address in Twi and secondly if some people walked out on him as a result. Some of the people I talked to were my friends, Mr. Kwame Nuako, the former Chairman of NPP, Canada and Dr. Yaw Twum Barima, the man who presented a plaque to President Kufuor on behalf of Ghanaians. The response I received was a resounding “No.” Nothing like that ever happened at that meeting.

I don’t know who authored the November 13th article, what kind of beef or animosity he has towards the Hon. Minister, but he certainly was not at the same meeting that the thousands of Ghanaians attended. He was either dreaming or in a different room.

The second article of November 21, 2001 “Foreign Minister disrespected Ghanaians” by one Dr. Rafak R. Nartey is the one that irks me the most. While I dismissed the first article for the garbage that it was, I cannot let this one pass by without comment. I don’t know if Dr. Nartey authored the first article also. If he did, he shows a grave malice for repeating what he knows to be a blatant lie. If he is not the author of the first article, then, he’s being unforgivably foolish because he is basing his article on an article that has no basis in fact. He could have saved himself some embarrassment by crosschecking his facts before writing that nauseating article. As the saying goes, “The first fool is not a fool, however, the second fool is certainly a big fool.”

All well-meaning Ghanaians must greet Dr. Nartey’s article with the contempt that it deserves. To me, the article has no basis in fact and it is devoid of logic. I cannot fathom such an article coming from a person who supposedly holds a Doctorate degree, unless, of course, he bought his PhD certificate from someone’s garage. The title, itself, does not fit the body of the article. I remember in High School during English lessons we were asked to put a fitting title to the body of a prose. If one was asked to put a title to Dr. Nartey’s article, I am confident that no one would put the title he did. Even if, in fact, the Hon. Minister did speak Twi, how can any one logically conclude that he is being disrespectful to Ghanaians? Is an Englishman being disrespectful to Ghanaians if speaks Twi to them? How then can you say a Ghanaian is being disrespectful to fellow Ghanaians if he addresses in Twi?

Dr. Nartey also makes reference to tribalism in his article by impugning that the Hon. Minister was, in essence, being tribalistic by addressing the audience in Twi. I have already refuted that allegation, but even if he did, does that make him tribalistic? Isn’t someone who draws such inference being tribalistic? Isn’t Dr. Nartey the one who is displaying his tribal bias in the open? It is an undeniable fact that in any Ghanaian gathering anywhere on this planet (Ghana included), 85% do speak or understand Twi. And, I dare conclude that, believe it or not, we cannot say the same for the English language. I personally would rather be addressed in impeccable Twi than in the kind of English Dr. Nartey writes.

I can tell from the way he writes that Dr. Nartey should be the last person to ask anyone to address him in English. He doesn’t even know the English language. If he does, he certainly can’t write it. I don’t even know in which language he wrote his PhD dissertation. I will take this opportunity to edit some of Dr. Nartey’s English so all you readers can judge whether or not this gentleman has any grounds upon which he could stand to ask anyone to address him in English.

Dr. Nartey’s reference to Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, who, he claims, “worked tirelessly to eradicate tribalism from Ghanaian society” is off mark. Dr. Kwame Nkrumah never ever implied that a Minister is being tribalistic if he addressed fellow Ghanaians in any of the Ghanaian languages. Kwame Nkrumah was proud to be African in all

its forms. I am sure that if Dr. Nkrumah had the choice he would prefer one language for, not only Ghana but also, Africa as a whole. And that language would certainly not be English. Dr. Nkrumah’s definition of pride did not lie in the African’s ability to express himself in English. He would rather have been the first to get rid of the language of the colonial masters.

Finally, Dr. Rafak R. Nartey, I urge you to apologize to the Hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs, for telling lies about him and to all Ghanaians for insulting our “sensibilities,” as you put it.


Columnist: Ntiamoa, Ken