By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
Friday, April 29, 2016
Folks, the needless controversy provoked by Ms. Dzifa Ativor’s damning of the Kufuor administration as anti-Ewe and her apprehension that an Akufo-Addo administration would target Ewes like her rages on. It has ruffled feathers well enough for us to know who sees reason or stupidity or danger in her utterance. So far, those quickly condemning her have hinged their apprehensions on her stoking tribal politics to endanger national well-being. Standing tall among them are the so-called Ghana Peace Council and the NPP. No one who knows the bent of these two camps need bat an eyelid at the angle from which they have done their criticism or how they have aimed their politically motivated blow.
What at all has Ms. Ativor’s utterance revealed that we haven’t heard before? I am no stranger to this kind of situation. Our Ghanaian situation is replete with examples of how utterances of this sort have featured in national and local politics. Why this one by Ms. Ativor should be dreaded adds more to the conundrum that Ghanaian politics entails. In our time, we have ample evidence to prove that tribal politics is the in-thing!!
Just one example from my own experiences as a public intellectual writing on contemporary Ghanaian politics. When Akufo-Addo was trounced at Election 2012 and chose to petition the Asantehene, I wrote an opinion piece to condemn that move. I also wrote a follow-up one to wonder whether the NPP was Asante or Asante NPP, only to be set upon by so-called personalities of Asante extraction in the academy who accused me of denigrating the “Golden Stool.” I stood my grounds in line with the arguments that I had advanced in those opinion pieces. I haven’t regretted doing so and will not ever!! Now, we are being shown the other side of the coin.
The truth is that Ms. Ativor isn’t being left in the lurch. Those who know the history behind partisan politics in Ghana are behind her. Of particular interest, though, is how the NDC camp has reacted to the matter. Those condemning her from within include the Volta Regional Chairman of the party (Gyampo), even if other voices in the NDC camp have swamped that line of action to suggest that Ms. Attivor spoke what they wanted to hear and should be left alone. She has come out to defend her stance and won’t apologize in any way.
Former President Rawlings and his wife, Nana Konadu Agyemang-Rawlings, have also waded into the controversy with Rawlings being reported as “flaying” Ms. Ativor. In his statement, Rawlings carved a wide arch to say that it was “distasteful” for the former Transport Minister to claim that the NPP has targeted Ewes and will be bent on jailing some key Ewes if it assumes power. He, consequently, urged the Ewes (and NDC members) to “remove the logs” from their eyes before “making such unfortunate statements”. (See http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/Rawlings-flays-Attivor-over-distasteful-comments-434253).
We shall base this opinion piece on Rawlings’ reaction to Ms. Ativor’s utterance, especially his focus on the NPP’s flagbearer, Akufo-Addo, and his stance regarding the tribal tagging of him. In his words “Whatever Nana Addo’s shortcomings, tribalism is not one of them.”
Let me dismiss Rawlings on this score as either deceived or, at worst, politically misguided because he has now lost his bearings in pursuit of what will further detract from his own worth. We look back at what Rawlings had meant to his bitter enemies (not political opponents in this sense) constituting the NPP and why he can now be regarded as LOST!!
Before then, let’s acknowledge the fact that Ms. Ativor is not alone. She has been supported by many, including Twum Boafo (Executive Secretary of the Ghana Free Boards Zone, who was reported to have said that Ms. Ativor would not retract the comments today or tomorrow as it represents the truth. Besides, he said when worse things have been uttered by NPP followers, not as much as a whimper is heard from the likes of Rev. Asante of the Ghana Peace Council). (See http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/Twum-Boafo-backs-Attivor-s-tribal-comments-434301).
The NDC’s General Secretary, Johnson Asiedu Nketiah is also reported to have said that “Dzifa Ativor should not be attacked over what seems to be true”. In his view, the one who should be ‘attacked’ or questioned is the opposition NPP. According to him, the elephant family should rather come out to either deny or accept the claim.(See http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/Stop-attacking-Attivor-for-speaking-the-truth-Asiedu-Nketiah-434373).
A group calling itself Volta Youth Alliance (VOYA) has backed Ms. Ativor, saying that there is nothing absolutely wrong with her assertions. (See http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/Absolutely-nothing-wrong-with-Attivor-comment-Volta-group-434211).
The stage is now set for ratcheting the political game to a whole new level. But what does this needless reaction to Ms. Ativor reflect about our politics? Nothing but concentrated hypocrisy. If anything threatens Ghana’s future, it is this concentrated hypocrisy, not the self-serving comments of Ms. Ativor. After all, she only put herself on the line. Those hypocritically assessing her utterance and using it to project their own self-righteousness are the problem to contend with.
That is where it becomes difficult inserting the reaction of the Rawlingses. But we will attempt to do so to prove that the Rawlingses are their own enemies at this point. Having done everything to establish a legacy that the NDC upholds and having turned round to eat their own eggs by turning against the NDC, the future before Can they not see how their own daughter (Zanetor) is struggling to re-insert them into the NDC fold? Their kind of selective amnesia that crystallizes as obnoxious hypocrisy will do a lot of harm to Ghana if they insist that Ms. Ativor’s utterance is “distasteful”. Even when they were in power. they heard worse but chose not to react as they are doing now. Why so?
And from the manner in which he reacted to Ms. Ativor’s utterance, Rawlings comes across as such. I won’t bother my head over all that has made him what he’s been all these years; but I just want to pick on a few instances of his own self-betrayal in terms of ethnic politics to poke him in the eye. He and his wife are in bed today with Akufo-Addo in the mistaken belief that all shall be well with them if the tide turns against President Mahama at Election 2016. They are busily working themselves to a feverish pitch, making utterances to create the impression that Ghana needs Akufo-Addo and not President Mahama. I pity them.
Flashback: The Rawlingses are known for whatever bad-blood relationship that has existed between them and anything NPP (be it Kufuor or Akufo-Addo) hitherto. It dates back to the stiff opposition to Rawlings’ military regime and the abortive coup d’états (Is J.H. Mensah still alive with his failed Nobistor Affair haunting him?). Those opponents were mostly of Akan extraction who derided his mixed-blood origin. How many times haven’t we heard disparaging remarks linked to his Ewe and Scottish origin? Or that he wasn’t Ghanaian enough to rule Ghana? And those making those disparaging remarks knew here they were coming from, which we can’t miss.
It may be baffling why Rawlings would choose to undermine his own legacy in the NDC to be in bed with his arch nemesis. Talk about all that happened under Kufuor, principally to undermine Rawlings’ integrity, one of which was to divest him of diplomatic immunity or protocol benefits, which he (Rawlings) quickly blamed on Akufo-Addo at the time that he was suffering the pinch. At several times, he damned Akufo-Addo, insulting him as a wee addict. The records are available. His wife said worse things about Akufo-Addo. In an about-turn today, they have found in Akufo-Addo a worthy political ally. A jinx to tax and tire (or retire) them all the more in Ghanaian politics!!
We remember very well the extent to which the Rawlingses went to paint the NPP black, especially at the time that they were in dire need of voter support to remain in office. All worked well for them because they managed to manipulate the situation to create the impression that the NDC under them was “national” in character and scope while the NPP was tribalistic in its origin, intents and purposes. We have the records.
For all we may care to know, Ms. Dzifa Ativor may become the apostle of a kind of politics that will force us to examine the place and role of hypocrisy in Ghanaian politics. It is our bane to be confronted and neutralized if we want to make progress in pursuit of our Ghanaian identity—one nation, one people, one common destiny. In that sense, then, she could easily come across as an apostle to be praised and not condemned. I will be the first to praise her for baring it all. Those condemning her still have the opportunity to examine their own political sentiments vis-a-vis Ghana’s political history so they can come clean. Only when we all come clean can we chart the path toward national development that will place Ghana where it belongs.
The sleeping giant awoken by Ms. Dzifa Ativor is staring at us for action. Enough for now, even as we continue to monitor how the Rawlingses morph—whether to slide into the Akufo-Addo camp to re-assert themselves and be consumed later or to push their daughter into the NDC fold to re-invent them. But they can’t run away from the disturbing fact that Ghanaian politics (20 years of which they led in our time) is heavily invested with tribal politics. How to rid it of that element is everyone’s responsibility. Those who have survived the whirligig should be the first to lead the campaign against it and not bury their grisly heads in it.
I shall return…
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