Kwamena Ahwoi Has No Class At All!
By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
If I remember this man correctly, he was the first to extensively interview then-Flt.-Lt. Jerry John Rawlings in the wake of the successful mutiny by the so-called Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) in June 1979; and then, again, after Mr. Rawlings’ flagrantly undemocratic reemergence on December 31, 1982. In the latter instance, the democratically elected government of President Hilla Limann and his People’s National Party (PNP) had been overthrown because of what Mr. Rawlings then self-righteously described as gross mismanagement of Ghana’s economy. He would further describe the Limann administration as “the most disgraceful government in the history of Ghana.”
Thirty years later, and with virtually all sectors of the country’s economy literally at a standstill, Mr. Rawlings’ rather uncharitable assessment of the Limann government seems to be more strikingly relevant to his own 19-year stranglehold on the Ghanaian political landscape. At least Dr. Limann was foresighted enough to starkly recognize, even in the chaotic and badly battered economic climate of 1979, that the future development of the country had to be inescapably predicated on capitalist and democratic liberalism. Mr. Rawlings would spend the first decade of his rule, actually his veritable dictatorship, naively dabbling in pseudo-socialism. Pseudo-socialism because during this period, decisively marked by the International Monetary Fund-minted Structural Adjustment Program (SAP), it was only Mr. Rawlings and his henchmen of thieving leeches who larded themselves on whatever was left of the fast-shrinking Ghanaian economy.
By 1990, with the massive collapse of State Capitalism, otherwise known as Socialism, in much of Eastern Europe, and China on the verge of negotiating the most successful capitalist transformation of its hitherto rigidly state-managed economy, Ghana’s most benighted intellectual cynics and schoolyard bullies, otherwise known by the accolade of the “Rawlings Posse,” having already run our beloved ship-of-state aground, tactically and opportunistically morphed themselves into some latter-day “Social Democrats.” Obviously, the transitional vortex was too fast for these carpetbaggers and scalawags to take.
Now, having been forced by both circumstances over which they absolutely had no control, on the one hand, and the inexorable agitation of their more intellectually and ideologically enlightened political opponents, the Rawlings Posse would luridly and impudently claim to be the authors of Ghana’s Fourth-Republican democratic culture. The far less palatable nature of reality on the ground was that Democratic Liberalism had been rammed down the throats of these shameless self-appointed purveyors of “transparency, probity and accountability.”
Among the prime beneficiaries of Ghana’s Robin-Hood Revolution, aside from Mr. Rawlings and his clansmen and women for whom this pseudo-revolution was specially orchestrated, were the “Ahwoi Brothers,” a hard-nosed trio with lower-middle class background, a little knack for passable academic activity, prime beneficiaries of Acheampong’s Suntreso Real-Estate Boom of the early 1970s, and impeccable opportunists of laudable genius.
Of the three, Ato, the eldest, is also known to be the most cantankerous and meanest; Kwamena, the most competitive and academic, has a Rhodes Scholarship in law from Oxford to prove it, although he is not particularly known to have remarkably distinguished himself in Ghanaian legal circles in the way, for instance, that one might speak of Nana Akufo-Addo, Mr. Tsatsu Tsikata and, in my own generation, Mr. Samuel Atta-Akyea. Then there is, of course, Mr. Kwesi Ahwoi, described largely as self-effacing and personable. As Minister of Agriculture under the Mills-Mahama government, Mr. Kwesi Ahwoi once confided to a friend of mine, who is also a good friend of our “Dining-Hall Prefect” (tongue-in-cheek, of course), about a year, or so, ago that he was literally grabbing at straws at his new post, and that he could do with just about any kind of managerial assistance that he could get. Now, that is my idea of a fairly honest man!
Personally, I have known about the Ahwois from a deliberately cultivated distance. In the wake of the 1982 charlatanic reemergence of Mr. Rawlings as the Arch-Apostle of Revolutionary Ghana, the trio used to frequent the bungalow of our next-door neighbor, Major Ari-Egeme, an heir to the Bantama Royal Stoolhouse of the traditional Mausoleum Keepers of His Royal Majesty, the Asantehene. I would not, at this juncture, want to get into the quiddities of how the stool curiously bypassed this quite smashingly handsome man with the strange Calabari name. He would, however, be summarily discharged from the Ghana Armed Forces, after he had reportedly carped the behavioral excesses of the self-appointed Prophets of Probity and Accountability in a promotion exam.
Back then, when I would watch them enter Major Ari’s bungalow, the same three-bedroom house that had previously been occupied by the late Major (Dr.) Joe Darko, at the old Fourth-Battalion of Infantry Barracks (4BN), the three cavorters would be escorting young women, mostly in their late teens and barely out of their teens. Even back then, Ato was known to be the most ascetic among the trio.
Anyway, what I am driving at here is that when he snorts and snarls about feeling like “pissing” whenever he hears the name of the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) mentioned, Mr. Kwamena Ahwoi may be quite normal, even rational, almost, in his palpable discomfort. For, hasn’t it been said time without number, that: “At the mere mention of death, old bones begin to jitter”?
*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is Director of The Sintim-Aboagye Center for Politics and Culture and author of 22 books, including “Dr. J. B. Danquah: Architect of Modern Ghana” (iUniverse.com, 2005). E-mail: email@example.com.