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Mahama Has Himself and the NDC to Blame for Tribalism

Thu, 5 Jul 2012 Source: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

Speaking at the 75th Anniversary celebrations of the St. Paul’s Roman Catholic Church in the Asante-Regional Capital of Kumasi, Vice-President John Dramani Mahama was reported to have bitterly complained about the remarkable rise in the incidence of ethnocentrism in the country (See “John Mahama Woried [sic] Over Ethnic Intolerance” JoyOnline.com/Ghanaweb.com 7/1/12). In the main, the Bole-Bamboi native decried the supposedly dramatic shift in envisaging key political and public figures on the national scene in terms of their personality and achievements to the indefensibly morbid phenomenon of their being readily identified, nowadays, by their ethnic affiliation and/or sub-nationality.

Indeed, were he honest and sincere with his observation, Mr. Mahama would also have promptly observed that it was, in fact, the Rawlings-chaperoned National Democratic Congress (NDC) that singularly initiated the current rancorous ethnocentric crisis in the country, with unremitting attempts by the key operatives of the NDC to cynically brand the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) as an exclusive Akan political organization.

In reality, just like the NDC, the NPP has a wide national appeal as well as having closely ethnically and regionally mirrored strongholds. This dismal state of affairs is absolutely no happenstance at all, for the NDC’s founding-father, former President Jerry John Rawlings, spent most of his tenure caustically demonizing Akans via his notorious politics of envy. His favorite target was also, arguably, the most entrepreneurial and successful sub-ethnic nationality of Akans, to wit, the Asantes. The ironic absurdity of this project, of course, inhered in the fact of Mr. Rawlings’ own wife, Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings, being partly Asante and Akyem.

Indeed, what Ghanaians ought to be asking their Vice-President is precisely how long ago did Mr. Mahama come into knowledge of his current epiphany. For, it is an open-secret that his boss and our presidential incumbent, Prof. John Evans Atta-Mills, predicated his Central Regional campaign on pure and simple sub-ethnic chauvinism. He would loudly and repeatedly admonish his Fante clansmen and women to ensure that the auspicious reins of governance remained in the hands of one of their own and “within the family.”

In other words, the shamelessly overt philosophy of the Mills-Mahama Campaign, going into Election 2008, was that Candidate Mills’ closest political opponent, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, was decidedly an outsider who deserved, at best, to be shown the proverbial glad hand. “Adze(pa) de owo ofie a oye,” to wit: “Every good thing is best kept within the family.”

Matters have neither been appreciably helped, as it were, four years on. Indeed, not very long ago, for instance, Vice-President Mahama issued a clarion call to all Ghanaian chiefs of Guan ethnicity to intensively appropriate Guan cultural values for settling disputes and as guiding principles in their diurnal existential dealings. Precisely what these “uniquely Guan values” entailed, we were not told. And so maybe Mr. Mahama ought to be asked to explain why he had not issued a similar call to members of other non-Guan Ghanaian ethnic sub-nationalities.

It is also rather peevishly hypocritical that the Vice-President would choose the sacred forum of a Christian celebration and, of all locations, Kumasi and the Asante Region, to subtly and disingenuously attempt to blame somebody else for an unsavory political situation which he has personally and actively facilitated.

Indeed, what is imperatively required of Messrs. Mills and Mahama is the presentation of a clearly defined blueprint for assiduously working towards a drastic melioration of the rank culture of ethnic chauvinism in the country. The problem here, though, is that knowing what I have come to learn these past four years about the two gentlemen, I am not holding my breath.

*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 “Ghanaian Politics Today” (Lulu.com, 2008). E-mail: okoampaahoofe@optimum.net.

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Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame