New “Awonoors” & Anti-Akufo-Addo/Akanism

Mon, 21 Jan 2013 Source: Mensema, Akadu Ntiriwa

New “Awonoors” & Anti-Akufo-Addo/Akanism (1)

*Part two will follow this.

**By Akadu Ntiriwa Mensema

“Strangely, the NPP has allowed all kinds of lies and propaganda to swallow the

party like the shark. We have not been able to dispel the wrong notion that the NPP

is an Akan Party, in spite of the several reforms and changes we made in the party

hierarchy to reflect the national character. Today, the NDC has changed that Akan

tag to Asante/Akyem party…” (Quoted from Katakyie Kwame Opoku Agyemang, “A Piece of

Advice to the Next NPP Leadership!” Ghanaweb, January 7, 2013).


IN THE aftermath of the 2012 elections, several articles written by mostly non-Akan

NDC supporters, such as Dr. Michael Bokor, Andy Kwawukume, and countless others,

obviously brimming with hubris of the NDC’s electoral “victory,” have been offered

on Ghanaweb. I have been following such write-ups with amused contempt because of

the authors’ appalling poverty of forensic attention to detail. Their themes are

cobbled invocations of “tribalism” in the genre of Kofi Awonoor’s anti-Akanism, and

it may well be a “neo-Awonoor” movement.

These anti-Akan authors write with paradoxical and seeming clinical detachments, but

all the same ferry unceasing demonization and flawed historicizing to Akufo-Addo,

the NPP, and Akans, notably Asantes and Akyems. Additionally, national political

leaders of Akan extraction, including J. B. Danquah, K. A. Busia, and J. A. Kufour

have been vilified. Of late, such write-ups, for example, those of Bokor, cast

aspersive nets on the Asantehene and the Manhyia Palace. Often in search of

analytical sanity, such narratives sadly illustrates the gulf between their authors’

elemental ethnic impulses and what ought to be the refinements of history.

I call on the NPP, indeed, all patriotic Ghanaians, to challenge and debunk such

false and bigoted historicizing that seeks to depreciate the cosmopolitan tradition

of Akans. The NDC previously had told Ghanaians that the NPP was an Akan party.

Today, the NDC’s paid operatives like Bokor have customized the notion that the NPP

is not only an Akan party, but also a narrowly-based Asante and Akyem party of

exclusion. Bokor and co are rummaging in the dustbins of history to feed

ethnocentric political poison to the unwary. In sum, we need to build ethnic

bridges with irons of inclusivity and steels of harmony. One way of doing this is to

offer alternative voices, counter-narratives that distill and debunk such lopsided

and parochial demonizing chronicles of “tribalizing” and political calumny.

IN AGREEMENT with the tyranny of space, the themes that inform such generic

anti-Akan write-ups with their abysmal details, framed around Ghanaweb’s uncensored

authorial privileges, may be summed up as follows:

1. AKUFO-ADDO is a warlord and his metaphorical stretch of empowering his

supporters, unfortunately cast as “All die be die,” is his political undoing among

Ewes, “Northerners,” and other non-Akans.

2. THE NPP is an Akan, in fact, Asante/Akyem-centered party that pivots supremacist

ideologies to exclude other Akans and non-Akans.

3. THE NPP has patented violence rooted in UP/NLM ideologies. For this reason,

Akufo-Addo does not want to nurture peace in Ghana.

4. THE NPP and Akufo-Addo must abandon their legal efforts at disputing the outcome

of the 2012 presidential election.

5. THE NPP leaders’ unwillingness to attend the inauguration of John Mahama was a

political ploy to undermine Mahama because he is a “Northerner.”

6. AKUFO-Addo is derailing Ghana’s democratic tradition.


ALTHOUGH, several writers have served the trajectory of these anti-Akan themes, some

of them, indeed, avid carriers of this epidemic of anti-Akufo-Addo/NPP/Akanism and

divisive themes, deserve mention here. Already noted are Bokor and Kwawukume. The

rest are Kojo Tamakloe, Nii Lantey Okunka Bannerman, John Komla Afoun, and Kormi

Afervi. Equally, Samuel Okudzeto-Ablakwa, aptly described by J. J. Rawlings as

“sharp teeth,” has seized the least opportunity to literally tear apart Nana

Akufo-Addo, describing him among other invectives, as the most violent person in

Ghana. For the purpose of space and brevity, let me summon a few quotations from

these authors as our frontispiece regarding the ways that these anti-Akan writers

demonize Akufo-Addo, Akans, and the NPP.

KWAWUKUME in “Staying in the Frying Pan,” (Ghanaweb, December 21, 2012), gleefully,

but in a convoluted way writes:

“Yes, one must allow for the possibility that, regardless of allegations of drugs

use or leaving Oxford under still cloudy conditions and all that ‘all-die-be-die,’

‘yen Akanfo’ bravado nonsense in furtherance of the Akan Agenda launched by JB

Danquah decades ago, and ably exploited by Busia and the PP in 1969 - posited on a

presumed ‘Akan’ ‘majoritifo’ (always an ‘Asante’ or an Akyem) that must ‘rule by

law’ and ‘democratically’ the ‘minoritifo,’ often defined as ‘Ewe’”

BOKOR for his in one of his incantatory journalese enunciates in “Is the Kumasi

Peace Pact a mere window dressing?” (Ghanaweb, January 1, 2013), that:

“Then again, Akufo-Addo didn’t deem it appropriate to renounce his war-laden

“All-die-be-die” clarion call nor did he consider it worth his bother to

re-conscientize those NPP functionaries who might have already taken up his

war-mongering cry in readiness for acts of destabilization if the polls don’t go the

NPP’s way. Indeed, Akufo-Addo failed to know that peace is not only the absence of

war but that it can’t also be sustained by his insistence on bulldozing his way

through, doubting the integrity of the country’s security services (by labelling

them as not ‘political colour-blind’).”

KOJO TAMAKLOE soaring on his own cultivated ignorance screamed thusly in “NPP and

Nana Addo have lost the ideological bearings,” (Ghanaweb, January 1, 2013):

“Ghanaians use December 7th 2012 to retire Nana Addo, not because of age

necessarily, but because he is idealess and visionless. The question we need to

answer is what has he got to show for his many years in public life? Kuma preko? How

did he transform Akim Abuakwa in 12 years? What strides did he make as Minister of

Justice? What difference did he make a Minister of Foreign affairs? In any

organization you get promoted on your achievements. The Presidency is too important

to be toyed with.”

NII LANTTEY OKUNKA BANNERMAN, with his usual reductionism that pitches stories as

history writes in “Ten Key Challenges Facing NPP,” (Ghanaweb, January 4, 2012):

“Address tribal parity & diversity: It is not unusual to read or hear comments that

clearly shows that the NPP has no respect for other tribes within the country. As

soon as Kufour came to power, there was a concerted effort to put the Asante chief

above all. Government business was sadly and wrongly mixed with royal nonsense. The

NPP was busy messing up royal affairs in Accra, Anlo and the North at the same time

as it gave diplomatic passport to the Asantehene to free drug dealers in Libya.

Non-Asante chiefs who went to see Kufour were treated with disdain, neglect and

contempt. The Asantehene was obviously above the law. Even though his name was

incontrovertibly mentioned in the famous cocaine tape, no one could question him on

the role he is alleged to have played in that disgraceful scandal. Look at a more

recent example of NPP disrespect for other tribes. Why petition the Asantehene after

a demonstration if you intend to contest an election?

Asantehene cannot hear the case or make Nana Addo president. Why Asantehene and not

the Ga Mantse or Anlo chief? I guess it does not hurt to go back to base!! It is

such bias by the NPP that irks other tribes.”

JOHN KOMLA AFOUN with false historical equivalence writes in “Is the NPP turning

Ghana into a banana republic,” (Ghanaweb, January 5, 2013):

“Given the way the NPP treated the late Aliu Mahama, could it be that the NPP and

its flag bearer Nana Akofu Ado are having difficulty in accepting the outcome of the

election because they still believe a northerner should not be president of

Ghana?... The NPP should learn to accept that our northern brothers and sisters are

just as good as the rest of us to occupy the highest office in the land. My advice,

the NPP should get over it already, concede, congratulate Mr. Mahama, re-group and

move on, it is called good statesmanship.”

KORMI AFERVI, the proselytizer for provincialism self-servingly caps it up in “Why

Nana Addo And The Cabal Are Fighting:”

“In the opinion of the Akyem Cartel at the heart of disgraceful maneuvers by the

NPP to usurp the will of Ghanaians and impose Akuffo as the president of Ghana is a

bold attempt to do for the Akyem block within the NPP what Kuffour was perceived to

have done for the Asantes. For members of the cartel, Kuffour for 8 years buttered

the bread of close friends and associates drawn mainly from the Busia side of the

tradition in what is essentially an Asante-Akyem marriage of convenience. As far as

they are concerned Nana Addo remains the last hope in this attempt to assert an

Akyem dominion in an independent Ghana. If the presidency eludes him then a

generation of die hard NPP stalwarts of the Akyem stock will have to be content with

backbench roles in the unlikely event of the party coming to power.”


THE ABOVE statements are the forces of countervailing history that push seamless

truth and facts to contradictory margins. In my considered opinion, these

post-election collective meta-narratives of anti-Akanism spiced with condescension,

indeed, self-serving and bigoted perspectives, are dangerous because they nurse the

very blight they seek to uproot: “tribalism” and divisiveness.

WE Don’t have to wrestle with questions emanating from Afervi’s outrageous take on

what he calls “an Asante-Akyem marriage of convenience” to know how many Akyems and

Asantes have ruled Ghana. Afervi and co falsify history and above all conflate

chronology with causality. What these non-Akan writers could not fathom is that our

elections are no longer platforms of national inclusion and integration. Rather they

have become conduits of surrogating power for some ethnic constituencies and

affiliated groups.

ADDITONALLY, the anti-Akan write-ups are informed by narrow and parochial

historicizing that fail to explain the reasons for the overwhelming votes that the

NDC candidates’ get in the non-Akan areas. Indeed, the Volta, in particular, and the

“North” to a considerable extent, have anti-Akan sentiments rooted in the systemic

inequalities and predatory political economies of the precolonial and colonial

epochs dominated by Akans, notably Asante hegemony, which not only exploited, but

stereotyped the “other.”

THE ABOVE is the watershed of our ethnicized politics. Thus we need to reweave our

political fabric so that we can overcome our past histories of ethnic

incompatibilities that are saddling our contemporary politics. The only leader who

brought light to this murky tunnel of history was Kwame Nkrumah, the great seer.

Since then, our other political leaders, have systematically exploited and promoted

ethnic disharmony to cement their political base and what I have theorized as

pen-armed robbery.

THE NON-Akan writers’ false premise that the NPP is an Akan-centered party is

ironically dismissive of the cultivated “tribalism” that characterizes voting

patterns in the Volta, Northern, Upper East, and Upper West Regions. These anti-Akan

writers in question overlook the integrative congruencies characteristic of the Akan

areas. Above all such anti-Akan authors conveniently overlook two issues.

FIRST, the Voltaic people have always voted en bloc for the NDC, what is

euphemistically called the NDC’s World Bank, though the nineteen-year rule of

Rawlings and the pathetic regime of Mills brought nothing to the region.

Paradoxically, it was the “tribalistic” NPP that ferried urbanism, modernity, and

other developments of repute to the Volta Region, including the Keta Sea Wall, major

highways, and provision of water and toilet facilities. Second, the Voltaic

political elites use other non-Voltaic leaders, exemplified by the Mills regime, to

surrogate their hegemony. In the case of Mahama, we are yet to fully see how his

regime will pan out in this regard.

REGARDING the question of drug use by Ghanaian politicians, Kwawukume worships his

tin-god, JJ Rawlings, whose drug use, cannot unlike Akufo-Addo’s, be qualified as

“alleged” because we all know that Rawlings used drugs in the 1970s and 1980s and

possibly still does given his present uncouth temperament in public settings.

Absolutely, Akufo-Addo left Oxford not because of any criminal activity. Then

again, what didn’t Rawlings do in Achimota and at the Air Force Training School, yet

he is admired by the likes of Kwawukume and Bokor.

AGAIN THIS coterie of Anti-Akan writers demonize Akufo-Addo for his obviously

unfortunate mere rhetorical statement of “All die be die” which was meant to empower

his followers. Yes we may all call into question Akufo-Addo’s “All die be die”

statement, but only partisan and “tribalistic” minds see it as a synonym of

violence. However defined, Akufo-Addo said that to empower his NPP followers.

EVEN THEN if we assumed that Akufo-Addo meant violence it was only in the

unfortunate overt oratorical sense. Akufo-Addo, unlike Rawlings who is so much

admired and revered by Bokor, Kwawukume, Bannerman, etc. has never killed any

Ghanaian. Yet Tamakloe and other public figures like Ablakwa have the temerity to

characterize Akufo-Addo as the most violent man in Ghana, among other childish

effusions. They ironically impute violence to Akufo-Addo’s role in the “Kume Preko”

and Alliance for Change movements that empowered Ghanaians to speak up against the

NDC and Rawlings’ democratization of violence and predatory economy.

*LOOK out for the final installment tomorrow, that is, if the Webmaster allows it**


**AKADU Ntiriwa Mensema, Ph. D., is a nationalist Denkyira beauty. She is a trained

oral historian cum sociologist and Professor in the USA. She lives in Pennsylvania

with her great mentor and teaches Africa-area studies at a college in Maryland. In

her pastime, she writes what critics have called “populist hyperbolic, satirical”

poetry. She can be reached at akadumensema@yahoo.com. Herpoems and essays on

Ghanaweb and elsewhere must not be reproduced in full or in part for any academic or

scholarly work without her written permission.

Columnist: Mensema, Akadu Ntiriwa