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NDC, Tribal Politics and Hypocrisy!

Tue, 23 Jun 2009 Source: Opare-Asamoa, Yaw

Yaw Opare-Asamoa oasamoa@gmail.com

For those who believe in the sovereignty of God, the creator, and the Bible, it is God Himself, in His wisdom, who gave us the ‘concept’ of tribes. He had twelve of them to represent Him on this earth. So, as far as I am concerned there is nothing wrong with the existence of tribes; but just like all other things created by God, man has the ‘ability’ to use it either for good or bad. Africa, for reasons known to only God, is ‘blessed’ with so many different tribal groups. These have been the source of many conflicts in many parts of Africa. It is a basic human tendency to fear what one does not understand or know. Sometimes, we even tend to dislike others just for the fact that they do not look like us. Tribes have turned against tribes over land, and other resources. Sadly, in certain instances such atrocities against one another stem from things as mundane and benign as jealousy and envy. Due to our peculiar circumstances and structure, post-independence African politics were squarely based, mainly, along tribal groupings. We‘ve had our fair share of such experiences over the years in Ghana and we still seem unable to rid ourselves of the debilitating effects of this ‘ethno-political’ tradition.

An article by one Nana Boadaa-Ethno-Politics, The Bane of The New Patriotic Party-posted on Ghanaweb attempted a brief history of the genesis of tribal politics in Ghana. Needless to say that a thorough analysis of such a subject is beyond a 3-page article, he did present some interesting narratives. But he also took ‘wide and wild liberties’ and made certain statements that cannot be left unchallenged.

I would say, for starters, that all those who have suddenly been emboldened by the change of government, and have thus decided to join this ‘bandwagon’ of re-writing the history of Ghana may as well give it up, for they would not succeed. There may be just a few of us but as long as we have life, we would present the true and accurate occurrence of events, always, for the people to make their own judgments. Nana Boadaa tells us that the United Party was a collection of ‘outlawed parties and organizations that were engaging in tribal, racial and religious propaganda’. These groups merged to form the United Party because they had ‘no choice’. According to Nana Boadaa, the ‘Anlos, the Gas, the Muslims (I did not know ‘Muslims’ formed a tribal entity by itself), the Northerners and the other non-Akan speaking political groups, looked beyond their respective tribal and ethnic orientations, and fully supported the Akan/Asante dominated United Party for a national course. I am at a loss here for if the United Party was a merger of all these individual groups as outlined by Nana Boadaa above, then how does he/she explain the above sentence in bold? The Bible says, by their deeds ye shall know them! In this case, what they write shall reveal the true state of their hearts and minds! There is another statement that has to be refuted at all cost and that is: “The Asante based National Liberation Movement had used brute and physical violence, coercion and intimidation, to convert bulk of the CPP membership in Asante and Akyem traditional areas, it therefore had a numerical strength in the almagamated United Party over others..” So to Nana Boadaa, if the ‘almagamated’ United Party has more Asante/Akyem members than those of the other tribes, the only explanation is that through violence, the NLM had coerced and intimidated Asantes and Akyems to join? It had nothing to do with geographic location and population distribution?? Personal choices and preferences also had no part to play??? The ‘reasoning’ of some people is just unbelievable!! Here comes the big ‘revelation’-“the Asante and Akyems (AKANS), due to their numerical strength in the UP, began to look down upon the other small tribal groups. The Anlos/Ewes, the Gas, the Muslims and the Northerners were relegated to the background, as far as the running of the united party was concerned. They were alienated against, and classified as the minority, lazy, inward looking, “ntafo and “amanfrafo” (aliens) by the majority Asante-Akyem (Akan) group within the UP.” I have a number of questions for Nana Boadaa: what was the basis for the formation of the United Party?? Did these individual tribal groups just decide to merge without any ground rules and procedures?? What were the aims and objectives of these individual groups that made them come together?? Did they share common beliefs and aspirations?? And if they did how could a group within the ‘group’ loose focus of what bound them together and go on a crusade to alienate the others, as Nana Boadaa wants everybody to believe?? I never had any idea that a group within a political party (made up of different groups) apparently had the powers of the Ghana Statistical Service to classify another group, within the same political party, as ‘minority’! In Ghana we have been fortunate in that the different tribal groups could make fun of one another. Referring to one group or the other as ‘lazy’ has nothing to do with politics. Yes, we have ‘ntafo’, ‘ebluto’, ‘habanadzefo’ and others, but these had never been political terms. They became matters of political sensitivity with the advent of Rawlings and the (P)NDC. There has been no political party, in the history of Ghana that had fueled and fanned ethnicity and tribalism more than the (P) NDC!!! The (P)NDC of the Awoonors, the Tsikatas, the Tekpors, the Dzandus and others. As part of the grand design of the Rawlings-led (P)NDC, Akans, particularly Asantes and Akyems are to be ‘demonized’. Isn’t it amazing how every NDC writer talks about how the NPP is an Akan party and would not choose a non-Akan candidate? Shouldn’t the big question be ‘where are the non-Akan candidates’? Is the NDC advocating a ‘Swedru declaration’ style for the NPP? Shouldn’t each candidate win or loose on his/her own merit? Nana Boadaa concludes his/her article with this: “NPP IS ETHNOCENTRIC WITHIN AND TRIBALISTIC WITHOUT.” With such an emphatic ‘diagnosis’ isn’t it rather funny that Nana Boadaa believes the mere choosing of a non-Akan candidate will suddenly and completely ‘cure’ all traces of ‘ethnocentrism and tribalism’?

The (P)NDC came with an agenda. To take economic and political power from the hands of the Akans and give them to the Ewes-the current chairman of the Council of State knows this better than anybody. Simple!! It is taboo for the majority Akans to hold any form of power but if the minority Ewes have it, that’s fine. With time they, NDC (Ewes) realized achieving this alone was almost impossible since they did not have the numbers and so they embarked on a ‘recruitment’ exercise. People of the Northern regions-traditional allies of Akans and co-founding members of the UP-were targeted. Meanwhile the ‘Dzelukope group’ made sure that ‘Chairman Rawlings’ was unchallenged. Those who attempted any form of ‘revolt’-Mensa Wood, Kow Arkaah, Owuraku Amofa, Kwesi Botchway- were dealt with in various and varied ways. When ‘Chairman’ endorsed Atta Mills at Swedru, there was no voice of dissent because everybody knew better. A look at President Atta Mills’ ministerial appointments (including the deputies) and his appointments to the various boards tells the story even better. Either the President is being remote-controlled from elsewhere or he has deliberately decided to cut off ‘Akans’ from the political power structure. For the Ewes (the biggest beneficiaries) and the ‘Northerners’ life cannot be any better. If majority of appointments go to them, the minority tribes, it’s all well and good. It only becomes a problem when the majority Akan group gets majority of the appointments. For now nobody is going to hear any ‘complaints’ from the Ewes or the ‘Northerners’!! One would have thought that in a ‘normal’ society proportional representation would be the guiding principle for all appointments.

The fact that the NDC is able to win elections in this country confirms and re-affirms what I have always believed; that the Akans, by nature, are not tribalistic. If they were how could the NDC ever win, looking at our current political landscape? The NDC cannot win with Volta region and the three Northern regions can it?? I do agree that the NPP has a lot of self-examination to do, as any political party that had just lost an election should, but the NDC is most certainly the wrong group of people to call for such. The ‘destiny’ of the country has been handed to them for the next four years; I would rather they concentrate on the business of governance and fulfill their promises to the ‘electorate’. To the non-Akan potential candidates within the NPP, this is the time to start building a coalition, but there would be no coalition without a constituency!!

Written and submitted on June 20, 2009

Columnist: Opare-Asamoa, Yaw