Opinions Tue, 11 Jun 2013

The ‘satanic verses’ of Arthur Kennedy

portrait of a traitor

The Etymology (origins) of Arthur K’s open letter (Ghana web General News of Monday 3/6/13) is rooted in a seamless attempt to stab the NPP in the back. He however attempts this betrayal in a clever way by merging certain words and sentences and invoking an accusatory tone and euphoria effect. For instance, his accusatory remark of “intolerance in our ranks” linked to “the party of Danquah, Busia and Dombo” is designed to create an ‘angelic insurrection’. The truth is that, his letter was designed to cause damage and mayhem. There was no political loyalty imbedded in his claim. His concerns are ‘sanctimonious’ and lacks ‘piety’. His claims are a false devotion to sanctity - the portrait of a traitor.

Outside legal spheres the word ‘traitor’ may be used to describe a person who betrays their own political party or the group to which they belong. Arthur K has failed to act in the best interest of the NPP. In times of battle as is the current Supreme Court case, senior figures of the party must lead by remaining focused and above all demonstrating unity rather than questioning and accusing the party on issues that leads to disunity.

Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus is the ultimate personification of a ‘traitor’. The word is derived from the Latin traditor which means “one who delivers”. Why will Arthur K shift his allegiance or loyalty from the NPP to defending men like Wereko Brobbey, and by his actions, seek to deliver the party to its political enemies? Having known Arthur K personally (shared the same dormitory with him) during our formative years in Secondary School, I can only deduce two pertinent reasons that necessitated this betrayal.

The first reason is what I term the “Brutus Moment”. Brutus was a good friend to Julius Caesar in Ancient Rome, but conspired with others to stab him in the back. As a young immigrant doctor resident in the United States, Arthur Kennedy felt a superiority that comes with having been trained in the USA. Ghanaians in his estimation would love him because he was once a successful leader who challenged the Government during his student days. According to some, he had to escape from Ghana for his dear life at the height of his popularity for fear of being arrested by the inhuman security forces at the time.

He was seen as the first medical student who successfully rallied university students against the Rawlings administration during the early 80’s. In those days, students were involved in Politics and would go on demonstrations at the University campus at Legon. This was popularly known as ‘Aluta’. As fellow students (he was a year above me) we honed our debating and writing skills in ‘mock parliaments’ on campus and it became apparent that Arthur K had a gift with words and was touted as one who would make it to the very top.

From the suburbs of the UK, I was reliably informed by my contacts in the NPP back home (i.e. Ghana) that Arthur K was planning a final return to Ghana and was going into active Politics. At the time, NPP was in power and conventional wisdom will suggest that after a long sojourn in the diaspora, one will have to work their way from the bottom to the top of the Political ladder. You gained relevant knowledge, wisdom and experience by working as a local political activist and then progressing to politics at the national level. In the USA that was exactly what most politicians did. President Obama as we know, started off as a local activist, became a Legislator in the Illinois State Assembly, a US Senator, and the first Black President of the USA.

Having returned to Ghana, Arthur K took advantage of NPP’s laissez faire attitude to the selection of Presidential Candidates in their primaries and decided to go for it. He had the money, a story as a maverick student leader but lacked the experience and personal knowledge of the Ghanaian electorate at the grassroots level. They chanted his name wherever he went, took his money and promised to vote for him in the primaries. Shockingly, he got (1) a single vote in the Presidential Primaries of 2008. That was however to be expected. He was misinformed and managed badly. Having spent so much of his personal wealth with nothing to show, he has remained very bitter and angry at some of the Party leadership ever since.

He unwisely wrote a kiss and tell book “Chasing the elephant into the bush”. In my opinion, the book was written to create an atmosphere of mass hysteria, fear, and organized intimidation amongst the rank and file of the NPP. He made more enemies rather than build bridges. His Political fortunes it is fair to say came to a halt. He again failed to win the NPP primaries for a Parliamentary seat in 2012 having come second out of three candidates with 200 votes. There was no conspiracy against him. Arthur K had simply lost his political capital.

The second reason is in respect of the recent rise, of Dr Bawumia (Dr Pink Sheet) in the NPP. Bawumia approached his politics in the NPP in a carefully managed and well orchestrated and strategically positioned way, having taken advice from party elders. Unlike Arthur K, Bawumia took the long road to national politics. He got a job with the Bank of Ghana as the Deputy Governor to enable him gain the expertise that was required for his political career. He excelled in that position, making a name for himself as one who could deliver. As the NPP vice Presidential Candidate for 2012, he has learnt the trade from the maestro himself ‘Nana Akuffo Addo’ (NPP Presidential Candidate for 2012) .Nana’s ability to train lawyers and politicians alike has been well documented.

It was a deliberate, shrewd and calculated Political move to choose Bawumia as his Vice Presidential Candidate in 2008 and in 2012. Most of us in the diaspora were drawn to the NPP because of Nana Addo’s ability to pick individuals who could deliver. Dr. Bawumia represented hope in the future of our beloved Country. Hope in the knowledge that we had a candidate who will actually make things happen and with proven skills and ability to move the nation forward. Above all and perhaps a rare commodity these days, Dr. Bawumia has remained absolutely loyal to Nana Addo and to the NPP.

It was a young Barack Obama’s keynote speech at the Democratic Party Conference (2004) that catapulted him into National prominence. A sliver of his speech states“…….the hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too. The audacity of hope! This came to pass. Similarly it was Bawumia’s performance as the expert witness for the NPP petitioners and his constant phrase of “you and I were not there” elevated him into National prominence. His constant reference to “My Lord’s on the face of the pink sheets” earned him the nick name “Dr. Pink Sheet” and a nations deep admiration from both sides of the Political spectrum.

He is largely seen by the rank and file us a successor to Nana Akuffo Addo. He manages to remain calm and collected when put under pressure and answering all questions put to him with clarity. Unlike Arthur K, Bawumia is loved by the rank and file because they honestly feel that he is a future leader of the party. His contribution as an expert witness gives him ‘Political Capital’ necessary to represent the NPP in the future. He has proven that he has leadership qualities.

I disagree fundamentally with Arthur K’s accusations of the NPP in his ‘sanctimonious letter’ because Wereko Brobbey’s (I don’t know him personally) claim that Dr. Bawumia was ‘out of his depth’ is inexcusable and an insult to all NPP members around the world. The Supreme Court challenge by the NPP has seen amazing changes, both politically and culturally by Ghanaians at home and in the diaspora. Personally, I think the best thing the Chief Justice of Ghana could have done was to broadcast live, the court proceedings.

The two major parties NDC/NPP have presented very different policy strategies for Universal benefits in Ghana. NDC has promised a ‘Better Ghana Agenda” whilst the NPP have promised “Free Education for all “. Whoever wins the court case, will have the mandate and the support of a nation to implement their strategies fully.

The freedoms and justice we enjoy today is because of men like J B Danquah who died in detention in Nsawam prison with both hands and legs in chains, without trial, utterly humiliated, but still an undaunted fighter for freedom, for human rights and civil liberties under the rule of law for his countrymen. Although Arthur Kennedy’s political career has been wrongly mismanaged in my opinion, I believe by showing ‘Piety’ to the NPP and becoming an undaunted fighter for human rights and civil liberties in our local communities he can resurrect his political career and become the leader that so far has eluded him.


A WRITER BASED IN THE UK addaeb@hotmail.com

Columnist: Addae-Bosompra, Ernest