Voting Patterns From the Volta Region

Thu, 25 Dec 2008 Source: Bottah, Eric Kwasi

Of Ewe Centrism and Voting Patterns From the Volta Region

By Eric Kwasi Bottah, alias, Oyokoba. Ebottah@hotmail.com

Last December 7, 2008, Ghanaians went to the polls, and came out with very interesting outcomes that would be the topic of discussions around many watering holes around the country and around the world. The NDC pulled majority of seats in Parliament, and gave the ruling NPP the scare of their lives in the presidential election, now scheduled for another run off, on December 28, 2008. There would be many stories to write to analyze the outcome. We can leave that beat for a while and dissect the voting patterns of the last election. Whilst the NDC won the majority of seats, one story continues to rear its ugly head; what can be said to explain the voting outcome in the Volta Region? Many have written to explain what goes on in the Volta Region, but to be honest with you, I have not come across any article that does any comprehensive justice to the topic, hence my jumping into the fray. Not that I have the keys to unlock all the mysteries, so please do not expect me to cover all the bases. This article is written within a narrow confinement to express my free opinions, not any proven facts, as to why people vote the way they do.

A simple analysis of the last voting pattern and results would show that, whilst the NPP margin of the votes cast, as compared to 2000 and 2004, shrank in every region in 2008, it actually went up in the Volta Region. What that meant is that, there is a certain stir and warmth towards the NPP, and if we let it alone, eventually the NPP would come to give the NDC something to worry about in the Volta Region, whereas the NDC would pose the same to the NPP in their strongholds. That is a good thing, in politics there are no permanent allies and no condition is permanent. The NPP consistent poor showing in the Volta Region is in some cases a blow back of the caliber of people they field to wear their jerseys in the Volta Region. You could have all the best ideas and intentions in the world, if you could not attract highly valued and opinion leaders in the community to don your jersey, you are not going to win. The NPP must ponder very carefully in that direction and recruit high value salesmen, next time around.

Of particular importance to me today is the kind of raw xenophobia and bellicose I have witnessed expressed towards the way the folks in the Volta Region vote, and that is what I intend to address today. So lend me your ears countrymen. Many years ago, my daughter came back from school, she was in kindergarten then, and as she was being helped to offload her bag pack, and boots, she let out a thunderclap that was as startling and unnerving, as it was infuriating. She deadpanned, "Dad, am I black? Why do the other kids make fun of me, call me black and nobody wants to play with me?". My brother and sister who is reading me, let me tell you, my wife and I had never experienced such a gut wrenching anguish and pain like that until that time, in overly white Canadian suburb of Oakville, outside Toronto.

A certain mortal and disarming fear gripped us. Damn, our kid was being initiated and conscienced, in a very subtle manner, that she was black, different, and objectified. How does it feel to be black in a predominantly white environment? Do we fight, roll with the punches, or take a flight? How a barely 3 year old kid could be subjected to the invisible pangs and hands of racism, rejection et al, at that point in her life? How do you as a parent break it down to her, that she is different but beautiful and equal in God's eyes? Enter, fortress Oyokoba. We decided to fight back, went to the principal, and lay it on her, etc.

I wouldn't belabor the story, the lesson I want you to draw from this is that, maybe we have beaten the Ewe into the corner where they cannot help but draw the wagons around themselves because of the xenophobia we unleash and subject them to everyday. Tell me who would not be acutely aware of his or her uniqueness, if all around you, people would not let you forget who you are; endlessly spin the unfortunate spat and insult from a long gone politician, that you and your kin are inward looking, as if the pejorative term, inward looking, is a curse on your tribe? Can we let the dead be buried with the dead and stop renditioning that particular phrase, just like we would abhor the word nigger when it is directed at us?

The Volta Region is largely Ewe majority, but they are not alone. In fact it is microcosm of Ghana. There are significant portion of Akans and other ethnic groups, but interestingly, they all vote together in tandem. Why are we not picking on the non-Ewes there who vote identically with their Ewe brethren? My hometown is New Edubiase, deep in the Ashanti heartland, but you could mistake it for a town in the Volta Region, in terms of their voting patterns. Why are we not picking on New Edubiase, for voting one way?

Maybe, this label of inward-looking and others, have driven the Ewes to stick together, as they perceive themselves to be under attack. If you are under verbal attacks, the last thing you want to do is to divide yourselves. Over there in America, can somebody extrapolate for us why African-Americans, overwhelmingly vote for the Democratic Party? Can somebody assign the reasons for that? Are the Blacks tribalistic or racist to vote en block for the Democratic Party or it is something else? I would like to opine that until we stop picking on the Ewe, maybe they would never stop assigning their vote en mass to one party. That is maybe where they think they can exercise maximum influence, rather than spread it thinly around. It is nothing personal or tribal, but more to do with maximum impact. The voting patterns in Ghana, also have a lot to do with resource and economic distribution. Our citizens from areas that are relatively less endowed, natural resource wise, and in terms of economic development, tend to tow the ideals of egalitarianism and socialism. Why not, the principles buried in socialism and egalitarianism promises to spread the wealth, using the state or government machinery as equalization clearing house, taking from the rich and giving to the poor. So to say you find the leftist parties, e.g. the NDC, doing very well among the urban poor, slums, and poor areas of the country. This is not rocket science, it is all about relativity. The Ghanaian who is likely to vote for the centre right conservative NPP, is almost certainly likely to vote for the Democratic Party in America, and liberal and social democrats elsewhere, why, because in America, Canada, United Kingdom etc, this Ghanaian would find himself at the receiving end of the economic totem pole, and looks up to the government for help, and which party is moderate and gentle on the poor than the liberal parties? So please, please, country men, be mindful of how you use words on this forum. Some of them are so harsh and wicked, it makes you wonder whether we see each other as citizens or enemies. Is it any wonder Ghanaians break into ethnic associations the moment they settle outside the country? Words can be sharper than knives, but they can be held in check, just as the rider can control the straps around a horse that he is riding. Let us employ decorum and respect towards each others sensibilities. We have only one country to share, please don't spoil it for our children.

Somebody made a very sensible wisecrack the other day, and I want to use it. He said, "Ye pam Pataku, ansa na yen ama Aponkye kasakyere"; to wit, we chase away the Fox before you counsel the Goat. My fellow Ewe compatriots, I know the majority of you are down right descent citizens, but there are also some bad apples, who exploit everything and drag it into tribalism. Please condemn those who hide behind tribe to poison everything. That would signal to everybody that you are not winking and looking the other way when your brothers are also engaging in the despicable acts of tribal spats and curses. Ghana is worth fighting for. It should mean something for all of us, or else we have no business hanging around each other. Cheers!!!!


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Columnist: Bottah, Eric Kwasi