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Opinions Mon, 7 May 2012

Wilfully Blind Or Just Plain Ignorance?

I have been amused, and somehow puzzled, at the rumpus being raised about what crazed Agyapong said. But what I find surprising is the virtual hypocrisy and mendacious attempts to brush this issue under the carpet by some linked to the NPP as just a one off aberration. These people pretend or do not seem to know that Agyapong’s threats were not the first admonishing the killing of Ewes, something the readily available facts betray. Facts I have been referring to from 1994 in cyberspace, recounting my own personal experiences with some of those advocates of Ewe killers in Nigeria during the early years of the PNDC. Of course, I have not as yet told the full story. But as Fela said, “I no kpata de finish!”

Hmm! As I found out when I was insulted “basabasa” by a man who turned out to be one of my many uncles, (when I apparently misspoke on the hike in petrol prices in the 1993 budget), on a bus from Anloga to Dzelukope in 1993, for being mistaken for a Quashiga hireling who had joined the “Eblutorwo” (Akans) preparing to come and kill them, my people back home were fully prepared and waiting for the quislings to start the attacks; I was assured. That was long before anyone heard of Justice Kpega as a political pundit! Phew! Me, a die-hard Nkrumaist in league with NPP assassins, to go and kill my fellow Anlo-Ewes? Well, after all, it was in Lome, an Ewe centrepiece city even if many are of Ga-Anyi extraction, that they first congregated and started those lose talks against Ewes, thus forcing most Ewes in exile opposed to the PNDC to abandon the opposition to the PNDC and the anti-Ewe bent it had taken. So, many of us Ewes knew about their evil intents a long time ago, as they were eating our akple and fetri detsi and planning it in our kinsmen homes! Hardly any of them knew that much of the land of Lome is owned by people from Aflao and environs. Ignorant morons come in all shapes, you know. They were lucky no one poisoned them in Lome.:-)

Equally, I have read opponents to Agyapong’s utterances, including some Ewes, made some false and misleading statements, which shows that they are ignorant of the facts of the origins of the ethnic imbroglio in Ghana, despite my persistent efforts and write-ups sketching that sordid history, from the pre-colonial to the post-independence era. I read someone situated in the 1979 elections period Victor Owusu’s scathing attacks on Ewes as “inward-looking” during the exchanges with Dr Agama in Parliament after the Apollo 586 sacking of mostly Ewes by the Busia regime!

Ignorance and superstition are recognised as key cogs in the vicious cycle of backwardness that is our lot as developing people but the extent most so-called educated Ghanaians wallow in these two inhibiting traits is just stupendous and disheartening!

Many try to claim that Rawlings introduced tribalism into Ghana by employing predominantly Ewes into sensitive public posts, especially the security sector; whereas the same claims of Ewe domination of posts had already been used effectively against Gbedema’s NAL by Busia’s Progress Party during the 1969 General Elections, as I had quoted from Dennis Austen but something all grown-ups at the time knew about. It was therefore unfortunate, that the late Prof Adu Boahen, as a historian who knew or ought to know better, fed into these fabrications of Ewe dominance, creating his own when he reportedly claimed in a British Council lecture in the 1980s that Prof. Akilagpa Sawyerr, a Ga who was given the VC post which he thought he deserved at the time, was an Ewe, and promised in his interview granted to Mahoney and his Africa Watch magazine to redress the presumed ethnic disparity when the NPP was elected into office. To me and many discerning Ewes, especially the Ewe elite, it was all déjà vu. But I was still surprised to find out that some decade long opponents of the PNDC voted for the NDC in 1992! It would not even surprise me if someone who knew Justice Kpegah’s political views very well in the 1980s came out to say that he was an arch-enemy of the PNDC in the Bar Association. I was visiting Ho in 1990 when the people of the VR angrily rejected the no party idea that the PNDC was then lobbying for, effectively halting the campaign for it. Those in BA had already voted yes.

Yes! The NPP had itself to blame for their dismal reception in the VR, as they lost the plot with their tribal agenda reminiscent of the 1969 campaign. In Accra, they lost a lot of Ga support when the same Prof Adu Boahen at a rally, in trying to whip the anti-Ewe venom made that gaffe about Gas being pushed by the PNDC to be sleeping 10 persons to a room, after many of the main speakers had spoken in Twi! In 2000, they (NPP) won simply because of JJ’s unwholesome Swedru Declaration and the disrespectful Obed Asamoah led attempts to impose sitting candidates on their constituents, which nearly got him beaten at Dzelukope/Keta.

Fact is, I have been aware, just as many other people, since the early 1980s of various threats by some Akans opposed to the PNDC to have Ewes killed and had written about that many, many times on Okyeame and SIL. Perhaps, adding Gas to those to be killed is just the new dimension added by Agyapong, since it appeared, this time, the Gas, in Agyapong's warped mind, had acted in prosecuting the "Ewe agenda" by beating up Ursula on behalf of the Ewes! Well, warped minds think in strange, circular terms!

After all, the threats were so opened and so rampant that one Ewe, the late Dr Kodzi who died here in London in exile, pointed out the "Anlo-Ewes in his own virulently anti-Rawlings/ PNDC book, "Ghana: Worse than Apartheid S. Africa," as the Ewes to be killed, for being the culprits of the complaints and angst of the Akans! That was long before anyone heard of Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe and his renewed “war” on Anlo-Ewes, a war his ancestor joined the Akyem Gen. Dompey to fight in "Krepi" against the Asantes and lost way back in the 1860s and got stranded there, lucky enough not to have been killed like others. That’s another story I had re-told elsewhere and needs a re-visit soon in order to let the populace know what makes bozos like Ahoofe tick. For a man, (I mean Dr Kodzi, not the jerk Ahoofe) who, due to his sterling stewardship when in charge of the Keta Govt Hospital, was much beloved by Anlo-Ewes, regarded as an hononary Anlo and entrusted with pouring the libation at the Hogbeza celebration of the Noviha group here in London, that was something to write! How could he be sure that the would-be killers would not mistake him for an Anlo man, in spite of the pain he took to identify the other Ewe groups in his book? Well, the failure of the so-called Ewe elite - academic and traditional and the political - to deal rationally with this animus against Ewes is itself an intra-Ewe shambolic intellectual failure I shall deal with by and by. I have right here on my table the rantings of some other Ewes from northern Eweland, or Ewedome, as we Anlos refer to the area referred to by Europeans as Krepi, against the PNDC and Anlo-Ewes in particular which I have not even as yet dealt with in my writings.

I must, however, make exception here, as Prof. Kofi Awoonor’s much distorted and maligned prison book (in league with Soyinka’s The Man Died) is probably the first book by a Ghanaian which tried to explain the tribal imbroglio and to point the way forward. His only mistake was that he fell prey to the standard Western simplistic, linear and reductionist methodology of reducing what is without doubt a complex articulation of interests and forces which cut across the ethnic divide with people from all ethnic groups found in both or all contesting camps for political ascendancy, or “hegemony”, as he put it, in Ghana. So, for instance, those who imprisoned him for helping Brig. Kattah to escape to Togo were not only “Akans/Asantes” but included Ewes, Gas, Gonjas, etc., as Kutu’s NRC comprised a cross-section of Ghanaian ethnic groups.

You have to be wilfully blind or totally ignorant of what has been happening in the opposition to the P/NDC camp in order to claim today that you are not aware of talk of and even attempts to foment what would have become an ethnic war in Ghana prior to 1992. I personally had to intervene and quelled a serious fracas on Okyeame between two well known non-Ewes when the “brave Asantes” were queried again by a non-Asante why they could not deal with the apparently Ewe P/NDC which allegedly committed atrocities on they Akans only, I suppose. I bet many can remember J.H Mensah's arrest in America for allegedly attempting to buy weapons to prosecute their “liberation war” to get their country back. It is no wonder the NPP gurus, many of whom shared in those nefarious ideas, talked about it, plotted to carry it, etc., are finding it very hard to distance themselves from this public utterance of it again. How can they desert their fellow journey man, without being double hypocrites? At least, there must be some honour among thieves!

There are many questions to ask and many issues to take up. Had my PC not kaput and eventually leading to the loss of a huge part of what I had painstakingly written with references while in Norway with additions in London, my intended book taking up those issues would have been out years ago.

Incidentally, my next intended article after writing "How Some "Ewes" Became a Part of Ghana" is titled "Who Are the Ewes". It is just a revisit to my first ever post to a cyber forum in early 1994, Okyeame pecisely, which Azar should remember so well, as in spite of my providing a reference, he still challenged me to give that! It was sent as my contribution, incidentally, to another NPP instigated scare against poor but hard working Ewe and Ada fishing cum farming pioneers (won't call them settlers) displaced by the effects of the Akosombo Dam on the neglected downstream people who opened up the mosquito infested and disease-ridden Afram Plains. The claim was that the NDC wanted to carve a district for them there and thereby claim the land for them! Wives and children were hastily sent home in order to keep them out of harm’s way in the event of attacks on the communities. That was when I decided not to sit any longer on the fence, just like the majority of my fellow educated Ewes, who think responding to such attacks on Ewes is beneath them, since madmen, "dzimakplawo" and "gbemelawo" were responsible! That was the common “wisdom” repeated by Rawlings at Tsiame, when he was queried by the worried chiefs and people about the ongoing Ewe demonization in the opposition media and political platforms in the ‘90s.

Gratuitous counter abuse, especially directed at Asantes ad nauseam, is not the way to tackle the issues, as some are presently doing on Ghanaweb. In the ‘90s, the Ghanaian stage was left to a novice like Komla Dumor to deal with on Myjoyonline with his “Ayigbe Jokes” series., which horrified and mortified me when I first listened to it online in 1997 or so. A programme like that would have found him and Myjoyonline foul of the Anti-Vilification Laws of any of the Western Europe countries and sanctioned appropriately. I doubt though whether half of our “honourable” MPs have heard of such a law, but that is the way we must go and huge revision of the school curricula. But that calls for another article.

Well, simply, many do not know how to deal with the madmen who repeatedly take their loins cloth while in the bath house! I know how! After all, I know the story of how the Anloga man dealt with the mad man of Tegbi and remained sane; the mad man who used to way lay the “asisiawo” - the market women - from the Keta market with a club and the question: axor a ava lo, alo axor a ekpo?, i.e., do you want penis or do you want club? And one day he raped and killed the heavily pregnant wife of the Anloga man. Of course, it is a taboo to deal with mad men in our society.

Ahoofe and his ilk’s tribalistic insults directed at Anlo-Ewes in particular and Agyapong's call to mayhem can be placed in perspective if you are informed about their origins. They used the tribal card so well in 1969 and think they can continue using it forever. No! Some of us decided long ago that ourselves and children shall not remain objects of demonization and vilification for the political objectives of some people who are still suffering from the mental warpedness that the slave trade had foisted on our ancestors. We shall therefore make sure that these appeal to ethnic differences backfire big time on their stupid faces!

I am therefore re-sending and shall continue re-posting this short piece I had put together especially for the readership of Ghanaweb and shall continue with my series on the Ethnic imbroglio in Ghana. Agyapong's outburst is simply the tip of the canker that permeates our body politic that must be dealt with at its roots. They are not the only Akans who suffer from what I have dubbed “Ewe angst and fears”, which afflict the generality of Akans due to how they are weaned and socialised. What do you expect from people who, as kids, are frightened to drink their Mist Alba, behave themselves or go to bed early with the Ewe bogeyman imagery?

Andy C. Y. Kwawukume

cyandyk@ymail.com London
Columnist: Kwawukume, Andy C. Y.