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Monday, July 19, 2010

Akufo-Addo is right on target!

A photo of Nana Akufo-Addo
A photo of Nana Akufo-Addo
During Election 2008, I pointed out the imperative need for the “Danquah Traditionalists” to launch a massive campaign battle aimed at reclaiming the Volta Region, one of our traditional strongholds, from the morbid and stultifying clutches of the National Democratic Congress (NDC). And so I almost could not contain my elation hearing the New Patriotic Party’s presidential candidate for Election 2008 call for “an antidote” for the NPP’s persistent and perennial lack of appreciable electoral support in the Volta Region for most of our Fourth-Republican era.

And on the preceding score, I must also hasten to point to the fact that in the heated lead-up to Ghana’s independence and shortly thereafter, the Volta Region was never in the camp of the blowhard Nkrumacrats. Rather, it was to Dr. Danquah, the veritable architect of post-colonial Ghana and the man who also gave modern Ghana its very name and democratic political and cultural identity, that the foremost leaders of the erstwhile Trans-Volta Togoland flocked for both legal counsel and ideological collaboration. And to be certain, during the much-maligned 1960 presidential election, it was the 90-percent electoral support that he garnered from the Volta Region that gave Dr. Danquah the dismal 10-percent of the total votes “officially received” by the United Party (UP).

And so whatever happened for the “Volta Alliance” between the scions of Dr. J. B. Danquah and Mr. S. G. Antor to part ways so abruptly and dramatically? The answer is not far-fetched, at all; and it is one that is steeped in the recent history of ethnic partisanship and nationalism from about 1969 to the present. I must also hasten to point out the fact that I allude to the “Danquah Tradition” in the very strict and temporal sense that unlike Messrs. Busia and Dombo, and I have great reverence for both personalities (having also been privileged to have had intimate personal acquaintance, however brief and serendipitous, with Prime Minister Busia), it was Dr. Danquah who single-handedly defended the democratic ideals and values which Ghanaians now seem to be taking for granted in our Fourth-Republican dispensation, against the single-minded pseudo-socialist juggernaut that was Mr. Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first president and a onetime Danquah political understudy.

And to be certain, it was his unquenchable antipathy for “civic dictatorship” of the sort doggedly pursued by the CPP that prompted the Doyen of Gold and Ghanaian politics to run against Nkrumah in 1960, when the substantive leader of the United Party, Dr. K. A. Busia, fled the country for personal safety in a European exile. A wise move, I make bold to promptly register, when one examines the insidious political tenor of the times. Nonetheless, it was a fearless and missionary Dr. Danquah who served signal notice to the Nkrumah government and, in fact, to all entrenched and fledgling dictatorships on the African continent that the dark days of “Monarchical Autocracy” had both little relevance and almost absolutely no place, whatsoever, in modern society.

In reality, Danquah firmly believed that, at best, such institutions stood a far better chance of serving the people as custodial and cultural institutions. The latter was, in the main, what prompted, arguably, the greatest Ghanaian thinker, scholar and statesman of the twentieth century to agitate for the creation of a bicameral National Assembly in which both our indigenous and recently acquired cultures were progressively harnessed for rapid national development.

Well, on the question of finding an antidote for the evidently self-segregating electoral culture of the Volta Region, we may need to squarely examine the at once devious and mischievous, albeit quite successful, narcissistic politics of Mr. Jeremiah John Rawlings, the man who has during the past 30 years expediently appropriated the Ewe myth of origins as a means of perennial self-entrenchment on the checkered Ghanaian political landscape, even while also fairly successfully pretending to personally symbolize our political unification through the facile and self-referential deployment of cross-ethnic conjugal affinity.

The preceding, of course, highlights the most obvious. In reality, what Mr. Rawlings has succeeded in doing is to cleverly devise and perniciously implement an invidious “Politics of Envy,” in which all things Akan come to represent undeserved privilege and a mortal specter, or threat, that ought to be confronted with immitigable and inexorable animosity with the ultimate objective of total subjugation and unreserved and condignly punitive expropriation of Akan wealth for the especial benefit of the “wretched Ewe of a hostile Ghanaian earth.” His clinical megalomania and selfishness, however, never quite allowed the foregoing to materialize. Instead, government-sponsored programs and incentives like study-abroad scholarships would overwhelmingly be awarded to Ewes and a few “smart” Akan sympathizers of Ewe nationalism.

But that Mr. Rawlings has been curiously, albeit not altogether unpredictably, successful is primarily due to the fact that prominent Ghanaian leaders and intellectuals of Akan and non-Ewe descent, such as Messrs. Kufuor, Pianim, Obeng and Atta-Mills, among a legion others, who ought to have rather facilitated the swift and summary evisceration of such cancerous political savagery chose, instead, to doggedly pursue the blighted politics of personal advancement over principles.

What needs to be done now, admittedly quite a formidable task, indeed, is for the Danquah Traditionalists to revisit history in order to forge an organic and more meaningful relationship with our kinsmen and women across the Frau river. For by and large, just like President Nkrumah before him, there exists little that is the worthwhile contribution of either Mr. Rawlings and/or the so-called National Democratic Congress to the development of the Volta Region during the twenty-and-odd years that the P/NDC has dominated post-colonial Ghanaian political culture.

In sum, if he is to thoroughly and permanently break the slavish stranglehold of the NDC on the collective psyche of the Volta Ewe, in particular, and the Volta Region, in general, then the most winsome NPP presidential aspirant at the moment, and the NPP’s presidential candidate for Election 2008, ought to introduce a comprehensive agenda not only for the palpable development of the Volta Basin as a whole but, indeed, for our entire nation at large. And such a progressive agenda, viewed against a lack -luster Atta-Mills government, ought not to be extremely difficult to compose.

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is a Governing Board Member of the Accra-based Danquah Institute (DI), and the author of 21 books, including “Dr. J. B. Danquah: Architect of Modern Ghana” (iUniverse.com, 2005). E-mail: okoampaahoofe@optimum.net.

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