While one cannot wholly gainsay the fact that Temple University’s African-American Studies Department has produced quite a remarkable bevy of doctoral-degree holders since the program’s inception in 1988 - or thereabouts - an equally remarkable number of intellectual pedestrians have also been “awarded” doctoral degrees. And to be certain, shortly after he had been churned out of Temple’s “Afrocentric” doctoral mill, Neo-Pharaoh Abu Jihad personally called this author to wistfully complain about the fact that “Dr.” Kwame Botwe-Asamoah had been granted his “work permit.” Earlier on, Neo-Pharaoh Abu Jihad had intimated to this author that Mr. Botwe-Asamoah had vied for a cabinet position under the micro-nationalist tenure of the Rawlings-Tsikata Butchers’ Congress – otherwise known as the National Democratic Congress (NDC) – but had been roundly rejected for lack of the appropriate qualifications; and also that the author of “The Fallacies of J. B. Danquah’s Heroic Legacy” had been personally “recommended” to Neo-Pharaoh Abu Jihad by some longtime friends and associates from their University of Ghana days to ensure, willy-nilly, that this anti-Akan, Ewe nationalist sporting an Akan name emerged with “something respectable” by way of improved academic status. In sum, the title of this discursive series, “When Dancers Play Historians And Thinkers,” is very much a take off on the preceding narrative.
But what is even more striking about these two personalities, who have now decided to collaborate in assaulting this writer, is the fact that they each despise one another. This fascinating trait became glaringly evident in May 1994, when Arch-Neo-Pharaoh Mollify-Your-Catering-Centers was enstooled as an Akyem-Abuakwa sub-divisional chief by one of this author’s relatives, a son of the Akyem-Tafohene (or the chief of Akyem-Tafo). During the procedural course of appointing members of the chief’s cabinet, Neo-Pharaoh Abu Jihad, who is not of Akan extraction, though he claims some sort of remote filiation with the chief of Bremang-Asikuma, in the Central Region of Ghana, was named “Amanonehene,” or Chief of Foreign Affairs, which had never existed in any traditional Akan monarchical system.
At first when this writer saw Neo-Pharaoh Abu Jihad’s name against the preceding title, he could not believe his eyes. He, therefore, promptly checked it up with his father, Professor Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Sr., who was an authority on traditional Akan culture in his own right, and promptly confirmed his initial suspicions by drawing a negative response from his father.
As disturbing as the preceding unquestionably was, nonetheless, this author decided not to rain on anybody’s parade, as it were, and least of all, the august parade of the much fired-up Arch-Pharaoh-Mollify-Your-Catering-Centers, whose every whiff of breath appeared to rest on the successful coming to pass of his May 28, 1994 coronation ceremony, which took place in the foregrounds of the Philadelphia Museum. The fact that the event was poorly attended, and also that his parade was literally rained upon by the forces of nature, did not seem to matter to, or faze, the celebrated “creator” of the godly and jolly “paradigm” of “Afrocentricity,” the direct ideological heir of “Nkrumahism.” But that Temple University’s Department of African-American Studies is an unmistakable avatar of the erstwhile Kwame Nkrumah Ideological Institute, will be expatiated upon in due course. Suffice it to say at this juncture that the arrogance of Neo-Pharaoh Abu Jihad fully ensured that the latter would peacockishly deck his regal Kente-cloth and go through the entire charade of Arch-Neo-Pharaoh Mollify-Your-Catering Center’s coronation without a dignified and knowing blush. In sum, in naming him “Amanonehene,” Mr. Kwame Botwe-Asamoah had deviously, contemptuously and deftly finessed Neo-Pharaoh Abu Jihad out of traditional Akan and Ghanaian cultures.
Later on, after this writer had alerted him of his possum-player role in the entire coronation, Neo-Pharaoh Abu Jihad had grown so incensed that, as he related it to this author a few days later, he had called Mr. Botwe-Asamoah and another associate (whose name escapes this author presently….Mr. Frempong?) and pretended to them that he – Neo-Pharaoh Abu Jihad – had been in the know all along with their devious and tactical game of cultural exclusion or discrimination. And so on one level, at least, it could be that knowing Mr. Botwe-Asamoah to be the devious mercenary that he had proven himself to be, Neo-Pharaoh Abu Jihad, rather unfortunately, decided to set this craven opportunist in this author’s trail, while the instigator camouflaged himself on his grassy knoll to relish his handicraft.
If, indeed, the foregoing observations have any iota of validity, or verity, then, needless to say, Neo-Pharaoh Abu Jihad may have fatally overreached himself, as shall be clarified in due course.
In this section of our discourse, however, we intend to promptly put paid to Mr. Kwame Botwe-Asamoah’s tragicomic attempt to tinker with modern Ghanaian history by mendaciously and sophomorically attributing the sterling achievements of Dr. J. B. Danquah to President Kwame Nkrumah. In one such glaring instance, the University of Pittsburgh “Professor of Africology” writes: “The call by the Okye[n]hene to rename the premier university of Ghana after Dr. J. B. Danquah is the most absurd of public statements. ***In 1951, it was Danquah who vehemently and steadfastly opposed the 1951 [sic] Local Council Ordinance Bill and the establishment of [the] Cocoa Marketing Board introduced by Nkrumah’s internal-self[sic] government. Thus, if Danquah had won the debate, the Kwame Nkrumah government would not have generated the requisite revenue for the first five-year development plan, containing the construction of the Volta River Project, Tema Harbor and City, Adomi Bridge, Okomfo Anokye Hospital, democratization of education, the Medical School and the planning and construction of the University of Ghana at Legon” (see “The Fallacies of J. B. Danquah’s Heroic Legacy” Ghanaweb.com 6/4/06).
Regarding the founding and construction of the University of Ghana, a project which preceded the accession of Kwame Nkrumah to the helm of Gold Coast and Ghanaian affairs, and of which Dr. Danquah played a singularly instrumental role, we have amply provided evidence in a preceding section of this discourse. Even so, the curious and unfamiliar reader may do well to promptly refer to the introductory paragraphs of the University of Ghana’s catalog or bulletin of courses, which is readily accessible via the Internet (i.e. Google.com).
On the question of the founding of the erstwhile Gold Coast Cocoa-Marketing Board (GCCMB), which was later renamed the Ghana Cocoa-Marketing Board (GCMB), and presently Cocobod, we emphatically refute Mr. Botwe-Asamoah’s mendacious assertion that the Ghana Cocoa-Marketing Board was founded in 1951 and, particularly, Mr. Botwe-Asamoah’s flagrant attempt to link President Nkrumah with the founding or establishment of the Gold Coast and Ghana Cocoa-Marketing Board.
Indeed, as Professor L. H. Ofosu-Appiah comprehensively documents in his book The Life And Times of Dr. J. B. Danquah(Accra: Waterville, 1974), the Ghana Cocoa-Marketing Board was founded in 1947, when the future President Nkrumah was still a stranded post-graduate student in London, and not in 1951 (see The Life And Times of Dr. J. B. Danquah 31-33). But, perhaps, it is even more significant to highlight the fact that the agitation of the indigenous Ghanaian farmers that precipitated the establishment of the Cocoa-Marketing Board had begun a full ten years earlier, in 1937, barely a year after Kwame Nkrumah had departed the proverbial shores of the Gold Coast for advanced studies abroad, in the United States of America, to be precise. And as Professor Ofosu-Appiah aptly points out, it was the dramatic outbreak of World War II that caused the ten-year hiatus, or delay, in the establishment of the CMB. To the preceding effect, Ofosu-Appiah writes:
“The cocoa boycott [of 1937] gave Danquah and the nationalists another opportunity to urge the people to fight for their rights. But they had to go rather warily. The Governor, Sir Arnold Hodson, tried to remain neutral, and was accused by both sides of favoring their opponents. J. B. [Danquah] wrote an account of the boycott in a pamphlet, “Liberty of the Subject.” It was largely the agitation of men like him which led to the appointment of the Nowell Commission” (Life And Times 32).
Furthermore, Ofosu-Appiah recounts: “The recommendations of the Nowell Commission eventually led to the establishment of the Cocoa-Marketing Board in 1947. But before then, more economic mistakes were made by the foreign traders with the tacit consent of the colonial government. ***The championship [or championing] of the farmers’ cause by J. B. began during the period of the boycott, and his crowning glory was when, as a member of the Legislative Council in 1947, he helped to pass the Cocoa-Marketing Board Ordinance. On 13th July, 1946, the farmers presented him [i.e. Dr. J. B. Danquah] with a Commendatory and Acclamatory Address at Nsawam for showing them the way to prosperity. THEY CALLED HIM AKUAFO KANEA – THE LAMP OF THE FARMERS. The economic prosperity of the 1950s in the Gold Coast and Ghana is due largely to his untiring efforts to help the farmers to improve their lot (Life And Times 32-33).
First of all, isn’t it rather curious that the Gold Coast farmers would present Dr. Danquah with a “Commendatory” and an “Acclamatory” address at Nsawam, a nodal cocoa-farming town, rather than to Mr. Kwame Nkrumah, as Mr. Kwame Botwe-Asamoah would have his readers believe? And then also, why would the cocoa farmers, whose cause he had assiduously championed, “knight” Dr. Danquah with the enviable accolade of “Akuafo Kanea” – or Lamp of Farmers – if, indeed, as Mr. Botwe-Asamoah brazenly insists, it was Mr. Kwame Nkrumah who had championed their cause?
On the preceding score, we can only logically deduce two things: (i) Either Mr. Botwe-Asamoah woefully underestimates the intelligence capacity of his readers, thus his eagerness to play fast and loose with the objective facts of history, or (ii) Mr. Botwe-Asamoah, being pathologically ignorant and intellectually incompetent, and woefully backed by intransigent, fanatical and willfully ignorant “Neo-Pharaohs,” would rather gloat in the evanescent glare of mendacity than squarely face the facts of history in the fleshly raw.
But even more significantly, Ofosu-Appiah recalls that it was Danquah’s no-nonsense or uncompromising championship of the cause of the immitigably exploited Ghanaian cocoa farmer, in the wake of the 1937 boycott, that precipitated the Doyen’s eventual falling out with Governor Allan Burns, rather than the alleged “ritual murder” of Chief Akyea-Mensah, a patently heinous and execrable event of which Danquah had no part, whatsoever, as treacherously and deviously reported by President Nkrumah in his rather pretentious autobiography. On the preceding score, the author of The Life And Times of Dr. J. B. Danquah notes:
“All these events led Danquah and the chiefs to press for greater African representation on the Legislative Council. ***Though the Governor, Sir Allan Burns, was prepared for a new Constitution, his greatest wish was for the exclusion of Danquah from the Assembly. He failed in that; and the entry of Danquah into the legislature was the beginning of the Burns Constitution and of the end of the colonial system in the Gold Coast” (Life And Times 33).
It goes without saying that in heroically attempting to terminate British colonialism, Danquah was, ironically, undoing his own political fortunes, as Nkrumah’s subsequent “tactical collaboration” with British imperialism would virtually ensure that the over-celebrated African Show Boy would lead the Gold Coast into its re-assertion of sovereignty. In other words, the far more astute and politically experienced Dr. Danquah was not for Lancaster; the latter required the use of a more flamboyant, idealistic and politically and morally stolid go-fer for the purpose. And on the latter score, we shall examine the decadent activities of the Cocoa Purchasing Company (CPC), a dubious subsidiary of the Cocoa-Marketing Board (CMB), which was, indeed, founded by then-Prime Minister Nkrumah and his so-called Convention People’s Party (CPP).
But before we proceed further vis-à-vis the inauspicious establishment of the Cocoa Purchasing Company, suffice it to recall herein that the original intent or objective of the Gold Coast Cocoa-Marketing Board, as conceived by Dr. Danquah and his fellow nationalists, would almost immediately be skewed to exclusively serve as a monetary subsidiary of the Marshall Plan for the post-World War II reconstruction of Britain. To this effect, Fitch and Oppenheimer recount:
“In 1948 [sic] Britain’s Labor [Party] government established the Cocoa-Marketing Board as the Gold Coast’s sole buyer, grader, seller, and exporter of cocoa. The ostensible purpose was to insulate the Ghana cocoa ‘farmer’ from the uncertainties of the world cocoa market. The CMB would buy all domestically produced cocoa at a relatively stable price and resell it on the world market at an inevitably fluctuating price. By setting the domestic price lower than the world price, a reserve fund could be built up which would serve a number of important ends: it would provide savings which could be used to develop the country’s economy; it would drain off excess purchasing power and thus prevent inflation; and it would provide a source from which the cocoa producer’s income could be maintained in case of a collapse of world prices….[Fitch and Oppenheimer 41]
“The inevitable result of all these pressures [i.e. the aftermath of World War II and the Cold War] and needs was a series of postwar financial and balance-of-payments crises which threatened Britain with international bankruptcy and reduction to the status of a second- or third-class power. It was in these circumstances that two things happened. First, the United States organized a huge rescue operation, culminating in the Marshall Plan, which poured nearly $ 7 billion of aid into the United Kingdom in the decade following the war. And second, the British government itself (under the control of the Labor Party, be it noted) took unprecedented steps to force its remaining colonies to transfer their surpluses to London to support the pound. The heart and core of this new imperial strategy was the establishment of a network of marketing boards, of which the Cocoa Marketing Board in the Gold Coast was just one.
“Marketing boards were established in Malaya and East Africa as well as West Africa. In West Africa there was a marketing board for every commodity[,] from peanuts to mahogany. In Nigeria[,] four marketing boards controlled 69 percent[,] by value[,] of all exports and 78 percent of all non-mineral imports. In the Gold Coast[,] the corresponding percentages were 69 and 90 percent. In Sierra Leone and Gambia[,] the percentages were even higher. In these four colonies[,] the marketing boards controlled practically 100 percent of all agricultural exports produced by Africans, including even the most insignificant commodities. In Nigeria, for example, the Groundnut (peanut) Marketing Board even controlled sunflower seeds, which were not listed on trade returns”(Fitch and Oppenheimer 43).
By the end of “official” British rule in 1957, Ghana possessed nearly £ 200 million in reserves – all exclusively being proceeds from the GCMB – forcibly stashed in the British capital for the especial use of the British government for its citizens at home. Talk of highway robbery! Further, Fitch and Oppenheimer expatiate on the flagrant exploitation of the Ghanaian cocoa farmer and the Ghanaian economy at large by the British government through the latter’s stranglehold on the CMB: “The British had a clear interest in the continuation of these CMB policies following the CPP’s rise to power in 1951.
Had Nkrumah broken the CMB’s marketing monopoly and adjusted the domestic cocoa price to the world level, or used CMB profits within the Gold Coast, the British economy would have been seriously affected. But Nkrumah and the CPP did not choose to use their power as members of the CMB to strike out in directions that would have led to a confrontation with British power. The CMB[,] under CPP control[,] continued to levy what were[,] in effect[,] huge export taxes, send cocoa profits to Great Britain and thus help Britain maintain the pound while renouncing, or at best postponing, attempts to start Ghana in the direction of economic independence and development” (Ghana: End of an Illusion 46-47).
In effect, the preceding points to the bankrupt legacy of Nkrumah as an “obtuse tactician,” a prime junior collaborator of British imperialism. And need we remind our readers of the fact that the Doyen reportedly challenged the African Show Boy but all to no avail? Then also, even more significantly, Fitch and Oppenheimer explain exactly how Britain systematically prevented Ghana from developing a meaningful capitalist economic base. And here again, needless to say, Nkrumah’s blind and dogged pursuit of pseudo-Socialism did not help either:
“The Cocoa-Marketing Board and the policies it pursued both before and after the CPP acquired representation on it, go far to explain what appears to be a strange paradox of Ghanaian development. In a country as productive as Ghana, with Africans growing hundreds of millions of dollars worth of cocoa annually on African-owned soil, one would naturally expect the emergence of a powerful class of African capitalists. We can now see that owing to the channeling of the profits of African cocoa production via the CMB to the ‘mother’ country, growth of the Ghanaian capitalist was stunted. There were some wealthy men like George Grant in timber and the Ocansey family, which had made a fortune from moving pictures. But a class of African businessmen, supplied with African capital, producing commodities for domestic consumption or for export, did not exist” (Ghana: End of an Illusion 47).
Now, let us shift gear and with the latter, the spotlight onto the CPP-founded Cocoa Purchasing Company, of whose inglorious history of untold corruption, “indigenous exploitation” and decadence the Nkrumacratic likes of Mr. Botwe-Asamoah and Neo-Pharaoh Abu Jihad would have the rest of their countrymen and women serenade with paeans or praise-songs.
Indeed, as Fitch and Oppenheimer aptly point out, Nkrumah’s only connection to the Gold Coast and, later, the Ghana Cocoa-Marketing Board came in the form of the establishment of the Cocoa Purchasing Company (CPC) in 1952, a move which Dr. Danquah vigorously opposed and which later events in the trail of the CPC vindicated the Doyen of Gold Coast and Ghanaian politics. Indeed, it appears that it is the founding of the CPC which Mr. Botwe-Asamoah glaringly confuses with the 1947 establishment of the CMB, which singularly had much to do with the sterling ideological foresight of the Doyen of Gold Coast and Ghanaian politics and absolutely nothing, whatsoever, to do with Nkrumah, the proverbial African Show Boy (see Botwe-Asamoah’s “The Fallacies of J. B. Danquah’s Heroic Legacy” Ghanaweb.com 6/4/06). And for someone who claims authoritative scholarship on African history, in general, and Ghanaian history, in particular, this is unpardonably pathetic, indeed!
To be certain, the Cocoa Purchasing Company (CPC), which was purportedly established to ensure that both the Ghanaian cocoa farmer and the country at large obtained their fair share of marketing revenue for self-improvement and national development, respectively, ended up becoming another avenue for massive exploitation of the diligent Ghanaian cocoa farmer by the Convention People’s Party apparatchiks, spearheaded by then-Prime Minister Nkrumah, of course. The CPC also engendered an unprecedented level of corruption in the country, to the apocalyptic extent that the British colonial government, at the instigation of the Legislative Opposition, led by Dr. Danquah, had to empanel a Commission of Inquiry to probe the activities of the CPC. The Jibowu Commission, named after the eminent Nigerian jurist who led the inquiry, made several interesting observations. For instance, while the CPP claimed that the establishment of the CPC was to off-set the domination of cocoa marketing by Europeans and non-Africans, (in other words to ensure a salutary “Africanization” of the cocoa industry and thus an equitable distribution of industrial revenue), the Jibowu Commission report of 1956 emphatically concluded that the Cocoa Purchasing Company was primarily set up by “CPP leaders to seek the greatest financial self-aggrandizement possible” (Fitch and Oppenheimer 48).
Indeed, the preceding conclusion is eloquently corroborated by Mr. Krobo Edusei, a staunch Nkrumah associate and later CPP cabinet member, in the following account by Fitch and Oppenheimer: “When the Cocoa Purchasing Company was organized in 1952, there was no question that the CPP controlled it. As Krobo Edusei explained to members of the Legislative Assembly: ‘The CPC is the product of a master brain, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, and it is the atomic bomb of the Convention People’s Party. As honorable members are aware, the Prime Minister in his statements to the CPP told his party members that organization decided everything and the CPC is part of the organization of the Convention People’s Party” (Ghana: End of an Illusion 48).
Furthermore, Fitch and Oppenheimer recall: “The purpose of the CPC, according to George Padmore, who now [1956?] served as official advisor to the Prime Minister, was to ‘assist the Marketing Board to buy directly from the farmers instead of through the middleman brokers.’ According to Padmore, the CPC represented ‘the highest percentage of Africanization.’ He said that as a result of the formation of the CPC, the buying monopoly once held by the big trading firms had been smashed.¶ Since the cocoa middlemen, or brokers, were themselves Africans, and since the big trading firms were in no way excluded from their positions as licensed brokers for the CMB, the Cocoa Purchasing Company cannot truly be said to have represented ‘the highest percentage ofAfricanization’” (Ghana: End of an Illusion 48).
Indeed, as Fitch and Oppenheimer aptly point out, the secondary, or long-term, goal of the Cocoa Purchasing Company was to thoroughly destroy the average Ghanaian capitalist farmer, in order to make Ghana “safe” for Nkrumah’s political agenda of radically transforming independent Ghana into a Marxist-Leninist state. Thus by 1957, almost whatever passed for a viable Ghanaian capitalist initiative had been destroyed by the CPP; and interestingly, it would be the very same CPP which would suffer from such nihilistic economic policy once it became extremely difficult for the regime to secure development loans abroad. In sum, having unimaginatively and myopically destroyed Ghanaian capitalist initiative, largely out of raw envy and a critical lack of understanding of global economics, the CPP could not float bonds or effectively solicit development capital from Ghanaians themselves (Fitch and Oppenheimer 49). The Ghanaian civil servant would, therefore, be forced by President Nkrumah to “save” some of their woefully meager incomes in the bank, thereby creating a monetary reserve for Nkrumah’s capital-intensive projects – in sum, this was precisely what the 1961 massive industrial strikes in Sekondi-Takoradi, Accra and other large Ghanaian towns and municipalities about, as shall be examined in due course.
It is also quite interesting to recall that Nkrumah spent much of his tenure accusing his opponents of tribalism. In reality, as the Jibowu Commission of Inquiry noted, the operation of the Cocoa Purchasing Company was not without tribal or ethnic controversy. For instance, the Company’s Managing Director, Mr. Andrew Yaw Djin, was of Nzema extraction, the same ethnic sub-nationality as then-Prime Minister Nkrumah and, indeed, reliable sources inform this writer that Messrs. Djin and Nkrumah were relatives!
But, perhaps, it would be far more edifying to further recall some of the activities and objectives of the Nkrumah-minted Cocoa Purchasing Company. And on the latter score, this is what Fitch and Oppenheimer have to say:
“Vote buying was channeled through the CPC. During the 1954 elections, the CPP greatly expanded the number of cash advances it made to the farmers. For the six-week period which preceded the election, advances rose over 450 percent above normal [and this largely explains, for instance, why Dr. Danquah would lose the election in his own Akyem-Abuakwa stronghold]. This total amounted to £317,000. ‘Bearing in mind,’ the Jibowu [Commission] Report says, ‘that Mr. Dennis, then Loan Manager, stated in a letter to Mr. Djin [Acting Managing Director] that they depended on the farming community for votes, we are led to the inference that this excess of £317, 000 over the cost of cocoa [purchased?] was largely used for securing votes.Personal enrichment took place at all levels of administration of the CPC. In the highest echelons, Djin lent Nkrumah £1,800 to pay for the importation of a Cadillac. The Commission found that: ‘Mr. Djin’s case does not, in our view, reflect any credit on the Government…. It has been suggested that [the Prime Minister] was indebted to Mr. Djin. This is denied, but he [Prime Minister Nkrumah] failed to erase from our mind[s] the impression that he had[,] unfortunately[,] placed himself in such an embarrassing [or compromising?] position in relation to Mr. Djin [such] that he could not take or cause to be taken steps which might displease or be unpleasant to Mr. Djin’” (Ghana: End of an Illusion 50).
And still further, Fitch and Oppenheimer recall:
“Djin himself, according to the Jibowu Commission, ‘connived at irregularities committed by certain employees…took advantage of his position as Managing Director to reduce freight charges made by the Company for transporting goods of his firms…managed his personal business while full-time Managing Director[,] contrary to his agreement’ [contract?] and ‘made full use of CPC staff to sell wares of his private firm.’ The Commission concluded that: “n view of our findings on the allegations of irregularities made against Mr. Djin, we do not consider him to have been a fit and proper person to have been in what was virtually sole control of the affairs of a quasi-public concern whose assets and those of the Loans Agency at 30th September, 1955, totaled over £ 6,000,000” (Ghana: End of an Illusion 50-51).
Finally, regarding our firm contention that Nkrumah’s CPP was a veritable neocolonialist political apparatus, this is what Fitch and Oppenheimer have to say: “It [i.e. the Ghana Congress Party, the immediate successor of the United Gold Coast Convention and predecessor of the United Party] died from a combination of wounds inflicted by British capital and CPP politicians. These two antagonists prevented the agro-mercantile strata from making the transition from landowners and bankers[,] which is the sine qua non of national capitalism. The role played by British mercantile capital and ‘the City’ in the destruction of Ghanaian capitalism has been partially described; the CPP’s role in the process was to turn back the political counterattack of the agro-mercantile strata whose economic bases had already been thoroughly undermined” (Ghana: End of an Illusion 53). Nkrumah, a genius ahead of his time?
*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., teaches English and Journalism at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is the author of “Dr. J. B. Danquah: Architect of Modern Ghana” (iUniverse.com, 2005). His forthcoming publication is “Nana Kwame, Too, Can Read!” a pictorial anthology of children’s poetry.
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