No Critic Is Making a Good Case for a Mahama Comeback

Feature Article No Critic Is Making a Good Case for a Mahama Comeback
FEB 26, 2024 LISTEN

I read Ananpansah Bartholomew Abraham’s quite well-researched and well-written article titled “Irony of ‘Breaking the 8’ in Ghana’s Prebendal Political State: A Foreseen Reality” ( 2/19/24), and found it to be interesting and even remarkably insightful for the proverbial “New Kids on the Block,” otherwise it does not offer much that could be cogently used against the present admittedly thoroughgoing corrupt Akufo-Addo government and, in effect, the arguably fetching New Patriotic Party-sponsored 2024 Presidential Candidacy of Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia, relative to a nauseatingly and perennially recycled Serial and the Dynastic Candidacy of the twice-defeated, one-term former President John “Gnassingbe” (European Airbus Payola) Dramani Mahama.

For example, it would have been very instructive if the author of the afore-referenced article had highlighted the fact that in spite of all the voluble talk about a bloated and a very dysfunctional Akufo-Addo government, in terms of the delivery of social-intervention programs for ordinary Ghanaian citizens, such as the Fee-Free Senior High School System (SHS) and the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), as well as LEAP – I suppose that is Economic Assistance to Children of Indigent Mothers, the Sick and the Elderly – the New Patriotic Party remains the Gold Standard or the political and the ideological blueprint on how to successfully execute social-intervention programs and projects in Ghana and, perhaps, even elsewhere in the ECOWAS Subregion.

You see, when it comes to electioneering-campaign battles in constitutional democratic cultures such as Ghana’s and, to be certain, all over the world, at the end of the day, it all boils down to a question of “Relativity,” which means that it is all a matter of which of Ghana’s two major political parties, namely, the Akufo-Addo-led and presently ruling New Patriotic Party, on the one hand, and the Mahama-led main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), on the other, has a proven track record of being able to deliver the basic needs of the people promptly and in real time, and not merely which group of communication-propaganda touts is more effective in disseminating whole-cloth mendacities aimed at cynically misleading the people vis-à-vis which political-party establishment deserved to be afforded the democratic reins of governance for the next four years, as it is the case right here in Ghana.

But I was also intrigued by Mr. Ananpansah Bartholomew Abraham’s rather deft and meticulous use of the “neologistic” terminology of “Prebendal” or “Prebendalism,” which the writer, quite astutely, tells us, his readers, had been borrowed from a Professor Richard A. Joseph, about whom we learn from Google and Wikipedia search engines, was Director of African Studies at Northwestern University, in the US State of Illinois, in the American Midwest, not very far from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where Yours Truly’s late father obtained his MS degree in Theater Arts, Lighting Technology, to be precise, in the early 1970s, perhaps the first alum or graduate of the University of Ghana, Legon, to have done so.

Equally fascinating to learn is the fact that Professor Richard Joseph, who first appropriated and popularized the term “Prebendal” or “Prebendalism,” the noun form or version of the adjective “Prebendal,” within the sub-disciplinary Area Studies of African Politics, I suppose, originally applied this term to Nigeria’s postcolonial politics of “Clientelism,” of the very kind that hereabouts in Ghana is called “Friends and Family Government” or political cronyism or cronyism, for short. Not surprisingly, we also learn that “Prebendalism” may have religious roots originating from the Medieval Roman Catholic Church, which meant “the right of a member of a chapter or a parish or a congregation to share in the wealth or the revenues of a Cathedral.”

Objectively envisaged, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this mode of fairly equitably sharing the collective wealth of the State, the Society or the Community and may very well have been the “Savoir Faire” thing to do in the olden days and in ancient times, even, except that we are in a very different era presently, an era in which predatory capitalism is more of the societal rule and the norm than the exception. You see, as a student in graduate school throughout much of the early 1990s and specializing in African Literature, History and Culture, foremost among the literary canon, as it were, was Paul Gilroy’s “Black Atlantic,” Molefi Kete Asante’s “Afrocentric Idea,” and Alfred Tokollo Moleah’s “South Africa: Colonialism, Apartheid and Dispossession” and “Namibia: The Struggle for Liberation.”

Interestingly, Professor Joseph’s “Democracy and Prebendal Politics,” which happens to have been published about the same time as the preceding scholarly works, does not seem to have made the reading list on my African and African-American Studies Department at Temple University, Philadelphia, for reasons that may very well have had a lot to do with the fierce micro-territorial battles that were raging at the time.

*Visit my blog at: KwameOkoampaAhoofeJr

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr. PhD
Professor Emeritus, Department of English
SUNY-Nassau Community College
Garden City, New York
February 20, 2024
E-mail: [email protected]