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09.10.2008 Feature Article

The Tribal Question: Why Akufo-Addo Must Handily Win the Ewe

The Tribal Question: Why Akufo-Addo Must Handily Win the Ewe

An October 8, 2008 article published in the “Features” section of, and authored by a Mr. Kofi Amenyo, facilely presumes to explain off the quite pedestrian phenomenon of Volta Ewes routinely and heavily casting their ballots for Ewe-descended presidential candidates. According to the author, this largely sentimental phenomenon of Ewes desiring to see one of their own assume reins of the highest administrative position of the land stems from unprovoked and palpably perennial Akan hostility towards Ghanaians of Ewe ethnicity or origin.

Consequently, the author is able to cavalierly make the following rabidly invidious observations: “Tribalism is still a very decisive factor in the political equation in our country. The NPP assumed power with a perception that Ewes had been favored in nearly 20 years of Rawlings' rule and [that] it was time to set the balance 'right.' We all know what that has meant. Eight years of NPP rule and, true to form, they've done little to stem the tide of tribalism. Of the 17 odd candidates who stood on the NPP presidential ticket last December, not a single one of them was Ewe. Nobody prevented them from standing[,] but the party didn't feel like a natural home for them. What kind of 'national' party is that? The only Ewes found in the top echelons of the party are the ones who have turned their backs on their people who, in turn, regard them as quislings. Why should an Ewe who joins NPP become a pariah to his own people? Why should he join the party because he has a bone to pick with his own tribesmen or because he might be rewarded with a post? Shouldn't his actions be driven by an ideological conviction?” ( 10/8/08).

These are interesting observations and questions, however curious and jaundiced they may seem, of course. The real question, though, becomes: Do Mr. Amenyo's questions and observations accurately reflect the ontic reality on the ground, as it were? And the logical riposte, of course, is: “Absolutely Not!” For starters, those of us avid students of contemporary Ghanaian history know fully well that the Ewes of the erstwhile Trans-Volta Togoland – present-day Volta Region – were the very first ethnic sub-nationality to adamantly register their utter loathing to claiming one national identity with the rest of us Ghanaians, particularly Ghanaians of Akan descent. And the latter is eloquently evinced by the results of the 1956 United Nations-sponsored plebiscite. It is also interesting that Mr. Amenyo should gloat over the fact that Dr. Hilla Limann, of the People's National Party (PNP), soundly trounced Mr. Victor Owusu, of the Popular Front Party (PFP), during the 1979 general election by 11 to 5 Volta Regional parliamentary seats, respectively. For the latter observation, doubtlessly, puts into sharp relief the author's gratuitous hatred for Ghanaians of Akan descent, once the preceding is historically and objectively contextualized vis-à-vis the 1956 plebiscite. But whether each and every Volta Ewe registered member of the ruling New Patriotic Party joined the latter primarily because they had an axe to grind with their kin, is a question best answered by the critic himself, since he may be privy to such intra-familial conflicts in a way that the rest of us may obviously not be. And, also, regarding whether these Ewe “Quislings” are all the more criminally culpable for their refusal to gaily truck with the sanguinary National Democratic Congress (NDC), is an issue for the observer to resolve. On the equally significant question of principled ideological motivation being, somehow, uniquely and exclusively behind the decision of Ewe nationalists like Mr. Amenyo to unreservedly truck with the Ewe-dominated NDC, we strongly beg to differ; and our riposte is squarely predicated on our traumatic knowledge and personal experience of the predatory operations of the NDC for some twenty of the bleakest years on the Ghanaian political calendar. Besides, the notion that, somehow, ideology is the sole motivational factor behind the choice of one's party affiliation or membership is unpardonably preposterous. And the present economic status of Mr. Rawlings and his comrades-in-crime offers more than ample contradictory testimony.

In any event, the writer also offers keen and perceptive readers a significant insight into what may be aptly termed as the true national character of the Akan people when, for instance, Mr. Amenyo recalls that it was President Nkrumah who originally demarcated the traditional geographic sphere of the Anlo Ewes of the southern Volta Basin from their Akan neighbors and kin of the Eastern Region, and not the staunch adherents of the Danquah-Busia Tradition! If the foregoing has factual validity, and we have no reason to doubt the critic on the latter score, then isn't it rather quizzically ironic that the man who is widely touted as the foremost proponent of African unification should also eagerly seek to unwisely balkanize his fellow Ghanaian nationals? And yet, Mr. Amenyo has the temerity to recognize in President Nkrumah the epitome of progressive postcolonial Ghanaian leadership!

On the foregoing score, the critic writes: “We will begin to see real change the day that party [i.e. NPP] has a Northerner, Fante, Ga or, most importantly, an Ewe at the helm. It should be a person whose most distinguishing feature will not be the tribe he belongs to – just like Nkrumah.”

In any case, why would Mr. Amenyo simultaneously envisage ethnicity as being incidental to good leadership while also insisting that the “national” dimension of the New Patriotic Party will not be realized until an ethnic Ewe is elected presidential candidate and then president of Ghana on the ticket of the NPP? Is it because Mr. Amenyo, an ethnic Ewe himself, believes that his tribesmen [and women, of course] are specially endowed with some leadership qualities which the rest of us Ghanaians woefully lack? If this mode of reasoning is not reflective of ethnic chauvinism and/or ethnic supremacy, then I don't what else is! In other words, what the author of “The Tribal Question…” is shamelessly implying here is that exclusive Ewe empowerment, as opposed to the summary subjugation of the rest of the non-Ewe Ghanaian populace, must constitute the litmus test of acceptable Ghanaian democratic governance! What heresy! What moral outrage!

In any case, it goes without saying that had the New Patriotic Party set out, in the wake of its 2000 electoral victory, to primarily offset the previous twenty years' ruthless Ewe political domination and murderous tyranny, the first order of business would have been to line up the Rawlingses and Tsikatas, among a legion of other common criminals, and summarily execute them by firing squad. Or does Mr. Amenyo suppose that Ghanaians of Akan descent are incapable of firing an AK-47 assault rifle?

And, of course, it could only have come by way of a Freudian slip when the writer says of the ruling NPP, “What kind of 'national' party is that?” He almost certainly must have been thinking of the Ewe-dominated and Rawlings-chaperoned “National” Democratic Congress (NDC). Likewise, had the NPP been squarely about the business of settling scores, no Ewe judges would be sitting on the Ghanaian Supreme Court even as I write. And we wouldn't have had to covertly abduct these Ewe judges and then cowardly pretend to be totally ignorant of their whereabouts.

Going by the anti-Akan critic's own logic, what makes Mr. Amenyo believe that the Ewe-dominated and Akan “figure-headed” National Democratic Congress, somehow, feels like “a natural home” to Ghanaians of Akan descent? And didn't Mr. Amenyo witness the last general election results, especially the morally edifying message sent, loud and clear, to the Dzelukope Mafia by the smart people of the Central Region? If not, then let me scream this into your mind's-ears, Mr. Amenyo: “According to the astute voters of the Central Region, Prof. Atta-Mills is only one pathetic dupe among the enviable ranks of a million sagacious men and women! And as the NPP, whose germinal seeds the Fantes both planted and nurtured to fruition goes, so goes the Central Region. Period!”

It is also absurdly fascinating for a supporter of the marijuana-chomping Mr. Rawlings to be accusing Nana Akufo-Addo, without forensic evidence, of “weed-smoking.” Or does Mr. Amenyo suppose that no Ghanaian alive saw Mr. Rawlings chain-smoke daily, with Mr. Kwamena Ahwoi, on national television during the heydays of Jato's pseudo-revolution?

Finally, I asked these questions and made the following observations in the chat-room, and I hereby repeat the same for the benefit of those who may not have either seen or read it: Efo Amenyo, by the way, how did you come by your Akan name of “Kofi”? What a living contradiction of your own hermetic tribal ideology! And so what do you expect of the Akan people? To unconscionably pretend as if it is our fault that a considerable percentage of Ewes do not like us? Guess what, the Kyebi (Okyeman) Royal Family contains more half-Ewe members among our fold than anyone could say about the Anloga Royal Family! In other words, Akans are more inclusive and accommodating than pathological Ewe nationalists like Mr. Kofi Amenyo would have his readers believe.

Then also, to scapegoat Nana Akufo-Addo for the perceived “crimes” and misdemeanors of the Busia administration is as stupid as blaming all Ewes for the murderous atrocities perpetrated by Mr. Rawlings and his Provisional National Democratic Congress (P/NDC). One thing, though, is incontrovertible: Nana Akufo-Addo has done far more and far better to advance human rights and democracy than Dzelukope Jeremiah did in 20 years as Ghana's strongman and then elected dictator!

Furthermore, while, indeed, we may aptly speak of a Danquah-Busia Tradition, the two eponymous and distinguished personalities are not one and the same. Thus, it constitutes the very height of arrogance to gratuitously blame Dr. Danquah (1895-1965) for the perceived political misdemeanors of the Busia-led Progress Party (PP). Also, your argument that the Popular Front Party (PFP) garnered only 5 parliamentary seats, as opposed to the People's National Party's 11 parliamentary seats, in the Volta Region due to the overt anti-Ewe sentiments expressed by Mr. Victor Owusu –during the First Republic, not the Second Republic, as you shamelessly claim – does not pass commonsensical muster. If, in fact, it did, then one would logically have expected Mr. William Ofori-Atta's United National Convention (UNC) to have won those 5 Volta Regional seats that went to the PFP, for Paa Willie never insulted the Ewes and did nothing untoward against them.

And, by the way, Efo Amenyo, the Ewe did not make “common cause” with Dr. Danquah in 1960 or only after the issuance of President Nkrumah's so-called Avoidance of Discrimination edict. The Togoland Congress (led by Antor and Ayeke) were always with Danquah. And so was Nkrumah long before the latter period! Even more significantly, the Danquah-Grant-led United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC), the original “Convention,” was a veritably trans-ethnic political movement that embraced sizeable numbers of all southern Ghanaian ethnic groups, for the most part, including such prominent personalities as Awooner-Renner, the renowned lawyer, and the Akropong Presbyterian Training College-educated Mr. K. A. Gbedemah who, like Rawlings, was not even born in the Volta Region, and spoke Akuapem-Twi better than most Akuapems! Indeed, if anything at all, it was Nkrumah's June 12, 1949 rupture from the UGCC that commenced the unsavory politics of separatism in Ghana.

And so what is all this nonsense about a half-Scottish Rawlings whose fatherhood, paradoxically, according to you, Kofi Amenyo, is unknown? Besides, being married to an Akan woman, per se, did not prevent Mr. Rawlings from surrounding himself with a panoply of Ewe criminals and butchers who for 20 years committed Ghana's equivalent of ethnic cleansing. And why not, after all, rabid racists all over the world can boast of having good friends among the very races they claim to so much detest, including, of course, German Chancellor Adolf Hitler!

Anyway, we know that Nana Akufo-Addo will handily win the Ewe vote in Election 2008, because the New Patriotic Party Presidential Candidate has guts and mettle for the fearless pursuit of unfettered democratic culture, whereas the nauseatingly timid Prof. Atta-Mills has always toadied up to the orgiastic butchery and immitigable savagery of the Dzelukope Mafia.

*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 the author of 18 books, including “Dr. J. B. Danquah: Architect of Modern Ghana” (, 2005) and “Selected Political Writings” (Atumpan Publications/, 2008)

Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., © 2008

This author has authored 4770 publications on Modern Ghana. Author column: KwameOkoampaAhoofeJr

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