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24.03.2009 General News

Such deplorable pettiness

By I. K. Gyasi - Ghanaian Chronicle

THE NATIONAL Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in particular and the rest of us in general, should put a stop to the political power play and the display of xenophobia that threaten to destroy the fabric of our national unity.

For example, the two political parties have devalued our Independence Day celebration to the point where it seems to have become a pastime for the political party in power.

For this year's celebration, it was the NPP that chose to stay away. I was shocked by the explanations given when Kwame Sefa Kayi, Host of PEACE FM's Morning programme KOKROKOO, interviewed Nana Ohene-Ntow, General Secretary of the NPP, Honourable Osei-Kyei Mensah Bonsu, Minority Leader and Mr. Frank Agyekum, Spokesperson for ex-President John Agyekum Kufuor.

To hear Nana Ohene -Ntow tell it, somebody dumped five invitation cards at the security office of the party's national headquarters the day before March 6, 2009. It was too late to make proper arrangement for party representatives to attend.

If that explanation was unconvincing and bad enough, listen to Honourable Mensah Bonsu. He knew March 6 was Independence Day. Unfortunately, he was indisposed. Moreover, he had scheduled a meeting with certain persons for that day. He was too sick to go to the national or even regional parade but he was not too sick to hold a meeting with other people.

The worst was yet to come and it involved the explanation given by Mr. Franck Agyekum to account for the absence of ex-President Kufuor. Mr. Kufuor was out of the country for a function that had been arranged between him and Nigeria 's former President Olusegun Obasanjo in Nigeria .

Can you believe that an ex-President, barely two months out of office, would regard his country's birthday with such scant regard? It was of no consolation to me to learn that , in the previous eight years when the NPP was in power, ex-President J. J. Rawlings and his party stayed away from the celebrations.

Strict legalism says that there is no law that makes it compulsory for any Ghanaian of whatever status to attend the celebration.

However, the two ex-Presidents should note that if we were still under colonial rule with a white Governor in place, they could never have become presidents.

Independence Day belongs to all of us. The least any ex-President or ex-Minister can do is to show a good example by staying in the country on that day. How ungrateful can our former leaders be after enjoying the sweetness of office, thanks to Independence ? Let us see proper behaviour and a good example from 2010 onwards. Political struggle and personal hurts should not stand in the way of national unity.

What is this row over an office for ex-President Kufuor? Where is the truth about this office? If the brouhaha is one more example of deplorable political pettiness, it is the reported action and utterances of a group calling itself Ga-Dangme youth that give cause for concern.

According to reports, the Ga-Dangme youth in question did not even say that the building belongs to one of them or to all of them. The basis for their objection to Mr. Kufuor using the building as his office is that the building sits on Ga land. I am not aware of any other reason given for the reported planned protest.

I recall that when the Board of Trustees of Otumfuo Education Fund decided to re-launch the Fund at the Trade Fair Site in Accra, some people claiming to be the youth of La threatened to stop the re-launch on the grounds that the Trade Fair Site was on land belonging to the people of La. Wearing red clothes and red arm bands , these youth threatened to stop any plane carrying Otumfuo Osei Tutu, Asantehene, from landing at the Kotoka International Airport because the airport is also on La land.

When a group of people calling themselves Ga-Dangme youth staged a demonstration over Ga lands, one of the reasons for the demonstration was that the Asantehene had reportedly acquired a plot in a part of Accra to put up a house.

In one of his articles in the DAILY GRAPHIC, Mr. K. B. Asante told of how one Ga living in Canada had telephoned to find out from him (Mr. Asante) whether it was true that the then Inspector-General of Police, Nana Owusu-Nsiah, had called a meeting of Ga chiefs and had spoken disrespectfully to them.

Without finding out whether the report was true, Mr. Asante queried whether, if the chiefs were Ashanti chiefs, he (the IGP) would have spoken to them disrespectfully. Nana Owusu-Nsiah is a Brong and a chief himself in the Berekum Traditional Area. What was the reason for Mr. Asante's question?

Perhaps the ultimate insult came from the pen of Mr. Ahuma Ocansey when he wrote that Gas and Akans who speak Ga are civilized but Akans who do not speak Ga are, in local parlance, bush people or uncivilized.

For the avoidance of doubt, here is the direct quote from his article entitled LIVING IN HARMONY and published in the DAILY GRAPHIC of Monday, January 14, 2008, “With time a subtle distinction emerged between Akan speakers of Ga and Akan non-speakers of the language.”

He continues, “Those who spoke Ga acquired a charming openness, quiet sophistication and inner confidence, and self-possession about them. Akans who don't speak the Ga language retain their quintessential countrified cultural habits.” In other words those of us Akans who do not speak Ga retain our uncivilized character.

What have we done to Mr. Ahuma Ocansey and all those Gas who are determined to show their hatred for us? Kumasi Airport and a number of Government buildings also sit on land belonging to the Ashanti people. Should we raise an objection to any lawful acquisition of property by Gas and other ethnic groups? Where will this xenophobia end?

Ex-gratia. Ah, ex-gratia. Initially, the report seemed to suggest that it was ex-President Kufuor alone who was going to benefit from the recommendation of the Chinery Hesse report. We know better now.

I have serious reservations about some of the recommendations. Still, I think the politicization of the matter is too much. Would Mr. Kufuor keel over and die a miserable death if he walked away from the controversy by rejecting everything?

As for the controversy over the cars, the NPP should remember the ear-splitting noise they made about ex-President Rawlings reportedly taking away 17 (seventeen) cars. They should also remember the noise over a so-called Australia House which the NPP alleged was meant as a going away gift to Mr. Rawlings. Humiliation can be felt by all thinking human beings.

I plead for the cessation of 'hostilities', the tit-for-tat game that started in 2001 and appears to be continuing.

If President John Mills is sincere, if he is not merely mounting pious platitudes or indulging in sanctimonious piety, let him show by word and deed that a new era of unity, peace and reconciliation has truly dawned. The pettiness should stop.