Mills Was Just Being Honest With Himself
The Ghanaian Statesman's news story was bluntly captioned “Mills Shuns Nana Akufo-Addo.” Composed by the news-desk staff of this leading privately owned newspaper, the story regarded the attendance of President John Evans Atta-Mills at the 10th-anniversary celebration of the accession of Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori-Panyin II, paramount king of the Akyem-Abuakwa State. Curiously following colonialist parlance, the Statesman's story described Okyeman, or Akyem-Abuakwa, as a “Traditional Area.”
Needless to say, there are veritably no “traditional areas” in Ghana but culturally organic pre-colonial states that were agglomerated into a “meta-state” by, in our particular Ghanaian context, the British colonial administrators, with either oblique or direct local complicity, to be certain.
I am also fully cognizant of the fact of my expansive description of Akyem-Abuakwa being synonymous with Okyeman drawing immediate and sharp criticism from some denizens of the other two Akyem states, namely, Kotoku and Bosome. On the latter score, invariably and inevitably, I prefer to let the established facts of history rejoin any such critical reservations that are apt to arise.
At any rate, the issue at stake here is whether, indeed, the substantive and present “Father of the Ghanaian Nation” snubbed the rhetorically spell-binding “blue-veined” presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) for Election 2008. And the emphatic answer here is “Absolutely Not!”
First of all, as noted at the beginning of this article, on November 21, 2009 when President Atta-Mills, accompanied by Mr. Samuel Ofosu-Ampofo, the Eastern Regional Minister, paid a courtesy call on the Okyenhene at Ofori-Panyin Fie at Kyebi (actually, the president is reported to have joined the 10th-anniversary celebration of Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori-Panyin's accession at the foregrounds of the palace, I presume), the express purpose was to congratulate the Okyenhene and Okyeman, and not to confer with his arch-nemesis and President Atta-Mills' chief opponent in Election 2008.
In reality, some avid students and observers of contemporary Ghanaian politics believe that the prime opponent – or arch-nemesis – of Nana Akufo-Addo is somebody who shall remain nameless, not the least because his deafening and deviously insistent presence, by default, of course, is all the more impressive.
Anyway, for those who take umbrage at the apparent refusal of President Atta-Mills to shake hands with the grandson of the celebrated Osagyefo Nana Sir Ofori-Atta I, the grievance appears to be largely borne out of the fact that during his inaugural address as President of Ghana, Dr. Atta-Mills exhorted his fellow citizens to bury their partisan and electioneering, or ideological, hatchets and collaborate with him in the national development effort. But even more significantly, if also rather presumptuously, the former Legon tax-law professor also styled himself as “The Father of all Ghanaians.” Not that any well-meaning Ghanaian took him seriously, for during the hard-fought presidential campaign, Dr. Atta-Mills had threatened to rain “Kenya” on the heads of his countrymen and women in the quite likely even of him failing, for the third time around, to clinch the presidential trophy. Now that is not the familial and conciliatory language of a “Father of Ghana.”
From the foregoing, the woeful inability of President Atta-Mills, both literally and figuratively, to assume the formidable role and mantle of a statesman, or national patriarch, becomes glaringly evident. In other words, the current chief operative of the government of the so-called National Democratic Congress (NDC) is far more of your run-of-the-mill (no pun intended, of course) politician than an ideologically transcendent leader. And even on the pedestrian question of politics, one is not even certain that Dr. Atta-Mills is a remarkably astute politician in the manner that, say, ex-President John Agyekum-Kufuor could be fairly accurately described as a remarkable Ghanaian politician.
In the end, whether, indeed, President Atta-Mills snubbed Nana Akufo-Addo during the most recent celebration of Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori-Panyin's occupancy of the Okyeman stool, or not, is of absolutely no material significance or moment. Neither is the president's alleged failure, or flat refusal, to attend festivities marking the recent inauguration of Okyeman University, at Bunso, of any consequence, whatsoever, to either the prospects of that landmark academy, in particular, or Okyeman in general.
To be certain, Nana Akufo-Addo does not need either the goodwill or friendship of President Atta-Mills in order to feel proud of his quite remarkable personal and public achievements; neither would the global stature of the former Ghanaian foreign minister have been enhanced by any glad-handed exchanges with the president.
What is clear, though, is the fact that diplomatic refinement may yet be alien territory to the Tarkwa-born Mfantsiman native and notorious ethnic-baiter – remember Candidate Atta-Mills telling some Fante fishermen that ex-President Kufuor gave not a hoot about the occupational needs of these fisher folk because, in the words of our great “Ghanaian Father,” there is no sea in Kumasi?
*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), the pro-democracy think tank, and the author of 20 books, including “Sounds of Sirens: Essays in African Politics and Culture” (iUniverse.com, 2004). His latest and 16th volume of poetry, “Intimations of Love,” will be published in December 2009. E-mail: [email protected]
Development / Accra / Ghana / Africa / Modernghana.com
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