The roots of the chronic alienation of Ewes, particularly the Anlo-Ewes of the southeastern tip of the virtual strip-mall that is the Volta Region, must be squarely laid on the marbleized tombstone of Ghana's first prime minister and president, Mr. Kwame Nkrumah. It was the latter's insistence, against the more empirically and culturally sound advice of Dr. J. B. Danquah, and the highly probable rigging of the 1956 UN-sponsored plebiscite that engendered the still-raging dilemma of blistering national identity crisis among the Anlo-Ewe. Consequently, Nana Akufo-Addo grossly overstates matters when the presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party for Election 2012 faults the negative attitude of some cynical party officials for what may be aptly described as Ghana's single most intractable postcolonial political nightmare (“NPP Must Take Blame for Volta Alienation – Nana Addo” Ghanaweb.com 5/4/12).
In other words, having suffered a crushing and humiliating defeat at the 1956 UN-sponsored plebiscite, the Anlo-Ewe people would enter Corporate Ghana as a defeated people; and as many a credible historical account invariably indicates, any defeated group of people are also, naturally, a resentful people. Feeling greatly outnumbered and culturally and economically marginalized, the Ewe would reflexively, for the most part, cultivate a defensive attitude towards the rest of their non-Ewe fellow countrymen and women, especially the Akan majority whose ranks latter-day Anlo-Ewe leaders like former President Jerry John Rawlings have found to be quite convenient to strategically break as a means of facilitating a vengeful Ewe domination of the country.
Indeed, it was due to this acute state of alienation and the concomitant development of a siege mentality that motivated the Ewe to overwhelmingly and consistently vote in support of Dr. Danquah and the United Party (UP). In the 1960 presidential election, for example, 90-percent of the eligible residents of the Volta Region voted for the putative Doyen of Gold Coast and modern Ghanaian politics. Nkrumah would return the favor by ensuring that no substantive projects were ever undertaken and/or developed in that part of the country.
Explanations for Nkrumah's adamant decision to facilitate the annexation of the erstwhile Trans-Volta Togoland as a part of modern Ghana range from the Show Boy's pan-Africanist ambitions to the geographically sensitive and strategic location of the Akosombo Dam. Whatever be the most authentic explanation, and it actually could equally be both of the foregoing explanations, the fact remains that the political sore-thumb that is the Anlo-Ewe nightmare would continue to gnaw at the proverbial soul of the country.
Indeed, the slain Gen. I. K. Acheampong may well have been “culled” up for summary execution by the Rawlings-led so-called Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) more because of his adamant refusal to allow the Anlo-Ewes, who felt flagrantly discriminated against in the 1970s, to secede than the largely afterthought decision by that posse of mutineers to belatedly charge an already humiliated “Mr.” Acheampong with the capital offence of rank corruption.
Interestingly, Prof. Kofi Nyidevu Awoonor, a convicted co-conspirator and coup-plotter who has never made any secret of his pet aversion for a Ghanaian national identity and citizenship (Remember Awoonor's Legon Declaration of: “I am first and foremost an Ewe before a Ghanaian”?), and who may well have taken an active part in the decision to summarily execute the then-deposed and military honors-stripped “Mr.” Acheampong by firing squad, would later author a book applauding the late then-Col. Acheampong's decision to stick to the official results of the 1956 UN-sponsored plebiscite.
For whatever it may be worth, Prof. Awoonor would also later claim to have discovered his Asante-descended great-grandfather.
*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 Director of The Sintim-Aboagye Center for Politics and Culture and author of “Danquah v. Nkrumah: In the Words of Mahoney.” E-mail: [email protected]