It is still fresh and raw in my memory, like a sore thumb, as if it just happened yesterday. I am talking about the torrid season of the 2012 Presidential Election Campaign, when the then-Interim President John Dramani Mahama rather crudely and invidiously asked then-Candidate Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to steer totally clear of all issues pertaining to the socioeconomic and cultural well-being of the country’s head porters, otherwise known as “Kayayei” and “Kayanu,” namely, Female Head Porters and Male Head Porters, respectively. Back then, according to then-Interim President Mahama, the Akan-dominated New Patriotic Party (NPP) had done little to absolutely nothing to advance the cause and well-being of these predominantly northern-descended national lumpen-proletariat or underclass, the socioeconomic and cultural group that the great and legendary African-Caribbean scholar-psychiatrist Dr. Frantz Fanon memorably and poignantly described as “The Wretched of the Earth,” in his classic treatise of the same title.
There was absolutely no need for any Ghanaian leader with such designation in functionality or track-record of performance or nonperformance to volley back the question: What have you done for these Kayayei and Kayanu? For Comrade Mahama, all that mattered in the crucial debate over the welfare of the Kayayei and Kayanu underclass was the simple and conspicuous fact that Candidate Mahama was an “Opepeni,” a northern-descended bona fide Ghanaian citizen, and Candidate Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo was not. In other words, Nana Akufo-Addo was a veritable “Kabonga,” to wit, an uncircumcised southern Ghanaian-born barbarian who had absolutely no business, whatsoever, presuming to cavalierly butt into the private affairs of the perennially ignored, rejected and marginalized.
It did not the least bit occur to the Bole-Bamboi native that it was rather the Darwinian-oriented megalomaniacs of the Jerry John Rawlings-chaperoned junta of the Provisional National Defense Council (PNDC), and later the National Democratic Congress, that had done little to absolutely nothing for the good and/or well-being of this most deprived group of bona fide Ghanaian citizens. At least under the John Agyekum-Kufuor-led government of the New Patriotic Party, a National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) had been established, strikingly akin to Great Britain’s National Healthcare System (NHS), that catered to the health needs of all citizens of the land, irrespective of socioeconomic status or class background. At the helm of affairs, the Rawlings Posse had pooh-poohed the feasibility of the National Health Insurance Scheme. Later, rather than eat the proverbial humble pie by candidly coming to terms with their own political inadequacies and respectfully and responsibly congratulating their much more patriotic and politically savvy opponents, the Atta-Mills Posse preferred to lamely and luridly claim that they could manage the NHIS by demanding that beneficiaries fork up or plunk down a one-time premium payment for the efficient administration of the NHIS.
The scandalous implication here was that the NHIS, as it had been perspicuously implemented by then-President John Agyekum-Kufuor, was needlessly wasteful. Well, the farcical story entailing the arrest and seizure of the passports of Mr. Sylvester Mensah, and the summary freezing of the latter’s bank accounts, has amply exposed the kleptocratic shenanigans of the Mahama Posse. What makes for great news here is the decision by President Akufo-Addo to promptly shelter and cater to the socioeconomic needs of nearly 2,000 head porters around the country in the wake of the apocalyptic Coronavirus Pandemic (See “Gov’t to House Kayayei During Lockdown – Gender Minister” Ghanaweb.com 4/1/20). It is quite obvious that much more needs to be done in facilitating the upward mobility of the nation’s socioeconomic underclass, not just the significant melioration of the plight of the Kayayei and Kayanu.
Nana Akufo-Addo pretty much appreciates this reality far more than any of his Fourth-Republican predecessors, thus his landmark and auspicious implementation of the fee-free Senior High School Policy Initiative. Now, what needs to be done is to heavily and wisely invest in the construction of cheap and affordable but durable housing for the nation’s teeming underclass community denizens, wherever they may be found or located across the country. The emergence of the Presidency of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo also marks the dawn of the Golden Age of Ghana’s sociopolitical, economic and cultural development as well as, of course, the country’s rapid industrial development since the equally seismic Presidency of the immortalized Mr. Kwame Nkrumah.
*Visit my blog at: kwameokoampaahoofe.wordpress.com Ghanaffairs
By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York
April 1, 2020
E-mail: [email protected]