By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
When in the wake of the tragic passing of President John Evans Atta-Mills, on July 24, 2012, he literally went down on his knees and wept like a child before the chiefs and people of Cape Coast, and pleaded with them to make him “A son of Fante soil and nation,” I knew right then that the then-Vice President John Dramani Mahama was darn too small-minded to be elected President of Ghana. Back then, I called him by his real name, a suave and fawning political opportunist. And then he followed the preceding nine-day antic up with his China-tailored confidence game by promising to build both a state-of-the-art sports stadium for the residents of Cape Coast and a complete remodeling and reconstruction of the Kotokuraba Market. He would tactically follow the preceding up with the strategic, albeit tribally-tailored, selection of Mr. Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur as his Vice-President as well as running-mate for Election 2012.
He must have erroneously fathomed that he had the mandate of the politically sophisticated Fante(s) down pat. In his quite flighty imagination, therefore, all that was left for him to do in order to cinch his stranglehold over the rest of the country, that is after having already “succeeded” in decisively splitting the majority Akan vote, was to roguishly pander to the basest instincts and sentiments of “tribal regionalism,” by suavely pretending as if northern Ghana was the especial electoral preserve of the native-born inhabitants of that upper-half landmass of the country. Such expedient pandering had, of course, been once employed to great effect by his recently deceased boss.
You see, any well-meaning Ghanaian citizen may be apt in caustically carping Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the presidential candidate of the main opposition New Patriotic Party, for his patent faux-pas mantra of “Yen Akanfo,” to wit, “We Ghanaians of Akan descent,” but it shamefully constitutes an untenable splitting of hairs to presume to expediently alienate an integral part of the organic whole, as he invidiously and flagrantly did when the now-late President Atta-Mills appealed to Akans of Fante sub-ethnic descent to blindly and massively offer him their electoral mandate, not primarily because he firmly believed that his party, the then-opposition but now-ruling National Democratic Congress had creditably acquitted itself in the indispensable matter of having laudably delivered on its electoral mandate, but merely because of the pure accident of him having been born into the Fante sub-ethnic community and nation.
Well, on Friday, Nov. 2, 2012, the website of the Multimedia-owned and operated MyJoyOnline.com, as well as other major Ghanaian-owned and operated websites, widely reported that during a campaign tour of his northern home-region, President Mahama had pontifically and rabidly told the chiefs and people of Nankpanduri that it was about time they sundered the shackles of southern Ghanaian political domination by blindly and massively voting one of their own into the august seat of the presidency “in order to make them proud.”
Indeed, it goes without saying that I have absolutely no qualms about the “proud” part of Mr. Mahama’s rather parochial appeal, except for the inescapably offensive part which, somehow, mischievously presumes the presidency to be essentially all about “pride” and pomp bereft of substance or any moral and contractual social responsibility, the way that Western thinkers like Jean Jacques Rousseau perceived the same.
What cannot be reasonably denied is the grim fact that his vicious attempt to both “ethnicize” and tendentiously “regionalize” Ghanaian politics indisputably renders Transitional-Prresident John Dramani Mahama a pathological opportunist and dangerous tribalist who cannot, under any circumstances whatsoever, be expected and/or trusted to govern the country with the functionally admirable poise of a statesman in the neoclassical sense of the term. It is also rather insulting for Mr. Mahama to pretend that this is the very first time in the 55-year-old history of our beloved country that a northerner is being presented with the “golden opportunity” – whatever that means – of being elected president.
As I have had occasion to recall in several previous articles, in 1979, Ghanaians overwhelmingly voted for Dr. Hilla (Babini) Limann, one of the most brilliant minds to have emerged on the national political scene from the North. I did not expect an incurably self-centered President Mahama to publicly acknowledge this “proud” and verifiable fact, being that it was the very ideological faction whose morbidly cynical ideals he now so fanatically champions which unconscionably toppled the Limann-led People’s National Party (PNP).
Anyway, in the landmark election of July 1979, the first Northern Ghanaian-born president won 62-percent of the popular votes, against the decidedly humbling 38-percent carried by Mr. Victor Owusu, leader of the Popular Front Party (PFP). And so whether his glaringly apparent belief that, indeed, President John Dramani Mahama could facilely take Southern Ghanaian voters for granted and for a ride, remains to be seen.
*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 “Sounds of Sirens: Essays in African Politics and Culture” (iUniverse.com, 2004). E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.