By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Mr. Mahama Ayariga has come out to publicly state that President John Mahama meant every word of his blanket accusation of Asantes’ being irredeemably ungrateful for the great strides made by his government towards the purportedly massive development of the Asante Region. And so it is rather laughable for Mr. Bernard Allotey Jacobs to insistently claim that the magnetic tape on which the President’s voice is heard lambasting what he terms as Asante ingratitude has been doctored (See “NPP Doctored Mahama’s Kumasi Tape – Allotey Jacobs Asserts” MyJoyOnline.com 5/7/14).
Maybe it is the term “doctored” that the Central Regional Communications Director of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) is having such a great time understanding. And so, perhaps, we need to explain it to Mr. Allotey Jacobs. “Doctored” simply means that, indeed, a magnetic tape, or audiotape, exists on which the voice of President Mahama can be heard. And also that there is absolutely no debate about the authenticity of Mr. Mahama’s voice. What the President’s lackeys and hangers-on are disputing are the contents of what he is alleged to have said during his three-day working tour of the Asante Region.
What makes Mr. Allotey Jacobs’ denial, or round rejection, of the Mahama tirade plausibly suspect and/or without merit, is the fact that his denial has been clearly and publicly, and convincingly, contradicted by Mr. Ayariga, the Information Minister, who has far greater access to the President, being a cabinet appointee, than the Central Regional Communications Director of the NDC. Furthermore, like Mr. Mahama, the Harvard-educated Mr. Ayariga is of Gonja descent, which means that the two men have a language in common whose nuances may not be readily accessible to Mr. Allotey Jacobs.
Mr. Ayariga was also very likely traveling with the President when the latter made his patently unflattering anti-Asante statement, as widely alleged and reported. Mr. Ayariga has also indicated that the President said what has been widely attributed to him in the best way that he knows how. In other words, Mr. Mahama could not have said what he is alleged to have said in a more diplomatic manner. Now, that is a quite interesting observation.
President Mahama is quoted as having said that even if his National Democratic Congress government were to “tar the streets of Kumasi with gold, the residents would still say the NDC has done absolutely nothing.” Such negative characterization is what sociologists call “stereotyping,” and it is often meant, on the part of the one doing the stereotyping, to indiscriminately represent and/or tarnish the image of whole ethnic groups and communities. In other words while, on the face of it, Mr. Mahama appears to have alluded to “all Kumasi residents,” without any apparent regard to ethnicity or national origin, in reality, the reference was squarely and unmistakably directed at Kumasi residents of Asante descent.
You would think that a reasonably well-schooled politician like Mr. Mahama would know better than to indiscriminately bunch all Asantes into a blanket category of pathological ingrates. And for Mr. Allotey Jacobs to assert that calling up his boss on the latter’s bad-mouthing of Asantes was a gratuitous attempt to malign President Mahama in the lead-up to Election 2016, is inexcusably asinine. Indeed, in the white-hot heat of Election 2012, nobody, to the best of my knowledge, instigated the Bole-Bamboi native to inform his audiences in Tamale, and elsewhere in the Northern Region, that unless Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia reversed positions on the New Patriotic Party’s presidential-nomination ticket, the only candidate worth voting for was he, Mr. Mahama, alone.
In other words, ethnic chauvinism and stereotyping are the staple political diet of the man who would cynically have the rest of us believe that he is routinely victimized and rampantly disrespected because he is a northerner, and not because of his gross administrative incompetence. What a shame!.
*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Department of English
Nassau Community College of SUNY
Garden City, New York
Board Member, The Nassau Review