By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Garden City, New York
In composition and rhetoric, or rhetoric (speech) and composition, there is something called “Register.” The latter refers to the context, or environment, which invariably determines the content and diction of the message of any speaker and/or writer. Politicians like Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, as well as Messrs. Akufo-Addo and Mahama, are well aware of the fact that not all Ghanaian voters and citizens order – or arrange – their needs, aspirations and concerns according to the same rungs of priority. The most pressing needs and concerns of most northern-Ghanaian residents may not necessarily be the same as those of their southern-Ghanaian counterparts, even including southern Ghanaians of northern-Ghanaian descent.
And so, really, it would have been inexcusably unwise and even downright preposterous for Dr. Bawumia to have feigned, or pretended, that their Islamic religious and cultural identity had absolutely no significance in Fourth Republican Ghanaian politics, when he recently visited Ghanaian Muslims at the Seven Sisters Mosque in London. Even here in the United States, the most powerful secular democratic polity in the world, religion (largely Christianity) occupies a front-row seat in the psyche of the overwhelming majority of the population. And, of course, this may come as rather ironic to some of our readers, but it is the same nation that canonized the legal and political concept of “Separation of Church and State” that also emblazoned its legal tender – the Almighty Dollar – with the following motto: “In God We Trust.”
I have a joke that I often share with my students, regarding how America’s Founding Fathers had, when they framed up the preceding motto, not been prescient enough to also anticipate the fact that by the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, their descendants would have significantly modified this divine and immortalized motto to now read: “In Guns We Trust.”
Indeed, Osibisaradio.com, the website that first put out the story captioned “I Was Selected Because I Am A Muslim – Dr. Bawumia,” clearly exposes its own lack of truthfulness, credibility and integrity in the following quote captured from the speech of Dr. Bawumia at the Seven Sisters Mosque in London. Well, this is exactly what, according to Osibisaradio’s own reportage of the same, Dr. Bawumia said: “Let’s look at what will benefit our people. I have been selected ‘partly’ because I am a Muslim; so am selected [sic] because I am one of you. I am not representing [just] myself but all of you.”
In brief, at no point in his speech did Dr. Bawumia either say or even imply that Nana Akufo-Addo and the New Patriotic Party’s Council of Elders, the NPP’s National Executive, and the NPP’s National Council had endorsed his selection as Nana Akufo-Addo’s running-mate primarily on the strength of his Muslim faith or affiliation. And it is rather scandalous to be forced to reckon the fact that there are this many supposedly “been-to” critics of Dr. Bawumia and the New Patriotic Party who have absolutely no remarkable critical-thinking skills.
After all, what is wrong with Dr. Bawumia’s momentary decision to bond with his London-resident, fellow Ghanaian Muslims? Don’t we all bond with our audiences, relatives and friends, and even total strangers, at various levels and degrees of intimacy at all times? It is also not true that Mr. P. C. Appiah-Ofori is dead-set against the vice-presidential candidacy of the former Bank of Ghana Deputy Governor.
The retired NPP-MP from Asikuma-Odoben-Brakwa, in the Central Region, had initially objected to Dr. Bawumia’s placement on the top ticket of the New Patriotic Party. But such objection had been wholly on the basis of the proverbian maxim of “charity needing to begin at home,” or the fact that nearly every one of the most significant members of Dr. Bawumia’s family, including the latter’s own mother, were prominent members of the National Democratic Congress.
Mr. Appiah-Ofori has since long backtracked and healthily recognized the fact that Dr. Bawumia’s significance to the New Patriotic Party primarily and squarely hinges on the Mamprusi native’s genius as one of the foremost Ghanaian economists of his generation, rather than the ideological leanings of most of the members of the Bawumia clan.