Tue, 16 Apr 2013 at 10:14
STOP THIS VILE OVER-PERSONALISED POLITICS
By CAMERON DUODU
Something funny happened on an Internet forum the other day.
Someone had dug up — would you believe it, at this stage of Ghana’s post-election politics — some new “facts” about Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo: to wit, that he had been reported as saying that he had played football with Jones Attuquayefio in the same team: ‘Real Republikans’.
The writer was repeating something I’d heard before but disregarded. The story implied that there was some untruth about Nana Addo’s claim –if he did make such a claim — because in 1962, he, Nana Addo, was busy studying at the University of Ghana and could not have found the time to play football at that level. In any case, it was further implied, Nana Addo’s father, Mr Edward AkufoAddo, was on such antagonistic terms with Ghana’s first President, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, that his son would not have been allowed to play for Real Republikans, whose sobriquet was “Osagyefo’s Own Club”!
I laughed at this notion. No wonder President Mahama called some of our latter-day political pundits “lazy” the other day He’s right, of course. For before a radio talks and current affairs producer puts a microphone at the disposal of anybody, he or she must first research the person’s background and become satisfied that he or she has written enough about the subject as to be able to talk with authority to the public on that subject matter when it comes up for discussion. A radio discussion is, to those who know, just a persuasive word in someone else’s ear, and is not supposed to be allowed to degenerate into a shouting match in which the loudest and/or rowdiest speaker comes up on top – as so frequently happens on our FM radio stations.
Now, I haven’t bothered to ask Nana Addo whether he really did play for Republikans or not – the man has weightier matters on his mind right now, doesn’t he? But even if I were crass enough to wish to ask him, of what relevance is it to our national life? Will the answer put food on the table of anyone? The election is over, is it not? Nana Addo’s qualifications – or alleged lack of some – are no longer an issue, is it, since the electorate has already passed judgement on him? All that is left is for the Supreme Court to determine whether the election result, as declared by the Electoral Commission, was right or wrong, is it not? So what is the point of these continued and concentrated attacks by hired packs on Nana Addo’s person? (Only a fool would expect the Supreme Court to take the slightest notice of any of that, of course! So, really, what is the purpose?)
SETTING A BAD PRECEDENT
The ‘question’ about Nana’s footballing past would not have arisen if the ‘curious’ persons had done any research into the socio-political life of Ghana circa 1962. When he formed Real Republikans, the Director of Sports, Mr Ohene Djan, wanted the team to become invincible on the African continent. So he pinched the best players in the best clubs in the country and put them in one club. Those were the days of “amateurism” in international football, so he could not directly pay them. Instead, he got the Workers Brigade, the State Farms Corporation and other para-statal organisations to offer the players jobs, so that they could earn a decent living, whist devoting themselves to practising football and perfecting their techniques. It was the first time footballers had been given recognition by the state to that extent — before then, the James Agyeis, Charles Gyamfis, Chris Briandts, Oscar Gespers and so on had been at the mercy of a job market that was indifferent to their true worth as national entertainers.. (Chris Briandt, for instance, was a salesman at Kingsway Stores IN Accra. Go and tell that to Abedi Pele or Anthony Yeboah!)OheneDjan was also very clever and realised that the players from the traditional clubs were not so well-educated and that in order that they should be able to absorb a bit of the ‘theoretical’ aspects of modern football, they needed to be exposed to the irreverent “young rascals”who were being bred by the secondary schools and the universities and who could draw rings round some of their elders.So he formed a club called the “Ghana Academicals” and occasionally picked guys from it to supplement the teams fielded by Real Republikans – especially when Republikans were playing in ‘minor’ matches. Therefore it was perfectly feasible for Nana Addo to have been simultaneously studying at the University of Ghana, Legon, and ‘playing’ football for the Republikans on occasion.
As to the insinuation that Ohene Djan would not have allowed Nana Addo into the Republicans because Nana Addo’s father was politically opposed to Ohene Djan’s boss, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, it is bunkum. Ohene Djan came fdrom Aburi, in the Akwapim Mountains, and Mr Justice Akufo Addo )later President) also came from Akwapim — Akropong to be exact. There is an unofficial ‘Kwakwaduam Mafia’ to which both men would have belonged and it would have been unthinkable that Ohene Djan would discriminate against a talented young man from “Ofie” (Akwapim) because of politics.Besides, (someone else generously suggested in the Internet forum discussion already referred to) Nana Addo’s father owned the Ringway Hotel in Accra at the time and this person had been told that Dr Kwame Nkrumah sometimes used the hotel for important meetings. I can easily testify that this could easily have happened: I was a member of the Ghana Society of Writers and we also used the hotel as our meeting place for some time, without ever worrying that we would be mistaken for “opposition conspirators”! Our membership incxluded Michael Dei-Annang, who was Dr Kwame Nkrumah’s African affairs supremo.The atmosphere at Ringway Hotel was very cosmopolitan and no-one would have thought of not using it simply because “it belonged to an opposition man calledAkufo Addo!”In fact, for many years, the Ringway Hotel was run by no less a person than Mr Kofi Batsa, who became editor of Dr Nkrumah’s ideological newspaper, The Spark. Batsa was an nabashed Marxist, yet I believe he ran that capitalist enterprise quite efficiently. That was part of the paradoxes in Ghanaian society at the time and which made Ghana so hard for foreigners to understand. Ghanaians of the time often managed to ride above personal spite, and to separate their political predilections from their personal relationships.Examples: it was Mr Ako Adjei who obtained the job of General Secretary of the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) for Dr KwameNkrumah and thereby enabled Dr Nkrumah to return home from Britain. But when Nkrumah came home, he didn’t altogether click with the other members of the UGCC executive and eventually left to form his own political party, the Convention People’s Party (CPP).However, even though Ako Adjei stayed on with the UGCC, his personal relationship with Nkrumah remained good, and later on, Nkrumah appointed him his Minister of Labour, and then, Foreign Minister! This parting of the ways with Nkrumah and later reconciling with him is probably what sealed Ako Adjei’s fate, for Ako Adjei appears to have been plausibly framed up by the security services – with others, including TawiaAdamafio (another ex-Nkrumah opponent) — and implicated in the plot to throw a grenade at Nkrumah at Kulungugu (an attack that nearly killed Nkrumah in August 1962.)Ako Adjei, Adamafio and others were sensationally tried for treason, even more sensationally acquitted, retried in a manner unprecedented in Ghana’s legal history, and sentenced to long terms of imprisonment.Finally, Mr Joe Appiah, who became one of Dr Nkrumah’s most formidable opponents in later life, was once Nkrumah’s representative in London. Yet both he and another of Nkrumah’s London colleagues, Mr Victor Owusu, turned against Nkrumah and became leaders of the NLM. How many times had they not discussed and indeed planned political actions with Nkrumah and George Padmore in London? How much did they know of Nkrumah’s finances and his romantic liaisons? Yet when they parted ways and became political ‘enemies’, did they engage in tabloid-type personal demonisation of the political opponents they had once known very closely and whose private lives had been an open book to them? No! They were above such childish tittle-tattle.
So why are some people denigrating others, professionally and personally, in the Ghana of today? It stems from a total lack of the decency that the previous generation observed in doing politics. You can hardly go to the Net today without coming across an article about Nana Addo and Oxford; or Nana Addo and the Ghana bar; or Nana Addo and Middle Temple; or — now — Nana Addo and Real Republikans!
For crying out loud — Ghanaians are sick and tired of this facile personalisation of politics. Nana Addo didn’t tell anyone to vote for him because of his physique, or his Oxford education or his stint at the Sorbonne, or his prowess at imitating Lionel Messi on nthe football field! He said he’d make secondary education free, provide water and electricity more regularly and plentifully and add value to Ghana’s raw materials before they are exported.
If anyone wants to take him on, those are the policy issues on which they should engage him. He’s more than ready to debate them. Everything else is frivolous abuse and an attempt at intimidation. At best, it’s an unworthy distracdtion aamd harassment.
PresidentMahama should realise that he is supposed to be the beneficiary of these wicked attacks by the “sharks with sharp teeth” in his party. If he doesn’t call the attack dogs off, it means he condones their behaviour. But as someone with expertise in the science of communication, he should know that propaganda can go into overkill and get out of hand and that when that happens, it creates more problems for the propagandists and their masters than for the intended victims.
For objective people, especially Ghana’s foreign partners, are entitled to ask: what sort of machine is Mahama running that can stoop so low? If his team can stoop so low in political matters, how low will it stoop when crucial economic issues come into contention? Can we do business with this unprincipled and vituperative lot?
Bad habits are easy to acquire and difficult to shake off. It is sad that Mt Mahama, who is the son of a respected politician, should be presiding over a regime some of whose adherents, by their aggressive actions, discourage decent people from wishing to enter politics. If the elder generation that is no longer with us had been discouraged from entering and even enjoying politics, how would this nation have emerged from colonialism for JDM to preside over?What is done to the children-of former Presidents — and Akufo Addo is the son of a late ex-President — can also be done to the [many] children of the current President, can’t it? So, in everyone’s interest, a stop should be put to the vile politics of denigration at once. Or a very shameful tradition will become entrenched in our political culture.