“Honesty is the best policy”
(American Statesman: 1700)
In 1507, King James IV of Scotland was granted the title of “Protector and Defender of the Christian Faith” by Pope Julius II in October, 1521, Pope Leo X granted the same title to King Henry VIII for his authorship of the book. “AssertioSeptemSacramentum (Defence of the 7 Sacraments). Ironically, it was the same Henry VIII who broke with Rome in 1530 and established himself as head of the Church of England (after the Pope had ex–communicated him for divorcing Catherine of Aragon and marrying Anne Boleyn and, later, five other women…)
We were not ashamed to respond to the tag “Defender of NPP”. Perhaps, “it was in our blood –”. Or, perhaps, the centripetal forces within the party were stronger than the centrifugal. Or, perhaps, we were responding to our parents, guidance. Or, simply, perhaps, we had read the histories and ideologies of various political parties, and got convinced that, by comparison, NPP stood tallest among the others. We stood stoically by the party- and our actions were not dictated by ethnic considerations – not at all.
Our inclination was: “Aban adwuma, yedidi ho; yennidi nko mu” (Government work: we eat around it; we don’t eat inside it). That was integrity and honesty at their peak. And we thought all other members would come on board: In the course of this resolve, some of us suffered immensely, targeted as followers of particular individuals, specifically, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo, the present President. Some of us were sacked from our work places, but we kept our head high, and trodded on.
Then, the snippets kept coming. Why would anyone, and a senior advisor as such, make any remark to the effect that Eastern Region chiefs contributed to the struggle for independence in Ghana; at that time, there were no Asantes! Is the statement necessary at this stage of our political history? So, you discount the contributions of the “masses” in Ashanti among other “ethnic” groups who have been loyal to the party and helped it to steer the course and gallop to victory? Or some of the local chiefs who would stealthily whip us up: “Monko nko moanim, ye tae moakyiri” (Fight on, we are behind you).We have not bothered our heads about the ethnic background of George (Pa) Grant, the first Chairman of the first political party, United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) in 1947, with J.B Danquah and R.S. Blay as the Vice Chairmen. One cannot discount the unique role of Pa Grant in bankrolling the party. But what about Baffour–Akoto, R.R. Amponsah, N.Y.B. Adade, Victor Owusu… K.A. Busia… we cherish the literary prowess of J.B. Danquah: his 1945 poem still rings “I edited news and sold it I dyed my hair and stopped it; I espied a truth and published it; … I visioned Great Akan and slaved for it … I denounced Evil and annoyed it …”
We thought people would recount the fierce resistance of Asantes to British rule – the various battles Sagrenti War (1874), culminating in the Yaa Asantewaa War (the War of the Golden Stool in 1900 after the British had exiled King Prempeh I to the Seychelles in 1896). The Queen of Ejisu had challenged the men: “How can a proud and brave people like the Asante sit back and look while white men took away their king and chiefs, and humiliated them with a demand for the Golden Stool … if you, the chiefs of Asante are going to behave like cowards and not fight, you should exchange your loincloths for my undergarments (Montu modanta mma me na monnye me tam).
Professor Henry Kwasi Prempeh retorts “If you don’t count any Asante, Northern or Voltarian elite in the “Big Six”, it was because the 1948 Riots was largely a Gold Coast Colony palaver and especially an Accra – centered one. If you were not in Accra, you were not likely to have been arrested … Perhaps a more interesting historical inquiry is how Eastern Region chiefs, not being signatories to the Bond of 1844, and not having fought a war against the British, ended up as part of the Gold Coast Colony, thereby necessitating their having to fight at a later date for their independence… If you submit yourself willingly to be colonized by a European Power (as well as aid the coloniser to colonise other territories, notably Asante) why should you expect those who resisted their colonisation and who fought for a restoration of their self – government to bother themselves with your own subsequent fight for your independence?’
Nana Kwame Osei Bonsu, Otumfuo Ahenenanahene throws in a punch: “That’s the nature of human beings like (?) Once you feed them, they try to bite your hands. NPP has given you the mouth to talk…. when we vote how many votes do (?) give as against (?)
Then, we go into the history of the Danquah/ Busia/Dombo tradition. At Chapter 24 of Appiah-Minka’s autobiography: “The River in the Sea” published in 2010 the late respectable statesman recalled:
“The other cause of the breakup of the Post Second Republican Progress Party frontline was the lack of expertise in the Danquah/ Busia/Dombo tradition to handle and manage crisis within a political party, as well as the arrogance and pride of members to subject their personal and sometimes petty and overambitious wishes to the main and central body interest. A defect which still persists in the DBD tradition and needs serious diagnosis and prescription”. We are not saying this; it is the verdict of a veteran politician who had “seen it all” in the kaleidospic political history of the political party. Appiah– Minka himself says about his autobiography; “Believe it or not, ‘the River in the Sea’ is not a fiction but the hither to concealed confluence of the flow of eventful realities of my life”. Appiah–Minka had been “village boy, lawyer, politician and entrepreneur”. The questions to the NPP administration are many, and they are not being asked by the opposition alone, but also by lovers of the party – and who says he loves the party more than we do? We are not chasing the elephant into the bush. We want to steer it home.
We would have pulled no punches; we would have said more, except that it is no use washing our dirty linen in public, and also for the advice of Francis Kofie, Esquire who advises us: “Sometimes, the actions of a person may defy logic and mundane reasoning, but given that it is in honouring a divine oath, one has to be circumspect in their accusation and lambasting”. This philosophical reasoning was formed at the lawyer’s experience in Justice Owusu Sekyere’s court in 1996 when an accused lawyer asked his client in a murder case why he had made so many open confessions in court, even evidence the prosecution had not adduced. The accused replied: “Lawyer, mene wo kasae no, na mennii nse; seesei dee, madi nse” (Lawyer, when I talked with you, I hadn’t been sworn in, now I have sworn an oath…)
Any one of the national NPP chairmanship aspirants who wins will have a huge task before him. Prof Ameyaw Akumfi, Stephen Ayensu Ntim, Joseph Ayikoi Otoo, Stephen Asamoah – Boateng, Sammy Crabbe, Akwasi Osei Adjei, George Kwabena Abankwah – Yeboah. We wish all of them well. Fare thee well, Freddie Blay.