Eastern Region Is Ghana’s Most Electorally Unpredictable

Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

In the wake of Nana Akufo-Addo’s landslide reelection victory as the New Patriotic Party’s flagbearer for Election 2012, heated discussions have swirled around the candidate’s supposedly dismal performance in his “home region” in Election 2008. The tendency has been for the less critical of discussants to point to former President Kufuor’s commanding support in the Asante Region during the three times that he ran for the presidency as the basis of sound comparative analysis.

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What such critics fail to note, to begin with, is the semiotic significance of the geographical descriptors of “Asante” and “Eastern” regions. That the Eastern Region is, arguably, the most diverse of all the ten regions of Ghana, with the obvious exception of the Greater-Accra Region, of course, does not either seem to occur to these critics or mean much to them. Couple the preceding with the fact that for quite a long time, the capital of the Eastern Region was Accra, which also doubled as our national seat of governance, and then, perhaps, a remarkable picture of the diversity of this most active industrial region of Ghana begins to emerge.

The argument here, of course, is not that none of the other eight regions of the country totally lacks a recognizable modicum of ethnic diversity. It is rather that the degree of such diversity tends to be significantly and relatively far less intense than what prevails in both the Greater-Accra Region and the Eastern Region. I have also observed that while, indeed, Akans predominate the Eastern Region, nonetheless, such ethnic predominance palpably lacks the kind of critical organicity, or coherence, that one witnesses in the Asante Region.

In sum, the fact that there once flourished a formidable geopolitical enterprise called the Asante Empire but nothing called the Akyem-Abuakwa Empire or even the Akyem Empire, would in no small measure dictate a form of civic and ethnic cohesion among the denizens of the former that would be sorely lacking among the inhabitants of the latter.

Outside the Asante regional capital of Kumasi and, perhaps, a handful of other commercial centers, largely the mining towns, the Asante Region lacks the kind of magnetic pull that guaranteed that within the course of a few generations traditional polities like Akyem-Abuakwa would have their primary inhabitants or AdehyeE effectively reduced to the status of an ethnic minority. Here, too, the fact of the Eastern Region, particularly the Akan areas’ having originated the commercial cultivation of cocoa, Ghana’s economic mainstay, guaranteed that diverse ethnic groups, both from within Ghana and without, would gravitate towards this proverbial land of milk and honey.

Over the course of time, the relatively recent settlers, having long exhausted themselves of the generosity and hospitality of their former hosts, and having reached the proverbial “glass ceiling,” in terms of proximity and access to political influence and power, begin to develop a reactionary sentiment of acute resentment; and even as these recent settlers attain a critical numerical mass, set themselves up against their former hosts, whom they now begin to envisage as an arbitrary check on their progress and development.

In the Asante royal, as well as administrative, capital of Kumasi, such contrarian behavioral symptoms exist among the largely Muslim districts of Asewase and Aboabo, which have recently become virtual hermetic strongholds of the putatively anti-Akan and Ewe-controlled National Democratic congress (NDC). Even so, there is a political safety valve here in the form of the Kumasi Traditional Council, presided over by Otumfuo, His Royal Majesty, the Asantehene, whose membership includes the leaders of the various settler communities.

In sum, to a quite plausible extent, the historical destiny, or rather progression, of the Asante Region has guaranteed that a Candidate Agyekum-Kufuor, with a more radical affinity and familial recognition in the region, would garner more votes than a Candidate Akufo-Addo who, while heartily endorsed by the overwhelming majority of the region’s electorate would, nonetheless, pull up short by a half-million votes. This phenomenon is what many sports commentators dub as HOME-COURT ADVANTAGE. Of course, it would amount to being fatuously facile for the keen observer and/or avid student of Ghanaian politics to ignore the remarkable significance of composing and selling a good narrative to potential voters.

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 a Governing Board Member of the Accra-based Danquah Institute (DI) and author of 21 books, including “The New Scapegoats: Colored-On-Black Racism” (iUniverse.com, 2005).

E-mail: okoampaahoofe@optimum.net.

The opinions expressed here are the author`s and do not necessarily reflect the views of have the endorsement of the Editorial Board of AfricaNewsAnalysis