Feature: Professor Mike Ocquaye worsens the NPP’s plight – By Peter M. Dzidza

If you are the kind interested in revisionist history, then, here is an opportunity for you to indulge your pleasure. I am not and will be forthright in taking on those using politically motivated revisionist tendencies to plaster Ghana’s history. The NPP’s Professor Mike Ocquaye is one such revisionist historian. He has brought himself, and I have chosen to take him to task on that score of historical revisionism. Here is the beef against him.

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Radio XYZonline reported him on April 11, 2014, as accusing former President Jerry Rawlings of causing both the Northerners and the Ewes to hate Akans. A very terrible accusation to make, which is regrettable, given Professor Ocquaye’s own stature as a historian and an acknowledged academician whose detour into partisan politics only helped boost his personal financial standing to cushion him for life.

His academic work fetched him very little. Thus, seeking solace in partisan politics, he could afford to make his day at the expense of Jerry Rawlings (unarguably, the most people-centred leader that Ghana has had).

Truth be told upfront, Prof. Ocquaye’s accusation is not supported by the politicking done by Rawlings. Neither is it grounded in any truth about Ghanaian political developments. Even, if we stretch our imagination beyond the Rawlings era, we will not find anything to support Prof. Ocquaye’s lame opinion. The historical events leading to the perceived mistrust between the Ewes, especially the people of Anlo, on the one hand, and the so-called Akans of Prof. Ocquaye’s delineation, on the other hand, say otherwise. Rawlings is no instigator of any hatred for any ethnic group.

Even through it is regrettable that Ghanaian politics has been reduced to tribal politics, politicians of Prof. Ocquaye’s kind have to be aware that no one can re-write the already settled history of the tribes of Ghana, especially the Ewes and the Akans. Only those mischievously seeking to “unsettle” the already-settled history will do as Prof. Ocquaye has done. It is based on this that well-meaning Ghanaians have to condemn Prof. Ocquaye’s petulant views that Rawlings is to blame for causing the Ewes and Northerners to hate the Akans. He has no shred of evidence to warrant such an obnoxious accusation.

Rawlings is human and has his inadequacies; but none can fault him with tribalism!!  Throughout his military and political service to Ghana, he brought all on board and worked with everybody who was willing to prosecute his agenda of “development” for Ghana. Only a sick mind will not appreciate that all-round quality of what Rawlings stood (and still stands) for.

Many reasons abound for this claim. One is that although Rawlings is from Keta (by virtue of his mother’s ancestry), he hardly can speak the Ewe language fluently as compared to the Twi that is spoken by the Akans. And we are reminded that he has been married to an Akan (Nana Konadu Agyemang-Rawlings all these years). Besides, his cordial relationship with both the present and the past Asante chiefs (be they the Asantehenes or any other traditional ruler) cannot be compared to any that he has had with chiefs in the Volta Region let alone the Awoamefia of the Anlo states to which he traces his own ancestral root.

Perhaps, what Prof. Ocquaye could not identify is the unique nationalistic character of Rawlings, which he demonstrated during his 19-year-rule in which he appointed a greater number of Akans to positions of trust. How can any reasonable being, therefore, say that such a man hated Akans?

Indeed, Rawlings’ trust and love for the Akans culminated in the commencement of many development projects in regions traditionally known as Akan (asphalting of roads in Kumasi, especially) as compared to the rest of Ghana. It’s therefore irritating for anyone (let alone a scholar of Prof. Ocquaye’s stature) to impugn such a great man of putting a wedge between Ewes/Northerners and Akans.

But Prof. Ocquaye would go that way because he couldn’t find any reason to explain the dwindling influence of his beloved NPP, a party built on nothing but narrow-minded Akan partisanship, which is why Akufo-Addo would reinforce everything with his obnoxious “Yen Akanfuo” mantra. Certainly, Prof. Ocquaye and those thinking like him can’t cope with the waning influence of their Akan-based NPP and must give Rawlings a bad name for it.

Having led the NDC to defeat the NPP and make it unattractive to the voters, Rawlings is certainly their bull’s eye to hit with their verbal archery; but they will continue to miss the target.

The truth must be told that the causes of the perceived animosity between the Akans, in general (or Asantes, in particular), on one hand, and the Ewe people, on the other hand, don’t lie with us. They date back to the days of conquest when the Ashanti Kingdom extended its hegemony by conquering areas (including some Ewe territories) but not Anlo land.

Here is the real history that eluded Prof. Ocquaye, but which he needs to learn so he can improve his delivery as a scholar, even as he awaits the painful end to his career.

In their quest to capture Anlo and take over the salt industry, the Asante marauding troops were stiffly resisted and later routed. As a result, the people of Anlo concluded that the Asantes had collaborated with other tribes to wage a series of wars against them. Prominent among them were the 1750 Nonobe War between Anlos and Adas in which the Awadada Aboadzi the First of Anlo was captured and killed. The year 1776 saw the Ako or the Songorwiwli War during the reign of Awadada Kowuga I.

From 1782 to 1784, the entire Gold Coast colony, led by the Danish governor Salvadore, waged an offensive against the people of Anlo, an expedition known as the “Sagbadre War”, which saw the death of many warriors in Anlo land. As if that was not enough, eight years later, Awadada Kowuga I was captured and killed in the battle of Someawo in 1792. This was followed by the Keta War or the Agudza war from 1844 to 1847 during the reign of Awadada Axorlu I, who drove them out to settle later at Agbozume.

The rest are the Agoe war fought in 1860–1863 at Agoe-Adzigo (Togo), where many Anlo warriors perished; there was also the 1865 Funu War, the 1866 Datsutagba War (where the warriors of Anlo met the Asante army, fought and defeated them at Akatsi and Mafi-Adidome respectively, 1869–1872); the Wedome War; the 1873–1874 Glover War; the 1881 Kpoglu or Dzodze War; the 1885 Taleto War (where Togbi Gawu II of Whuti was captured and killed); and the 1889 Shime or Trekume War. The role of the Asantes in these wars pitted the Anlos against the Asantes: suspicion, distrust, mistrust, and ill-will took over. History has it all.

These historical animosities were compounded by lack of  recognition of the 9 May 1956, plebiscite held under UN supervision by some prominent members of the NPP who happen to be Akan. The current Volta Region (formally known as British Togoland) was a German territory which was first formed after the partition of Togoland on 27 December, 1916, by both English and French forces during World War I. As a result, the protectorate of Togoland was split between the two powers, namely, French Togoland and British Togoland.

Initially it was under the League of Nations Class B mandate which became United Nations Trust Territory. In 1922, British Togoland was formally placed under British rule while French Togoland, now Togo, was placed under French rule. Indeed after the Second World War, the political status of British Togoland changed, as it became a United Nations Trust Territory but still under the administration by the Queen of England till the decolonization of the Gold Coast ,which saw the organization of the plebiscite in British Togoland in May 1956, making British Togoland part of the then Gold Coast.

To decide the future of the territory, the United Nations General Assembly on the 13th of December, 1956, passed resolution 1044 on the future status of Togoland under British administration. With this the UN acknowledged the outcome of the plebiscite, cementing the formal merger with the Gold Coast. It is, therefore, unfortunately that after 60 years of historical struggle, some politicians continue to discriminate against the people of the Volta Region on the basis that they are not Ghanaians while the UN with the same mandate continues to create and merge countries, a recent example being Sudan, leading to North and South Sudan.

Prof. Ocquaye needs more enlightenment on history to know that Ewes have been victims of dastardly acts by their haters.  The infamous “Operation Guitar Boy”, which was a code-name for the 17th April, 1967, counter  coup d’état against the NLC in Ghana by three junior officers of the Ghana Armed Forces (Lt. Samuel Arthur, Lt. Moses Yeboah and 2nd Lt. Osei-Poku, all akans) saw the assassination of C.Y Borkloe, A.K. Avevor  (both captains in the Ghana Armed Forces) and Lt.-General Emmanuel Kwasi Kotoka, the Chief of Defence Staff. All these victims were prominent Anlo citizens. Indeed, soon after their assassination, there was a publication which created the impression that the counter-coup had been aimed against the Ewe domination of the NLC government (Reference: a book by Dennis Austin et al., 1975, entitled Politicians and Soldiers in Ghana:1966–1972).

That’s not even all the history that Prof. Ocquaye has failed to learn or has side-stepped in his selective amnesia. It is also clear that Busia’s Apollo 568 was aimed to neutralize the Ewe domination in both the civil and public sectors in Ghana at the time. Of course, the Ewes and Northerners still dominate those sectors, not because of nepotism or tribalism but because they are duly qualified to be where they are. Who will forget Busia’s intolerant outburst of “No court!!” in reaction to the infamous Sallah vs. Attorney General (1970) case when the court asked the government to reinstate Sallah (an Ewe in charge of the GNTC)?

There are many more to cite, but we will not go any further, once we know that we have duly taken on Prof, Ocquaye and his myopic view of Ghanaian politics, especially the part concerning Rawlings. Those politicians who choose to pin hopes on denigrating Rawlings as a means to garnering support for their lost political causes had better wake up because the Ghanaian is enlightened enough to sift the chaff from the grain. Unfortunately for the NPP members, the light is still difficult to see; hence, such idiotic utterances of the sort that we have been commenting on all this while.

Seeking to build political fortunes out of Rawlings won’t wash with Ghanaians. The challenges facing the NPP go beyond the Rawlings factor. They have to look for better means to make their political cabal attractive to the voters. Attacking Rawlings just to muddy the waters won’t save them from doom.

To worsen their plight, reference can easily be made to comments from some prominent leaders of their political family (who happened to be Akans) that spawned the hatred against them that they are complaining about today.

They needn’t go far to know how the disparaging comments they make, setting themselves up as better than all other Ghanaians, will haunt them forever. Such comments have worsened the already frosty relationship that exists between them and the other ethnic groups.

It is based on these and many others that l consider Prof. Ocquaye’s petulant accusations against Rawlings as not only misplaced but also counter-productive to the NPP’s cause. It is good to know that Rawlings had not bothered to react to that allegation, which speaks volumes.

In the end, the question for Prof. Ocquaye to answer is: Is Prof. Ocquaye an Akan? How does pitting the Akans (as he constructs them in his mind) against the Ewes and Northerners serve the NPP’s cause?

Surely, Prof. Ocquaye has added more vitriol to the anti-NPP politics, and it will all manifest on election day. What Rawlings represents cannot be comprehended by Prof. Ocquaye and Co. Lazy thinkers, indeed; and parochial politicians to wit!!

I welcome your comments.

Contact me at: dzidza70@gmail.com.

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