Nana Akuffo-Addo is usually a measured gentleman who chooses his words carefully. His speeches are often laced with quotable quotes for everyone to mull over. But his recent address to supporters in Koforidua came with just one quotable quote, which, unfortunately, is the worst I’ve heard from him – “All die be die!”
It’s so bad because, to begin with, it’s not original. It’s the sort of gutter language reckless people use to defend or justify their dangerous deeds. Ask any anti-HIV campaigner and they will tell you that a lot of men say “all die be die” to justify their inability to keep their ‘langalanga’ zipped up.
A potential president never says “all die be die” – not even in jest. If we ever get a President Akuffo-Addo, he cannot stand anywhere to tell Ghanaians to lead healthy lives and make safety a cardinal principle. If a President Akuffo-Addo stands in front of any driver to plead for caution on the road, he will get either a slap or an emphatic exclamation: “all die be die!” The words might be followed by a slap – two for the price of one.
The context within which Nana Addo said “all die be die” seemed so ethnocentric that it made him sound like a divisive bigot – not the unifier a prospective president is supposed to be.
“They have made up their minds that they will intimidate us in 2012,” he said. “They believe that we Akans can’t stand pain and that when you scare us and injure one or two of us, the rest will run away.”
I have a feeling that, perhaps, he really didn’t mean to be ethnocentric. But the fact that he mentioned ‘Akans’ makes it difficult, if not impossible, for Nana Addo (or anyone close to him) to explain his words any other way. He can’t tell us that he had no intention to create the impression that in the murky arena of Ghanaian politics, one tribe is ever-so determined to ride roughshod over another. It doesn’t help that he seemed to be urging his followers, ostensibly the ‘Akans’, to fight back.
“Our forebears who formed this party and made it the biggest political movement in Ghana, were not people who hid under beds,” he said. “We must muster courage and show that for the 2012 elections all die be die.”
Nana Addo is not exactly asking Akans – or anyone of his supporters for that matter – to pick up cudgels and start smashing the heads of their opponents. So he cannot be the warmonger he’s being made out to be. But he clearly spoke out of desperation, urging his people to fight back when they are attacked. He practically asked his people to take the law into their own hands.
Nana Addo is a former Attorney General. He’s supposed to be one of the last people in this country to ask his followers to fight back. I expect him to tell his follows to constantly seek refuge in the law and in the law enforcement agencies.
By urging his supporters not to hide under beds and fight back, Nana Addo has told Ghanaians that he is the most desperate politician in Ghana today. What else would make a man who proclaimed a few years ago that no Ghanaian blood should be spilled because of an election to turn around and urge his followers to fight back because “all die be die”?
Time is not on Nana Addo’s side. 2012 will be his last chance at the presidency. It’s an election he must win. And with Atta Mills and his men fumbling all over the place, citing ground-breaking ceremonies as achievements, Nana Addo must be feeling that he’s most definitely going to be sworn-in as president in January 2013. And he doesn’t want anyone or anything to come between him and the presidency. Anyone who threatens violence to prevent him from becoming president, must be faced by courageous men. But no one should sacrifice his life for Nana Addo to become president. In fact, no one should die for another to achieve his political ambitions. That’s a foolish death.
Nana Addo should be well reminded to go back to that fantastic, conciliatory speech he read after he won the NPP’s presidential primary in December 2007. That was more of a dignified posture from a man ready to serve every Ghanaian. Now, with words like “all die be die” Nana Addo sounds like a desperate, selfish tribal bigot seeking only what is best for himself and his people – the ‘Akans’ – even at the cost of human life. Anyone who doesn’t mind the spilling of human blood and recklessly proclaims that all “die be die” doesn’t deserve the mantle of leadership.
I expect any man who wants to be president of this country to exhort his followers to seek refuge under the law – not to muster courage and fight back. If Nana Addo truly believes that all “die be die”, he should get rid of his bodyguards and move into the next political hotspot he hears about. Getting himself killed will convince us that all die, truly, be die. Otherwise, I insist that some deaths, especially for a politician, are foolish deaths.