Research and data give rare insights on roads to development, contends Okello Oculi
David Apter once attributed Kwame Nkrumah’s huge popularity among ”small people” Ghanaians to what he called ”CHARISMA”. The term meant that special steam which rises out of certain individuals and generates excitement in masses of people. This special appeal was said to be transitory as a source of legitimacy for a government led by such a leader.
Apter was silent about impacts of decades of colonial taxes without people’s consent; Quantities of cocoa and gold exported out from the labor and lands of the people while their benefits were enjoyed by British business, industries, workers and the general economy.
Cocoa growers had refused to sell their cocoa seeds because the low prices paid by British companies did not match the energies they were spending in growing, harvesting and processing pods and seeds.
To the Ashanti people the humiliation of their KING, the SANTEHENE, stank to the highest heavens in hearts and minds.
Wars between communities with guns supplied by European merchants for the capture and sale of victims for shipment into slavery, had also left deep scars; population stagnation and decline.
It was for all these that Nkrumah’s call for ”FREEDOM NOW” aroused ‘sleeping warriors’ in people. Unlike educated lawyers who spoke English ”through their noses”, Ghana’s market women recognized true manhood in Kwame Nkrumah, who spoke to them in FANTI and GA languages.
He was the Real Man they secretly longed for to save them from oppression by foreign rulers. Kwame Nkrumah and his political party, the Convention Peoples Party (CPP), won the election even while he was in prison for calling on people to hate colonial dictatorship.
Amilcar Cabral, the leader of the war against Portuguese oppression by peoples of Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde, taught the lesson of doing research about living conditions of the people to learn and tap what will appeal to them. As an agronomist, tours around the country enabled him to hear views and see daily experiences of various classes of people.
Leopold Sedar Senghor in Senegal, Mallam Aminu Kano in Nigeria and Julius Kambarage Nyerere in Tanganyika also traveled to village communities; ate and slept among host villagers under moonlight during harmattan seasons. These experiences won support and gave them rare insights about roads to development.
In the campaign for Kenya’s August 2022 presidential elections, Vice President William Ruto has presented the contest as that between ”Sons of the Aristocracy” and the children of ”The Wretched of the Earth’. Uhuru Kenyatta, the President, and son of Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya’s first independence leader, is openly supporting Raila Odinga, the son of Jomo Kenyatta’s opposition politician, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga.
Depicting Raila Odinga as a son of an ”aristocrat” is not plausible. His father led demands for the release of Jomo Kenyatta from a detention based on the false accusation that he was the leader of the Mau Mau war against British immigrants occupying KIKUYU land.
Kenyatta rewarded him by dismissing him from the Vice Presidency, and banning him into political silence.
Ruto has been accused of owning over 10 commercial properties. He is charged of post-2007 election violence targeting Gikuyu who purchased land evacuated by European immigrants. His KALENJIN people vented their bitterness by killing Kikuyu farmers and burning down crops and other properties. Data from this historical drama is in the election campaign.
Under Arap Moi’s presidency, KALENJIN elites practiced the corruption of ”IT IS OUR TURN TO EAT” syndrome Jomo Kenyatta’s allies inherited it from the British. Ruto and Uhuru Kenyatta are sons of an ‘Aristocracy of Corruption”.
Critics allege that this Ruto and Kenyatta trait is shared by Bola Tinubu and Atiku Abubakar. Wide opposition to this political record fueled the horrendous post-election violence in Kenya from December 2007 to February 2008. Over one thousand people were killed. Similar frustration fueled the violence in the 2020 ”END-SARS” protests, Arson and killings across Nigeria.
dr Doyin Okupe, a key staff for Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of Labor Party, is among those who assert that mass frustrations over unemployment, killings by ”Unknown Gunmen” and Islamists, rising cost of food, have cumulatively been blamed on older generation politicians.
Without intensively researched data, it is claimed that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressive Congress (APC) have lost popular support; and Peter Obi is the new ”Redeemer”.
RUTO and OBI have probably not slept under moonlight in villages like Senghor, Mallam Aminu Kano and Nyerere. In Nigeria, it was clear that MKO Abiola winning Kano State (against Bashir Tofa, a son of Kano), came as a big surprise. The possibility that either legacies of political education by Mallam Aminu Kano, or the erosion of benefits provided by Abubakar Rimi’s PRP Government, influenced voters was not researched by Campaign staff.
Prof Oculi writes from Abuja