Sep 16 2008

The Shame of the Ashanti

Category: Uncategorized<ADMINNICENAME> @ 9:11 AM

The road from Accra to Kumasi is a reminder of how far Ghana has come under the democratic rule of the New Patriotic Party – and how far the west African country must still travel to reach the level of a middle-income society.
Eight years into the administration of John Kuffour, the road to Kumasi remains unfinished, a frustrating work in progress, marred by long stretches of dirt road where the traffic hardly moves. The distance between Ghana’s two largest cities exceeds 220 kilometers, so the journey by automobile or bus consumes five to six hours. With a proper road, the distance could be covered in half that time.
The other day my wife Chizo and I made the roundtrip by a bus, and the journey was predictably awful. I later asked a well-connected friend how Kuffour could experience his final days as president – he is ineligible to run again under the country’s two-term limit – while Ghana’s citizens experiences the follies and frustrations of traveling to his hometown.
I’ve long considered Kuffour’s failure to finish the building a proper road to Kumasi as a real test of his leadership and presidency. Widely considered lethargic and “old school,” Kuffour seems to lack the dynamism even to galvanize public support for the most important commercial transportation project in his country.
When I told my elite Ghanaian friend my theory of why the Kumasi road – the road connecting the president’s core constituency to the Ashanti ethnic group, which is his own – she told me that ethnicity was the reason why this crucial road hasn’t been finished. “Kuffour doesn’t want to be seen to be catering to the needs of his own group,” she told me.
The Ashanti are the  largest ethnic group in Ghana, so their crucial road comes last.
I doubt the theory, actually, if only because my own seems more poetic.

Comments are closed.