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Congrats to Lord Paul Boateng of Ghana and Britain


Congrats to Lord Paul Boateng of Ghana and Britain

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

The source of the announcement of the glorious elevation of Mr. Paul Boateng, 59, a bona fide son of Akyem-Abuakwa and Scotland, was given on Ghanaweb.com in the form of a dash. But what really raised my hackles, as it were, was far less about the protean information source for I am quite certain that most of the global media reported this landmark event  than the caption of the one-paragraph mouthful of a story which snidely sought to impugn the native-Ghanaian identity of the renowned firebrand human-/civil-rights activist, lawyer, diplomat and statesman.

What is more, the chat-room comments on Ghanaweb.com (at least the total of eight that I perused, as of this writing 7/5/10) did not help matters any. Still, as the maxim goes among those of us who best appreciate how it feels to give one's all to the national effort and be rudely unrecognized for the same: We Akans of Akyem heritage love our legion heroes to death, even if the rest of our non-Akyem compatriots find it extremely difficult, or even nigh impossible, to separate the proverbial trees from the forest.

The incontrovertible fact is that the glorious elevation of Mr. Boateng ranks with such landmark global African events as the presidential inaugurals of Messrs. Mandela and Obama; one may even quite understandably add Mr. Nkrumah's 1957 declaration of Ghana's sovereignty from British imperial governance to the package. Then there is also the seismic induction of Mr. Kofi Annan as both the first Black African United Nations Secretary-General and Nobel Peace Prize laureate for his exhibition of administrative finesse and ideological genius, particularly where questions of human rights and equity were concerned.

And so for those among our citizenry who would cynically have the Ghanaian identity and Akyem sub-ethnicity of Mr. Boateng bracketed  or marked off into some sort of garden-variety joke, as Americans are wont to say, let me forthwith confront such clinical cretinism head-on and thoroughly. Let me first recall for them the fact of their having been extortionately lorded over for two protracted decades and counting  at least obliquely  as both a de facto dictator and a suavely indemnified constitutionally elected chief-executive-of-state by a half-Ghanaian strongman whose much-bemoaned Scottish identity has never been definitively established.

Well, like most of us his kinsmen and clansmen  as well as women, of course not only is the Scottish identity of Mr. Boateng incontrovertibly established, but even more significantly, the man’s noble Akyem and Ghanaian patrilineage are established beyond question. And what is more, he has the enviable pedigree of his father, the late Rev. Kwaku Boateng, CPP Minister of the Interior, to back it up! Furthermore, having partly attended the elite Accra Academy High School, Brother Paul, a Methodist cleric, just like his father before him, has lived and experienced life as a Ghanaian, however brief this may be deemed. And then in the wake of Nkrumah's overthrow and his father's 4-year's political imprisonment, as a veritably endangered species and political refugee, he had to flee Ghana for his life, together with his sister and their mother.

And so, if one may pertinently ask: What is all this critical poppycock about the man not having contributed meaningfully to Ghana's development? Anyway, for the information of those stentorian know-nothing and care-nothing critics, from 1987 to 2005 when the now-Lord Paul Boateng, of Akyem and Wembly, and it bears observing here that the latter parenthetical epithet is very important to this author, served as both British parliamentarian and Labor Party cabinet member, our illustrious kinsman and clansman doggedly promoted the welfare of Britain's youth, women and ethnic minorities, of which latter demographic section diaspora Ghanaians and Africans, in general, constituted a remarkable percentage.

Indeed, his high profile involvement in the progressive destiny of continental Africans would shortly prompt then-Prime Minister Tony Blair to appoint this Akyemkwaa British High Commissioner (or Ambassador) to South Africa, in which diplomatic capacity Lord Boateng would play a key role in crafting a legal instrument guaranteeing easy access of African products into Western markets. To be certain, it can hardly be gainsaid that the two Ghanaian-descended British citizens who won parliamentary seats in the most recent election owed much more of their successes to the proverbial heavy-lifting” work undertaken by indispensable pathfinders like Lord Boateng of Akyem and Wembly!

But what is even more edifying is to hear the astute statesman allude to the complex concatenation of race and ethnicity in his approach to life as well as his ideological location in the scheme of global affairs: My color is [an integral and immutable] part of me, but I do not choose to be [parochially] defined by color. Likewise, for the newest peer among the 707-member British House of Lords or Upper-Chamber of Parliament the destiny of humans in our post-industrial cosmopolitan village, as it were, is both philosophically and practically inextricable: We can never be free in Brent until South Africa, too, is free, Lord Boateng would tell his beaming supporters on election night in 1987. And as the first Black Minister in Government and Deputy Health Minister, the Rt.-Hon. Boateng would legally end the denial of child/baby adoptions purely on the basis of race. He would also oversee the disbursement of £450 million, the largest funding program designed to meliorate child poverty at the time.

Anyway, recently, a quite prominent member of the Kufuor cabinet was overheard querying as to what Akyemfoo have contributed to Ghana's development for Nana Akufo-Addo to be gunning for the Ghanaian presidency. Well, this tip-of-the-ice achievement of Lord Paul Boateng is our modest riposte.

Indeed, you may enviously choose to talk about the existence of an Akyem Mafia, as opposed to an anti-Andani Dagomba Mafia, for example. My terse response is as follows: We Akyemfoo couldn't be all that bad as individuals and as a clan, or could we?

Source: *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 a former poet of Anokyekrom of the Ghana National Cultural Center, Kumasi (1979-1984). E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .



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