“Mahama’s refererence to ofcials as ‘Akyem sakawa people’ unacceptable” – Akufo-Addo

President Akufo-Addo berates John Mahama’s forays into dogwhistle politics and urges Catholic bishops to speak up against
ethnic hate speech.

President Akufo-Addo has called out comments by the former president John
Mahama, that some government ofcials who hail from the president’s home
Culture Election Nerve Centre Ghana Headline News Politics
9/2/2020 “Mahama’s refererence to officials as ‘Akyem sakawa people’ unacceptable” – Akufo-Addo… 2/6
town, Kyebi, are “Akyem Sakawa people”
, as unacceptable. He also argued
that the remarks ought to be condemned, particularly by Catholic bishops.
The president registered his displeasure as he addressed members of the
Catholic Bishops’ Conference at Jubilee House in Accra when they paid a
courtesy call on him.
“Archbishop, this name-calling and insulting seems to be a feature of
Ghanaian public life … But sometimes, one would hope that, when things
come out, people would comment on them. The comment made by my
opponent –
‘Akyem sakawa people’
– I’ve not heard any independent public
gure in this country, yourselves or anybody, comment on it.
“It’s completely unacceptable. If I were to get up to make comments about
Northerners or Gonjas, you can imagine the uproar there would be in the
country. Presidential candidate, a former president of Ghana – you can call a
group of Ghanaians ‘sakawa people’? And it involves the group from which the
sitting president comes? And that statement goes without comment? And at
the same time we hear all these statements,
‘Let’s all try and bring the politics
of insults to an end.

“Occasions are given where specic comments can be made. Nothing happens
and it’s lost in the generalities. We need to focus on this matter in an evenhanded way,
” President Akufo-Addo said.
[Click on this link to hear President Akufo-Addo speak about ethnic hate
speech.]“I am very disturbed by the comments the former President Mahama made
about Akyem people as ‘sakawa people’
. Up till today, I have not heard any
senior citizen of this country, lay, religious, civil society organisations (CSOs),
public think tanks, reprimand him for that statement.
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“What can be the basis of such a remark? This is a public act that you have a
problem with – fair enough. But then, the people that are doing it are given
this ethic branding.
“It cannot be right. This is the kind of language that we do not want in our
” the president said, making clear his disdain for the comments by the
NDC agbearer.
Ethnic branding
In a speech delivered before President Akufo-Addo made his remarks, the
Metropolitan Archbishop of Tamale and president of the Catholic Bishops’
Conference, Most Reverend Philip Naameh, requested that the president grant
the Catholic University College of Ghana, based in Fiapre, in the Bono Region,
a presidential charter. This would make the university an independent,
degree-awarding institution.
Touching on the politics of insults, the senior Catholic clergyman asked the
president to ensure that all those who will speak for him during the election
campaign do so with decorum.
“We encourage you, Mr President, to ensure that those who speak and
campaign for you do so respecting your own values and etiquettes,
” Most
Reverend Naameh said.
[Click on this link to hear Most Reverend Naameh speak about political rhetoric
and decorum.]While welcoming the call by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference, President
Akufo-Addo argued that the time has come for bishops and all other senior
citizens to condemn public and political gures in Ghana when they make
distasteful comments which promote ethnic bias and divisions.
“When things happen, we deal with them on their merit,
” President AkufoAddo said.
“We don’t worry ourselves whether he is in government or
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 Tags Catholic Bishops’ Conference Election 2020 Hate speech John Dramani Mahama
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo
opposition: if what they have said is unacceptable, it should be pointed out to
“It goes for me. If the president opens his mouth [and] says something that is
unacceptable, he should be reprimanded.

Wilberforce Asare

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