Pulse Editorial: Time has come for the nation to tackle ethnic stereotyping, name-calling

Last week former president John Mahama and National Democratic Congress flagbearer shared a post written by Bolgatanga Central Member of Parliament, Isaac Adongo, on his Facebook wall containing derogatory remarks against President Nana Akufo-Addo.

President Nana Akufo- Addo and NDC flagbearer John Dramani Mahama

The post aimed at the ethnic background of President Akufo-Addo and other officials of his government such as Ken Ofori-Atta, Finance Minister, Asante Bediatuo, Executive Secretary to the President, Gabby Otchere-Darko, a cousin of the President, Kofi Osafo Maafo, son of the Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo Maafo among others.

The post shared by the NDC flagbearer expressed indignation at the controversial Agyapa Mineral deal for among other things its lack of transparency, the decision to register the company in a tax haven, and the fact that the agreement runs in perpetuity.

In the post, the President and his men from the Akyem ethnic group were described as “Akyem Sakawa Boys.” President Akufo-Addo responded by calling on civil society groups and opinion leaders to call out his opponents and that it was wrong to call an ethnic group the president was from as “Sakawa people” in a meeting with the Catholic Bishops at the Jubilee House.


The President went further to say if he were to call people from the North or people from Gonja names, he would be roundly condemned.

Mr. Mahama has rejected Mr. Akufo-Addo’s expression of indignation over the “Akyem Sakawa boys,” bringing up the President’s record of name-calling.

For instance, under the Mills administration, the then-candidate Akufo-Addo described Professor Evans Atta-Mills as “Professor do little.” He would later describe then President Mahama as “Simpa Panin.”

In the past, “Dzelukope mafia” was used to describe the Rawlings Administration, “Ashanti cabal” used to describe powerful individuals in the Kufuor administration, and “Akyem/Kyebi Mafia” to describe the powerful Akyem block in the New Patriotic Party.

The phenomenon of name-calling based on the ethnic background is not new in our body politics. It dates back to the Nkrumah administration. However, the phenomenon cannot be allowed to continue as it has the potential to degenerate and cause animosity.


It is obvious President Akufo-Addo sought to take advantage of the “Aykem Sakawa boys” tag by his main opponent to mean all Akyems are Sakawa people and whip up sympathy for him as the December polls draw closer.

However, one cannot also fault the President for his interpretation of the “Akyem Sakawa boys” tag. Indeed, the derogatory tag is so vague that it can be subjected to multiple interpretations based on one’s understanding and motives.

It is because of the deliberate misinterpretation of the “Akyem Sakawa boys” tag that the former President Mahama should have exercised rational judgement in his decision to re-share Mr. Adongo’s article.

The lack of exercising sound judgement in re-sharing Adongo’s article has put the NDC flagbearer on the defensive as he tries to convince Ghanaians to give him a second term that was denied him in the 2016 polls.


Ethnic stereotyping of our political leaders is dangerous to our nascent democracy as it has the potential to split the nation along deep ethnic allegiance. Indeed, ethnic stereotyping of all forms, including disparaging name callings such as “incompetent Mahama” “Walewale Adams Smith” “Despotic Akufo-Addo” should also be eschewed from our body politics.

The political parties must be serious in rebuking its members engaged in such reckless acts.

Pulse Editorial is the opinion of the editorial team of Pulse. It does not represent the opinion of the organization Pulse.


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