I, hereby, again attempt to respond to what the rejoinder on Pages 8 and 9 of the December 3, 2018 edition of The Chronicle sent by Asogli State Council (ASC) in response to Mr. Ebo Quansah’s feature article, “For the attention of TogbeAfede…Volta Region cannot stand as a nation,” published in The Chronicle on November 13, 2018, which should have sought to address the issue.
It is interesting how the Asogli State Council rejoinder began. The last portion of the last sentence in paragraph 1 reads …in which the writer accused Togbe Afede XIV of a plan to cede Volta Region from Ghana. With this introduction, one would sit up with the hope of reading responses to Ebo Quansah’s allegations against the Agbogbomefia, Togbe Afede.
Out of the eighteen-paragraph rejoinder, only seven attempted to deal with the issue, with claims of no basis for the accusation, which was borne out of shameless malicious intentions, implications of abuse of press freedom, deviation of issue at hand, and misdirecting of attention. In fact, only in the sixth and seventh paragraphs did the Asogli State Council come out to state that there was no iota of truth in the allegations that TogbeAfede was using the anti-Oti Region campaign as a camouflage to attain a bigger agendum in the creating of a breakaway nation from Ghana. No strong counter-evidence was, however, provided anywhere, which gives room for more allegations against the Agbogbomefia.
The bulk of the rejoinder was on Togbe’s views on the creation of the Oti Region, which had already been debunked as a misleading and wrongful understanding of the 1992 Constitution by the Supreme Court of Ghana on November 28, 2018.
Before Ghanaians decide whether or not Togbe Afede is leading a campaign to break away from Ghana, it will be very important to understand what this Western Togoland is all about.
It is a name coined up for a dream nation which was once the British Togoland or Trans-Volta Togoland. During the 1st World War, the Germans lost Togoland to a combined force of French and British troops. Togoland was divided into two, with the French taking the larger portion, which run down to the coast. The other portion began from Sokode, about 16 kilometres south of Ho, right through to Pusiga on the border with Upper Volta, now Burkina Faso. Despite the claims by pro-Western Togoland campaigners that the area stretched to the coast, on page 2 of a profile of Western Togoland by the Homeland Study Group Foundation, it was admitted that the area had no coastline. The map of the Gold Coast will also confirm that the Pekis, Tognus and Anlo Ewes, among a few, were never under British Togoland.
With the independence of the Gold Coast becoming imminent, and the British deciding to pack bag and baggage out of the region when this happened, there was the need to get British Togoland to either belong on its own as a nation, or join up with the Gold Coast when it became Ghana.
In the 1956 Plebiscite to decide which way for the territory, all the ethnic groups in the North voted for unification with Ghana, while the Ewes in the South voted against it. And from that time to date, there have been growing agitations by the Ewes to break away to form a nation of their own. To halt the independence process that would make the territory join Ghana, activists declared war on people supposed to have voted for the unification in the Ewe enclave, and there was a bloodbath from 1956 to the first quarter of 1957, as innocent people were needlessly slaughtered by the anti-unification group.
Activists became bold enough to declare their intentions to secede, and even went on to petition the then Head of State, Gen Acheampong, in 1975, to be allowed to break away.
During his nineteen years as Head of State, ex-President Rawlings also had his fair share of how ugly this demand could be. On some few occasions in history, Ghana and Togoland almost drew swords at each other when it became necessary for Rawlings to recall all troops on peacekeeping missions to come back home and be combat ready, in case Togolese troops crossed the line.
A non-governmental organisation (NGO), Homeland Study Group Foundation (HSGF), allegedly founded in 1994 by Mr. Charles Kormi Kudzodzi, had been one of the strongest groups advocating for secession from Ghana. The HSGF has duly registered Western Togoland as a member of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO), where it hopes its voice would be heard internationally.
Other associated groups, the Association of Western Togoland Youth (ASWETOY) and Association of Volta Youth in the USA, have been very vocal against the government and the people of Ghana in matters relating to the former Trans-Volta Togoland. ASWETOY, for instance, made it clear, through its Secretary, George Nyakpo, to Justice Brobbey in October 2017, that the Volta Region is not part of Ghana to be divided. Its associate in the USA also petitioned the UN to stop Ghana dividing the Volta Region.
ASWETOY, in June 2018, petitioned the government, with copies to the UN, the African Union (AU) and others, to stop oil exploration in the Keta Basin, claiming that area belonged to the Western Togoland, a false impression fed into the Ewe people since this Western Togoland idea came up.
In recent times, the agitations by pro-Western Togoland campaigners were against the creation of the Oti Region. In fact, all the secessionists have a common desire, and that is the Oti Region must not be created. It looks impossible to have someone supporting Western Togoland and still be happy about the creation of Oti Region or the vice versa; pro-Western Togoland and anti-Oti Region are on one and the same agenda.
Togbe Afede has been alleged by Ebo Quansah to have been supporting the secessionists, and even alleged to have addressed “a relatively large crowd of sub-chiefs and subjects, calling for secession from Ghana on the basis that the Volta Region is to be divided.”
How can Togbe Afede have a role to play in all this? Firstly, the talk about seceding to form Western Togoland has been on the lips of many in the Asogli State, of which Togbe is the traditional head. It will be strange that he should deny ever knowing about this strong desire and ambition to secede from Ghana. I believe he must have been schooled with that idea from infancy, and he believes in it. He was born almost a year after the Plebiscite, so it is obvious he would only be fed on hearsays by his elders and older associates.
Now fast forward to the era in which he became an influential member of his society and a known figure in the Republic, and knowing how people would like to express their desires to very important personalities, it will be very difficult for Togbe Afede to convince Ghanaians that no one has every approached him on this issue, and if they surely did, what were his reactions and responses to them?
And assuming it was remotely true, his position on the secession issue is not convincing enough to rule him out as not deeply involved in the story.
In March 2017, after three leaders of HGSF, Mr. Kormi Kodzordzi, also known as Papa Hogberdetor, 90, Devine Odonkor, 65, and Martin Asiama Agbenu, 57, had been arrested for treason, Togbe Afede came out only to plead with Ghanaians not to take the separatists serious.
It was completely unlike him when he decided not to throw fire and brimstone at the HGSF members for creating disunity in Ghana. Here we have this same Togbe Afede, who became so indignant about the dealings of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Chairman Freddy Blay for purchasing buses for his own party members, which Togbe perceived as corruption and spoke strongly against it, while welcoming the suggestion that the Office of the Special Persecutor was going to look into the corruption nature of the matter.
Again his attitude towards the creation of the Oti Region is so legendary, as if he was leading his ethnic group to fight for their land. If the carving out of the Volta Region is not acceptable to him, and so he hits at the government, the Commission of Enquiry, and all supporting the Oti Region, why was he so soft on those attempting to carve a piece of Ghana away? Why was he not hard on them publicly, as he has been against Chairman Blay and those who want the Oti Region to be created?
On Sunday October 28, 2018, some journalists were almost brutally assaulted by Asogli youth at an event in Ho, which was presided over by Togbe Afede. One of the would-be assailants was identified as Yevugah, a known hot-headed pro-Western Togoland campaigner, who was said to be an associate of Togbe Afede. Ghanaians are yet to hear of comments by Togbe on Yevugah’s activities.
Mr. Ebo Quansah may certainly have proof of Togbe Afede’s association with the pro-Western Togolanders, but since the rejoinder by the Asogli State Council had not debunked those comments, it could be clear that it wants matters to be left alone.
What at all does Togbe Afede and the pro-Western Togolanders want the world to do for them? Here we have an ethnic group which feels it has been grossly mistreated in Ghana, so want to move out and form their own country; to the people of Asogli and their sympathisers, this is okay and justifiable. Another amalgamation of ethnic groups feel they are mistreated in their region, and so would want to have one of their own, and, in their case, Togbe Afede and his fellow Western Togolanders are claiming it is wrong, illegal and unconstitutional.
On August 28, 2013, when the Supreme Court ruled against NPP’s Election petition, then private citizen Nana Akufo-Addo gave his response in a speech that united the country and made this nation whole. On November 28, 2018, the Supreme Court ruled against the anti-Oti Region campaigners. We are yet to hear a statement by Togbe Afede that would unite this country, or is he busy glossing over plans for the implementation of Plan B: the Secession of Western Togoland?
Hon. Daniel Dugan