Hereditary politics in Ghana: Children of politicians in active politics

Politics as we know it, unlike kingship and chieftaincy is not hereditary but a meritorious endeavor that cannot be bequeathed to one’s children as a family heirloom almost the world over, Ghana being no exception to that salient rule. Albeit popular democracy or politics not being a family inheritance to bequeath to one’s children or family members, a rule that even the first president of our beloved country could not circumvent, there is ample evidence pointing to the contrary. And these exceptional cases circumventing the norm of politics has not occurred without the proper merit to warrant such oddities in our political dispensation. These special oddities have their history even tracing back to the First Republic, where some children and family members followed the footsteps of their progenitors into active partisan politics. Even though these may be deemed antiquated to enumerate, it is very critical to acknowledge the import of these filial phenomena in the history of politics and democracy in Ghana even today. Thus, this salient subject cannot be properly broached without the mention of political fathers right from the First Republic like Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Edward Akuffo-Addo, William Ofori-Atta, Emmanuel Adama Mahama, Emmanuel Obetsebi-Lamptey, Mumuni Bawumia, to name a few, whose children have followed their stead to become prominent politicians. Some of these political scions achieving more than their progenitors achieved in politics, like President Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo-Addo, Ken Ofori-Atta, John Dramani Mahama, the late Jake Obetsebi Lamptey, Dr. Mahamadu Bawumia, and a few whose progenitor’s political luster is too impossible to outshine like Samia and Sekou Nkrumah in Ghana politics. Fast forward, there is a current crop of politicians who have taken the mantle and inspiration from their progenitors to enter into active partisan politics in our country for many reasons, some for good and some otherwise. The only barometer to judge their reasons and impetus is the final outcome of what they do and achieve with the power they wield in politics. Thus we have witnessed some enter politics to justify their forebears and others to perpetuate the trust and goodwill their progenitors established with the people. There are current politicians with various portfolios like Members of Parliament (MPs) and even cabinet members such as the vibrant Dr. Ezanetor Rawlings(MP), daughter of ex-president Jerry John Rawlings, Sheila Bartels (MP), daughter of  Kwamena Bartels, Lydia Seyram Alhassan (MP) whose husband was the late Emmanuel Kwabena Kyeremanteng Agyarko and the sister-in-law to Boakye Agyarko, Ophelia Hayford (MP), widow of the slain MP of the Mfantseman constituency, Samuel Atta Mills(MP), brother of the the late former president John Evans Atta Mills, John Jinapor(MP), brother of Abu Jinapor, Mike Ocquaye Jnr(Ambassador and former MP), son of Mike Ocquaye Snr, Samuel Okudjeto Ablakwa, nephew of the astute lawyer Sam Okudjeto, the Ahwoi brothers, who held various cabinet positions in the NDC government, Isaac K. Adjei-Marfo, son of Yaw Osafo-Marfo who held cabinet positions in the NPP, Abu Ramadan (PNC), Mohammed Ramadan (NDC) and Samira Bawumia (Second Lady of Ghana), who are the children of the Ahmed Ramadan, Henry Herbert Lartey, son of Dan Lartey, founder of the GCPP, Mahama Ayariga and Hassan Ayariga, sons of Frank Abdulai Ayariga. This phenomenon of children and family members of prominent politicians entering into active partisan politics to succeed their progenitors cannot be dismissed totally as a bad practice if and only if it serves the purpose and the greater good of the people they seek to serve. Since humans, especially children are influenced by the environment they grow up in, many of these children of prominent politicians are conscientized by the exploits of their forebears, either for good or otherwise, from a very tender age. This influence serves as the impetus and in some cases, as a perceived onus on the shoulders of these political children to carry the mantle of their political fathers. On the other hand, this practice has been heavily criticized by the general public for turning politics into a tight-knit cult of political heirs who do not allow the common man with the right mind, education, and political will to enter that hallowed space to practice politics for the greater good of the people. This, the public deems as the prominent cause of nepotism, plutocracy, and oligarchy that our state government apparatus is gradually turning into, a situation that festers and breeds corruption in an institution that is supposed to be sacred, pluralistic, all-inclusive, and result-oriented. But for what it’s worth, we cannot totally dismiss these filial politics into the bin of disdain, as these political heirs didn’t just jump into the shoes of their progenitors like in kingship and chieftaincy, rather they took up the mantle of their forebears based on personal merit, charisma and the inherited grace from their progenitors. The critical appraisal of this political practice should not be based on circumstance but rather the result or outcome of what it attains. For we have witnessed a few of these political heirs do great exploits with the public trust bequeathed to them and in many cases, we have witnessed too many of them abuse the public trust they coaxed from the people into a close political society of corrupt political heirs in active politics in Ghana. This is why we must check this common filial politics in our country and open the political game on a fairground that upholds equity, equality, plurality, diversity, and fair play in our national politics for the greater good of the people of our beloved country Ghana. This is the object of progressive politics by a progressive people in a progressive environment like ours.

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By Barima Kwabena Yeboah||Ghana The writer is an intern with the Media General Group. Views expressed in this article are entirely the author’s and do not in any way or form reflect those of the Media General Group or any of its affiliates.  ]]>