Nenyi otubua Sripi II, the Tufohen of Effutu (Winneba), has asked Nana Akufo-Addo to apologise to the people of Effutu, for the latter’s reference to Simpa Panyin. According to the Tufohen, the comment was unfortunate and offensive.
In Nenyi Sripi II’s view, the description of someone’s conduct as that of a Simpa Panyin, which is a term commonly used to refer to an elderly irresponsible person, is an insult to the people of Winneba.
He ends his press statement by demanding that the Simpa Panyin pronouncement “should be a dead thing, never to be resurrected”.
I feel personally embarrassed that Nenyi Sripi II has also fallen into the trap of the wrong connotations and usage non citizens of Winneba ascribes to the term Simpa Panyin. And I would have thought that as a sub-chief and someone who is supposed to understand the traditions of Simpa (Winneba) people, this was an opportunity to explain to the world what Simpa Panyin really means, and if Nana Akufo-Addo used the term wrongly, this was the time to educate him and his followers, and to contextualize his wrong usage.
I write under the pen name of Simpa Panyin, and that is exactly the reason why I feel compelled to jump into defending myself. I have been writing under this pen name for nearly eight months. I chose this name for two reasons; first to draw attention to Winneba, and second to demystify this very concept, Simpa Panyin.
So I say, Nenyi, I do not agree with you, for whatever reason, to ask the public to stop using the term Simpa Panyin, because, Simpa Panyin, if used appropriately, is not derogatory. We should be proud of it. We should encourage its use, and we should market it well enough to attract people to use it in their search engines.
For those who don’t know, including Nana Akufo Addo, who are misappropriating its usage, I will like you to know that the concept of Simpa Panyin connotes the concept of God. Simpa Panyin is someone who is all knowing. Simpa Panyin is a mystical person who does not rush to pass judgment. Simpa Panyin is someone who is extremely patience, and strategic. Simpa Panyin is someone who can ignore wrong doers for as long as he wished, but if he decides to act, he acts decisively. So the fact that Simpa Panyin is not responding to wrongdoings does not mean that he does not know what is going on. Simpa Panyin knows that whatever wrong doing you are engaged in, you will eventually end up in his court.
In its origin, a version of the term is extended thus “Simpa Panyin dua maatse mantse”, meaning Simpa Panyin pretends that he has not heard, but he has heard everything that is happening. That is the full idiom. With time the “maatse mantse” was taken off in the idiom for convenient sake.
This Simpa Panyin concept all started when in the olden days there lived a man in Winneba who was a successful fisherman. He had successfully gone through the rudiments of the fishing business; as an apprentice, and acquired all the skills in fishing, acquired great networks, and the skills of marketing there off. His business associates from the fishing communities where he plied his business called him Simpa Panyin.
As Simpa Panyin’s business grew, he formed some young fishermen into groups and gave them some of the fishing vessels as a way of expanding his businesses. These young fishermen tried to play smart on Simpa Panyin by landing at some of the nearby communities to sell off the fish, thinking they were doing this at his blind side.
But because Simpa Panyin has been well known in all those places where the fish was sold, the fishermen in those communities could identify Simpa Panyin’s vessels, and so were reporting to him how his boys were stealing and selling off the fish they catch. Although Simpa Panyin knew what the boys were doing, he did not question them. Rather he continued to allow them access to the fishing vessels, and they continued to steal from Simpa Panyin.
The intention of Simpa Panyin was always to teach these young ones life lessons. Therefore at the appropriate time, when these young fishermen have catch the largest amount of fish, Simpa Panyin brought them around, and he got them to know that he knew about all that they were stealing from him. At this point he would take away all the fish for the day, and the young fishermen will have nothing.
We have a practical example from our former Vice President, Kow Nkensen Arkaah, who is also from Winneba, and who I will perfectly describe as Simpa Panyin. When Arkaah was in the Rawlings government as Vice President, members of the government thought he did not know what was happening in the government. He pretended as though he did not know anything. But he knew everything. When eventually he thought the wrongs in the government needed to stop, he stood his ground and refused to allow the rot to continue, and that is what eventually earned him the name Stubborn Cat.
So Simpa Panyin, in its correct usage, is not as derogatory as some might think. I am a full blooded Winnebarian, and I don’t feel offended at all by the Simpa Panyin tag. I feel proud that the entire country is indebted to an idiom that makes reference to my origin. A few other ethnic groups have similar idioms. We can make reference to Konongo Kaya, which we all refer to when an nonperforming person refuse to allow a more competent person to take up the task and perform. We also have Kokofu ballbo, which is a football game that if you don’t have your brother amongst the players, no one will pass the ball your way.
Earlier in the year while I was doing some articles for the Winneba Abokyer festival, I did mention that I am an unrepentant Effutu boy, I dream Winneba, I eat Winneba, and I breathe Winneba. My DNA is laden with Effutu, and the name Simpa is buried deep in my soul. Hundred per cent born, bread and raised in Winneba, with both parents having some royal lineage. My mother, Efua Odobirba, is originally from Penkye (Fanfaakye women-only house, and Anomansa men-only house), while my father, Kwesi Annan, is originally from Kwendrumu (Asonfo fie), and Chief Annobil fie, and I was born and bread in Sankor. I live and work right here in Winneba.
So yes, I admit that a lot of people might have misconstrued the meaning of Simpa Panyin, and so uses it wrongly. And I believe Nana Akufo Addo might have also used it in a wrong context. That is why I believe it was an opportunity for Nenyi Otubua Sripi II to have educated the public about the real meaning of Simpa Panyin. But it appears to me that Nenyi Sripi himself is not abreast with the historical context of the concept, and therefore ascribes negative connotations for its usage.
Otherwise this was an opportunity to sell Winneba, and to direct business traffic to the town. This is the time to tell the story of how the Simpa Panyin phrase relates to our fishing businesses, how it relates to our festivals, Aboakyer (the biggest festival in Ghana, which is celebrated in the first week of every May), Fancy Dress, the most colorful festival in Ghana, celebrated first day of the year (this January we are holding it on January 2, because the 1st falls on Sunday), this was the time to relate the Simpa Panyin story to Akomase, the only crying festival in the world, and this was the time to relate Simpa Panyin to Winneba’s traditional dances such as Apatampa, Akosua Dontoba, and our sweet Regatta.
Effutu is our language, and is a language of diversity (Effutu means mixed). It is a Guan dialect, so we are mutually intelligible with all the Guan-speaking people in Ghana, including Senya our nearest neighbors, Anum, Boso, Larteh, and more. Every Ghanaian has a share in our language; Ga, Twi, Hausa, and many others.
Remember Winneba is a town of festivals, and I am proud of my town, I’m proud of my root. I see the legacies of Winneba in my dreams all the time. I see Penkye Otu, Akrama, the beautiful whirling Anyensu Estuary. I see the sea. I see the Windy Bay (from which we got our name modernized from Simpa to Winneba). Winneba is the most beautiful town, the most welcoming coastal people, not much filth compared to somewhere I know. We are the most peaceful environment to live in. Even though we are not rich, we are a proud people, we live peacefully with our neighbors.