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27.09.2020 Article

The Nexus Between Conflicts And Human Development: Papavi’s Walking-Stick

By Justice Abeeku Newton-Offei, International Relations Expert
The Nexus Between Conflicts And Human Development: Papavi’s Walking-Stick
LISTEN SEP 27, 2020

We woke up on the morning of Friday, 25th September, 2020, to the news of parts of Ghana’s territory coming under attack by elements describing themselves as Homeland Foundation Group, whose agenda is secession from the independent state of Ghana. This issue has been simmering for some time in recent times with the arrest of figure-head of this group, Papavi, but prosecution was discontinued by the State, for reasons some us really do not know.

Now, an independent State has the following characteristics which make it a function but not a failed state:

1. A defined geographical territory

2. A government

3. A defined population

4. Protection of its borders and citizens

5. Adherence to human-rights

Capacity and capability

With this in mind, a State must have the capacity and capability to protect its citizens and territorial borders from both internal and external aggression, failure of which will render it insecure and ultimate failed state. And in ensuring this state responsivity, the ideological Realists often use hard power by way of military and economic muscle, while the Liberalists opt for soft power by ensuring a minimum level of socio-economic well-being of the citizens.

The Realists’ approach to ensuring security and territorial integrity is often adopted by the nations of the global north where poverty among the populace is relatively minimal and the State has the economic muscle to invest in military power to be exhibited through State-craft. In respect of the nations of the global south, particularly south of the Sahara, poverty is rife within society and therefore threats of instability have often come from within.

Copenhagen school theory

With the current developments in the Volta Region, I would focus my analysis through the prism of Copenhagen School of Security Studies which is a theory propounded by B. Buzan & O. Waever & De Wilde (1998).

This concept of security theory has the ingredients of Actor and Speech. In other words, for this kind of threat to be hatched, actualized and executed, there must be a personality with an influential pedigree (the Actor) to capitalize of an issue which, ordinarily, should not pose any threat to the State, but manages to securitize same and turn it into an existential threat.

A perfect example of this was the 1994 Rwanda genocide which was planned and executed by influential Hutus through incitement against Tutsis, on Radio Rwanda, which resulted in the slaughter of 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus over a period of just one-hundred days.

Similarly, examples of Sheikh Yassin, Mula Omar, Osama bin-Laden and Mohammed Al-Baghdadi, leaders and founders of Hamas, the Talibans, Al-Qaeda and Islamic State in Syria and Iraq (ISIS), respectively.

Now, these aforementioned personalities had various degrees of physical disabilities: Sheikh Yassin had an accident as a 12-year-old, and was blind and confined to a wheelchair until he was killed in an Israeli drone attack in Gaza. Mula Omar was blind; Osama Bin-Laden has chronic kidney and other vital organ problems; with Al-Baghdadi having his own problems.

But their grievous health and other physical problems notwithstanding, these personalities were able to incite their followers and won ‘converts’ across the globe, to buy into their weird murderous agendas.

Papavi’s walking-stick

Now, when Papavi of the Trans Volta Togoland Insurgency was first arrested, charged and put before a court of law, there were many in the Ghanaian society who argued that the man was “weak and frail”; and therefore could not pose any threat to the security of the State so he should be left off-the-hook. I believe that was what might have informed the government’s decision to abandon the case and let him off.

But immediately after being set free, Papavi quickly threw away his walking-aide and went back to continue with his separatist agenda; the result of which we all woke up to on the morning of Friday, 25th September, 2020.

Indeed, to lead an insurgency or an ideological bigotry to create mayhem, one does not necessarily need to be ‘Macho’ since such people create occultist ideological persuasions which people simply buy into, irrespective of their geopolitical location.

It is for this reason that Mula Omar was buried in an unmarked grave in his birthplace of Helmand Province in Afghanistan and Bin-Laden buried under the sea, in order not for their followers to turn their places of burial into shrines and motivational pilgrimages.

Emancipation façade

In all cases, such separatists, just like coup makers, will always capitalized on sentiments of ordinary people and claim to be fighting to emancipate the from oppressive tendencies of the ruling elites. Effectively, the socio-economic depravity of the masses has always been the façade, behind which such crazy adventurists and other lunatic fringe elements always hide to perpetuate their destabilizing agendas.

This, therefore, makes it imperative for nations of the global south to focus on Human Security following the post-Cold War era, which changed the concept of military power to human development by directing human and financial resources to poverty reduction in order to deal with poverty as root-cause of conflict and violence.

Conflicts in Africa

Indeed, most wars in 2007 were in poor countries; and in the 21st century, more people were killed in conflicts in Africa than the rest of the world, with projections not pointing to any hope of positivity due to the fact that these conflicts may not end due to combined effects of pervasive poverty, declining GDP, reduced foreign aid, poor infrastructure, weak administrations, external intervention, abundance of cheap weapons and legacy of past wars.


As a nation that has cut a niche for itself as the oasis of peace and stability within the ECOWAS sub-region which is often beset with protracted conflicts; infiltration of al-Qaeda-linked In the Islamic Maghreb (AIMAG); Islamic State in the West African Province (ISWAP), and their local affiliates like Boko-Haram.

And with the region is also being notorious for massive and easy inflows of arms across the porous borders following the total breakdown of the State of Libya, Ghana definitely cannot afford to let down its guard.

Ghana is a unitary state, and all hands must be on deck to ensure it stayed same, and opportunistic miscreants kept in perpetual check.

Justice Abeeku Newton-Offei

International Relations Expert

Email: [email protected]

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