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21.11.2003 Feature Article

Letter From The President (XXVII): Trivial Tribalistic Balderdash

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Countrymen and women, loyalists (from all tribes) and opponents (from all tribes), I am in a very foul mood this week. My anger was sparked by recent tribalistic publications in the newspapers. Even though I love football, my anger has in no way been tempered by the Black Stars’ drubbing of Somalia. I know that many of you think that by beating the Somalis by a 5-0 margin the Black Stars are surely on their way to World Cup 2006. I will bet all of the per diem allowances I earned from my last trip to the US that the Black Stars will not qualify for the next World Cup in Germany. I am sorry, but I have no other way of putting it. I have gladly written off the current Black Stars team and I recommend that you do the same. The earlier you lost hope in that team, the better for you. Please, take my advise because if you don’t, am afraid, you will not even live long enough to regret it. Instead of making the team’s glorious history a springboard to higher heights, the managers of the Black Stars allowed history to become the greatest setback for the team. They kept proclaiming that “we are the only country to have won the Cup of Nations on four occasions.” While the Black Stars were singing this tune and busily plunging the depths of mediocrity and non-performance, the Egyptians were preparing to equal their record and the Senegalese were strategizing to qualify for the World Cup. Beating Somalia 5-0 is not a sign of an earth shattering comeback for the Black Stars. I would have been convinced about the World Cup prospects of the Black Stars if they had beaten, say Cameroun, by the 5-0 margin. But Somalia? I beg your pardon, is that country still in existence? The last time I checked Somalia was a totally lawless state –the people were living like animals in the jungle. I wonder how they even managed to put a team together to come to Ghana to play both the home and away legs of the World Cup qualifier here. Do you think that the Somalis would have dared to assemble a team to play two matches against the Black Stars in Accra and Kumasi in the 1970s and 80s? I didn’t like history in school because I had to commit lots of insignificant dates and events to memory. I still don’t like history. So I get very angry when some so-called academics, egotistical and downright senseless, use history to set us apart. In the last couple of weeks, there have been a series of newspaper debates about which tribe in Ghana is the greatest. I am amazed that in this day and age, when some people are busily searching for ways and means of producing energy out of shi*t, we are engaged in frivolous banter over whose tribe is the greatest. I am so disappointed that I am leading a people who are ever-ready, more than willing and backward enough to play the tribal card at the least opportunity. Those so-called academics who are leading this inconsequential ‘which tribe is the greatest?’ debate and publishing lengthy articles in the newspapers, should have rather pointed to the failings of our football administrators and made it clear to us that if such glorious history was allowed to fail us in international football, we should be wary and not allow the petty historical achievements of our many tribal groups to lead us into the deepest depths of underdevelopment, leaving the bulk of our people in the miserable servitude of poverty and ignorance. I realized long ago, while receiving those history lessons I disliked so much that our tribal ancestors fought each other with such gallantry and valour. Some won all their wars and others, well, were always content with losing. Do you assess the greatness of your tribe by the number of battles your ancestors won? I have never bothered to ponder over whether my tribe is greater than yours. I think anyone who does so is criminally and immorally wasting vital brain cells, which could have been used to develop a human waste disposal system, which is better than the KVIP. Anyone who wastes brain cells developing theories about the greatness of his/her tribe should be fast-tracked. In any case, I am not proud of the historical achievements of any of the tribes in Ghana. The suits, which nicely cover body everyday, might have been sewn in Ghana but they are not the invention of any Ghanaian tribe. The luxury cars, which enable me to travel from Accra to Sunyani in three hours were not assembled by a Ghanaian tribe. The shoes on my feet, the pen I use to sign for our numerous loans and even the system which made it possible for me to be elevated to such a high position as the only excellent one in this country, were conceived and brought into reality ages ago by my non-Ghanaian ancestors. Look, apart from the wars your ancestors fought and won, you have very little else (if anything at all) to celebrate about their existence. One thing I quickly want to forget about our ancestors and for which I think there is no need for us to celebrate the past is how they treated and related to the colonialists. Our tribal ancestors just stood by and watched in stupefied amazement when the Whiteman’s first vessels docked on our shores. Seeing the Whiteman, they thought they had seen God. When the Whiteman decided to move from the shore and get to hinterlands to explore, our ancestors who were inland tried to put up a fight but, in my opinion, they didn’t fight intelligently. My simplistic mind tells me that our ancestors (from all tribes) should also have made vessels, which would have transported them around for an exploration of the world. They didn’t do this and they allowed themselves to be colonized. They got so carried away with colonization (‘fortunate’ for having someone to do the thinking for them) that they decided to sell their children into slavery in exchange for bottles of wine and schnapps. I could never have had a chance to lead this country if our nation had been run on the governance system of our ancestors. In short, I think there is nothing to celebrate about our tribal histories. Those who are trumping up the historical achievements of their tribes should be careful. As you struggle to fashion out a theory to prove that your tribe is greater than that of your neighbour, be aware that the little boy in Leicester knows that his ancestors were greater than yours. Not only did his ancestors trash your ancestors in battle, they also laid the foundation to ensure that his future prospects are better than that of any child born in Africa. So here is the edict – no one should talk about the greatness of his tribe. We are now one people, with a common aspiration to break out of the shackles of poverty and ignorance. I am very aware that the open expression of perceived ‘tribal superiority’ is not a new phenomenon. In our workplaces, schools, churches and townships we have formed various associations, whose memberships are based on tribal origins, making it easier for us to place tribal interests above corporate and national interests. I might not have set a good example by appointing many people from my tribe to my government but I don’t expect my tribesmen (and women) to get a false sense of superiority. If my tribes people are taunting the rest of the nation with their false sense of superiority borne out of the fact that they now have their kith and kin at the helm of the country, I expect the sons and daughters of the other tribes to keep quite and smile at the folly of my tribesmen and not start a verbal tribal war. An excellent one for all tribes, J. A. Fukuor [email protected]


J. A. Fukuor
J. A. Fukuor, © 2003

The author has 204 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: JAFukuor

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