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29.07.2004 Feature Article

Tribal Politics - [Perception or Reality]]

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Some of the results coming out of the NPP primaries are encouraging and gives me hope that our infant democracy may at long last be maturing. In the past, I have argued that our fragile democratic process will come of age when Tsatsu Tsikata can stand at Nkawie and win and Appiah Danquah Kufuor can stand at Ketu South and be truiumphant. However, I am a realist not a kamikaze pilot. I know that it may happen one day, but not in my time, maybe my grandchildren and great grand children will inherit a society where one is judged not by his/her tribe, heritage, creed, but by his contribution to the greater good of society.

I pray for the day when there will be no “Zongos or Ewe towns in the heart of southern villages”; when the resources of our country are shared according to need; when the administration of justice is meted out equally and goat stealers do not get 5 years and “commercial and government fraudsters go unpunished; when every Ghanaian child has a roof over his/her head do not go hungry, is educated and fulfils his/her ambitions.

First, I make no apologies of where I was born whom I was born to and my extremely privileged and comfortable upbringing. When Agyare Koi Larbi and I were at Penworth Prepatory School (age 5) the then premier prepatory school in Ghana during the 60's we were the privileged kids, rich kids, children of the elite and wealthy .We were taught to be fair, bold and courageous by our principal Mr. Paintsil. That explains Agyare's eloquence, forthrightness and pursuit of the truth.

At home I was brought up in a household where our watchman, cook, labourer and farm hands came form the poor sections of our community. My only saving grace was my late father was one of the humblest, down to earth, nicest person that ever God created. He treated our helpers as one of his own and most of them named their children after dad we ate together shared together and all of us were treated as members of one big family. I am proud to say that the offspring's of some of our helpers are now like my brothers and sisters and some of them are actually in England through our generosity.

The Kufuor clan was an inclusive fraternity and is still an inclusive lot. Ask anyone at Kumasi, Nkawie and the UK and they will attest to that. Infact, President Kufuor won the NPP presidential primaries because he had the support of the Northern and Volta caucus of the NPP .we are extremely proud of them and owe them a lot. .

My main point however, once again is about PERCEPTIONS, PERCEPTIONS, PERCEPTIONMS, and PERCEPTIONS. History teaches me that all programs, genocides and hate do come from misperceptions. The Jewish holocaust; Rwanda genocide and even the Dagbon tragedy are all based on misperceptions. The perceived superiority or inferiority of one group. The absurd notion of “my tribesperson is my friend no matter what and there is strength in collective hate”.

Our country is in danger of falling prey to this cancerous disease. Agyare Koi Larbi's article and other speeches by MP's and politicians give me cause to worry.

First, from the bottom of my heart, I will personally die than have any prejudices. I can assure Ghanaians that JOHN KOFI AGYEKUM KUFUOR HAS NO FIBRE OF TRIBAL INSTINCTS IN HIS BLOOD- HE IS PASSIONATE ABOUT JUSTICE FOR ALL AND FAIRNESS. Last year, I actually hosted the Omanhene of Assin Atandansu Nana Barima Nkyi IV and his delegation to Liverpool. He was accorded all the civil dignity; he met the Lord Mayor, Director of National Museum and other civic leaders in the North West of England. I treated him with courtesy, respect the same as I will treat the Asantehene. I facilitated his visit to Slavery Remembrance Day.

Dangerous Rumours

There are rumours going round in Ghana that Ashanti's are arrogant and tend to look down upon other tribes. Let me be clear, the majority of Ashanti's are not like that, we intermarry, have fun, share jokes, work hard and get on with our lives.

What I think does not actually matter it is what the minority of disgruntled Ghanaians feel and think What strategies can we adopt to mitigate such loose talk?

First, I will implore all Ashanti's to be extremely careful of their utterances, behaviour and actions, we are under the spotlight. It is no good saying, they are jealous; or they should work harder; or our King is enlightened and works harder- Folks that will not do. Let us think before we speak. If what we say will offend our brother we must not say it.

Second, I suggest Ashanti's contest the primaries in all constituencies in Ghana as we live in a democracy however in areas where there are strong local feelings, Ashanti candidates must give way to local indigenous people.

Third, we must organize a meeting of all House of Chiefs and give them the opportunity to apply for World Bank Loans this will ensure parity between the Asantehene and all other chiefs. I can assist and help other Chiefs to tap into funding from the European Union- (the ACP pact) in my capacity as Head of European Division in a major Local Authority in the UK. It is my job, I do it for other countries why not my own?

Third, in my own small way I have been in touch with the Vice Chancellor of University of Tamale to create a Kufuor Chair of Human Rights in honour of my late father. This small gesture may go a long way to build bridges between our communities.

Fourth, I do implore other Ashanti's of like-minded to forge alliances with other tribes, form groups Ewe/Akan groups; Hausa Akan foundations; Ga/ Ashanti trusts; Dagbon/ Ashanti trusts etc. Let us break down barriers and prejudices; we owe it to our children and grand children.

Our nation is a Christian/Moslem country; both traditions are loving religions- what matters is our common humanity and our common destiny as Ghanaians. As the co-Chair of the Bedfordshire African Congolese Association. I speak with the authority that comes with my constant meetings with the displaced persons of Congo and Rwanda.

I have been in contact with people who hate so much that they are consumed with evil. I have met Hutus who no matter the re-education in England still think the Tutsis are snakes, devil incarnate, scums, filth and the only thing good for them is the machetes.

Look a t Ivory Coast, a haven of tranquility and peace, it took just a second, for the pent up anger, frustrations and anger of the Northerners to brew up into an insurrection. |Look at our own backyard- Dagbon- brothers at each other throats- for what purpose|?

I am proud of my country and all those who live in it, I am proud of our tolerant culture which is accommodating and welcoming of visitors and strangers. I am proud of the achievement of big brother President Kufuor. Let me assure all Ghanaians President Kufuor is human therefore he is not perfect but being tribalistic is and has never been one of his faults.

I am proud of all members of NDC, NPP. PNC and all other members of other democratic parties contesting the elections over ideas. Please, please, please I beg my countrymen/women do not let us contest these elections over our heritage and background.

I had no choice in my place of birth (Nkawie). Only the Lord knows. My tiny brains cannot comprehend why I was born at Nkawie not Accra, Ketu or Dagbon. All that I know is, in the eyes of the Lord we are all equal and nothing that I nor any Akan/Ashanti person do, achieve, acquire can make him/her a fuller /better person than the leper at Ankarful

Kufuor Appiah-Danquah
Kufuor Appiah-Danquah, © 2004

The author has 30 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: KufuorAppiahDanquah

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

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