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The Persecution Of Fulani People In Ghana: A Critical Examination And Call For Justice

Feature Article The Persecution Of Fulani People In Ghana: A Critical Examination And Call For Justice
SUN, 16 JUN 2024 LISTEN

Known by several names, including Fulbe, Fula, or Peuls, the Fulani people are one of the biggest ethnic groupings in West Africa. The Fulani communities, both in Ghana and other parts of Africa, endure great discrimination and persecution despite their historical contributions and considerable presence in the region. With an emphasis on the socio-political, legal, and economic aspects of the Fulani people's predicament, this study critically investigates the Fulani people's institutionalized marginalization in Ghana. To show the injustices the Fulani people endure and how ineffectively state policies have responded to these problems, the discourse will make a strong case for the preservation and inclusion of these people.

Historical Context and Cultural Identity

The Fulani people are traditionally pastoralists who travel periodically with their animals in search of water and pasture. Their transhumance way of life has been fundamental to their cultural identity, but it has also caused tensions with sedentary farming groups. Rich cultural traditions, well-established social structures, and significant economic contributions— particularly in the livestock industry—are indicative of the Fulani people's widespread presence throughout the Sahel and West Africa. Their nomadic lifestyle has, meanwhile, also caused conflict and miscommunication with other cultures, which has solidified preconceptions and stereotypes.

Citizenship and Legal Discrimination

Fulani populations in Ghana frequently experience rejection of fundamental legal rights, such as citizenship. Even though a large number of Fulanis have resided in Ghana for many generations, they are often denied national identity cards, which are essential for voting, owning property, and using other state services, and are viewed as non-citizens. Senior Research Fellow Dr. Kaderi Noagah Bukari of the University of Cape Coast emphasizes how these governmental practices deprive the Fulani people of their identity and rights, systematically marginalizing them. In addition to making the Fulani people feel alienated, this systemic prejudice makes their socioeconomic vulnerabilities worse.

Conflicts Over Land and Resources

The traditional nomadic lifestyle of the Fulani, particularly their cattle herding, often brings them into conflict with sedentary agricultural communities. Fulani cattle grazing can sometimes lead to the destruction of crops, creating significant tension and conflict. Farmers allege that the uncontrolled movement of Fulani cattle leads to the devastation of farmlands, which threatens their livelihoods. These conflicts over land and resources are a major source of friction and have sometimes resulted in violent clashes.

Allegations of Criminal Activities

In addition to conflicts over land, Fulani communities are often accused of engaging in criminal activities such as theft, rape, and violence. These allegations contribute to their negative stereotyping and social marginalization. It is important to acknowledge these concerns while also considering the broader context of discrimination and the need for fair legal proceedings. The widespread criminalization of an entire ethnic group can lead to unjust treatment and further alienation.

The ECOWAS Protocol on Transhumance

Transhumance is an organized process of seasonal nomadism or pastoralism focused on livestock migration in mountainous localities. A legislative foundation for controlling cross-border pastoralism in West Africa was established by the ECOWAS Protocol on Transhumance, which was ratified in 1998. This initiative aimed to facilitate the seasonal movement of cattle and herders, foster harmonious relationships between local people and herders, and augment regional collaboration and economic growth.

However, tensions and confrontations have increased as a result of the government of Ghana's flagrant disregard for and disregard for this etiquette. This failure is the result of egregiously insufficient enforcement mechanisms and a deep lack of knowledge among stakeholders. The stability of the area has been weakened by the violent conflicts between Fulani herders and farmers brought on by the government's indifference. Reducing these tensions and encouraging cooperation requires effective protocol implementation. Ghana's negligence jeopardizes regional initiatives, such as the Regional Livestock Development Program and ECOWAS laws. Ghana runs the risk of ongoing instability, lost prospects for economic growth, and regional peace if swift and decisive action is not taken.

Stereotyping and Social Marginalization

The Fulani people of Ghana are the target of pervasive negative stereotypes. They are usually depicted as thuggish, violent, and criminal individuals. These stereotypes are propagated by the media and local communities, leading to pervasive social exclusion. Advocate for Fulani rights Ahmed Barry points out that Fulani people face unjust trials, unreasonable police

harassment, and false accusations of crimes as a result of these harmful preconceptions. In addition to being a product of well-rooted prejudices, the prejudice against Fulanis in society also poses a significant barrier to their acceptance and social integration.

Economic Exploitation and Violence

Fulani communities face violence and economic marginalization, as well as frequent attacks. Their main source of income, their livestock, is regularly murdered or taken, and their villages are attacked and set on fire. These violent crimes are frequently committed with impunity, which gives the offenders even more confidence. Conflicts with agricultural communities arise from the Fulani people's economic exploitation, which also includes encroachment on their grazing pastures. The Fulani people's rights and way of life are not protected by the government, which only serves to maintain the cycle of violence and poverty.

Political Exclusion and Lack of Representation

The Fulani people have very little political representation. To further marginalize their communities, they are frequently shut out of political processes and decision-making. Their marginalization has been made worse by the issuance of national identity cards, which are necessary for engaging in political activity. Fulanis are unable to cast ballots, run for office, or influence laws that directly impact their way of life without these cards. Their ongoing marginalization, lack of access to opportunities and resources, and political disenfranchisement are all directly related challenges.

The Role of Government and State Policies

The Fulani issue has been handled by the Ghanaian government in a biased and generally ineffectual manner. The crisis between Fulani herders and established agricultural settlements have not been effectively addressed by state policy. Government measures can result in the relocation and increased marginalization of Fulani communities rather than promoting communication and understanding. The Fulani are easy candidates for exploitation and abuse because there are few strategies for resolving conflicts and inclusive policies, which increase tensions and violence.

Media Responsibility and Public Perception

Public perception is greatly influenced by the media, which has the power to both challenge and reinforce preconceptions. Sadly, the unfavourable perception of Fulani people in Ghana has been primarily facilitated by the media. Public hostility toward the Fulani is stoked by sensationalist reporting that draws attention to the ethnicity of suspects in criminal activity. Responsibility in media is needed, with an emphasis on the systemic problems and difficulties that the Fulani experience. Rather than encouraging bigotry and hatred, this journalism should foster empathy and understanding.

The Impact of Discrimination on Fulani Youth

The youth in these areas suffer greatly as a result of the ongoing marginalization and discrimination against the Fulani. When it comes to school, jobs, and legal rights, Fulani youngsters are denied access, leaving them with limited possibilities in life. They may be more susceptible to radicalization and recruitment by extremist organizations as a result of their sense of helplessness and isolation. As Dr. Bukari points out, young individuals who are looking for a sense of security and belonging may turn to terrorist beliefs as a result of the ongoing violence and isolation against Fulani communities.

The Need for Advocacy and Policy Change

To alleviate the condition of the Fulani people in Ghana, a multimodal strategy comprising community participation, legislative change, and lobbying is needed. NGOs and advocacy groups need to push for the rights and safeguards of Fulani communities and increase public awareness of the persecution they endure. The government must enact inclusive policies that grant the Fulani people access to legal documents, education, and employment opportunities while also acknowledging their citizenship and rights.

Conflict Resolution and Dialogue

Negotiation and mediation are required to end the hostilities between Fulani herdsmen and agricultural communities. To address the root causes, traditional leaders, community leaders, and government representatives need to collaborate. Tensions and land disputes can be lessened by establishing designated grazing areas and cattle ranching systems. Encouraging mutual comprehension and collaboration across diverse communities is vital in cultivating a harmonious cohabitation.

Conclusion

The persecution of the Fulani people in Ghana is a glaring example of systemic injustice and discrimination. Despite their significant contributions to the economy and cultural heritage of the region, Fulani communities continue to face severe marginalization and violence. While acknowledging the legitimate concerns of agricultural communities regarding the impact of cattle herding on farmland, it is crucial to address these issues through fair and effective policies rather than through discrimination and violence. The Ghanaian government's reluctance to recognize their citizenship and protect their rights is not only a violation of basic human rights but also a failure to uphold the principles of justice and equality. The government, civil society, and the international community must take decisive action to address these injustices and ensure that the Fulani people are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. By fostering inclusion, dialogue, and understanding, Ghana can move towards a more just and equitable society for all its citizens.

BY ABDUL MANAF YUNUS || (RESEARCH FELLOW, HSRCGH, GHANA)

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