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07.03.2009 Feature Article

Promoting Tribal Cohesion and Unity in Ghana!

As Ghana gets ready to celebrate its 52nd Independence anniversary on the 6th of March this year under the theme “Unity and Peace the pillars for national development,” I stop in awe and question if national peace and unity are a mirage or a reality? This is because I have noted with repulsion the battle of tribal mêlées that have ensued on Ghanaweb for some time now and I wish to add my voice to this self-destructive venture being propagated by some people on the aforementioned forum.

As a Ghanaian I'm proud of the well-known Ghanaian hospitality that does not go unnoticed by visitors who come from afar into our country. We as Ghanaians are known to be very hospitable and affable to foreigners. However, a poignant anxiety is emitted when one notes the hostility we have for each other as a people. Is it ethnocentrism or what?

This observation actually makes me question if the Ghanaian is genuinely affable to a foreigner or is hypocritically pleasant to the “stranger” for obvious reasons? (I may get back to those reasons in another article!) Why can't we as a people tolerate each other? Do we have to be at each other's throat all the time? I will conclude that it is the insatiable desire of the average Ghanaian to travel abroad that makes us so hypocritically hospitable to foreigners! Hoping our friendliness will reap favor with them and possibly lead to the achievement of other ulterior motives? I wish I will be proved wrong on this one! The question still lingers, if that is not the case then, why can't we see ourselves as just being Ghanaians instead of trying to deepen tribal differences that may not even be that deep after all? I believe it just a state of mind. We can do something about it if we really want to.

I was greatly concerned when I heard during the vetting of the ministerial nominees a question put to one of them asking if the Asantehene was a King or a Chief. The nominee answered by saying that the Asantehene is a Super Chief. For me I thought that question was irrelevant, the answer to that question was heterogeneous to his work as a minister in the legislative arm of Government, which is to make and review laws and also to give approval or otherwise to Executive actions that require Parliamentary attention. So in my opinion, it is neither here nor there if a minister of state calls the Asantehene a King or a Chief, provided he acknowledges him as the custodian of the Ashanti Kingdom.

In any case the Asantehene is the Asantehene and can and only remain as such. He cannot come and sit in state during the Akwapim Ojura festival and begin to do what the Akwapimhene is required to do for his people, likewise the Akwapimhene cannot go to the Ashanti Region and sit in state during the Adeakese and act in the stead of the Asantehene. The Ga Mantse cannot decide to go to Anlo and sit in state at the

Hogbetsotso festival and begin to play the role of the Anlo Paramountcy, neither can the Nene of the Krobos decide to go up north and act as Yaa Naa. Let us as a people learn to respect our traditional rulers who all have their own jurisdictions and traditions for which they are the custodians. In my opinion whether the Ashantehene is King or Chief or even a Super Chief, it is simply extraneous.

Ghanaians must learn to embrace the beauty of diversity. How would we feel if we all spoke the same language, had the same culture and traditions from Accra to Zimbila? What a boring place our nation will be! I love diversity, for example I just love the sound of the Akwapim Twi and I would sometime take a drive from Accra to Akwapim just to enjoy the weather and also hear the few friends I have on the ridge, speak their “modest” Akwapim Twi. The Akwapim are known for their humility, they say “please” even when they are upset.

Coming to think of it, what will we do in Ghana without our “romantic” Fante friends, who sometimes forget that they are Ghanaians and therefore mix English with their Fante Twi? I guess by virtue of their “English names” like Blankson and Martinson they forget that they are also Ghanaians! And what about their sense of humor that is comparable to no other? Just try to have one Fanti man show up at your party and you are sure to be mesmerized.

My own Ga people are known for their battle with the pronunciation of “h” and also their expertise at boxing, which is as a result of the Ga boy starting a fight at the beach over fish in Chokor (a suburb of Accra) and ending up in the boxing ring, producing the likes of Azumah Nelson, Ike Quartey and Bukom Banku.

These are but a few of the differences that run through our ethnic and tribal groupings,

and it is worth looking at these differences from the lighter perspective rather than

continuing to be at each other's throat for being Ewe, Asante, Ga, Fante, Frafra or Guan, just to name a few.

How many of us will choose to be Ghanaians if we had the choice of nationality, anyway? If we had a choice how many of us will choose to be Ga, Ewe, Asante, etc? In fact, most of us will prefer to have been born in any other country apart from Ghana. The Creator, in his infinite wisdom, knew the nature of man and therefore chose to deprive him of that option. So why can't we as a people see each other as God's creation? In fact, coming to think of it, we did not even have a choice to be here or not.

I, as an individual, have always been of the opinion that, if possible, one should marry from any other tribe apart from his/her own. Why? By so doing you get to appreciate the culture, traditions and languages of others. On the lighter side, being one who loves to travel, I get to leave behind the hustle and bustle of the capital city (my hometown) to another town or village (that of my spouse) I can call home, by virtue of my association in marriage, to ease the stress associated with capital cities. As a people, we seem to have come a long way with intertribal marriages being more acceptable in our generation. I therefore am besieged with surprise that despite these developments, ethnic and tribal pride still cannot be eroded. The question I keep asking is this: If you sincerely believe that your tribe/clan is better than mine, then why 'stoop low' enough to want to marry my brother or sister? In this regard, I confidently dare to conclude that we are not that tribal or ethnocentric after all.

Having once lived in a country where its citizens all spoke one language was, for me, not interesting or challenging. Everyone understands each other. They are trying hard as a people to find some cultural identity, which is so difficult in their circumstances. They come to Ghana and other African countries as brothers and sisters from the Diaspora in search of some other identity. Is it not pathetic? I feel so sorry for them sometimes. They come and give themselves names like Ama, Kofi, etc., all in an effort to be associated with some culture or tradition, while those of us who are blessed enough to have a variety of beautiful cultures go at each other in the name of ethnocentrism!

Let us, as a people, learn to see the differences in our traditions and culture as a unifying force that makes our nation Ghana “great and strong,” rather than allow it to tear us apart.

For the good Book says in Matthew 12:25: “He knew what they were thinking and said to them, 'Every kingdom divided against itself is destroyed, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand'”.

Let us, as a nation, unite and continue to stand together!

I will conclude with the words of our national anthem.

Ghana's National Anthem
God bless our homeland Ghana,
And make our nation great and strong,
Bold to defend forever
The cause of Freedom and of Right.
Fill our hearts with true humility
Make us cherish fearless honesty,
And help us to resist oppressors' rule
With all our will and might evermore.

Hail to thy name, O Ghana
To thee we make our solemn vow;
Steadfast to build together
A nation strong in Unity;
With our gifts of mind and strength of arm,
Whether night or day, in the midst of storm,
In every need what're the call may be,
To serve thee, Ghana, now and evermore.

Raise high the flag of Ghana,
And one with Africa advance;
Black star of hope and honor,
To all who thirst for liberty;
Where the banner of Ghana free flies,
May the way to freedom truly lie
Arise, arise, O sons of Ghanaland,
And under God march on forevermore.

The writer, Naa Wellington, is just a concerned citizen of Ghana who can be reached at

[email protected]

Naa Wellington
Naa Wellington, © 2009

This author has authored 9 publications on Modern Ghana. Author column: NaaWellington

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