Seeing Ghana beyond Accra
This article does not propose any new ideas. Whatever is discussed here is something we have known for long. But the irony is that what we know is not reflected in the world around us. For example, should the world around us not be a reflection of the extent of our knowledge — so that if we know much, it would be seen in more development in every sense of the word “development”?
Most readers would know that Ghana is not Accra, and Accra is not Ghana; Ghana is bigger than Accra although Accra is a part of Ghana. So when we talk about Ghana, we are talking about everything (in and) from Yamatwa in the Brong Ahafo Region to Aflao in the Volta Region; and from Paga in the Upper East Region to Cape Three Points in the Western Region.
Unfortunately, it seems some people perceive — albeit wrongly — Accra to be Ghana, and Ghana to be Accra. This perhaps explains why most of what we do as a nation is localised to Accra. I have often wondered why the Ghana Football Association, for example, does not do more to build national unity and cohesion by taking some of our home games around the country. Of course, we may not have standard stadiums everywhere, but we do have standard stadiums in at least Tamale, Essipong, Kumasi, Obuasi, and Sunyani. So to make Ghanaians around the country know they are part of the country, the GFA can schedule all the national teams to play at different venues. We have at least seven male and female national football teams, and the GFA must lead the national agenda by sending our national teams to play around the nation.
Apart from sports, there are many other ways that we can consolidate national unity. For example, our educational institutions provide a great means for strengthening our national ties. When a student raised in Kumasi travels to Navrongo to attend secondary school; or when a student raised in Accra spends her secondary school years in Keta, we are bound to see our people appreciate our inherent diversity and work to consolidate our national unity.
(Although I think that the boarding school system is relatively more expensive compared to the community school system, there are some advantages to the boarding system. Going forward, if we decide to consider cheaper educational alternatives, we should be able to think carefully and incorporate other ways of building national cohesion).
The Government of Ghana should also be seen to strongly champion national unity. Many opportunities exist for the government to do this. For example, important government events can be rotated around the country. An extreme example will be to take the South African approach of having different capitals for the various arms of government. Whatever the approach may be, the important thing must be that the government is seen as including all parts of Ghana in the national agenda.
Forging national unity and cohesion is not a function of only the educational institutions and the government. Event organisers, corporate Ghana, religious groups and individuals all have important contributions to make. For example, would it not sell if the Ghana Music Awards were hosted outside Accra on the next occasion? With proper planning, event organisers should be able to make the same economic gains (and even better) when they explore the market beyond Accra.
As we go into elections, we must all think about our one Ghana; our one people; and our one destiny. We must all begin to work to build on national unity. We have known this since independence; now, let us be seen to be actively doing something to consolidate our national identity.
PS: I did not discuss formal arguments for why all of Ghana must be included in the national agenda. This notwithstanding, I hope readers will agree that there may be some unpleasant consequences if some parts and people of the country are alienated from the so-called
By: Arden Darko-Boateng,
Rochester, New York, USA.