On August 28th, The Ga-Dangbe Association of Toronto held their 2004 Homowo Festival Celebration. Here is a transcript of the keynote address by the special guest of honour, His Excellency Samuel A. Odoi-Sykes – Ghana's High Commissioner to Canada
Like all ethnic groups in Ghana, the people of Ga-Dangbe or the Gas have their problems – some they share with others, but others are peculiar to their region. Regrettably, some of our peculiar problems are not seen or placed in their right perspective. The status of Accra as the capital city of Ghana has its advantages and disadvantages. Accra has benefited immensely in infrastructural and social developments as the national capital.
On the other hand, the Ga-Dangbe region has had to sacrifice or give away large portions of land for national development and residential accommodation by virtue of the capital status of the region. This is a complex issue which, unfortunately, tends to be deliberately misrepresented and/or politicized by some Gas with an axe to grind. There is need for the Ga-Dangbe chiefs and leaders to take up this issue with the State for a just and equitable arrangement regarding the compulsory acquisition and uses of the Ga-Dangbe lands.
But, apart from lands acquired by the State for national programmes, very large portions of Ga-Dangbe lands have been sold over the years, and are still being sold, by our chiefs and family heads in a questionable manner. This should also be a matter of serious concern to all Ga-Dangbes. There is no accountability of transparency in these sales by many selfish and unscrupulous chiefs and family heads.
The huge amounts of monies accruing from the sales of Ga-Dangbe lands are not used by the chiefs to help their citizens and develop the region. Ga-Dangbe chiefs should emulate the examples of progressive chiefs of other regions to institute programmes to help their citizens and develop the region. It is a matter of concern that not even one Ga chief has instituted a scheme or programme to assist their needy citizens in education or health, in spite of what their colleagues in other regions are doing.
Accra is also the cradle of modern Ghanaian politics. The Gas can also do far better in politics if they unite and work together instead of tearing themselves apart through jealousy, self-centeredness or self-esteem which can only undermine the success and elevation of leading Ga politicians or statesman. Moreover, the Gas are a vulnerable minority, and they will be digging their own grave if they indulge in tribal politics.