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01.09.2015 Feature Article

Fanning Tribal And Ethnic Flames

….. A Recipe For National Disintegration
Fanning Tribal And Ethnic Flames
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I intend to conduct a research on social settings, specifically religious organizations, political parties and schools. I would like to establish, scientifically, that none of the above mentioned institutions is exclusively made up of a single tribe or ethnic group. But even before my detailed research, my personal observation and experience have shown that academic institutions, organizations and other social settings are full of people of different ethnic and tribal origins.

In fact, without any Akans, Dagombas, Gas, Ewes and other tribes and ethnic groups, there could not have been any country called Ghana. I was really thrilled by aTV3 programme, Ghana Most Beautiful, when women from different tribes displayed their rich cultures to the admiration of viewers. Of course, there may be few differences in the way things are done by certain tribes but it is obvious that like the way both the white and black keys of the piano contribute to a harmonious music, each tribe has something unique, and together we have a beautiful nation called Ghana.

In life, there are certain things that man has control over and others that he hasn’t. For instance nobody had a choice of his/her sex before birth, i.e. whether he/she wanted to be a male or female. He/She was born a male or female and that is it! Similarly, no one decided to be an Akan, Ewe, Ga or a Dagomba. We were born into these tribes and become one naturally. It is therefore wrong to look down on somebody simply because he/she belongs to a particular tribe.

These days, it is becoming very difficult for one to express his/her candid, objective and independent opinion on social, political and religious issues for fear of being given a political tag and to an extension a “tribal label”. Some appointing bodies are scared to make genuine appointments for fear of being described as “tribalistic”. My question is, if I am a boss and a Sisala, a Fanti, a Manprusi, or a Ga, can’t I employ somebody who is best qualified but also comes from my tribe? [Provided the selection/appointment process is free and fair?]. Of course, it is wrong when the appointment is done purely on tribal basis but if genuinely the candidate is the best qualified, why not? Unfortunately, immediately people got to know about the tribe of the boss they begin to describe him/her as “tribalistic”.

In fact the drawing of tribal lines is gradually eating into almost every area of our lives. Dare discipline a subordinate for an offence and hey, it’s because of your hatred for his/her tribe. On the other hand some superiors would do everything under the sun to intimidate and frustrate a subordinate because of the person’s tribe. Some people openly declare their dislike for some tribes, citing how bad somebody from that tribe ever treated them. But is it fair to generalize and assume that everybody who comes from a certain ethnic group is bad? It is sad and unfortunate that some of us believe in all kinds of conspiracy theories about some tribes.

Some people believe that men from some tribes are irresponsible; women of a particular tribe are lazy and cheat, etc. Because of such baseless and erroneous notion, marriages of some to- be couples, which otherwise would have been very successful were truncated. A colleague at work told me about how a certain man warned his children never to marry from a particular tribe; and even swore to disown any of them who would disobey him.

I have a friend who is a chemical engineer. After school, one of his former course mates decided to help him to get a job at where her husband worked. Surprisingly, the man, who was the chief executive officer of the company, told his wife to return my friend’s CV to him and tell him that he had perused the CV and my friend was more than qualified but because he belonged to a particular tribe, he wouldn’t employ him.

An elderly man put up a nice building in my neighbourhood but was yet to move into the house. According him, the location of the house was too far from his work place so he preferred to stay in his present residence until his rent expired. By that time, he would have also retired and move into his own house. However, he asked me to look for a young, reliable and hardworking person, who could take care of the house for him. Immediately, somebody I had known for years came to my mind.

In fact the young man was very humble, serviceable and very respectful. I told my neighbor about the person and the first question he asked me was “what tribe is he?” When I told him, he said he was sorry; he did not want anybody from that tribe in his house. Honestly, I was disappointed but what could I say? After all, the house belonged to him.

Looking at the way things are going, it is not an exaggeration to say that a time may come when some people would not like to buy things from sellers who come from certain tribes, board vehicles driven by certain people, send their children to schools headed by some people and attend hospitals where doctors who come from certain tribes work. But would it not be “unreasonable” on our part and out of place to subject ourselves to these kinds of things in the name of dislike and/or hatred for others?

The expensive jokes, nicknaming and mockery of certain tribes are not healthy for our co-existence as one people. I attended a programme in May last year. After the programme, a young man, who apparently came to pick up his wife, came and parked a very nice car at the car park. He had some few minutes chat with somebody, whom I believe he knew very well in a certain dialect before he drove away.

As he drove away, I overheard a young lady, who was standing close to us telling her friend she never knew the people of the man’s tribe also have a taste for good things; to the extent that the man was driving such a nice and expensive car. Although I do not belong to the man’s tribe, I was very upset. I confronted the lady who made that derogatory remark and pointed it out to her that what she said was wrong.

If I may ask, since when has the driving of nice cars, wearing of nice clothes, etc become the preserve of a particular tribe? In any case, does one necessarily have to be a Ga to be able to speak the Ga language well? I know Ewes who speak Twi very fluently and Gas who speak Fanti very well. So the fact that the man conversed with somebody in a particular dialect may not even necessarily mean he belongs to that tribe.

Enough of our inflammatory comments! No tribe is superior to the other. We are all one people. Let us tolerate one another and live in peace instead of being in pieces.

Writer’s E- mail: [email protected]

The writer is an archivist

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Sammy Dzandu
Sammy Dzandu, © 2015

The author has 15 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: SammyDzandu

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