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26.06.2005 Regional News

Ethnic diversity could promote nation-building-Rev. Prof Asante


Cape Coast, June 26, GNA- The Reverend Professor Emmanuel Asante, President, Trinity Theological Seminary, on Saturday stated that the African and Ghanaian reality, has always been characterized with ethnic diversity. He explained that ethnic diversity, as a social reality, could be enhanced to promote co-operation and stable growth of the nation, and that ethnic diversity, per se, does not impede the healthy growth of a nation.

Rev Prof Asante made these remarks, in a keynote address, at the graduation ceremony of 20 students of St. Nicholas Seminary of the Anglican Church, who pursued a three-year programme in Diploma in Theology, at Cape Coast. The occasion, which was the 20th annual graduation and the 29th anniversary celebration of the Seminary, was under the theme, "emerging ethnicity and its implications for a healthy nation building-the role of the Church."

According to Rev Prof Asante, ethnicity in Ghana was hardly an emerging reality that spelt danger in respect of the health of the nation, and that Ghana has always been and it will continue to be a multi-ethnic nation. He said, "what we need to do in our burgeoning democracy is not to seek to undo the ethnic pluralism of the nation but to seek inclusive, participatory and democratic politics compatible with our ethnic pluralism and diversity."

According to him, ethnocentrism, which is not just an emerging but a re-emerging reality in Ghana, is what poses a big threat to the health of the nation. Rev Prof Asante stated that ethnocentrism, which refers to the tendency to judge other cultures as inferior in terms of one's own norms and values, could lead to ethnic cleansing through genocide. He said, in Ghana, ethnocentrism expresses itself in 'ethnic discrimination, internal colonialism and ethnic prejudice', and that peaceful and co-operative co-existence could only be achieved when cultural pluralism was recognized in the country. He therefore, called on the churches to promote pluralistic society during their preaching, stressing, "as a Church, we have a moral responsibility to resist the re-emerging ethnocentrism and strive to promote cultural pluralism and accommodation of one another."

Nana Ato Arthur, deputy Central Regional Minister, on his part, said it was regrettable that in Ghana today, ethnicity had found its way in every aspect of the life of the citizenry, such as, politics, workplaces and religious beliefs.

Nana Arthur described as dangerous the situation whereby people scan every public appointment with "tribal or ethnic connotation," instead of looking at the competence of the individual who is to occupy that office. The deputy Regional Minister urged the churches to educate their congregation on the essence of the National Health Insurance Scheme, with the view to registering with the Scheme in order to enjoy an affordable and more quality health care. He congratulated the graduands on the successful completion of their training programme and advised them to lead an exemplary life that would impact positively on their congregation and the nation as a whole.

Very Rev Dr Victor R. Atta-Baffoe, dean of St Nicholas Seminary, said the Seminary began the academic year with a student population of 41, but one had to be withdrawn by his Diocesan Bishop due to an act of indiscipline and insubordination. He said the Seminary, which is affiliated to the University of Cape Coast, hoped to further the affiliation process to include the Bachelor of Theology programme within the next two years. The dean commended all individuals and organizations, who had in diverse ways assisted the Seminary to solve its problems, and humbly asked more individuals and organizations of the Church to come to its aid, as it still has a lot of problems to solve.

Rev Clement Azure, head of Seminarians, stressed on the need for the transportation and accommodation problems facing the Seminary to be solved, to enable it befit its status as the only Anglican Seminary in the province of West Africa, and therefore appealed to individuals, organizations and churches to come to its aid.

The Right Honourable Ebenezer B. Sekyi-Hughes, Speaker of Parliament, who presided, stated that the interplay of religion and ethnicity cards have contributed to most of the volatile-armed conflicts that have plagued the African continent. According to him, "if the Church leads the way and shows us the path of righteousness and we go by it, we shall all live in harmony as children of God and eschewing divisive tendencies espoused by the worldly". He told the graduands that, as ambassadors of Christ, they have to maintain the highest level of integrity by conducting themselves above board and taking practical steps to check corruption, indiscipline, disharmony and disunity within the society.