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Opinion | Feb 1, 2019

We Cried For Peace

Kwesi Biney
Kwesi Biney

The evils that wars create, peace can never equate in life, but as humans, there will always be one form of conflict or the other among us as individuals, as a group, a whole society and among nations. So a philosopher once said that if there were no conflicts of some sort, the world would be like a stagnant pool, breeding nothing but weeds. Conflicts would always be with us, but how we manage them and live together in the broader interest of society is what makes us human beings. Even in the animal world, one has to swallow its pride during a fight to bring an end to it.

The world has gone through so many types of conflicts since the past 500 years or more. The main cause of conflict has always been power and who deserves that power. Power is used to control resources and territories and so it is that all the major conflicts the world has gone through centered on the craving for authority by a group of people or a nation to annex territories and resources which originally did not belong to them or defend what has been theirs.

When in the dawn of the 1990s, the President of South Africa announced and abolished the Group Areas Act in that country which had segregated the people living in that beautiful country into classes on the basis of colour, and offered a form of equal opportunity and access to all, that became the beginning of the end to a very long conflict which had attracted global outrage including even those who were beneficiaries of the obnoxious policy but had conscience.

Need I state how many times the good people of this country had pleaded with our good brothers and sisters of Dagbon to let peace prevail and help in finding a lasting solution to the problem that had set a brother against another? I did not know much about the Dagbon Chieftaincy issue until one fine afternoon in 2002 when I had left the office for home to take a late lunch.

As it is usual with me, I switched on the radio and one of the news that hit me was that a prominent Chief in Dagbon had been murdered. My District Coordinating Director was from that part of the country and so arriving at the office, I broke the sad news to him. He had not heard it and so was also visibly shocked. He took the opportunity to tell me the story of the place and what had happened in the past.

I was so sad about it primarily because no less a person than a prominent chief had been killed.

Subsequent events thereafter showed how serious the issue was. Unfortunately, the political dimension the issue took nearly tore this nation apart since the sharp division among blood relations from this beautiful part of our country became antagonistic even far away from home. So terrible was the division that even great intellectuals from Dagbon jumped into the fray.

I remember Prof. Wayo Seini, a respected academician well known to be with the New Patriotic Party (NPP), who resigned from the party and joined the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and contested on the ticket of the NDC in the 2004 general elections and won. He came to Parliament as an NDC Member of Parliament (MP), but his heart was not with the NDC so he left them and a by-election was organized to replace him.

Painful as the event was, the political dimension it took did not help the government at the time to achieve the expected results. Even as the Wuako Commission set up to look into the issue was working, the accusations from politicians did not help matters and made it difficult for the security agencies investigating the matter to bring the perpetrators to book.

In their haste to please the aggrieved section of the people of Dagbon, some arrests were made, suspects were put before court but they set them free. The politics did not end, the acrimony did not subside either. Promises were not just made by political parties to fine the perpetrators, but they became manifestoes. While the people were grieving and brothers were at each other's throat, politicians were fanning the flame and making political gains out of it.

The work of the Eminent Chiefs was relegated to the background, in the view of the public, while politicking with the issue took the centre stage. Once again, a number of people were rounded up from Dagbon and brought down to Accra and detained. They were put before court and charged with various offences relating to the murder of the respected chief. They were subsequently freed for want of evidence to support the charges against them.

Following from that, it looked as if the journey towards peace in Dagbon had stalled. Today, we are all rejoicing about the agreement the elders of the various interest groups in general and the two major gates in particular reached with the Eminent Chiefs to bring this extra ordinary Christmas present to the people of Ghana. I cannot but say a big well done to all elders of Dagbon who fully cooperated with the Eminent Chiefs to agree on a roadmap which has seen a very successful end to this otherwise tortuous journey. It is extremely difficult for mediators anywhere in the world to successfully bring peace among factions if the feuding factions do not cooperate with the mediators. Ayekoo to the elders and people of Dagbon!

The patriotic zeal with which the committee embarked and delivered on its assignment is nothing short of the desire to sacrifice for the peace of Dagbon in particular and Ghana as a whole. It has not been easy for the committee to tread this journey for the past 17 years. One can appreciate the frustrations that confronted them. The back and forth of some of the factions on issues which had been previously agreed upon, the number of travels and meetings the committee had to undertake to where they got to can best be described by the Eminent Chiefs themselves.

The efforts and wisdom you brought to bear on this task is beyond measure. It was not only about law and legality, native wisdom and in-depth knowledge of tradition and customarily practices, in my view, played no mean role in this matter. Ayekoo to you great men of wisdom! Ghana is proud of you.

The most heartening outcome of the Dagbon issue is the call on the people of Dagbon for development. It is a worthy call. All over the world, conflict zones do not see developments; indeed the little that they have is wiped off because of conflicts. The youth in particular are calling for development and opportunities that will improve their lives.

They are no longer going to be the tools for those who benefit from conflicts.Their swords will be in their scabbards and their bows and arrows converted to ploughing equipment to feed themselves and the nation. It is up to all of us to help them achieve these goals.

The peace we have achieved does not bring an end to the search for the culprits; it is my hope that the security agencies will continue their search to bring the perpetrators to book for justice to clown the peace. I cannot end this without saying a big thank you to the President of this country who is ABUDANI; he ensured this peace and unity. Congrats Mr. President!

Oh No, Effah Dartey, If . . .

Surely, I did not listen to the original interview Captain (rtd) Effah Dartey had with Okay FM and did not call for the tape of the Akan version of what he actually said. If the English translation which gave birth to my article of January 25, 2019, was wrong, then apologies to my good friend and learned lawyer.

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From Kwesi Biney

Kwesi Biney
Kwesi Biney, © 2019

This author has authored 76 publications on Modern Ghana.
Author column: KwesiBiney

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