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Opinions of Monday, 24 April 2017

Columnist: Nana Yaw Osei

Balkanization of Ghana into tribal provinces - Observer’s dilemma

It is exceedingly intriguing why major European nations such as Portugal, Spain, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, UK, Netherlands and Belgium all have kingdoms. In fact, Europe could boast of about 12 recognized monarchies as at 2017.

In spite of Great kingdoms of Oyo, Dahomey, Asante, Buganda, Mossi, Zulu, Monomotapa and others, from Dakar to Dar es Salaam, Marrakesh to Maputo and Asante to Zulu, African continent could only boast of kingdoms of Morocco and Swaziland.

Problems on the continent of Africa are partly due to balkanization of the continent by European powers. President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufu-Addo is reported to have said: “The time for the creation of the Ahafo region is due. I promise you that within the next 18 months, the opportunity is going to be given for you to have the Ahafo region” (Source:, April 20, 2017).

Undoubtedly, the above statement attributed to President Akufu-Addo raises some questions. Are we creating new regions in Ghana for administrative purpose or because certain group of people must be separated from the others? Will the proposed “Ahafo Region” out of Brong Ahafo (BA) not open Pandora’s Box of ethnic and tribal nationalism in Ghana? Is it fair to separate the Ahafo people from the Brongs (Bonos) while Assins are added to the Fantes in the Central region or the Akyims, Akwamus, Akuapims, Kwahus, Asantes and Krobos merged together in the Eastern Region? Eastern Region is a good example of interethnic cohesion needed for national identity and integration despite the above question.

I think making Ghana’s decentralization system more effective is the way to go. State institutions must properly be decentralized and the habit of seeking approval from Accra must rather be scrapped. If the son of Maame Abena Kwabina from Kumuwu could get a passport or process his salary without coming to Accra, things will be alright. From geographical and historical perspectives, Ghana needs no extra provinces.

Geographical Ghana, situated on the Gulf of Guinea has a total border of 2,093Km with an area of 239,540 square km. Water covers 8,520 square km. The population is estimated to be 27.4 million according to 2015 World Bank data. I think the current 10 regions are even more looking at other countries. In the Republic of South Africa for example, total land borders is 4,750 kilometers. The area of the Republic of South Africa is about 1,219,912 square kilometers.

As of 2015, The World Bank states South Africa population to be 55.1 million. Republic of South Africa is divided into only nine (9) regions namely: the Eastern Cape, the Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, The Northern Cape, North West and Western Cape.

Also, Canada has a population of about 36 million with the total area of 9,984,670 km2 or 3.855 million square miles. Canada has 10 only regions (provinces). In Uganda, The World Bank 2015 data states Ugandan population to be 39.03 million. Uganda has only four regions namely: Western, Eastern, Central and Northern albeit, the total area 241,551 square kilometres (93.065 square miles). All these data show that Ghana does not need extra regions.

Historically, colonial masters used balkanization to ease colonization and imperialism. Asante and Ethiopian kingdoms suggest to us how colonization would have been resisted with effective and united African society. In Asante kingdom for example, after the Sagrenti War in 1874, the Asantehene Nana Kofi Karikari was dethroned.

His successor, Nana Mensah Bonsu was equally abdicated. In 1888, Nana Kwaku Duah II better known as Prempeh I was enthroned. Prempeh I was very astute with impressive diplomatic skills. Within three years of his stewardship, he reunited the Asantes and made frantic effort to persuade the Dwaben to return after the civil war.

The British were frightened by his effort to reincarnate the Asante Union which disintegrated due to civil war. The British also feared that either the French or the Germans operating from west in Ivory Coast and east in Togoland respectively could take over the Asante kingdom.

It is worthy of noting that this was after the Berlin Conference which officially introduced appropriation of African continent among colonial masters and would-be colonial masters. The British hypocritically offered to protect the Asantes but Prempeh I, politely but firmly rejected the said protection. This meant the colonial powers were terrified by Asante formidable union under Kwaku Duah II.

In his letter to Queen Victoria, Menelik II of Ethiopia stated: “I have no intention at all of being an indifferent spectator, if the distant powers hold the idea of dividing up Africa. Ethiopia having been for the past 14 centuries, an Island of Christianity in the sea of pagan.” Italy already secured Eritrea in 1889 and Ethiopia and Italy negotiated a treaty at Wuchale. Italy applied this treaty to claim a protectorate over Ethiopia.

Menelik defeated the Italians and other Europeans by utilizing his diplomatic maneuvers to skillfully exploit the greed of Italy, France and Britain and perspicaciously played them off against each other. Menelik had a strong army. Curious readers can follow this link

This means that a united African society would have prevented colonialism as Menelik II did. Also, it seems to suggest that intertribal and interethnic fraternity is necessary for national integration. As some societies are trumpeting the state of their union, we are thinking about the state of our division. Whether, Ahafo, Brong, Akyim, Dagbani, Frafra, Asante, Ewe or Gas, we must see ourselves as Ghanaians.

Prempeh I and Menelik II had shown us the benefits of national cohesion and integration over balkanization. Mr. President, once again, the plan to create Ahafo region will not help Ghana. President Nkrumah did a good job by creating BA region in 1959. The aforesaid historical evidence suggest that balkanization greatly assisted colonization. Also, comparing with other countries with larger population and land areas, Ghana has little or no justification to create new regions.

There is no need for Ghana to divide its provinces on tribal or ethnic line when the creation of new regions is deemed necessary. Needless to say we must re-examine the wisdom behind the passage of the avoidance of discrimination act (ADA) by President Nkrumah, when considering important issues like the creation of the new administrative regions to ease bureaucratic bottleneck.

ADR must be applicable to the creation of new regions. If for other reasons, Ghana will still need more regions, names like Ahafo region must be eschewed.

It will set a very bad precedence. Mr. President, all that we need is that at least under your stewardship, Guinea Fowls will secure VISA before traveling to Burkina Faso. No Ahafo Region! God Bless Our Homeland Ghana!