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Opinions of Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Columnist: Africa Media Service

Bawku Lava Tumbles The Northern Volcano

On behalf of the Kusasi Youth Association in the United States, I would like to thank the President of the Republic of Ghana for coming out to make it clear to all parties involved in the tribal conflict in Bawku that, he will not tolerate any violence or conflicts in any parts of the region during his Presidency and that if anybody has problems; they should go to the courts of law and have their issues resolved lawfully.

I would also like to use this opportunity to thank the chiefs in the various constituencies as well as the Paramount Chief of the Kusasis; the one and only Naba Asigri Azoka Abugrago; for the bravery and wisdom he exercises in the ruling and stability of the Kusasi Kingdom.

I would like to assure all that we the youth of the Kusasi Kingdom will do everything within our means to ensure that peace prevails in the district. We will stand firm and resist any person or group of people, be they politicians or political parties, who will use our differences to cause unnecessary divisions among us. We shall stand strong and reach out to the Mamprusis in Bawku for them to understand that we have been living together peacefully for a long time and that we intend to let peace continue to reign despite our differences.

I am saying this because politicians have mainly been the cause of most of the conflicts in the northern region as a whole, but more especially in Bawku. For instance; the ruling of the court of appeal in 1958 and the supreme court of Ghana in 2003, in favor of the Kusasis as the sole custodians of the royal stool of Bawku, thus being the right people to be enstooled chiefs of the Kusasi Kingdom, but when Mr. Kwamena Bartels, the Minister of Interior in the company of Mr. Albert Kan Dapaah, minister of Defense and the Chief of Staff, Major General Samuel Anum Odotei visited Bawku on January 9 this year, Mr. Kwamena Bartels made a statement; and I quote "I am appealing to the chiefs of the Mamprusis in Bawku and Kusasis to hold restraint…". In the statement; he (Mr. Kwamena Bartels) referred to both Mamprusi and Kusasi chiefs as custodians of the land; totally ignoring the rule of the courts. This is but, only one example of the confusion and manipulation that politicians have created in the Bawku District in recent times.

Ladies and Gentlemen, if Mr. Kwamena Bartels was there for peace talks, why did he have to meet the individual parties separately? What is cooking that the Kusasis don't know about? As my King Naba Abugrago said, you have to meet both parties together for dialogue on neutral grounds and not separately. The currently imposed curfew is not the solution in Bawku. The only way to forever stop the fighting in Bawku is for the government to come out and issue a white paper confirming the ruling of the courts; and stop playing politics with the lives of both the Mamprusis and Kusasis. How many people have to die before this confirmation is made?

Make no mistake; Mr. Kwamena Bartels, there is only one paramount chief in Bawku; one custodian of the land and that is the Kusasi Chief; Naba Asigri Azoka Abugrago. I would like Mr. Kwamena Bartels to retract the statement ( *both the Mamprusi elders and the Paramount Chief of the Bawku District as chiefs and custodians of the land). *We the Kusasis are very much like the Israelis and it would not augur well for anybody if this trend continues. This is important in the process of setting the records straight and bringing about long-term stability in the Bawku District.

The Kusasis would like the know where the House of Chiefs are? We have been waiting to hear from them. What role are they playing in all of this? If Mr. Kwamena Bartels had made the statement in the palace of the Asantehene, undermining a ruling chief by addressing him the same way as his subjects, we all know what would have happened to him.

In an article dated January 24, Mr. Alhaji Ibrahim Adams, an elder of the Mamprusis, in a press statement, acknowledged that the Mamprusis are elders and not the chiefs or custodians of the land.

By a copy of this document, I am appealing to the President of the Republic of Ghana to come out and declare to the Mamprusis in Bawku; with whom we have lived together as brothers and sisters; what the ruling of the courts is and also caution his ministers and executive members involved in resolving or mediating any conflicts in the north to be tactful and mindful of their choice of words. If they are not sure of procedures, they need to get the needed education before tackling any conflicts in the north.

I am also calling on all Ghanaians to try to understand the position of the Kusasis. As my paramount chief has said; politicians will go to the other side of the gate and promise the impossible; undermining the stability of the district as a whole; that is why I am reaching out to the Mamprusis in Bawku; the Kusasis and any tribe involved in chieftaincy disputes to be wise and lean onto each other; refusing to allow politicians to manipulate and divide them.

I would like all Ghanaians to know, and this is personal, that Mamprusis and Kusasis have lived together as one for a long time. There are inter-marriages in both tribes. I have good Mamprusi friends. We wine and dine together both at home and abroad. The tribal war has caused cousins, stepbrothers, friends and other close relatives to spill the same blood on the land as a result of our paternal way of inheritance. You may not totally understand this if you are not a northerner. If you are born a man to a northern family, when your father takes a stand, you have to be at his side even if it means sacrificing your life or the life of a step sibling to defend your home, but when the dust settles, we will come out and give peace a chance again. Allah will help us unite in Bawku. I may not be there personally, but hopefully my children or grandchildren will be there to witness the Mamprusis and Kusasis unite one day in Bawku for the long-term.

To all northerners, we need to understand that we are one. We have to be wise; learn to trust and depend on each other; look up to each other and avoid situations that can potentially cause divisions among us, especially political issues.

It is okay to have different opinions which inevitably affect our choices of which political parties we want to belong to as individuals and groups of people, but it is not okay to let the differences in opinion divide us as a people. The person on the other side of political platform is not your enemy, but rather a challenge to make the best use of our differences to foster growth and development in our communities particularly and the nation as a whole. For this reason, I appeal to all northerners, especially those of us in the Bawku District, not to be ignorant of the goals and aspirations of the politicians and/or parties we support. We have a right to demand; and to know not just the person; but what they are made of and what they stand for before we give them our votes. We must know how our community stands to benefit in the area of infrastructural and economic development before we cast our votes for them. It is our right to know and our responsibility to put our development first before any individual politician and/or political party; otherwise, at the end of the day, we lose as a people and our children will continue to suffer as a result of our selfish choices.

Note that not all of our leaders look out for the welfare of the community as a whole. Some leaders have selfish agenda; however if the people unite, we will have the power to ensure that the community as a whole benefits economically and socially; that is only when we can be considered as having exercised our responsibilities well. It is only after these that we can pride ourselves in the fact that we have done what it takes for our children to inherit a better northern region and Ghana as a whole.

As for the northern leaders who have resolved to continue in the pursuit of their selfish agenda, I can assure them of one thing; standing strong together as a youth, we will do whatever it takes to bring their dubious ways into light; whether they hide behind their political parties, or work on their own. There is no doubt that true power belongs to the people who stand together in unity to pursue and fight for a good cause until the victory is finally theirs; and this power, we, the youth of Kusasi intend to exercise; no matter where we are located worldwide.

I would like to declare and assure all interested parties that the Kusasi Youth Association is not political and bears no affiliation with any political party of Ghana. Our role is to be the watchdogs of our community and keep enemies of our progress at bay. We will help and support in any way we can, all who have the good intentions of seeing to the welfare of our community in particular, the north in general and Ghana as a whole. The association was founded very recently with about 47 people. Within a period of less than a month, Kusasis living in countries like Japan, Germany, the UK and so forth have called and registered as members of the association. Currently we have grown to a membership of 253 people. I would like to send my appreciation to all the new members for their patriotism to our motherland. We would like to thank His Excellency Alieu Mahama; Hon. John Ndebugri, Alhaji Mustapha Ali, Hon. Haruna, Hon.Mohammed Ayariga, Hon. John Mahama, Mr. Ibrahim Adams, Hon Mark Anthony, Mr. Imoro Ayana, Hon Boniface.

About the writer: Stephen Atubiga, also known as, Alex Accolatse is the son of Fortunate Atubiga, the former member of parliament for Binduri Constituency and a nephew to the Paramount Chief of the Bawku District. Stephen Atubiga, who is based in Virginia, USA, is the Founder and President of the Eagle Express Shipping, Eagle General Construction; a multi-million dollar company and also the President of the Kusasi Youth Association in the United States of America. Contact Info for Steve Atubiga: Cell: 571-722-4677 Office: 703-372-1974 / 703-372-1974

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