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Opinions of Saturday, 15 January 2005

Columnist: Kwamena, Ato

For Lack Of Understanding, My People Perish!


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I have, for quite a while, resisted the temptation to react to certain sentimental news-postings on Ghanaweb.com. I had assumed that such sensational and sentimental stories ? written or spoken purposefully by people with evil inclinations to incite the worst tendencies we all possess, in order to turn brother against brother, sister against sister, son against father, and daughters against mothers ? would eventually efface as we all mature as a people under the current democratic dispensation. But alas, I?m frightened! I?m fearful of the direction a few misguided men ? who prey on the gullibility of a significant number of our peoples, by inciting them to emotional recourse and not reason ? will cause our beloved Ghana to head. I?m even more frightened by the pace at which we are going downhill.

Our country has gradually become a country of sensationalism. We have chosen to despise knowledge and understanding, but rather embrace wholeheartedly, emotionally-charging statements. Some unscrupulous politician, journalist, or chief, etc, makes a statement today, and like as if we?ve all been applied an electrical shock, the entire nation jolts! And we jolt instantaneously in response to such statements. Then we take positions on whatever issue raised, without going through our God-given abilities to reason through things. One person comes on the radio and states that Group A is practicing nepotism or tribalism against Group B, and instead of us asking ourselves: ?Is this statement really true or is it unfounded??, ?Why is this person bringing this issue at this time??, ?What could be the motivation of this person coming out with such an allegation??, ?What does he/she stand to gain or benefit from this??, ?How should we react??, ?What would be the ramifications of our reaction??, ?Should we react violently or should we resort to dialogue??, ?Will discussing this issue move our country forward or backward??, ?Could this issue sow seeds of discord amongst our people for which we would surely reap in the future?? we rather resort to the casting of insinuations, to using opprobrious epithets against each other. Is wisdom no more in [Ghana]? Is counsel perished from the prudent? Is their wisdom vanished? (Jeremiah 49:7)

Tune in to any FM station and you?ll hear someone say there?s a PERCEPTION of this or that going on here or there. Now flip through the pages of any newspaper and they are full of PERCEPTIONS. Go online, and you?ll find innumerable PERCEPTIONS of this or that against so-so-and so! Should we make informed decisions based on PERCEPTIONS? What happened to FACTS? Have we thrown EVIDENCE overboard, and now decided that ALLEGATIONS or PERCEPTIONS are enough to make informed decisions? Have we so soon forgotten our collective folly, when we ?blinded by our emotions and often also by unbridled hatred ? caused innocent people to lose their lives, directly or indirectly? Wasn?t it just over two decades ago when evil passions were incited to cause us to strip our mothers naked in public and subject them to treatments which in our culture are considered taboos? Did we not so long ago resolve as a nation that NEVER AGAIN would we tread that path again ? that we would let REASON reign? I?m sorry, but if we are going to base important, sometimes crucial decisions on PERCEPTIONS then our future as a country is bleak indeed! TRUTH is gradually perishing, and is indeed cut off from our mouths (Jeremiah 7:28).

So we had an election! The NPP won. The PNC, NDC, and CPP lost. So what? Should we bring our nation to its knees because our party did not win? What happened to our sense of nationality? Should we go and get AK-47 assault rifles and kill our blood relatives because they disagreed with us on who would be the right person to govern our country? In the name of our party, are we willing to spill innocent blood, never mind that we would have to answer before our Creator one day? Do we consider ourselves as belonging to this or that party more than as Ghanaians? Is there any patriot left in our country? No matter who wins an election, Life Should Move On! It?s time we realize that the common destiny of our country is in our own hands, and not that of our leaders. Yes it takes a visionary leader to make a substantial difference in a generation, but I tell you what?countries have had very bad leaders over certain periods of time and have still moved forward because of the resolve of the people. On the other hand, you can have very good leaders but if the people have not made up their minds to cause a change, no tangible development will occur. Hence, the ball is in our courts!

So the Fantes voted for the NPP and we have people sitting overseas, with PhDs from what universities only God knows, telling us that they (the Fantes) have disgraced themselves by not choosing to cast their vote for Professor Atta Mills who happens to belong to their tribe. To some of our fellow citizens, it?s a taboo to NOT vote for someone who comes from your tribe. Forget about any other thing, so long as Vladimir is a tribesman vote for him! Nevermind that Vladimir may have a checkered history himself, may be grossly incompetent, may be the wrong man for the wrong job at the wrong time, and may have surrounded himself with men whose records are questionable. Never mind all that! Vote for him, because he comes from your tribe! Such parochial thinking is not only preposterous but it?s dangerous for the future of our country. With three (3) presidential elections already experienced prior to the one in December 2004, we should as a people be moving away from the times where we base our votes on what tribe Presidential Candidate A or B comes from. Anyone who desires that the people base their votes on tribal sentiments has no love for our country. So if we have two regions who vote predominantly for a particular party based on tribal affiliations should we celebrate it and call on other regions to follow that trend? Or should we hope that with time they (the two regions) shed their tribal inclinations? If we do hope that there will come a time that these two regions will base votes on policies and not tribal affiliations, then why do we castigate a region that has moved in the direction we aspire the entire nation to move?

These days we have several associations of young men and women who supposedly came together to resource ideas and other resources to move their hometowns forward on the path of progress. Their primary goal though laudable, some of these youth associations have neglected their objectives and have assumed roles which will not be in their own interest or that of the nation. Such groupings have consistently been spewing press statements upon statements, a lot of which are very divisive. So must every FEDERAL building in New York City bear the name of a New Yorker? What?s wrong if a FEDERAL edifice bears the name of a great national figure who comes from Chicago? Must New Yorkers be consulted before such an edifice is named in honor of a celebrated national figure? Must a chief be consulted before the Accra Sports Stadium is renamed after a sports administrator who is considered the best we have ever produced? Were these chiefs consulted before other monuments were named? I love the chieftaincy institution, but I?ll be the first to call for its abolishment if that very institution will become an instrument of division amongst our peoples. Chiefs should move past the times when we were not a nation. They should not pitch one tribe against another by the use of such youth associations. I am a Fante, but I love Ghana more than I love my tribe. I consider myself first a Ghanaian, then a Fante. It?s nice to have such diversity as we have in Ghana, but why should we NOW after over 50 years of nationhood allow such diversity divide us? (I count our nationhood from the time we were the Goldcoast and not from independence).

And in certain parts of the country we have our chiefs hindering the development of the locality and the nation at large. This is quite unbelievable, it may seem. But greed is holding us back a lot. So there?s a potentially enormous wealth to be exploited in your area. You do not have the resources to exploit that natural lagoon which is rich in salt. But you wouldn?t let someone else exploit it and share the wealth with you in royalties. So you wallow in poverty and you think someone is the cause of your pauperism. You forget about something called ?national interest? and all you think about is your little village or town, and your own selfish interest. You want it all to go into your personal pockets and so you use the youth ? so na?ve, so uninformed, so vulnerable to your manipulations ? to unknowingly resist something that would actually be in their own interest. But you forget that if those same demands you are now making were made by other people that paved road in your town might not have been constructed. And the economic trickle-down that your place enjoys would not have been. Other people shared so should you!

There?s ample proof from history that there has been a lot of intra-tribal rivalry for ages in your tribe. The most recent incidence was probably the worst in living memory. Several people were killed including the Chief himself. Yes, his death as well as the others was brutal and unjustified. But no one can deny that he died at the hands of his own subjects! The government and security agencies might have been incompetent in not preempting and stopping this regicide at its earliest onset. The reality however is that governments and institutions like the security agencies in third-world or developing countries are not as efficient because of the poor infrastructure and systems! The damage has already been done. We can?t turn back the clock. So what do we do? Blame someone hundreds of miles away for causing these intra-tribal killings? Give me one REASONABLE and INCONTROVERTIBLE gain for which this person would entertain such motive so as to cause such primitive murders? The blame game will not cut to the chase. The perpetrators of these heinous acts need to be brought to justice. But without information beyond reasonable doubt from people who witnessed these crimes, who is God amongst us to know which freely-walking people in Dagbon committed these acts? Does it not strike you as pertinent that certain citizens of Dagbon who live in Accra (several hundreds of miles removed from Dagbon), who did not witness the crime, and who have an axe to grind with the government would all of a sudden hijack this criminal offense investigation and give it a political connotation by issuing innuendos upon innuendos? Can?t you see that certain parties have an interest in the maintenance of social unrest in Dagbon and that you should resist such people? Now, there is the distinct possibility that the true perpetrators might never be found out. We don?t pray for that, but it?s a possibility we cannot deny. In such a scenario, must we let Dagbon burn into oblivion? Or must we come down from our high horses and succumb to reason so we can smoke the peace pipe? Shouldn?t we be building bridges to the future in Dagbon? Let peace reign in Dagbon!

If we dare look at most governmental policies from the perspective of our nationhood and not through the tribal goggles that we sometimes wear, we would find that there are less tribal reasons for many decisions that are made. Let us begin to see ourselves as Ghanaians. It?s sometimes silly and other times annoying to observe that the very people who employ tribal sentiments for their selfish ends are the first to accuse others of tribalism. They tried it in 2000. The elections went a second round before they lost. They tried it again in 2004. The elections did not go a second round and again they lost. Yet, I won?t be surprised if they will try it again next time, because they never learn from history. My only prayer is that the ordinary Ghanaian will mature to the stage where they will become more discerning, and will see through such dangerous, divisive ranting and will put on their cap of reason and not make decisions based on emotionalism. I pray that our ?people are not destroyed for lack of knowledge? (Hosea 4:6) or hatred of knowledge (Proverbs 1:29). But that we would rise up, to our collective destiny! Ghana the first in Africa! We are a nation of royals. The pace-setters for the black race. Let us not divide ourselves by creating storms in a tea-cup, but let us all with one accord push the wheel of development up the path of progress. Let Ghana forever be One Nation, Indivisible, O LORD our God.


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