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Opinions of Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Columnist: Nii Otu Quaye

Ghana should work meaningfully to preserve ethnicity balance

I’m a Ga writing wailingly about GaDangmes, but more importantly, for and about Mother Ghana not only because She is for us all but also because She is bigger than all of us combined and the subject at issue affects it unspeakably.

Right from Independence, our first president, President Nkrumah, launched priceless programs to enable us live seamlessly harmoniously, notwithstanding our deeply embedded tribal differences. Among the edifices erected to effectuate those virtuous programs were the Trust Schools to promote inter-ethnic tolerance, etc.

He also did much to anchor English as our official language and have it taught in schools inclusively on the academic curricula. Thankfully, Prime Minister Busia progressively did not derail those laudable pioneering initiatives. Instead, he fully embraced and worked pragmatically with them to make us live and tolerate each other, in spite of our peculiar tribal differences.

Over the years, this spirit of oneness and tolerance has ebbed abysmally to the lowest level. The ethnic languages, particularly the GaDangme language, has been brought to the verge of extinction. You go to GaDangme schools, and you do not see enough GaDangme teachers because they have been posted elsewhere. Go to the churches, and you hear scriptures read principally in non-GaDangme languages and hymns sang non-Galy.

In our prideful market places, you see people who only respond to anything you say, saying: “minti saa kasa nu.” Likewise, in Parliament, you see virtually all ethnic groups fully represented, but GaDangmes represented mainly by non-GaDangmes. Talks on Accra radio stations also resonate all but non-GaDangme dialects.

Parliamentary deliberations are no exception: you see minimal or no GaDangme representation, and you hear people speaking languages not understood by all, even though our national lingua Franca is English.

These, and many, many more regressive happenings have a very high likelihood to derail the fabric that has kept us together thus far as loving Ghanaians.

I am writing this after a long holistic and arduous pondering on happenings in the Country that simply do not meet the eye. Matters got to a head this morning when I saw a clip on a press interview of fishermen in the coastal areas.

In that interview, the interviewer interviewed only our Fanti compatriot, but explicitly and bluntly shut up the GaDangme and Ewe representatives that had been brought to that important National cum coastal people’s event; his reason being that he does not speak GaDangme or Ewe.

Not only is that effectual muting of the GaDangme and Ewe representatives unbelievable and insulting; it is reprehensible and speaks deafeningly badly of us all. How did things get so bad in our dear country?

Many things just do not seem to be going right in Ghana, many, if not all, crying profusely for solid and even-handed management, redress, or effacement to help Ghana move forward harmoniously and progressively with Her myriad ethnic characteristics that make us one the Nation, one People Under God, with One Destiny that we are and thrive on.

This script only addresses a tiny part of some, including those mentioned herein, respectfully calling not just on GaDangmes and GaDangme leaders to stand to help preserve the cultural heritage and distinctions but also on all the good people of Ghana and the Government to conscientiously work to maintain and preserve our quintessential ethnicity balance. To that end, the Government and all conscience-filled Ghanaians should consider helping to effectuate the following:

1. Our ethnic languages should meaningfully continue to be part of the academic curricula, and posting of teachers outside of their ethnic societies, though should not be stopped, should be done in a way that does not stifle teaching ethnic languages in their ethnic societies. Thus, such extra-ethnic-area postings of language teachers should be done only after enough of such teachers have been assigned in their ethnic areas to meet the needs of the curricula.

2. English, being the official language, should be used without any compromise. Specifically, it should be the sole medium of communication in all official settings. Yes, people should be allowed to occasionally anchor what they say in English by interjecting short congenial ethnic idiomatic phrases, but such should be the exception rather than the rule, and anyone who makes any such ethnic dialect interjections must immediately append the official translation.

3. As parliament is the forum in which we conduct our formal legislative duties, one core eligibility requirement must be the ability to speak English.

4. Being a homogeneous State, it makes sense to use residence as the primary eligibility requirement for representation in Parliament. However, given that unique problems require unique handling for prudent results, it makes even better sense, for preservation of our unique need for ethnicity balance, to make people of represent only their ethnic areas. With Accra being the Capital, it is absolutely correct to have Ghanaians from everywhere come and reside Accra, subject to GaDangme land use limitations and regulations.

However, if people of different ethnicity groups are allowed to represent groups from which they do not hail, there would be the tendency to have people come and promote their ethnic interests in parliament at the expense of the ethnicity groups that they come and represent. The math just doesn’t add up on that, no matter how far it is stretched. The basic norm of being represented by one’s kind holds fully here and must be observed without any exception.

Just imagine what happens if non-coastal people happen to represent coastal people in Parliament; imagine also having those non-coastal people enacting laws, in the name of “progress” and tourism promotion, that hotels and condos be built along the coast; and further imagine security structures, etc., being erected to check who goes in and comes out of those edifices at the coast.

Clearly, the practical effects will be tantamount to ostracizing coastal people from their God-given areas of abode; kill their vocation, the fishing industry; and possibly heavily tax our harmonious co-existence.

What is going on about the drowning of the GaDangme language and having GaDangmes represented by non-GaDangmes is intensely regressive, appalling, and grossly and inhumanly marginalizing. Consequently, they should be expeditiously arrested, excised, and or and redressed. I write this modestly and humbly solely as a Ghanaian committed to help see moving Ghana forward.

I prayerfully ask our leaders to seriously consider effecting enactment of the necessary Constitutional provisions or amendments that would respect and honor our vital varied cultural and ethnic attributes and meaningfully move all Ghanaians forward as one people with mutual respect for one another.

Thank you.