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Opinions of Sunday, 27 September 2020

Columnist: Dr. Samuel Adjei Sarfo, Esq.

Grant independence for Togoland

Western Togoland wants to separate itself from Ghana Western Togoland wants to separate itself from Ghana

I cannot recollect that any people seized with the strong desire to have their independence have failed in any struggle to attain the same. It is all in the quantum of the bloodshed: Whether it shall be the multitudinous seas incarnadine, or that it shall consist in droplets of blood on a tea leaf. To me, there should be no bloodletting at all, whether to color the sea red, or ruddy a tea leaf. We should allow the people of W. Togoland to decide the question of their own independence on a silver platter with the full support and backing of the Ghana government.

Thomas Jefferson stated periphrastically in the Declaration of Independence that men are prone to suffer the insufferable than to seek to alter the arrangements of a government to which they are accustomed; and that at any time, if a people should decide that any arrangement of a government is unsuitable for their purpose, they have the right, nay, the duty to change the form to a more desirable one. These words must apply to Western Togoland. They themselves decided, in 1956 to join Ghana. If they themselves are unsatisfied with the remaining part of Ghana, why must it be so difficult to cut them loose.

These are people who formed a study group to assess their own independence and the resources available to them to run their country. They have riparian resources coupled with gold, diamond, bauxite, manganese, uranium, sapphire, and even copper and amber and ambergris. They have the best human resource in the country and can organize this to guarantee their own development and sovereignty. To wit, they have everything and lack nothing!

They have in the past shown dissatisfaction with how this country is governed and have been involved in many coups to change the course of our politics. If they are still not satisfied with the way things are going on in the country, they should be allowed to have their autonomy and independence. Moreover, people of that indigenous stock should feel free to join either Ghana or Togoland, but not both because of security reasons; and all arrangements ought to be made for these people to so decide in an orderly peaceful manner. If we must indeed break up, it is far better for us to break up on friendly terms and protect the interests of one another without any ill faith. Ghana and Togoland will not afford the cost of mutual hostility. They will remain friendly and peaceful and respectful of each other's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The only caution is that any independence does come with both rights and responsibilities. The first casualty will be the party which derives substantial votes from that region. The NDC has been helped to victory by the W. Togolanders from the very inception of their party. They may not have any chance to govern Ghana again; but they will have free reign in Togoland where they can easily win 90% of the votes every time. The rest of Ghana will go for NPP which might win 70% of the votes each time and therefore govern Ghana for good. This kind of political arrangement could be satisfactory to both sides and bring peace and happiness on both sides.

There is therefore no need for anyone to go to war. The government should therefore invite the United Nations to help it negotiate the borders of Western Togoland, and go ahead to organize a referendum to determine the wish of the people. If the people decide to remain Ghanaians, then so will it be. If they should decide to form their own independent country, then this parting is well done without any regret or bitterness. There is no need for a single gun to be fired here to keep any unitary Ghana. If we force a unitary Ghana, we will be sabotaging our country with the inclusion of a dissatisfied population to whom we will become hostage forever. Besides, our nation and its people do not have the resources to engage in internecine warfare for a generation, thereby missing the great opportunity for progress and development, and instead substituting these with years of hatred and resentment. We don’t need this.

All those countries that were involved in similar civil wars sacrificed years and decades of prosperity: South Sudan, Eritrea, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Nigeria…… And they are yet to tell us what dividends they gained for the rivers of blood they shed. Fortunately, we in Ghana have never experienced the breakdown of civil order, and our soldiers are not prepared for an endless war. In fact, war will destroy everything.

And I personally don’t see the role of insults or threats in these matters at all. Ghana gained independence without fighting any war. Near the time of independence, Nkrumah was confined to prison by the colonial masters for leading a civil insurrection, not for leading in any war; but he was allowed to run for a constituency nonetheless. And he was voted for by the people while still in prison, and eventually appointed Leader of Government Business. The people responsible for his victory, like Gbedemah, did not fight in any war. They campaigned for votes and won at the ballots. The ballots can solve many questions, and has indeed done so in the past in the Ghanaian political context.

In the same way, the ballot can solve the question here: The inclusion of the Trans-Volta Togoland came about via referendum, in which the majority voted and decided to be part of Ghana. If today, the impression is now being created that generations later, they want to revert to their own independent state, the historical records are in their favor to do so. Nobody should stop them from charting their own path to self-rule and independence. The people have the full right to decide their fate, and that right is the natural one which must be sustained through negotiations and the franchise.

Nobody should force anybody to be Ghanaian. It is a great privilege for which people should voluntarily choose.