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Opinions of Monday, 28 April 2014

Columnist: Anim-Mensah, Alexander

Homogenization and Ghana's Development

– A Step in the Right Direction

The extent of a National Development is related to how much homogeneous the societal make up is. The more homogeneous a society is, the easier it is for consensus building; spreading of knowledge; and achievement of a common goal. Non-homogeneous society on the other hand, is characterized by multiples of barriers which eventually results in difficulty in achieving any goal. Tribalism, ethnicity, distinction, and differentiation among persons of a society are some of the entities that create the barriers between one and the other. It is therefore of great importance that we do away with these entities and organize ourselves in ways that support societal homogenization.

Some proponents of ethnicity and tribalism however, would argue the pros of preservation of culture, language, dressing, building style, and food, among others which is necessary for the variety, which is true. But in situations where some tribes are being projected over others create barriers for development. An example from the good book illustrates this in which a setback for development is demonstrated in once a homogeneous society that turned to be non-homogeneous in the middle of project execution. It is a story of the construction of “Tower of Babel” where, initially when there was unison and homogeneity of culture, the construction of the tower was smoothly being constructed until different languages and misunderstanding hindered the progress. In Ghana, there is a tremendous support for development of barriers by means of tribalism, ethnicity, etc. which in some case may stifle our development.

How do some systems in Ghana still support tribalism, ethnicity, differentiation and discrimination? A simple example unconsciously is information presented on our resume or curriculum vitae (CV) in search of a position. Resumes and CVs in Ghana other than the name and contacts show information such as date of birth, religion, marital status, gender, number of children, hometown, etc. It is unsure if this format was inherited from the colonial days for division or evolved as results of our own craftiness to take advantage of tribalism and ethnicity. While names and contacts are very necessary; date of birth, religion, marital status, gender, number of children and hometown may not be necessary since it presents some levels of discrimination, differentiation, tribalism, and ethnicity.

This means a person applying for a particular position is sieved at several levels including qualifications and experiences which employer or human resources could be caught up with the unnecessary parts when selecting the right candidates to interview. In my view, hometown and religion often fuels tribalization and ethnicity. Some key information such as marital status or family is necessary for relocation and the willingness of the candidate to relocate and could be asked during the interview process. This will presents some sort of equal opportunity to all candidates.

While names and addresses are required and inevitable for correspondence purposes; date of birth, religion (Christianity- Catholic, Charismatic, Pentecost; Islam), hometown (Ho, Kumasi, Wa, Takoradi), marital status (married, widow (er), single), gender (Male, Female), number of children (4 total - 2 boys and 2 girls), etc. should not be required on resumes if we want to bury or fade some of the negative effects of the many differences in our system.

Date of birth gives the perception or impression of one being young or old. The younger often perceived as not having enough life experiences and may require nurturing, eventhough; the person has the necessary qualification, experience and competence. The young and old being perceived as ambitious, strong, energetic, and smart and has more life. The older is perceived as having enough experience but may be ineffective due to aging, slow, with a walking stick in hand, one that has had his time already and should give room to young and coming up ones. However, we should not lose the facts that being younger or older is a disadvantage; some older people appear younger, have valuable experiences, could be smarter, very effective for the responsibility, could train the younger ones and should not be ignored. What we should be looking at is how effective will the candidate meet the short and long term goals and what he/she brings to the table as well as to Ghana’s development in the long run. Ghana’s low pension ages could lead to valuable experiences and intellectual wastages and some untapped resources in our system. We got to find some responsibilities for the older guys in our system to grow the country.

In Ghana, while marital status is assumed or known to reflect responsibility and accountability it should not be mistaken for reflect total effectiveness, responsible and accountability on a job. People has different plans for their lives - some interested in earlier familyhood and others interested in late familyhood when they have acquired sufficiently a foundation to support a family. Some may not be interested in familyhood at all. Note that our system forces marriage life and familyhood when one is of age and even if one is half-baked economically and still trying to the find feet. Some of our street children could be coming from unsecured homes and families. In my view, marital status should not be used as any measure to discriminate.

Tribalism and ethnicity fuels “square pegs” in “round holes” which suffers the whole nations. I may believe oftentimes that some interviewers could be biased unnecessary towards some of the extra information on the resume rather than the competence. On the side of the interviewee, it could be advantageous or disadvantageous if the interviewer is biased towards some of the extra information. In this case, if the interviewer is not the same as the owner who is seeking for the welfare of his/her company, a bunch of wrong employees will be employed to ruin a company. A good system will be to have the right person for the position unbiased hence the buzz words “equal opportunity” if our urge is to growth Ghana.

Opponents to this equal opportunities idea could present that most the selection processes are unbiased and based on competence i.e. educational qualification and experience which results in a select educated tribes since the nation cannot afford to place “square pegs” in “round holes” at this critical point of development as an argument. Proponents will argue that if some tribes are more educated than others then the equal opportunity clause proposed here has not been met hence those deprived tribes need be given a similar mandate to the free education in the northern Ghana to bring about educational balance.

I believe levelling the playing field by promoting the equal opportunity agenda will see Ghana’s development feasibly go forward. A lot more has to be done to marry the various tribes and ethnicities while diminishing any room for discrimination. The first step to every solution is identifying the problems and the second a platform to provide solutions after identification. I believe some of the misconceptions about the various tribes based on past hearsay needs to be clarified or cleared. It will not be surprising to know the extent most Ghanaians know very well about the various tribes and cultures in Ghana and what they stand for. Most are based on past hearsay which still is held against which some might not be true or over exaggerated compared to today.

It our responsibilities to use the various media; TV, radio, etc. to showcase and educate Ghanaians about the various tribes to promote unity, clear some stereotyping and misconceptions to foster Ghanaians understanding each other, that is the key. Let us fight to appreciate ourselves and the various tribes for the beauty and uniqueness, and not look down on other tribes. It is better to build bridges rather than walls. I believe a step in the right direction could be enhanced by answering the following questions; (1) what laws are in place to safe guard citizens against tribalism, ethnicity or discrimination since it hinders Ghana’s development?, (2) what maybe fueling whom you know and/or tribalism? - (a) The few jobs in Ghana, (b) less jobs created vs more skilled graduates, (c) growing population, (d) all (a, b and c) ?, (3) If the answer to (2) is (d ) what are we doing about it?, and (4) what plans are in place when population soars?

Despite the differences, knowing and encouraging how to live as a closely knitted family called Ghanaians will go a long way to support our development. A lot more lies in unity and we all need to understand our shortcomings and complement each other; that is the reason for our imperfections. Partisan should not give us the tool to divide the country because of the different governance views but rather be used to promote country patriotism and unity. A collective conscious effort is worth a “zillion”. It should be an entire wish to break loose from tribalism, ethnicity and partisan for Ghana to go forward. In my view, marital status, hometown, religion, number of children, age, gender and others that can incite discrimination should be used only when necessary if we really want Ghana to go forward. I proposed the system evaluate this idea and use it for our good.

God bless.

Alexander R. Anim-Mensah

Dayton Ohio