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Opinions of Wednesday, 11 May 2005

Columnist: Kuyini, Ahmed Bawa

If all Ghanaians were Fantes and Northerners, Ghana will be??


** Correction and apology: Prof. Nabila was Minister for Presidential Affairs I proposed in Part I of this article that for Ghana is to succeed, we need to change our thinking about Citizenship, Religious thought and Polity.

Further, the proposed reform in thinking in regard to citizenship would require us to observe a single and perhaps unique principle, which is this: EVERY GHANAIAN IS FIRST, A CITIZEN AND SECOND, A MEMBER OF A TRIBE. This will constitute a radical reversal of our identity principles inculcated in us by our ethnocentric philosophies, which make us see ourselves as ?first, tribe and second, Ghanaian.

The tendency to see ourselves first as tribesmen and second as Ghanaians has resulted in a lack strong national identity and propels the culture of ethnic promotion in politics, economics and development initiatives.

This lack of strong national identity fuelled by allegiance to tribes is surprisingly stronger among Ghanaians living abroad, and has made it difficult for Ghanaians living abroad to have single national associations. One would have thought that the discrimination and exclusion we face as Africans or black-people in Europe and America will strengthen our common origins and sense of belonging to a country (Ghana) that respects all of us.

On the contrary, in all countries of the world where Ghanaians reside, they have established multiple ethnic/regional associations, because some Ghanaians think they are more Ghanaian than others. Recently in the U.K, Australia, Canada, Germany, and the USA, the number of Ghanaians attending independence-day celebrations has declined to point deserving of being described as shameful. People prefer to patronise their tribal events and not Ghana national events, as if one day, their ethnic groups will out grow Ghana. In the 21st century when the world is becoming a melting pot of different races, cultures and languages, Ghanaians are re-emphasising their differences. Are we serious about progress with this type of retrogressive thoughts and behaviours?

The reversal principle of first, Ghanaian and second member of a tribe, may appear difficult for many Ghanaians to agree to, let alone implement in their behaviours/actions and inter-dealings. However, it provides a sea of altered consciousness in which we can reform our nation and ourselves. This altered consciousness means that a problem in any one corner of Ghana is conceived as a problem not only for the people who live there, but each one of us, irrespective of tribe or other affiliation. The notion of being Ghanaian first would extinguish the tendency for different ethnic groups to resort to the ideology of dominance that is beginning to characterise our political landscape.

Parts of the content of an article on the Ghanaweb (26/4/05) entitled ?President Kuffour, don?t take Asanteman for granted? was an example of ethnic imprisonment mentality. The one thing that signified the ethnic imprisonment mentality in the article under reference was the way the writer asked for development for Ashanti. The writer forgot that many other areas of Ghana like Ashanti, do not have water, feeder- roads, clinics and chalk in classrooms, but those other communities may never have a president coming from their part of Ghana for one thousand years. What then will happen to those communities in terms of development if Kuffour must develop Ashanti because he is an Ashanti?

Our ability to engage in the noble acts such as truth, kindness, honesty, responsibility and sympathy, are driven by the values we hold as a society. These values have been eroded in Ghanaians even to the extent that we ridicule people who cherish and live by these values.

Undoubtedly, those values are still prevalent in some exemplary Ghanaians and for me in a northern personality. The values of honest leadership and integrity are epitomised in Professor J.S. Nabila (Minister for Presidential Affairs in the Limann administration and recently elected to the Council of State). The professor has been a dedicated and outstanding personality in University and Government. While in Government, he was principled, honest, and responsible in his service to Ghana. Owing to our eroded values, some politicians called him ?the constitution man? and in Mampruli/Dagbani, has was referred to as ?Constitution ku saki? meaning ?the constitution will not accept what you are asking me to do?. The corrupt politicians expected him to go against his principles in order to support their corruption, but he stood his ground as a principled and honest leader. To many of the corrupt politicians and some Ghanaians, he was na?ve, annoying and unenlightened. On the contrary, he demonstrated that as a prince of the Mamprugu traditional area, (and now a in chief) he still had not lost his principles with regard to honest leadership and responsibility for the whole community (Ghana).

Even Rawlings should be ashamed of himself because he imprisoned the Prof. who did a better job in politics and the fight against corruption than Rawlings did.

In Ghana, the election to the Council of State is reserved for personalities who have demonstrated integrity and honest service, and the professor has achieved these credentials in both traditional and national politics. Today, as a Naa (Chief) and elected member of the Council of State, Professor Nabila has stood the test of time, and his honesty has triumphed; even though he comes back into the political limelight to meet a more seriously ill society of corruption that he fought so hard to deliver from the evil forces of the time. I hope Rawlings will now join the NPP to recommend Prof. Nabila for President and consider going to prison himself. Professor Nabila?s achievements and principles echo the question: How can a country with little resources provide basic services for her citizenry without this type of consciousness and sensitivity?. We can only achieve this level of consciousness and sensitivity by seeing ourselves as Ghanaians first, and to wish for each Ghanaian (not only those form our tribe) a better life. It is time for Ghanaians to think differently in terms of :

1. our common humanity, 2. our oneness of purpose and 3. oneness of vision as a nation.

1.Our common humanity implies that all Ghanaians irrespective of tribe have similar needs- food, clothing, shelter, security, education, health etc; no one tribe needs these better than others.

2. Our oneness of purpose means that we all should contribute to our common good, and this requires that everybody be provided with the same ladder of opportunity. This will depart from the usual practice where governments concentrate all development projects in areas of their ethnic origin.

3. The oneness of our vision means that we would love to see all Ghanaians have good education, health and well-being, so as to further promote the development of our future generation, and make life worthy of living. More importantly, our politicians need to recognize and implement the principle of ?citizen first, and tribe, second? as a way of solidifying our unified state with pride in our identity, as a nation of equal citizens. It is also in this state of consciousness of the nature of our citizenship that Governments would naturally be even-handed in providing economic, educational opportunities and other social/health facilities to all communities.

Gone, will the idea that these communities did not vote for my Government or do not speak our language, and so should be less prioritized in the provision of services. Gone will be the idea of super-power and subordinate-power kingdoms in the nation Ghana, and gone will be the idea of tribal voting. The votes in last elections in Fanteland and Northern Ghana were not along tribal lines. The Northern votes are always arbitrarily distributed, and in line with the national character of the political parties. To me, the Fantes and the Northerners are the best in Ghana. If all Ghanaians were like the Fantes and Northerners, Ghana would be a paradise?, because we would vote for parties in patterns that reflects their national character and/or because they are capable of delivering the goods. We as Ghanaians should vote for any party that is capable of governing and be prepared to criticize governments when they make mistakes, even if the president is from our tribe. The Fantes and northerners have shown the way. The rest of Ghana ought to follow this path to our much anticipated and prayed-for paradise nation. God Bless Ghana!!

*** Sorry, there was no space for issues around religious thought?will come later.

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