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Opinions of Sunday, 26 April 2015

Columnist: Bediako, Alexander

Lesson from xenophobic attack in South Africa

: you cannot ride on tribal politics to power

We must all be worried when it appears some politicians are unrepentant in making unreasoned and deadly political comments that put our lives in great danger. Despite the total condemnation of Osafo Marfo's tribal comments, Nana Akufo Addo has again endorsed such uncivilised comment. If the condemnation and total disapproval of Ghanaians of such pronouncements is not enough then they must learn from the ongoing South Africa tragedy.
Ghanaians over the years have lived together in greater harmony with each other. Fifty-eight years after independence, most Ghanaians have come to believe and accepted that they we have come a long way as one people and one nation with common interests. From the first president of Ghana, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, to the current president Mahama, have all not married from their immediate tribal lineage, showing the beauty of our co-existence as one people. Thus inter-marriages and cooperation in many areas of our lives have strengthened the relationships among the various ethnic groups in Ghana. It shows how unique we have become as a nation.
It is in this context that we consider Yaw Osafo Marfo’s recent ethnocentric comments to be backward, barbaric and the one that lack common sense or wisdom. One would have expected a person like Osafo Marfo to have known better, considering his background and experience as a politician who was once a minister of finance and a state. But it appears these sorts of backward and common sense-deficient pronouncements are a common characteristic of the Danquah-Busiah political tradition.
Where is the logic? This is a politician who is seeking political power in a country that has different ethnic groups, yet believes that only those from certain ethnic groups should be in charge of the country. What would he do after getting the power? Why some elements within the NPP and the Danquah-Busiah political assemblage believe that they can ride on tribal sentiment to their desired political destination (power)?
Victor Owusu from the same political fraternity is said to have made similar comments against the Ewes, describing them as “inward-looking” people. Professor Adu-Boahen, during the political heat between him and Jerry Rawlings in 1992, made similar pronouncement (“Ye be gyie ye’mang akunta be si fom”). Nana Akufo Addo, the failed 2008 and 2012 presidential candidate of New Patriotic Party, and many others, are not exceptions when it comes to this unacceptable tribal politics. Ghana's democratic achievements should not be allowed to be reversed. We all, as Ghanaians, have a duty to protect and guide our democracy against anything that is likely to undermine its sustainability. Today the concern is no longer the stranglehold of autocrats, but the hijacking of the democratic process by tribal politics.
It was very surprising that the NPP members present when this unacceptable and highly inflammatory comment was made could not muster the courage to challenge their own and warn him of the consequences. They appear to share in Osafo Marfo’s fifteenth century political thought and opportunism. It is important all Ghanaians stand firm against Osafo Marfo and any person’s promotion of tribal politics, to dispel the notion that leaders who focus on tribe are only responding to the mindset of the voters.
Since when has the ownership of natural resources become the basis for determination of who leads us as Ghanaians? Lack of knowledge and experience sometimes make people look very foolish in their own pronouncements and thoughts. The greatest resource of any country is its human resources, not natural resources as Osafo Marfo wanted us to believe. We can all see the evidence from countries which have nurtured their human resource, and those which boast about their endowment with natural resources. It takes the human resource to turn around those natural resources to be useful to mankind. Countries such as South Korea, Cuba, Hong Kong and Taiwan, to mention but few can boast very little of natural resources but have concentrated on development of their human resources. We can attest to the state of their nations today. It is therefore crucial for all us to work towards living in harmony with one another to develop and promote the very ideal for which we seek political power. Perhaps the NPP has lost the hope of gaining political power through legitimate constitutional means, hence the consistent attempts to obstruct everything, and the use of the divisive ethnocentric and tribal card.
History all over the world has shown that no country has benefited from unfavourable ethnocentric and tribal comments, rather there was calamity and untoward human suffering- which continues to haunt some of these countries now. In Africa, Kenya and Burundi are the most painful examples of the results of relying on tribal inputs to achieve political power. While some may attempt to beg or appeal history that tribal or regional politics are not unique to Ghana and that it happens all over the world, our question to them is how has tribal politics benefited the countries cited to have engaged in it? What has become of countries like Burma, Bosnia, Rwanda, Kenya, and currently Ukraine, and many more?
The way forward for Ghana’s democratic politics lies in determined efforts to build modern political parties founded on development ideals and not tribal bonds, sentiments or pronouncements. Such political parties must base their competition for power on development platforms. Political parties that believe in the genuine aspirations of the people are those that would create a genuine development platform, and are prepared to launch initiatives that reflect popular needs. Those that rely on manipulating ethnic alliances will bring sectarian animosity and acrimony into government business, and they must not be entertained at all in Ghana’s political business. Let us learn from dangers of tribal and regional politics

By Alexander Bediako