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Opinions of Sunday, 27 January 2013

Columnist: Asimenu-Forson, Kwaku

Mahama SHSs and Matters Arising

By Kwaku Asimenu-Forson

I have always taken for granted that Ghana is one nation and is bound to continue so, ‘ for better for worse.’ But events since 2008 have caused me to see Ghana more like a cloth made of many pieces sewn together both in geography and in terms of peoples. That kind of cloth known in my village as ‘nsansa’ which is ‘manufactured ‘by the local seamstress or taylor who put together the leftovers of customers’ materials. Depending on the pieces sewn, nsansa cloth could look very beautiful or terrible but always colourful. One challenge with this type of cloth is that, the owner must regularly sew the joints since the pieces regularly threaten to pull apart. This is how Ghana appears to me now.
Not that I am unaware of how we got the modern day Ghana. I am not ignorant of how Ashanti joined the Colony or the Annexation of the Northern territories or the plebiscite of 1956. But in 2004 when the first civilian president completed a full term in the 4th republic, I believed the nation had come to terms with a sustainable new dispensation of democratic culture based on mutual respect and the common realization that together we are better off that separate. But now, I am convinced that there are people in frontline politics and public service who would want the map of Ghana to look different from what it is today. I also believe that these people are in the minority. Therefore, in the interest of the vast majority , I wish to make a suggestion which in my view, will strengthen the hems and joints holding Ghana together as full- piece cloth. Before I do so let me make a comment on President Mahama’s 200 senior high schools and how it would not add to the unity of the nation.
The boarding system at both the second cycle and tertiary levels has long been known to be a unifying force in the Ghanaian society. Indeed many of the key actors in the political system today have known each other very closely due to boardenisation. Talk of Akuffo Addo and Dr Kwadwo Afari Djan and you are talking about brothers. Brothers in the university. Roommates for three years. Indeed I wonder if afari Djan of all people could or should be the one to connive to deprive Akuffo Addo of his victory. In fact, I disbelieve the conspiracy theory. There may have been irregularities but connivance and contrivance by Dr Djan? What did Akuffo do to him for him to steal his victory twice as claimed by some? I believe the deep personal knowledge that such key players in the political system have of each other influences the good decisions so far that they have taken to safeguard the peace of the country . This is why I believe the 200 new SHS, as day schools, in era where tertiary education has far gone beyond brick and mortar education will take something away from the next generation.
This is happening in an era of globalization where nationalism is waning and traditional identities bodering on ethnicity and religion are getting a boost globally. Will the Ghana project survive? Indeed, the breakaway of South Sudan,the stillborn Somaliland Republic out of Somalia, the temporary partitioning of Cote D’Ivoire and the current Azawad project in Mali should give all African leaders a headache . As for Nigeria, Gaddafi prophesied its break-up before his own country was overrun. Westphalian sovereignty is under threat especially in Africa. In the next fifty years, are we going to have the same boders we have now in Africa? How many failed states is the continent yet to birth and will Ghana be one?
In my view, a key way of keeping Ghana together is through compulsory military conscription of all persons who attain voting age. Not only will conscription increase public displine in Ghana but it will increase national consciousness and identity at the expense of negative regionalism and ethnicisation of national politics. It will also enhance the security consciousness of the population while it also remains a cost effective means of raising a large army which is always ready against external aggression. Talking of external aggression, it is considered that the continuous spread of the Sahara will continue to push populations and conflicts down south. Ask the people of Ashanti Agogo and they will tell you where the Fulani came from. External threats to the peace and stability of Ghana is real.
Compulsory military conscription will be a great national team-building exercise, an enhancer of a unified national identity, a force for reducing social gap and a project for national unity and stability. Who is listening to me?