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Opinions of Sunday, 1 February 2009

Columnist: Sulemana, Iddisah

Re: Is Atta Mills Neglecting Gonjaland People?

At the very sight of the caption of this article (on Ghana Homepage January 31, 2009), my heart leapt! And as I perused the rather bigoted, specious article, I kept shaking my head in shame and disappointment. "Why would anyone publish such an article anyway? Who is this Albert man?" I asked myself.

My brother (Albert Nuhu), I'm sorry you were not in attendance at the "interment of tribal politics in Ghana". It now belongs to history. We have "changed to move forward", and I think we need to put politics of tribe, religion, region, *inter alia* behind us. I don't think John Mahama was picked as running mate on tribal/religious basis. It was due to his charisma, competence, humility, and hardwork. It was on merit. So if there are other Gonjalanders the president deems worthy and fit for whatever portfolios, it is his sole prerogative to appoint them as and when necessary.

Albert said the president has been rude to the people of Gonajaland, and I find this quite nebulous. You have not a modicum or shred of fact to buttress this assertion, and I think it's very unfortunate for the likes of you to reason this way. And how "unacceptable" is it? That the entire ministers to the cabinet are Ghanaians, but none is a Gonjalander? Albert, do you remember how many tribes/ethnic groups we have in Ghana from your elementary school Cultural Studies? And you said our voices should be heard? We should just come out and bark stupid, empty noise like yours? Come on. Not every Gonjalander is a self-seeking, sycophant.

You talk about poor roads, terrible schools, etc, and you think those are peculiar with Gonjaland?

You need to travel from Walewale to Bunkprugu, or many other places, where vehicles ply those routes once a day to come to the reality in other regions, sparing the so-called hinterlands.

We can obviously not expect Mills to put square pegs in round holes. Mills won't appoint school drop outs to the cabinet just because his Vice President is a Gonja when there are technocrats from other tribes, who are Ghanaians anyway! Nor will he handpick the few bigwigs we have who have all decided to exhibit apathy in national politics? The era of "job for the boys" is over. We as a people need to know that much as we are part of the problem, we are also part of the solution. The government is not going to discriminate against other tribes because they are purportedly "anti-NDC", all-inclusiveness Mills promised, you remember? No government can solve all the problems of its people unless the people are prepared to help themselves. We should never be deceived into thinking that the government is "Father Christmas". We need to work as Ghanaians to move Ghana forward.

I personally hate the word "tribe" But you see, diversity is beautiful when we are able to harness it. It is powerful when we see it as a unifying element rather than a divisive one. Diversity is an asset if we see ourselves as Ghanaians other than Ashantis, Eves, Fantes, Gonjas, Nzemas, or Vaglas! Let our disparate origins be our strength rather than weakness, hope not despair. Let us see ourselves as Ghanaians with a common vision and destiny. We have common enemies to fight. And these are not our "other" tribesmen, nor those who don't share in our political persuasions. Our common enemies are poverty, hunger, illiteracy, and disease.

Needless to mention, change has come to America. And change has come to Ghana. Change has come to the world! But the actual change we all seek in Ghana is when we disregard tribe, religion, gender, or even age in favour of educational qualifications, experience, potential, and competence, among others, when it comes to "who fits the job?"

Iddisah Sulemana (, The University of Akron, Ohio, USA