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Opinions of Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Columnist: Asigri, D. Z.

Shifting the ‘transcultural’ pattern in politics is a requirement!

Having recently been actively involved in the political campaign of December 2008 Presidential and Parliamentary elections within the Garu Tempane constituency of which the party that I pay allegiance to (NDC), re-captured power nationally with the Garu Tempane parliamentary candidate retaining his seat, is an experience worth sharing in this article. Not surprisingly, within the health care profession worldwide, the concept of ‘transcultural’ is not new simply because it is attributable to people with whom we deal with from a variety of cultures (tribes) in our daily work which includes some elements of ‘politic’ and ‘political’. Indeed, within the health care profession where I currently work, I have found out from my readings and research activities that, transcultural supervision as well as transcultural practice with clients are both still in the early stages of development. As we increasingly operate in a transcultural society be it for health care needs of our people or for political gain, I think it is essential that both individuals and political parties in this context, do put a strong emphasis in developing the ability to campaign with a transcultural focus in every constituency in order to promote a tranquil environment or community without loss of blood or life. Indeed, transcultural issues as seen within health care practice does enhance the quality of patient care and I believe that if adequately incorporated into the domain of political campaign trails good human interaction and understanding would prevail to the envy of other developing countries. After all, ‘politic’ is about demonstrating good judgement in ones responsibility, whilst ‘political’ is about how a country is being governed by an elected government, I think. Effective political campaign as it has been argued requires quality human interaction which reflected on our recently held Parliamentary and Presidential elections. I believe that future political campaign especially within the Garu Tempane constituency must attempt to embody some elements of ‘Transcultural Politic’. The essential ingredients within a transcultural political framework being respectful to the other, avoidance of utterance considered to be inflammatory (cultural or tribal), avoid arrogant attitude, acceptance of criticisms from other foot soldiers or constituents etc, etc. The saying goes that politics is a ‘dirty game’ ought not to be seen to be supreme to our laid down objectives! ‘Dirt’, is not a want to be self-inflicted!!

It would not surprise me to argue that, a strange concept (transcultural) has emerged in this article. Yes, for it has an important value to play here. We understand ‘cultural differences’ as referring to the different explicit and implicit assumptions and values that influence the behaviour of people. Culture is not just something within us, which we have, but rather resides in the milieu in which we live. Furthermore, culture affects primarily not what but how we think, although what we think may alter as a result of our cultural assumptions (even as to which political party NDC or NPP a constituent voted for). Indeed, it exists in the spaces between us, just as an organism is grown in a ‘culture’ in a laboratory. For example, ones behavioural patterns as in how he/she relates to people may influence his/her voting pattern; ones mind-set as to how he/she views the society around him/her may impact on the voting pattern, and motivational roots-for example, has the party parliamentary candidate made any unfulfilled promises in his previous campaign or what?

Recent development in our political world shows that, during the Parliamentary/Presidential elections, transcultural awareness is necessary for our political practice and should not be ignored. For example, we saw the NPP safely comfortable within the Ashanti Region on one hand and the NDC psychologically and practically safe within the Volta, Northern, Upper West and Upper East Regions, on the other. What factors might have attributed to this voting pattern leaves much room to be desired. It could be argued that transcultural ingredients played a major factor? There is a need to point out that some form of training is required to ensure that our foot soldiers in general are well-versed in transcultural awareness and how it enhances or diminishes a constituent’s choice of voting. Political foot soldiers on the other hand need to be aware of tribal issues, gender, religion, age, and disability in their approach to constituents. A useful frame-work for all foot soldiers should include in my view, examining recruitment from different tribal groupings, the make-up of the campaign team, and patterns of interaction between the team. In short, there is a need to adhere to the notion of respect for the other, be he/she, an Ashanti, Ewe, a Mohie, Bimoba, Yanga, Mamprusi, Kusasi and or Dagomba-for, we need their votes if only they are a life but not dead through human destructive tendencies in the name of certain tribal conflict!

As well as looking at how much time that I have given to attempting to address the notion of transcultural issues from the perspectives of politics, a future political campaign team (necessary for the Garu Tempane constituency and many others), we need to continually develop the ability to work with a greater range of differences and with more awareness of our own culturally defined behaviour if we (NDC) are seeking to govern for many years to come! We must all agree to succumb to nature that you cannot be culturally neutral and so we will inevitably view our society from our own cultural perspective be it in health or in sickness, and in politics too.

In concluding, I have highlighted on the urgent need for those of us (NDC) within the Garu Tempane constituency especially, to recognise the value of ‘transcultural politic’ in our future election campaign strategies. The point is that, if our constituency campaign team has a culture of addiction, then it is important to interrupt the denial and dishonesty before attempting any other mode of improvement. This is not easy as it sounds, for in the words of the Chinese proverb: ‘The last one to know about the sea is the fish.’

By: Asigri, D.Z.

Senior Lecturer

Practitioner Researcher

University of Middlesex London