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Opinions of Thursday, 25 April 2013

Columnist: Bannerman, Nii Lantey Okunka

The “Asante-phobia” Hoax: Stop the NPP/NDC Tribal Wars!!

Ghana is a multi ethic country. Ours is an arrangement bequeathed by colonialism. Due to the able leadership of our first president, peaceful tribal coexistence is the norm in Ghana. While we enjoy peaceful tribal coexistence, we must not forget the fault lines that persevere within a multi ethnic arrangement. Rwanda is a clear example of how tribal hairline cracks, not attended to, can unravel mayhem in a split second. It is for all the above reasons that we can and must not take lightly, any charges of tribal discrimination in our current democratic experiment. Whenever an individual or a group, especially minorities, are attacked, discriminated against, relegated, abused, neglected or harmed in any way, we all have the responsibility of standing up and speaking out against such injustice. However, when baseless tribal claims are made, we have to unmask and debunk them. Perpetrators of tribalism must be denied any measure of comfort in Ghana.

It first started with “anti-Akan” chants! Now we are on to “Asante-phobia”. We must not allow these tags to gain currency in Ghana. A phobia, simply put, is the fear of something. So, and for example, arachnophobia means the fear of spiders. Used in the context of multi ethnic arrangement, “Asante-phobia” means the fear of the Asante tribe. Why should or would any Ghanaian fear an Asante or the Asante tribe? Are we on the verge of being conquered and enslaved by our Asante brothers and sisters? Perhaps I am being naïve but what is it about our Asante brothers and sisters that makes them fearful? Why would anyone assume that due to fear of the Asante tribe, evil is being perpetrated against it? Where is proof of such evil being meted out to the tribe called Asante?

I believe seriously that the term “Asante-phobia” is nothing but a hoax. I don't think there is a need to fear Asantes. I suspect the protagonist of these tribal war terms are trying to whip up delirious tribal fervor, aimed at galvanizing their ill-informed perceptions, not steeped in facts. These are insecure individuals who always find half-clever ways to draw entire groups into the vortex of their depraved personal anxieties. This is why we all need to take a deep breath whenever these individuals make explosive and revolting tribal charges not pillared by objective facts. What will be more powerful is outright unconditional condemnation by their tribesmen. Powerful because it will send a permeating and reverberating message that, tribe members, will not tolerate or support any member that foments trouble on their behalf. Woe betides those who frolic and prance in the muck of tribalism, roofed by the misconception of tribal pride and dominance. No one tribe, however large or strong, can dominate any tribe in Ghana! No way! Over our dead bodies!!

I suspect strongly that the author of the “Asante-phobia” canard meant something other than the impact he is creating. Indeed, I have a strong inclination that, the “Asante-phobia” charge is more about perceived hatred for Asantes as opposed to fear of Asantes. We should not confuse hatred with fear. One can hate and not fear. In the same vein, one can fear and not hate. One can also hate and fear at the same time. What is it? What makes these charges very serious and spurious, is that, it is leveled against the NDC party. The NDC, I suppose, is not a tribe but instead, a multi-ethnic party. So, why would it fear or hate one tribe, Asante, out of many? Is any particular tribe hiding behind the NDC to hate Asantes? If indeed the NDC is discriminating against the Asante tribe, it should be held responsible. We must not tolerate a political party that hate or fear any part of Ghana or its people. The problem that I am having is that there is not a shred of proof to substantiate this serious, revolting and scurrilous allegations.

In a multi-ethnic and fledgling democracy such as Ghana, loathing is prevalent. No one party has the corner on loathing. All parties do their fair share of disliking their opponents. Hopefully this despise will mature into healthy competition. For now, I don't have a problem if the NPP detest the NDC or vice versa. They are both political parties and that is what they do. However, rightly or wrongly, it appears as if both the NDC and NPP have become symbols of particular tribes. The NPP symbolizes Asantes and the NDC Ewes. Therefore, any action perceived to emanate from a particular party is viewed in tribal terms. Even particular newspapers are assumed to speak for particular parties. Is the latter a fair reading of the shenanigans of both the NPP and NDC? Shouldn’t political parties be broad based? Where are the others Ghanaian tribes in this imbroglio? Could it be that such camouflaged charges of Asante-phobia or anti-Akanism are indirect ways of hinting at a raging tribal war that is bubbling underneath the surface? Will the accusers play bold and spill their guts? Come on now! Man up!

Whatever the issues are, there is no need making outlandish charges against a political party without proof. It is incumbent on the bomb throwers to provide hard facts that substantiate their claim(s). If they do so, we will all join their cause to bring tribal parity in our country. If they fail to do so, we will condemn, on all sides, such reckless assertions aimed at amplifying tribal hatred and ginning up trouble in the country. This fleeting misconception, that, accusing a party of hate or fear peddling, could ginger up tribal war or mayhem must be disabused. It must be nipped in the bud. To draw a whole tribe into a confrontation premised on innuendo, misperceptions and frankly hot air, is dicey and precarious business at best. Tribal war is ugly and we don’t want or expect it in Ghana. No way!

There are some among us who are incurably tribal in their approach. They hear a name and they assume tribe. They see an act and they assume tribe. They catch a scent and the fumes reeks tribe. They are not able to decipher anything without putting on their tribal lenses. Even when commonsense objects to their shady analysis, they persist to make a fool of themselves. To such people, we must say enough! To such people, we owe no support whatsoever. If tribe becomes a burden that prevents me from exercising commonsense, then I want no part of it. If I can’t relate to an opposing view because all I see is tribe then the gravity of my depravity is dizzying. For I yearn for that day, when our fellow human beings, remain our brothers or sisters, regardless of tribe. Therefore, I say, one nation under God, one people, and surely one destiny. Are we all not Ghanaians? Yes we are and to hell with tribalism!! Viva Ghana!

Nii Lantey Okunka Bannerman (Affectionately dubbed the double edge sword and also, mobbed as Santrofi Anomaa—You take or leave at your own peril) I don’t give them hell. I just tell the truth and they think it is hell—Harry Truman