You are here: HomeWallOpinionsArticles2009 11 28Article 172604

Opinions of Saturday, 28 November 2009

Columnist: Assam, Balemwo

It's not cool with the Northerners (Part 1)

People of these three regions Upper East, Upper West and the Northern regions constitute the northerners. Considering the proclivity of these areas in terms of climatic conditions; it has rendered the vegetation of these regions disadvantaged since; most of our subsistence revolves around farming. These conditions have consequently made it very difficult to grow crops as compared to other regions in the country.

Education is the backbone of every nation but in these deprived areas; education has never been an easy task. Very few elementary schools are furnished with chairs and tables. Children who grow up in these areas especially from the villages walk to school, the privileged ones ride bicycles. They trudge to their respective schools just to sit under the shades of trees or crawl on their stomachs to read their books in the classrooms since there are no chairs.

Schools are closed if there's anticipation of inclement weather. The children proudly and gleefully walk or ride back and forth under these strenuous conditions just to cross or jump the illiteracy line.

These are the realities northerners face since the inception of this our dear nation. I can't believe under the aforementioned conditions, they still have to compete with the rest of the nation in the same national examinations to proceed to the next level.

People from these regions are proud, trustworthy, selfless, self reliant, loyal, smart and dependable people. These people are humorous, family oriented, and very sympathetic.

They will share their last dime with you if in need. Albeit hash as it is to pivot from these naturally disadvantaged areas, they always held themselves in high esteem wherever they go and will excel if given the opportunity.

Dr Kwame Nkrumah had the foresight and gave these regions free education. This produced intelligent educated people that have benefited the regions, they are numerous. The region had enviable secondary schools patronized by some prominent people in this nation mostly built by Dr Kwame Nkrumah.

Gen Acheampong built Tono and Vea irrigation dams which immensely assisted the people notwithstanding the challenges associated with production and marketing which the government can help in that regard.

President Rawlings brought electricity to these regions that ignited a whole host of commercial activities in the area. Before President Rawlings brought electricity to these areas, electricity was acknowledged anytime it is switched on with chorus from both young and old in jubilation. Generators were used to produce electricity, and lights are switched on and off intermittently at the pleasure of the managers at post.

I mentioned all these leaders in relation to what they did to help. Developing an area like this is a gradual process however it must be coherent and consistent. We will always remember any leader who assisted us when we were in need and we really are!!!

Life is extremely tough for the northerners, anytime one visit these areas; poverty is conspicuous despite all the aforementioned qualities of the people I have enumerated. "Government please don't forget the northerners if it's cool for you in the castle". It's not proper to rush to these areas during election time strategize, hoodwink and artifice them to get votes and forget about them afterwards, things are not cool with them.

Living in these areas is like squeezing water out of stone. Survival is the right word considering the conditions people live there. Homes of Chiefs and politicians in these deprived areas have become a routine venue for people to seek recourse.

Those who have managed to crawl out for greener pastures are still tethered to their lineage and are necessarily committed to remit home no matter what. Others may be remitting as well but ours is a matter of survival. We don't have enough cassava or plantain at our back yards or cocoa in our farms, it's a plain dry land.

Our people need potable water; good roads not only to the major cities but to the villages too. The villagers are not allergic to good roads. With potable water, good roads and good communication systems, it will encourage some of these NGO's and investors to assist in commercial ventures that will benefit the area to compliment what the government is doing.

Sheanuts should be processed in the north for export. Research should seriously be conducted on the shea trees to come out with alternatives to have fruitful results just as was done on the cocoa. That's a very lucrative industry and should be properly revisited pragmatically. Most cosmetic companies in the USA use shea-butter for their creams. This will create employment for the people.

Exploration should be focused in the area for the possibility of discovering mineral resources and subsequent extraction. Additional dams should be constructed; business opportunities should be created especially with broadband to link the area to the internet to facilitate easy accessibility to the world. Flexible loans should be made accessible to inhabitants and more micro-financing programs put in place.

Mechanized irrigation technology can be imported from here in the USA. In the rural areas here; boreholes are sunk and attached with a solar pumps that pumps the water to irrigate crops.

We have a lot of sun in the north than they have down here in the USA. Why can't we do the same? The government can assist in this venture to alleviate the suffering of the people. This will stop the rural-urban drift and lift the people from the acute poorest condition they find themselves; it's a struggle everyday in these areas.

I hope somebody is listening with commiseration and will lend a helping hand; the situation in the north is dire. Give full measured commitment to uplift the people from this pathetic situation because it will help the nation.

I write this with in-depth passion because I have seen and felt this condition up close. Northerners are not asking for hand outs but give them the opportunity to work to make their lives better and be able to take care of their families.

Balemwo Assam

Washington DC.