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Opinions of Saturday, 28 December 2002

Columnist: Kotey, Nikoi

The sparks with unintended consequences.

We need to learn and remember history to understand the present.

History does offer useful warnings but it never repeats itself exactly. Now it is the time to be watchful.

I still remember the initial events that started political crises in Nigeria that culminated in the Biafra War. There was general election in the then Western Region of Nigeria. The Action Group Party founded and led by Chief Awolowo was Yoruba centered. In the1965 election for the Regional Assembly in the Western Region, the election was alleged to be blatantly rigged. On opening of the assembly, the newly elected members, instead of resolving the issue by means of force of argument resorted to argument of force. Tempers arose. Fists and chairs were thrown in the ensuing melee. This innocuous regional fight captured in the black and white pictures, in my opinion, was the beginning of the Nigerian Civil War. Those who rigged the election could not foresee that it could lead to exchange of blows in the assembly. Those who initiated the fight in the assembly did not intend the ensuing chaos to engulf completely the western region, let alone the whole federation.

Of late, any body with acute perspective would notice the increased tribal (national) sentiments on this forum. May I reiterate that I consider myself a GaDangme nationalist. In this stance, I do not believe, neither do I intend that the GaDangme nation should progress at the expense of other nations of Ghana. What I mean by this statement is that, given my resources I believe I can make a difference when I focus on this small space in ‘global’ Ghana. In private as in public life, I believe one can blossom to his gorgeous best without preventing or denying water and light to others. One can rise high without necessarily being on the back of others. May be I am na?ve. Even in the GaDangme area, I limit myself to La. Having stated these facts, I have no qualms if Ashantis would donate $100 or $500 dollars each for the Asantehene Trust Fund. I would have sleepless nights when I realize the fund resources are being used to inhibit GaDangmes. Though I criticize Afrifah’s action in developing his hometown during his ephemeral reign in Ghana, I laud him. To me, the act was immoral; but he did not dump the siphoned funds in a western capital. He developed a section of Ghana

Until the end of the 1970s, Liberia was considered and perceived to be one of the peaceful nations in the whole of sub Saharan Africa. It had the almighty USA dollar as its currency. These two factors made Liberia a magnet for many nationals. It became a haven for a large contingent of Nigerians, Ghanaians, Guineans and Sierra Leoneans. Came 1980 when the government under the True Whig Party, (African’s equivalent of the PRI party of Mexico) decided for budgetary concerns to remove the subsidy from rice. Here was the small spark. The price of rice was to be determined by laws of demand and supply. The inchoate and fledgling opposition party Patriotic Alliance of Liberians decided to protest the proposal by means of demonstration. Looting issued. The dominant Lebanese business community incurred heavy losses. Capital fled. The Liberian economy, which was fundamentally fragile, bugled under. The TWP Administration did not anticipate the proposal to increase rice prices could ! lead to a demonstration. The organizers of the demonstration did not in their wildest dreams anticipate the looting. In 1981, a semi illiterate enlisted man in the Liberian Army decided to take his chance. The events of April 1980 revealed that the government of Tolbert was a pack of cards. Doe entered. He continued where Tolbert left with the corruption and the graft. Charles Taylor, an ex-convict decided to ‘chop’ Liberia small also. The rest is history. All the fundamental attributes of a nation-state have disappeared from Liberia.

Cote d’Ivoire was to Francophone West Africa what Liberian was to the Anglophones. It was peaceful with a well-entrenched political party. Unlike, Liberia it has a thriving economy. I t was taunted in the Western media as a success story. Being the third cocoa producing country of the world by the 1960’s it catapulted itself to the top. It challenged Brazil for the leadership of coffee producing diadem. Then Houphet Boigny died. To succeed this father figure, primordial forces were unleashed. The spark was ignited. At the time of writing, Cote d’Ivoire is divided into two. Predominantly Moslem population controls the north whereas the south is under the Christian leadership.

Now Ghana is being taunted as the haven of peace for the Anglophones in the sub Region. Anybody with an acute perception would agree that there are terrifying under currents below these placid waters. There are some who consider themselves to be more Ghanaians than others. There are others who perceive themselves as being left behind. Some Ghanaians are considered ‘desirables’ by the authorities. What these various groups need is a Hitler-like demagogue who mesmerizes them and fans to a fever pitch their primitive tribal sentiments; arouse them and Ghana, as we know it would not be the same again.

Watch out fellow Ghanaians.


Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of Ghanaweb.


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