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Opinions of Thursday, 17 September 2009

Columnist: Afoun, John

Tribal Unity Is The Key To Ghana’s Security And Future

john afoun

This is my very first article for the forum and I’m hoping that the critics will go easy on me. I am not a write and certainly not the sharpest tool in the box. I would rather leave the writing to the Lolas, Sarpongs, Nana Ammas, and Daniel Pryces of this world. However, I am sick and tried of the tribal insults, and the tribalistic sentiments that have come to dominant the forum. I am therefore compelled to write, there is a saying that when good men keep quite, evil prevails. Most of the comments in the forum are either tribal this or tribal that. What is intriguing is that even if the article has nothing to do with any particular tribe, some one would make it a tribal issue. I am relatively new to the forum, but I am certain that when the forum was created, the purpose was not to create a battlefield for tribal war. Just imagine the forum full of intellectually stimulating articles from Nana Amma, culturally challenging articles from Lola of Washington DC, excellent analytical comments on social- economic issues from my dear honorable friend Sarpong, and articles from fine minds like Daniel Pryce. I believe that Ghanaians are far too intelligent to allow tribalism to tarnish our image, all this tribal bashing is like airing our dirty laundry in public which is not doing us any good, and an insult to our collective intelligence. Those who may have read some of my comments would have ascertained that I am totally against tribalism in any form or shape be it from Ewes or Akans. I am a committed Pan Africanist who believes in the unification of all Africans I have therefore taken on the self- proclaimed responsibility to act as the peace broker to attempt to bring all the warring fashions to the negating table to try and call truce and cease fire in order to free the forum of tribalism and tribalistic sentiments.

The cyber war appears to be raging mainly between the Akan tribe and the Ewe tribe. The Akans are asserting that Ghana belongs exclusively to them, and the Ewes are from Togo therefore must go back to Togo. The Ewes are being blamed for the ills of Mr. Rawlings who by the way happens to be half Ewes. The Ewes are also being blamed for some of the economic hardships in Ghana, and it is being said that Ghana would be better of without the Ewes. The Akans are also asserting that the Ewes hate them and do not respect them.

The Ewes are refuting the Akan assertion that they are from Togo therefore are not Ghanaians. The Ewes reiterate the stereotype comments about the Akans as form retaliation.

Now let us look at some solutions to the problem. Ghana as we know it today came to be in the year 1957 when the British Gold Coast and the British trans-Volta Togo land merged and formed the nation now known as Ghana. Ghana therefore belongs to all the tribes which came together to attain independence from British colonial rule. The Ewes of the trans-Volta Togo land therefore are full Ghanaians. I therefore urge my Akan fellow Ghanaians to acknowledge and accept that fact, and to cease referring to the Ghanaian Ewes as Togolese. It must be acknowledged and accepted that Mr. Rawlings does not represent all Ewes. He is not the spokes person for the Ewe tribe, and certainly not the head of the Ewes. It must also be acknowledged and accepted that the entire tribe must not be held in contempt for Mr. Rawlings actions; Akans must stop equating Rawlings with the entire Ewe tribe. I have difficulty in accepting why an entire tribe is being blamed and insulted because of the actions of one man. I am certainly not speaking for Mr. Rawlings; however, in the interest of Ghana and tribal harmony, I urge all those whom Mr. Rawlings may have offended since 1979, to forgive him. He was young and may be foolish; He made some mistakes along the way. It is a fact that we all make mistakes; it is also a fact that no one is perfect. The question then is how long are we going to hold his mistakes against him? To ere is human but to forgive is divine. Are we going to allow unforgiveness to lead us to civil war and destruction? When Nelson Mandela was released from prison, he could have developed hatred towards the white South Africans, but instead, he decided to forgive and urged his followers to do likewise. He encouraged the White South Africans to remain in the Country to help build one united South Africa. If anyone had the right to hold bitterness against the White South Africans for the wrongs they have done, it would have been Mr. Nelson Mandela and he would have been justified. However, for the sake of national unity he decided to forgive. So please let us forgive Mr. Rawlings, and let bygones be bygones.

Now to my Ewes brothers, it must be acknowledged that Akans are our brothers and fellow countrymen therefore must be accorded the respect they deserve. Ewes must refrain from inferring to Akan stereotyping. If an Akan boy decides to sell dog chain, and engage in shoeshine business, that is his business and must be respected and encouraged to do so. Ewes must respect the Akan traditions, and must also accept that they the majority in Ghana therefore it is natural that the Akan language would be widely spoken. Ewes must acknowledge and accept the fact that the Asantehene is the King of the Asante Nation, therefore must be accorded the respect he deserves.

The destructive nature of tribalism is self-evident. We have all witness the effects in and around other African countries. Tribalism is evil and destructive therefore every effort must be made to eradicate it from the forum and Ghana for that matter. One of the effects of tribalism is that it discourages investment from international investors, therefore an impediment to development and progress. Take for example, Johnson Associates wants to invest in Ghana, their first port of call is the internet to ascertain information about Ghana. They visit Ghanaweb and read all the tribalistic comments. What do you think their impression of Ghana would be? I believe their first impression would be that, there is tribal in-fighting and division, therefore unsafe to invest. Now you tell me, if you were an investor, would you invest in a country where there is tribal war and division? I don’t think so. So you see, this tribal war is not just a threat to one tribe, but to all the tribes in Ghana. It is therefore in our collective interest to fight it and eradicate it for good.

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration of commitment to tribal unity in the history of the forum.

52 years ago a great Ghanaian, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today as an independent nation, signed Ghana’s independence proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Ghanaians who had been seared in the flames of withering colonialism. It came as a joyous daybreak to the long night of British rule.

But 52 year later, the Ghanaian still is not free. 52 years later, the life of the Ghanaian is still sadly crippled by the manacles of tribalism and the chains of tribal discrimination. 52 years later the Ghanaian lives on a lonely island of tribalism in the midst of a vast ocean of national prosperity. 52 years later, the Ghanaian is still languished in the corners of Ghanaian society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so I’ve come to the forum today to dramatize a shameful condition. When the architect of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the constitution and the declaration of independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every Ghanaian was to fall heir. This note was promise that all tribes, yes Akans as well as ewes, would be guaranteed the ‘unalienable rights of life and citizenship of the newly formed Ghana. It is obvious today that the tribal unity which the founders had envisioned has not fully materialized, insofar as her Akan and ewe tribes are concerned. Instead of all Ghanaians living in tribal harmony, there appears to be tribal disharmony.

But we refuse to believe that the bank of tribal harmony is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds to promote tribal harmony. So we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of tribal unity and the security of tribal harmony.

We have also come to this forum to remind Ghanaians of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of tribal unity. Now is the time to rise from dark and desolate valley of tribalism to the sunlit path of tribal unity. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of tribalism to the solid rock of tribal harmony. Now is the time to make tribal harmony a reality for all Ghanaians. It would be fatal for the forum to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the tribal harmony’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of tribal unity and harmony. Two thousand and nine is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that tribal unity needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the forum returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in the forum until the tribal unity is realized. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundation of the forum until the bright day of tribal unity emerges.

I have hope that one day this forum will rise up and live out the true meaning Ghana’s creed united Ghana. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all tribes are created equal.

I have hope that we one day we will have a forum free of tribalism and tribalistic sentiments, where articles and comments will not be judged by the tribe of the writer but by the content of the article.

I hope that one day we will live in a nation where people will not be judged by the tribal background but by the content of their character.

I have hope that one day Ghana will be free from tribalism whereby little girls and boys from every tribe will be able to join hands with each other as one people under one nation.

Let tribal unity ring from the Upper West and Upper East plains

Let tribal unity ring from the Northern plains savannah

Let tribal unity ring from Forest of the BA/R

Let tribal unity ring from the mighty forest and gold fields of Ashanti Region

Let tribal unity ring from the mighty mountains of the Eastern Region

Let tribal unity ring from the Forest of the Central Region

Let tribal unity ring from the coast of the Western Region

Let tribal unity ring from the coast of the Greater Accra Region

Let tribal unity ring from the Volta Region

Let tribal unity ring from the forum

And when this happens, when we allow tribal unity ring, when we let it ring here at the forum, from every village, from every city and every region, we will be able to speed up that day when all Ghanaians from every tribe, will be able to join hands and sing:

Tribal unity as last! Tribal unity at last

Thank God, we are united at last.

Together is a beautiful word

Coming together is the beginning

Keeping together is progress

Thinking together is unity Working together is success

Please remember, united we stand, divided we fall and unity is strength. It is our collective responsibility to promote and sustain tribal unity here in the forum.

As the self proclaimed peace broker, I have outlined my peace plan, and I urge all, to adhere to the plan, and join me in the attempt to promote tribal unity. Everyone has a part to plan in the pursuit of tribal unity here in the forum and in Ghana. I am appealing to all to refrain from negativity and only make constructive comments free of tribal sentiments and insults. It is natural that we will disagree with each other which is perfectly ok, and healthy. Let us agree to disagree without resulting to tribal insults. I am appealing to all to be the bigger person and true the other cheek. Remember two wrongs do not constitute one right. Ghana our beloved country is now 52 years old, so we have come of age so let its citizens make her proud by behaving like grown ups. Thank you all for your support and cooperation.

Long Live Ghana and God bless Ghana.

KOMLA - USA