For their lack of integrity and the fortitude to contest on ideas, the fourth republican politician has relied on four main sordid elements to win elections. These include; Mudslinging,”Moneycracy”, Vile Propaganda and Tribalism. While most African Countries remain ravaged by wars and continue to descend into wars stoked by the fires of tribalism, Ghana has remained relatively immune to this scourge. The collective resilience to hateful tribalism and religious extremism is due to conscious efforts championed within the first and partly subsequent republics to interconnect us beyond the temptations of tribal and religious segregation.
Osayefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, of hallowed memory, had to ensure that political entities based on tribal and religious groupings were stamped out of our body politic sooner before they could gain any grounds. As such, groups such as: The National Liberation Movement (NLM) of the Ashantis; The Northern People’s Party (NPP) for Northern, and now Upper Regions; The Togo land Congress Party (TCP) based in the then Trans-Volta Togoland, now (Volta Region); The Oman Party for Fantes; The Muslim Association Party (MAP); among others were eliminated from our political terrain due to their inherently divisive nature.
This feat was adeptly achieved by the timely and necessary institution of the Avoidance of Discrimination Act in the first republic. Tribal and religious cohesion was further entrenched by such policies whereby students of similar tribes were not permitted to segregate themselves into dormitories and other groupings on campuses. Further, workers were posted from the South to North, East to West,North to East and all across regions. In effect, the tribal and religious tolerance we enjoy today as a country should not be taken for granted by any person or group of persons as a show of innate magnanimity among Ghanaians. It was attained as a result of conscious toils, planning and sociopolitical engineering by our forebears. It is therefore sad, if not disgraceful,to see certain elements in today’s fourth republic, for cheap political ends,attempting to unthread this nobly woven cloth of national cohesion we so enjoy.It is important that we interrogate the rationale and origin of the current rise in the unprincipled tide of tribal and religious flag-waving in our country. One does not have to think far to realize that it is a matter of sheer political deception that is stoking these fires.
The matter of tribalism for instance came to the fore once more; based on a purported tribal diatribe from a former Minister in the erstwhile NPP, Mr. Yaw Osafo Marfo. Assuming the tape and its contents are valid as reported, is it not well enough to condemn it in brief and no uncertain terms and relegate it to the backgrounds – where it deserves to fester? But to the extent that an entire demonstration is organized – sending the media and all of social media agog on a frenzied claim for tribal equality leaves much to be desired.
One can only see an uncanny attempt by some politicians to divert attention from the numerous challenges confronting us as a nation at the moment; judging from the fact that the so called “One Ghana” Demonstration was championed keenly by followers and stalwarts of one particular political party. Immediately on the heels of the tribal issue is another smokescreen – religious rights in schools. When did the issue of differing religions become a matter over which Ghanaians are daggers drawn in schools?
Investigating the genesis of the matter, it is recounted that, a Muslim lady student was requested to take off her hijab (scarf) to enable a passport picture be taken, to which she objected. Now, to the extent that this degenerated into a full blown demonstration among other protests, to suddenly attracting a directive from the Ghana Education Service to schools, raises a lot of questions. Who championed the aggravation of the matter? And at which point should it be allowed to lead to a sort of standoff between the state and the Church?
Looking at it critically, this is just another red herring to divert the attention of Ghanaians from the common issues that bring us together to demand performance, accountability and transparency of government. Yes, there are tribal and religious stereotypes in Ghana, and so is the case all over the world. But as pertains in every civilized society, such stereotypes, though not encouraged, do not lead to exaggerated feats of taking to the streets; unless they are incited by a hidden motive – as is the case in this instance.
It is important that Ghanaians acknowledge the fact that we remain in most terms non-tribally discriminatory. Because, without so much of an effort, you can immediately count how interconnected you are with the various tribes in our country, and the conviviality you enjoy with these different groupings – either through marriage, friendship, work,religion etc. We should therefore, as a matter of uncompromising principle, never allow political interests or unguided media reportages to whip isolated incidences into a general fever of perceived discrimination nationwide.
As a matter of fact, we must realize that many are the things that bring us together than divide us; Whether Ewe, Grusi or Fante; Muslim, Traditionalist or Christian; we all suffer “Dumsor Dumosr”,Poor Utility Services, Unemployment, Poor Healthcare, High Fuel Prices, Dysfunctional Institutions, Poor Infrastructure among others. These are issues that should bring us to fight together as one; as opposed to the politically disguised maneuverings of tribal or religious differences they seek to divide us with – in order to divert our attention from the real challenges. In the end, we create our own reality as a people.
So we must ask ourselves; which is of primary concern to us? – is it the rare and very isolated occasions of religious and tribal discontent, or the harsh perpetual economic, and currently energy, challenges confronting us? The ball is in our court.