No Place for Ethnic Politics

Two years ago I was in Jos Plateau, Nigeria, when hundreds of people were killed, women and children were thrown into raging fire. I don’t think I have ever been afraid as I got to the endless war chants and the cries for help. Two days later our host an important man showed up unscathed and explained, “it was the indigenes and the settlers again now.” The indigenes blamed the settlers for their woes-taking over their non-existent jobs the settlers felt deprived of their share of state resources. “Why won’t the settlers move back to their country then,” I asked, “oh they are Nigerians just from another tribe and religion.” “In 21st century Africa, why should anyone be defined by tribe or religion,” Ene, his daughter said.

Ene’s remarks launched a new line of conversation about whether we ought to shrug off our tribal and religious cloaks to build a better Africa. Back at the hotel lounge, I remember whispering to myself, “Thank God in Ghana, the days when one was defined by tribe and religion was long gone.” How naive huh, apparently we are not as enlightened as I thought. For the past few days, we have been confronted with incidents that tell me my hope remains unfulfilled.

We have the Ga Mantse demanding that the state Ghana should grovel because we live on his land, while in Northern Ghana, no chief is making such demands, petty ethnic squabbles are costing the nation money that could have used to create jobs and develop that part of the country.  And there have been those comments by two politicians- Messers Nii Lante Vanderpuye and Kennedy Agyapong calling their tribesmen to attack the other.

I refuse to wade into the on-going who-should-be-charged-what arguments. Though my lawyer friends say (not to the hearing of bigots who gathered at the CID and BNI) that there is a more natural way to punish grown men who spew such crap.

But that is not the point of this piece, it is the response of some Ghanaians to the arrest of Mr. Agyapong and the events which occurred thereafter which terrifies me. First, it was his party’s attempt to make sense out of a reckless statement. Then there was that gathering of the young and old at the CID, BNI, and at the courts chanting for his release. Mr. Agyapong was with the police, not in the lion’s den? But people rushed over, threw stones, swore on radio and called others to arms. And
I know that the overwhelming majority of those who trooped to his defense had not heard the tape, but as an Asante, I find the reaction of the New Patriotic Party leadership interesting on many levels, mainly their inability to force Mr. Agyapong to apologize for his comments. It is one thing to refuse to apologize when your presidential candidate says “all-die-be-die” so your party supporters should fight to the death in the upcoming elections. But to defend such outrageous comments in a country where people are trapped by tribal loyalties, it is disappointing.

I hear the NPP’s presidential candidate is out of town, I hope he hurries back and decides to be a leader by speaking against Mr. Agyapong and condemning politicians who use the tribal card. Many a country has gone on the path of tribal politics, and we know it ended in genocide.

We do not want to go down that path, so I hope both the President of Ghana(if he is aware of happenings) and the NPP’s presidential candidate will tell their supporters that the upcoming election is no reason for the silliness we have seen in the last few weeks. They should also tell their followers to back off and let the police do their work.

We are lucky to have had the recent warnings, we can end this nonsense before it turns bloody in December. I do not think any politician deserves that much sacrifice, so it’s either they hold their supporters, Presidential Aide, and MPs in check or we will throw both parties to the curb.

Ghanaians deserve better!

7 thoughts on “No Place for Ethnic Politics”
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