Dear Nii Kpakpo,
Ethnicity underlines everything that we do in Ghana and you don’t need me to tell you how this is translated into the kind of relationships we even have had since childhood. We were brought up to mix with all ethnic groups especially if you grew up in the Korle Bu Nurses Flats like I did.
But then there is always an underlining undercurrent when it comes to adult relationships in Ghana especially when it comes to whom you make your best friends and most importantly whom you marry.
Various ethnic groups have has historical relations with other ethnic groups and this has led to different ethnic reactions that are either good or bad within communities and in the country as a whole.
The savannah is no exception. Colonialism and Ghana history has had a toll on the various ethnic groups in the savannah. This is so sensitive that I will not delve into it but then I will cite examples of very visible undercurrents of ethnicity that sometimes we need to take serious as a nation.
Kpakpo, a typical example is when one community was designated for a district capital because they were more developed than most of the communities in the designated new district. There were protests because the other communities contended that the designated district capital were originally migrants and that there was no way a migrant community could be made a district capital which to the local people equated to making them overlords of the whole district. This was unacceptable.
Kpakpo, I have heard stories where during communal immunization programs, the community representatives taking the team from house to house have pointed to some houses to be left out whilst others were treated because the occupants were migrant families and the original families of the communities were to be attended to first.
The educated people in the savannah joke about some particular ethnic group being slaves and others being royals and it seems everybody in the savannah was brought up to know the social strata of the savannah community. It is like you know who your playmates should be and who to avoid like a plague.
This is the same as the joke where the Ewe man warns his sister that even when she sees an Asante man in her dream, she should wake up from sleep.
Yes oh! In Ghana, we joke about very serious issues and by doing that we make light of it which augurs well for the total interrelation between the different ethnic groups in the country.
Kpakpo, ethnicity is so profound in the savannah that it affects especially in and in government agencies or services such as the police. The various Members of Parliament in the savannah region are recognizable family names who have been involved in politics since independence.
The political trend of the savannah has been that the royals have always been the representatives of the people. Relatives of the various Nas (chiefs) were the ones who were sent to parliament and the trend still remains the same. So family names are still recognizable in politics in the savannah.
Kpakpo, look into the Ghana Police force and you will realize that most of the top people hail from the savannah. This is because the core of the Gold Coast Constabulary which later became the Ghana Police Service after independence was from the savannah. The constabulary/police and political representation became like a family business. Fathers made sure their children followed suit in the Ghana Police more like the famous Irish legacy in the American police service.
Kpakpo it is not easy oh. Our people from the south have taken over the post office and the banks. You know how we like white collar jobs as with the savannah people loving the menial and service jobs.
The ethnicity underlines everything in the savannah such that in dealing with persons, it is careful to know who you are dealing with and egos are based on blood lines. Being from the south, it doesn’t matter to me but then it is important that I know so I know how to relate and blend in.
But Kpakpo, the ethnic problem is everywhere in Ghana so maybe we don’t have to worry about it too much. We just have to be aware that it exists.
Anyway, till next time.
Your ‘ethnic’ cousin in law