I am half Ga, half Akim. My husband is part Ga and part Akuapim. Among my friends and family, one is part Ewe, part Fanti and part Ga, one is part Akuapim and part Ga and another is part Akim and part Ashanti and there’s a whole mixture of Ga, Krobo, Fanti, Akim, Nzema and Hausa. Speaking to other African nationals I realize that this tribal mixing is very unusual outside Ghana.
So what is Nkrumah’s greatest legacy? In my opinion it is breaking our tribal barriers. In his quest for panafricanism, he had to first break tribal barriers before breaking national distinctions. By transferring civil servants to places in the country that they had no tribal link to, e.g. sending an Ashanti to Accra, a Ga to Koforidua and a Fanti to Tamale, tribal interaction was forced on Ghanaians. A young Fanti who’d been stationed in Tamale for four years would sooner or later look for a spouse and marry out of his tribe.
In addition, the system of boarding schools meant that at an early age, pupils would learn not to discriminate along tribal lines, after all a student at one of Ghana’s boarding schools, e.g. Aburi or Mfanstipim would easily find that at least three other tribes were represented in his class. At reaching university age, most pupils would have a close friend or girlfriend/boyfriend of a different tribe and many would have learnt more than a few phrases in a language other than their own tribe’s.
In a time when Ghana stands happily among few of the African countries that has not experienced a civil war, as so many others have in the past and present, we must be eternally grateful to Osagyefo for this legacy.
(Picture from my great-aunt's album. Like Abena, I have so many questions to ask about it, but now I can't stop wondering, is there a picture of Kwame Nkurmah in every family album?)
And although it seems some insist on trying to re-introduce tribalism, I dare say it’ll be hard to start a tribal conflict here. After all, if there’s a war between Gas and Akans, which side do I stand on? My situation is not unique, look around you and you’ll find that most of those around you belong to more than one tribe.
For that, Kwame Nkrumah, we thank you.