Saturday, 19 September 2009

Kwame Nkrumah: his greatest legacy

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.

14 comments:

posekyere said...

Yes Maya!
Ghanaians will forever remain grateful for the nation-building efforts of Nkrumah. The emerging attempts at retribalising Ghana by Johny-come-lately politicians should be condemned by all Ghanaians.
Bless Maya!

Abena said...

Excellent piece Maya! So true...just read it to the people in my office. We are having a discussion about tribalism in Ghana...It has become a new divisive political tool.

Esi W. Cleland said...

I'm about to write an article in favor of tribalism. In that, i'll argue that tribalism can be a unifier rather than a divisor. And say that we should be tribalistic. hehe. Will likely link to this post when I do. Stay tuned. ha!

Maya Mame said...

Loving the Johhny-come-lately expression, Posekyere, never heard that before! Lol!

Maya Mame said...

Yes Abena, it's sad that it's being used for politics, let's hope for improvement.
As for reading to your colleagues, I'm blushing (well, being black, no one can tell I am, can they, lol)!

Maya Mame said...

Esi, I can't wait to read your piece! Will definitely be on the lookout. I'm sure with your writing you'll convince us to be tribalistic, and really there should be nothing wrong in that, as long as it's not used as a tool against others.

Kajsa Hallberg Adu said...

Great point!
This is blogging at its best, a personal point but explained simply and effectively. You should send this to the Daily Graphic, Focus on Africa or a similar publication for greater dissemination. You really should.

novisi said...

hi there Maya!

i'm reading this i'm agreeing with you on this effort of Nkrumah to PUSH for inter-tribal co-existence! I respect his believe in this and i perfectly understand the conditions at the time under which he operated anyway.

good stuff to aim at.

but again, i'm looking at this whole human 'theatrics' and for how long humans have been around and i wonder what at all we have done with our so called 'higher-animal-form'. i wonder what we have done with all the brains we have.

anyway, i remember as a kid, my mum knew that i could not learn by just being told.
so she bought me a toothbrush that made music only when applied in vertical motion. the horizontal brushing never made music (signifying wrong method). call it teaching aids. and that is how i see this 'deliberate push'.

but i'd only recommend such a facility for kids. I believe all adults owe it a duty to the advancement of the world to think outside the 'box' and appreciate that our thoughts and actions don't depend on the colour of the skin, or the size of the eye-lids we have or the tribe or family we belong to.

i feel the world has taken too long to appreciate this simple matter! so Nkrumah does this and he is hailed. i won't hail Nkrumah too much for this. i think he's done some other things like his promotion of science as a basic need for human advancement which i would applaud him for much more.

cheers!

novisi said...

@Esi,
i can't wait to read your post. in fact i'd be checking right away whether you got it running!

there's nothing wrong with tribalism just as there's nothing wrong with having a name for your person.

if i cut of your finger because of your tribe that is nothing but plain stupid and an affront to humanity!

i'm with you!
our differences must be appreciated in the right contexts.

cheers!

Maya Mame said...

Thanks Kajsa!
Yoou flatter me too much, but I may take you up on your suggestion...

Maya Mame said...

Definitely Novisi, this is one of his "simpler" actions, however when you look at other African countries and the destruction tribalism has caused there, I believe we have a lot to be grateful for.

What at first may seem an obvious thing to aim for (as you said, it should be a given not to be judged by colour, race, etc), may have served us as much or more than his other achievements.

Gayle Pescud said...

Hi Maya,
Great post; thanks for putting it so simply. And yes posekyere!

Gayle Pescud said...

Hi Maya,
Great post; thanks for putting it so simply. And yes posekyere!

Maya Mame said...

Thanks Gayle, glad you enjoyed it!

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