Posted by: rumnet | December 18, 2009

“We Refuse to Accept Tag of Violent People” says Ghana’s Vice President

Story by Abdallah Kasssim

“People from Northern Ghana are amongst the friendliest, loyal and trustworthy people you can find in Ghana,” declared the Vice President, John Mahama, at the launch of the United Nations Human Security Programme for Northern Ghana, in Tamale early this month.

Discounting the pervasive perception being bandied in Ghana that people from the north are pathologically violent, Vice President Mahama added: “Our people are not naturally violent. We refuse to accept the tag of a violent people. People from Northern Ghana are amongst the friendliest, loyal and trustworthy people you can find in Ghana.”

The Vice President said poverty, unemployment and sheer lack of opportunities are partly responsible for the tendency for some people in the north to exploit the situation to foment violent conflicts. He said, in the north-like in many parts of the country- he sees real hard working Ghanaians who crave for work, but lack the relevant skills and finance to improve their lives.

“Hundreds and thousands of women and children are looking for work to sustain their livelihood, an indication that they are not lazy. Such energies must be channeled and managed so that children go to school instead of seek work at such an early age.”

The Vice President woke up to a nippy harmattan morning on the day of the launch. The cold, dry weather apparently flooded his memory with snapshots of his adolescent days at school in the north. So he could not help but share them with the audience. It was all about the abundance of both white and blue colour jobs that kept young men and women so busy that there was hardly time for them to settle scores.

In a prosaic rendition, the Vice President begaun: “As I woke up this morning to a very chilly harmattan, I begun to re-live the good old days when we were in high school, feeling reluctant to venture out the door or even take a cold shower. But those were also the days when we were optimistic and full of hope.” Those were the days when he was s student of Ghana senior high school in Tamale, then known as Ghana College.

 Sounding rather lyrical, he continued: “Those were the days when rice, groundnuts, maize, sorghum and yams were produced in abundance. Those were the days when factories processing rice, vegetable oil and dozens of other commodities and cereals were being processed in our own neighbourhoods, thanks to what we referred to as grinding mills.”

Incidentally, the Vice President’s father, Mr. E.A, Mahama, owned a rice mill company which offered vacation jobs to holidaying students and employed many girls and boys on casual basis. There were several other such companies. Consequently, as the Vice President said, “In those days gone by, you hardly see young men and women sitting idly, helpless and poor; they rose early despite the harmattan, and went to work.

 “The opportunities were abundant; and mischief was considered a taboo and petty. Yes, people disagreed with each other, but conflict, especially armed conflict, was rare. Those were happy days, prosperous days and an era when Northern Ghana mattered in the scheme of national development and citizens from these parts of the country, stayed home to work on their farms as well as in several other farms.”

But current events have overtaken the Vice President’s nostalgic reminiscences. The luxuriant rice farms that he used to see, the natural, wild shea nut plantations; the cotton farms, the combine-harvesters that littered the homes of prominent rice farmers in Tamale and other places; the ubiquitous ‘by-day’ jobs for the young girls and boys, are no more. They have been supplanted by joblessness and idleness; shunted by people’s urge to violence on the slightest provocation. 

Nowadays the discussion, as noted by the Vice President, “is always about poverty in the North, conflict all over these northern parts. Yes, these are extremely serious challenges, and they are compounded by major crisis in the global economy and financial systems and the crippling effect of climate change.”

He sees two main choices as antidotes: “Either we continue to emphasize the huge problems affecting us, or face these as challenges and devise practical and immediate solutions to address our long-standing development challenges.

“From the part of Government of Ghana, we are committed to defining a new path for the accelerated development of the northern savannah belt of Ghana. By establishing the Savanna Accelerated Development Authority (SADA), government will embark on a series of co-ordinated development interventions.”

The SADA, he added, “will create sustainable employment, re-orient agriculture towards improving assets for the poor, while adding value to basic food and economic tree crops, and invest in improved water resources, drainage and irrigation for year-round production.”

Looking into the future with hope and confidence, the Vice President assured the people of the north that the development and growth of the northern savanna economy will also be accelerated through strategic investments in roads, rail transport and alternative energy-solar and wind. The expected economic growth, he added, “will provide a competitive market to cover the Sahel, Burkina Faso, Togo and Ivory Coast.”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: