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Opinions Wed, 9 May 2018

Who was what in Africa before the white man came?

There are certain subjects which occasionally rear up their heads in the pubic discourse of Ghana, but which should be considered to be infra dig [beneath the dignity] of all of us at this stage of our development as a nation.

One of these is tribalism. In a nation whose multifarious ethnicities have jointly enjoyed together, our nationals' excellent achievements in such sports as football and athletics without caring what the performers' ethnic affiliations were; a nation whose collective memory has been brutalised for ever by the inglorious behaviour against our national football team by an Uruguayan footballer called Luis Suarez; a nation whose collective tales of woe include the expulsion of millions of their fellow citizens from Nigeria and then – tragically – being prevented from re-entering their own country by their own government (!); a nation whose citizens had similarly been summarily expelled from Libya, and massacred in Gambia (without anyone in those countries being so witless as to ask them, “What tribe do you belong to in Ghana!”) – isn't it totally ridiculous that we should then descend into the gutter ourselves and dig up dirt with which to incite tribal animosity against one another?

I acknowledge that such incitement to tribalistic sectionalism often stems from the desire of ambitious politicians to achieve selfish political objectives. Let us look no further than what's happening right now in both the NPP and the NDC. These two main parties are in the process of electing their officials at the district, regional and national levels. Many of these officials will, in turn, seek to be adopted by their parties as candidates to stand in their constituencies as Members of Parliament (MPs) in the 2020 elections.

And so, suddenly – some have begun to send stones are flying, left, right and centre. The stone-hurlers include individuals who had been hitherto unknown nonentities but who now want their names to become household words, and who have realised that the quickest way to become notorious through publicity gained from our un-enquiring media, , is to invent, or jump on to all sorts of bandwagons, to make a lot of noise that arouses emotions. But in 2018, there should surely be certain no-go areas which, should not form part of our political rivalries in any shape or form?

The worst of these emotive taboo areas is tribalism. It must be understood that it was through an incitement of one tribe to fear and hate another tribe that whitemen were able to divide our peoples and get them to fight with one another, with the result that ALL of them became weak as individual states and ALL eventually fell victim to foreign conquest.

A European trader would go to a state brandishing the newest and most lethal weapons available and lie, saying: “Your neighbours have bought some of these!” (Remember how the “Dane gun” – from Denmark, of course – became the weapon of choice in tribal wars in many parts of Africa?)

The state to whose rulers the power of the new weapon had been demonstrated, would, naturally, say, “We want some to defend ourselves if and when our neighbours strike against us. But.. ...but unfortunatly, we have no ….. no....... gold to pay you with! Not at this time!”

“Don't worry,” the European trader would say. “just don't kill your prisoners-of-war, okay? You bring them to me. I shall accept them as payment for the guns, instead.”

And the relieved nation, believing the European trader was only going to use the war-prisoners as farm or building labourers, would agree. Hence the gradual build-up to the massive Atlantic slave trade into a humongous enterprise whose effects are still being felt in America, the Caribbean and Latin America, and Africa of course. The engine f economic growth – human capital – was taken out of the African political economy through social instability and the impossibility of co-operating with one's natural trading partners.

A fellow like the American rapper, Kanye West, [who said that slavery was a “choice” made by its victims] has, of course, never seen then horrific and brutal leg and neck irons that were forged to order in Europe, for the specific purpose of being taken to Africa for the horrific chaining of enslaved human beings. Kane West is touted as an imaginative musician.

But it is surely evident that he lacks the imagination and empathy to comprehend that no human being would willingly choose to put his legs, neck and arms into such instruments of torture?

And for all his exposure to millions of Internet-savvy social communicators ought, at least to have alerted him to the genocide that occurred amongst the millions of kidnapped Africans during the two or three months “Middle Passage” Atlantic crossing, during which death was their unchosen companion, constantly at their side to bid them welcome with dysentry, starvation or melancholia?Who ever chooses to be thrown into the sea like mere rubbish?

This, fellow citizens, is the 21st century and we should not be voluntarily resurrecting memories of the bitterness and cruelty that accompanied our internecine wars, just because some of us want to get elected ,without putting in the hard labour necessary to enable us to achieve electoral success..A t the very least, we must be sensitive enough to respect the peace that our forefathers negotiated, won and bequeathed to us over the past century and a half.

Where is our National House of Chiefs when dullards from the streets dare turn themselves into stool historians? Isn't it time to consider re-introducing the ancient law under which it was an offence to dissect the ancestry of another person without the explicit permission of the local traditional authorities, and in their courts of law at that?

I repeat: no political aspirants should be allowed to incite tribal animosity in furtherance of their selfish, non-existent or wilting political campaigns.

I harbour strong views on this subject because I am fortunate enough to be a living example of the fact that most of the people off Africa are related to one another, not only by irrefutable DNA evidence but also, through societal practices, such as the naming of children.

In my many travels across Africa I have discovered that my surname, Duodu, is Pan-Africa through and through. The Gas have Dodoo or Doudo. But elsewhere, we have:

DOUDOU DIOP, SENEGALESE Molecular Biologist;

Émile Boga Doudou (1952–2002), IVORIAN politician;

Rose Doudou Guéï , predecessor of Simone Gbagbo as First Lady of Côte d'Ivoire;

Doudou Diaw (born 1975), SENEGALESE football player;

Doudou Diène (born 1941), United Nations Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination;

Doudou Gouirand (born 1940), French jazz saxophonist and composer;

Doudou Gueye, former leader of the SENEGALESE Popular Movement;

Doudou Masta (born 1971), French hip-hop artist;

Doudou Mangni (born 1993), Italian footballer;

Doudou N'Diaye Rose (1930–2015), SENEGALESE drummer, composer and band leader;

Doudou Ndoye (born 1944), SENEGALESE lawyer and politician;

Doudou Thiam (1926–1999), SENEGALESE diplomat, politician and lawyer; and

Doudou Touré (born 1991), MAURITANIAN footballer

DOUDOU DIOUF, SENEGALESE MUSICIAN.

Ad so on a d so forth.

(See Wikipedia)

In Sierra Leone and Liberia, as well as in Yorubaland in Nigeria, we have Dudu.

In both Northern Nigeria and Yorubaland,, there is a common name, Daudu. And in South Africa, we have Dludlu as well as Dudu (usually a shortened form of Duduzena).

Who got the name first? Who changed it to its current form?

Does it matter?

All it demonstrates is that we somehow possess have a possibly common ancient ancestry. At any rate, I am welcomed “home” wherever I go in Africa, and yet here in my real homeland Ghana, there are wicked people who would like to misinterpret historical events falsely in order to pry me away from my friends the Asantes, Akuapems, Brongs, Fantis, Effutus Guans and Dagombas. Isn't that crazy?

Again, look at the name “Nana”. It's al over the place in Africa, as well as Asia and the USA.

Amanfour, we are all ONE PEOPLE! OK?

Please let us tie our cloths together and fight hard to eliminate poverty, squalor and disease from our beautiful nation. And let us all proclaim: “Down with the ethnic chauvinists!

Let us drive tribalism away from our thoughts altogether. When we fall in love, the tribal origins of our beloved becomes an irrelevance to us. So should anyone's ability to win our votes in any election. Our sole concern should be: Can he/she deliver?

Appeals to our tribal sentiments should be dismissed as a facile and defeatist sign that the instigator is not repeat not fit for high office. After all, as an English proverb puts it, self-proclaimed “patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel”.

Sure enough, there are too many scoundrels about in our and at this time! By their works, ye shall know them! Identify and CRUSH them!

Columnist: Cameron Duodu