Ghana has one Northern Region

Mon, 6 Jul 2015 Source: Pacas, Idris

I write this article in response to an error in a publication in the Daily Graphic of 29 June 2015 titled ‘Trial of new cotton variety positive in 3 NORTHERN REGIONS’. In Page 63, the said story contains info on the trials of the genetically modified (GM) cotton—Bt cotton—being undertaken by the Savanna Agricultural Research Institute (SARI).

The error is in only the title; that is, the phrase THREE NORTHERN REGIONS. Ghana has only one Northern Region whose capital is Tamale. Thus, the heading should have been ‘Trial of new cotton variety positive in the THREE REGIONS OF NORTHERN GHANA.

A rather embarrassing ‘mistake’ commonly made by educated Ghanaians is to misname the largest region in Ghana: Northern Region. Ghana, like most other countries, is divided geographically and/or politically into North and South. In particular, South or Southern Ghana refers to the seven regions namely Greater Accra, Eastern, Western, Central, Volta, Ashanti and Brong-Ahafo regions. Conversely, North or Northern Ghana refers to the three remaining regions namely Northern Region, Upper East Region and Upper West Region.

Leaving out dates but looking a bit deep into our recent history, we notice that Upper Region was carved out of Northern Region several years ago. The then Upper Region included Wa and Bolga, effectively killing the idea of Northern Ghana being called Northern Region. Thereafter, the Upper West Region was created in 1983, completing the trio.

The misnomer—three northern regions— is seen in other somewhat authoritative documents. For example, the integrated science textbook written by the Ghana National Association of Science Teachers popularly called GAST (4th Ed, presumably the latest?) contains the same mistake in Page 137. In another state publication by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (http://mofa.gov.gh/site/?page_id=282 accessed on 01/07/2015), the phrase THREE NORTHERN REGIONS appears as one of the operational areas for the Savanna Accelerated Development Authority (SADA).

The above shows that this misnomer has now been naturalized in the Ghanaian print, courtesy convenient journalists or authors (authors who never crosscheck). But what makes the recent one most irksome and worth commenting on is its occurrence in the National Newspaper—Daily Graphic. Quite unfortunate! That the informed see no need to painstakingly write stories which teach OURSELVES to our children. Worst of all, it reports on activities taking place in the three regions of Northern Ghana. Therefore, it amounts to nothing but absolute disservice if a national newspaper refers to all the three regions in the North as northern regions. Then, which regions are the western regions? And what should constitute the eastern regions?

These convenient writers spare no territory in Ghana. Even Otumfuo’s home region, Ashanti Region, is frequently miswritten as Asante Region. It matters not whether Ashanti and Asante have the same meaning; what matters is that our founding fathers justifiably chose ASHANTI as the correct spelling of the region’s name. So write it same. Have you forgotten? That many a made-home journalist can’t appreciate that the former president of Ghana is JA Kufuor and not JA Kuffour. Again, it is immaterial whether Kufuor and Kuffour are the same, but what is material is that the man and/or his father chose KUFUOR. Even if you’re too young have attended his naming ceremony, at least you were ruled by him. Why then rename him?

Fellow Countrymen and Women, Ghana is too small a country for us; we must do our best possible to known it all. In each of my rare news-watching venture, I am often always scared by the rate at which our newscasters suffer before they finally mispronounce names of Ghanaians and Ghanaian towns. For example, on 14/07/2014, a break show host at TV3 sought the assistance of his guest to pronounce Kwaebibirem. Again, on 28/10/2014, a newscaster at TV Africa mispronounced the name Sanarigu, a suburb in Tamale, as if the name was that of a Chinese town. These mispronunciations are unpardonable.

Just imagine how journalists at BBC and Al Jazeera are able to pronounce perfectly the somewhat botanical names of villages, towns and persons in Central and Southern Africa. If we attempt to justify the error herein raised as trivial, what do we expect from journalists in countries as vast as the United States or China?

Based on the aforementioned error and many more, I suggest that the Ghana School of Journalism introduce at least one course devoted to studying the names of Ghanaians and Ghanaian towns. In addition, I advise the Daily Graphic to notify its staff so that this error never resurfaces. The authors for the GAST textbooks too must do their best to correct the mistake in the next edition.

In conclusion, we remind ourselves that Ghana has three regions in North. And these regions are Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions. And that only one of them is Northern Region.

Long live Ghana, Our Motherland!

IDRIS PACAS: 020-9101533 & iddrisabdulai12@yahoo.com

Columnist: Pacas, Idris