Opinions of Fri, 9 Jul 20048

Let's Confront The Demons Peacefully

For years, I have disdainfully dismissed any criticism of the north however honest, as quixotic and tinged with bias. But times have changed, and so have my hitherto unsophisticated views. The critics are right after all; the north is a lumbering drag on the rest of the nation, and that is putting it mildly.

Critics of the region persistently point to the various times our region has exploded in violence to cast the area as profoundly backward and hopelessly irredeemable. Harsh and scathing, but our recent history has not been exactly pristine or spotless; it is replete with ruthless tribal and political violence.

It is about time northerners confronted their demons, and lay to rest any lingering doubts that we are pawns in the hands of unscrupulous politicians and devious local leaders.

In the last two decades, the north has been racked by ethnic and internecine violence. From Tamale, Yendi, Salaga, Bimbilla to Bawku, neighbors who had previously lived in perfect harmony suddenly turned on each other, leaving in their wake, death and destruction.

And just when you thought a certain calm was finally descending on a tired and beaten region, fervid NPP and NDC supporters in a fresh wave of violence pummeled each other senseless.

Meanwhile, the schism among educated northerners, a group capable of stemming the violence in the region and bringing a sense of purpose to its people, continues to widen. Indeed, from what I gathered in a phone conversation with a friend in Accra, many schooled northerners are not on talking terms with life-long friends in opposing camps. Very sad.

When will this madness come to a screeching halt? Are we northerners so incapable of dialogue that the least provocation sends us into prolonged spates of unmitigated violence? When are we going to discover the beautiful art of sitting down and ironing out our differences, albeit peacefully?

Perhaps, the term ?conflict resolution? is yet to ring a bell, or resonate with us. We better embrace the term wholeheartedly before we are completely overwhelmed by our own destructive behavior.

Northerners can forge ahead despite the sordid past. We owe our children and their children a future that should be hopeful and optimistic, one that should be far removed from the dark and gloomy days of yesteryears.


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