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Letter From The President: Ga Dangme claptrap

Wed, 4 May 2005 Source: J. A. Fukuor/Daily Dispatch

Countrymen and women, loyalists and opponents, once again, I?ve another cause to write to you about tribalism. And as usual, it is the Ga Dangmes who have vexed me. I was in Indonesia ? having a good time, patting fellow African leaders on the back and taking a few useful lessons on how to make Sikaman an African tiger economy ? when I heard that a few misguided Ga Dangmes were planning a demonstration to ?demand justice?. ?Justice for what,? I asked. But no one knew. So I immediately sent some emissaries to find out exactly what they wanted. The Ga Dangmes had a catalogue of mostly silly demands. Only one of their demands is worth presidential consideration and it doesn?t even warrant a demonstration.

Their silly demands included a review of the decision to rename the Accra Stadium after the late Ohene Djan. Another issue they raise, which ought to be treated with contempt is their suggestion that Ga Dangmes are an endangered ethnic group and that someone (or some group of people) is trying to ?kill? their language.

I must say that I am getting fed up with the infantile agitations of the Ga Dangmes. Today this, tomorrow that. I think this particular group of Ga Dangmes has trouble keeping their mouths shut and they are hell bent on instigating ethnic strife in our country. I have nothing against people who can?t keep their mouths shut ? a lot of my ministers are like that. But it really annoys me when people open their mouths and spew gibberish. It becomes even dangerous when so-called opinion leaders who can?t keep their mouths shut, speak and create the impression that there is some tribal group is doing everything to stop them from progressing. This is exactly what the misguided Ga Dangmes who took to the streets last week have been doing over the past couple of years or so. I remember that some months ago, they published articles in the newspapers extolling the superiority of their tribe over all others in the country. This sparked a verbal war between some Ga Dangmes, some Ashantis and some Akyems. Just recently, they cried foul when Bishop Palmer-Buckle was appointed to head the Catholic Diocese of Accra. They contended that Accra deserves a Ga bishop, ignorant of the fact that the Pope (who is the bishop of Rome) was from Poland. Ga Dangmes might be fighting for a cause ? granted. But I think some of their leaders are hallucinating. Their hallucinations about the supposed ?marginalization? of their ethnic group are not helping whatever causes they might be fighting for. It?s rather portraying them as a bunch of bigoted, self-seeking, tribalistic ruffians.

How are they being marginalized when the national capital is on their soil? The fact that I have not given a lot of ?posts? to their tribesmen does not mean that they are being marginalized. The point is that most of the good Ga guys are not in my party and I can?t afford to include non-party members in my government. Mind you, I only talk about building an ?all inclusive government? but in actual fact, you know I can?t do it. Even Angel Gabriel will find it difficult creating an all inclusive government in Sikaman.

Our decision to rename the Accra Sports Stadium after Ohene Djan was not borne out of desire to spite Ga heroes. We just felt that the great sport administrator (ex-convict or not) deserves to be honoured. Why didn?t they complain when Jerry Boom named an important stretch of our national ceremonial street after a Burkinabe dictator? We have recently named the Kumasi Sports Stadium after Baba Yara ? someone from the remote northern parts of this country. But the Asantes are not complaining. Why are the Ga Dangmes raising hell about the renaming of the stadium if they are not intent on creating ethnic strife in this country? The Accra Stadium is a national property ? it doesn?t belong to the Gas Dangmes alone. It doesn?t belong to any ethnic group and we can decide to name it even after a monkey if we feel that the animal deserves national recognition.

The misguided Ga Dangmes who took to the streets last week also complain that someone is killing their language and I suppose that all their accusing fingers are pointing in my direction. Is it my fault that Twi is the most popular language in this country? Long before I came to the Castle people from Gambaga to Gbawe, from Vli to Walewale and from Tarkwa to Tamale were speaking Twi.

Even those who can?t speak it so well understand almost every word of the language. I don?t think we need the world?s best sociologists and anthropologists to explain why everyone in Accra speaks Twi. If the Ga Dangmes feel that their language is becoming ?extinct?, why are they marching to my Castle gates to complain? What do they want me to do? I suppose that in the warped minds they are thinking that I should pass a law to compel everyone in Accra to speak Ga. I am sorry, but this will not happen. I?d rather pass a law to compel my citizens to learn to write and speak fluent French ? not Ga. The single most important issue the Ga Danme?s have raised in recent times is their demand for a review of certain land legislations, particularly those pertaining to the national capital. I know for sure that they are making these demands so that they will be able to sell off as much land as possible and fill their individual pockets. Well, I want the Ga Dangmes to know that the whole issue of land administration is being looked at. Land administration will be comprehensively reviewed and new laws passed. If I have my way ? and I should ? all lands in this country will become state property. No Wulomo, no Odikro or Nana (not even the Asantehene) will then be able sell lands.

Land administration in this country has become so complicated and nonsensical that it even poses grave national security problems ? people are forming private armies (popularly known as landguards) to protect their lands. The current land administration system in the country does not even encourage investments ? you buy land today, tomorrow someone else comes (with documents as genuine as yours) to claim ownership. On the land issue, therefore, I will say that those who took to the streets last week had a point. But they should not expect me to give them a carte blanche to continue with the illegal, multiple sales of lands. This practice should end ? the sooner the better. Before I sign off, let me express my utter disgust and annoyance with the behaviour of some of the demonstrators at my Castle gates. I am told that they were so rowdy at the Castle and some of them even exchanged blows and insults with police officers. Things might have gotten out of hand if there had been a malnourished, trigger-happy police officer in the area. I am therefore taking this opportunity to warn all those who are planning to stage demonstrations to stay away from the Castle gates. It?s my holy land and I won?t tolerate anyone (Asante, Dagomba, Ewe or Ga) who desecrates it.

Very Annoyed,

J. A. Fukuor

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Columnist: J. A. Fukuor/Daily Dispatch