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What the people in the Northern part of Ghana represents are rarely told

Northern Ghana Rule File Photo

Fri, 4 Aug 2017 Source: Isaac Kyei Andoh

Over the past decade, news about the Three Regions in The Northern Part of Ghana have been very negative even though that part of the country exemplifies what Ghana represents in many ways than any other part

The number one selling point of Ghana is its hospitality and priority treatment of strangers. If you are disregarded in your country and wear a fair skin, travel to Ghana and you will be treated as a king. Even if it means dad has to sleep on straw bed to make way for the visitor to sleep on the bed, he’d do it with joy.

As we evolve and embrace the nuclear family concept over the extended family system, these courtesies in most part of the country are extended largely to known Ghanaians with the obroni (Whiteman) prioritized.

The only part of Ghana that still hold on to this beautiful tradition are the three Regions in the North and I say this from extensive travel across the country.

Go to any part of the 3 regions in that part of Ghana, ask for help and someone will dedicate half his day to helping you without expecting a thing in return.

It is rare to get this kind of help in this era without the helper seeking for financial reward in any other part of the country

Go to Kumasi, Koforidua, Takorade, Cape Coast and you are likely to pay more than you have to for goods and services simply because you appear to be a strangers

I had a strong argument with a friend in Kumasi that in spite of the noise about the region’s cheaper cost of living, the times I have been there makes nonsense of that claim and that that there’s no difference between living in Kumasi and Accra.

My friend was ready to disagree with his life on the line. So the next time I went there, I decided to spend the day with him. To my utter dismay, when he led me, everything was about 70% how much I was made to pay in the past. Don’t get it twisted; this was not down to drop in inflation figures. He told me that it was so because the sellers gathered I wasn’t from the place.

I have the same experience with Cape Coast, Obuase and other parts of Southern and Central Ghana. These are Regions whose language I understand with clarity and yet I am exploited time and time again.

On the contrary, my experience with every part of the 3 regions in North that I have visited is different and I have always left feeling I got more than I actually deserve

In 2012, I spent about a week in Wa in the Upper West Region to conduct a survey in one of the Constituencies. That was my third visit to Wa and the first time being there without a guide and a working colleague. I had to form a team for the survey with very little idea where to start.

I got the around 4am so had to pick a Taxi to Upland Hotel and rest until day really breaks. Around 7 am, I decided to take a walk in the vicinity of the hotel and met a young man who was at the time in level 200 at UDS. As typical of any part of the three regions in the Northern Part of Ghana, he was riding a motorbike. He stopped and offered to give me a ride to the main road because it was a bit far from the hotel and Taxis were a bit scares.

I declined the offer but shared my mission with him. He took so much interest and offered to help. I need five people for the survey. With his help, I got the five people needed (him included) in no time and we proceeded to work the next day. It was meant to be a five day’s job but we managed to exhaust the questionnaires in two days so I had three extra days to have a feel of the Wa Township and therefore hurrying back to Accra was the last word on mind.

This guy will without fail on each morning knock at my door and take me to wherever I want and bring me back before attending lectures. I fuelled his motor for this despite his resistance. The moment that will forever live with me was when I was returning to Accra, I gave this guy money to thank him and try as I may, he didn’t take it. I explained to him that I made more because we finished three days earlier but he didn’t buy that. I have travelled widely around that area since then to know that I wasn’t just down to luck but that I met a true northerner.

Unfortunately, the only stories you read about the North are the negative stories that represents the attitude of just a fraction of the people

The common thing about the 3 regions in the North is how they respond to being respected. Treat them with respect and you will have their loyalty forever. When a stranger gets lost in any part of the 3 regions in the North, someone stops what he is doing and makes sure he finds his way. Even in areas where the helper doesn’t understand the language you speak, he’d make sure he gets someone who understands your language to help you and will do this without expecting anything in return

Sometimes, I say that Accra and Kumasi and other Cities have corrupted many Northerners because the typical Northerner is content with little and will be glad to break a sweat to put food on the table without envying the man who has it all at his beckon call

Yesterday, I saw a picture of Dr Bawumia welcoming Hon Bagbin with is head bowed to acknowledge Bagbin’s seniority. Anyone who understands the Northern culture knows that it is the totality of what they represent

These are the values we should project so that our people don’t lose sight of who we are. The viral nude videos, brutal images of instant justice or the conflicts in few areas do not in any way represent Ghana. Those people and happenings belong in the minority.

The way we treat the Three Regions in the North as one region is also not helping (Watch out for my article on that). When something happens at Sombo in the Upper West Region, it is reported as though it is happening in Bolgatanga, Tamale, and Wa. On the contrary, when something happens at Kasoa, it is never seen or presented as the totality of what the Region represents

The point of this article is that there are better stories to tell that emanates from the North. We are projecting parts of our own country in a very manner CNN. BBC and what have you project Ghana. Sad isn’t it?

I am southerner, 50% Achem and 50% Fante

Columnist: Isaac Kyei Andoh