The ‘Ewes Have Bad Body Odour’, the ‘Ashantis Are Thieves’ the ‘Akwapims Are Fools’ & the ‘Fantis Are Lazy’ | Tribalism in 21st Century Ghana



No one can underestimate the importance of a tribe and its significant position in creating a true sense of belonging. Divisions in general kept us alive some centuries ago, fighting together and marrying our own—opening our arms for those we identified as our blood and protecting ourselves from those who were not part of us—the enemies.

It was very important to belong to a tribe and to have clansmen who will pull out the sword to cut throats so you and your family will live on. Without such organised groups of people living together and serving as watchdogs over one another, people from far away lands would have probably conquered and taken away lands and put certain men and women into slavery.

Even though there were days when tribes had important role to play in our survival, such divisions have always created tension between people. The tension didn’t matter much those days since you didn’t really have to deal with other people that often—or travel out of your land to meet others.

Today, we are not grouped by tribes but by vision and a search for a better life for ourselves—and offspring. Increasingly, people from different tribes have had to abandon their own people or land and travel miles away to foreign lands to settle. And those who even stayed behind on tribal lands had no option than to welcome alien tribes who found their place of settlement their best option.

Things have changed, technology and innovation have brought us far closer than ever. We are able to trade, communicate, share ideas and even fall in love with people thousands of miles away. The fight for survival has ended, giving way to what I call “the fight for our betterment” —making the benefits of holding onto tribes insignificant.

A lot has changed over the years in Ghana. Education has played a huge role in reshaping our human direction and interaction. The law has taken up the challenge in bringing justice to all those who deserve it. Morals have strengthened our relationships and exchanges with one another.

Nevertheless, one thing seems to have not been touched and unmoved—TRIBALISM. Reasonably, the closer we get, the gaps found in-between the walls of divisions such as tribes should be bridged but this has not been the case.

Even though you do not often find Ghanaians playing the tribal card when dealing with one another face to face (except of course the politicians), the tribal war continues—but it has taken a different form and it is at its peak on the internet.

As I mentioned above, except the politicians who occasionally take up tribal stance, hoping to win votes or upset others, the ordinary Ghanaian has succeeded in camouflaging his tribal sentiments—making it seem the era of division has ended.

Even with education, civilization, the need for togetherness and the fact that it is impossible to avoid other tribes, some Ghanaians still hold tight whatever misconception or belief they have in relation to other tribes.

Obviously, it is of no huge benefit to dictate your dealings along the lines of tribalism. This together with some sort of over-reaching moral consensus has made it unattractive for people to be ‘openly tribalist’—-but that has not been able to quench the fire of division in Ghanaians.

You may not be hearing of one tribe throwing stones or insults at the other in Ghana. But it does not mean this is not happening. It is just that, the insults and stone throw have taken a different form and shape—it is actively happening online and behind closed doors.

I’ve stopped reading comments on one of Ghana’s most popular website simply because, a great number of people use that platform to set free their unfortunate tribal thoughts.

Apart from that particular platform, there is not a single day I will not come across a facebook comment or tweet which suggests that indeed the tribal war has not ended; we are not seeing much of it because it’s hidden behind technology and innovation.

No tribe in Ghana is superior and no tribe can claim to be more Ghanaian than another. Of course we say so but do we really think and believe so? Behind closed doors and with the freedom to change our usernames or alias on the computer, we ignite the tribal hostilities which should have been long dead.

How many times have you read online from someone hiding behind a computer that ‘ Fantis are lazy, Ashantis are thieves, the Ewes smell, the Akwapims are fools, the Northerners are not human beings, why should a Northerner rule us and blah blah’?…

We’ve come a long way as people but if with our level of civilization and so-called ‘spirit of tolerance’ we cannot completely get rid of the inappropriate tribal nonsense manifested through our growing virtual world activities, then we surely have another century to fight each other behind closed doors before we can catch up with the others.

There is strength in division but you wouldn’t want that compared to the force behind a great union…

If you think the issue of tribalism is not that bad in Ghana, try marrying someone from a ‘despised tribe’ and you will be sentenced to death by hanging—by those you call your own people or her people. In a 21st century Ghana, this should have been in our tearing apart history books.

I don’t want to imagine how things will turn out when more and more Ghanaians get access to the internet…


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