A historic tripartite cross-border meeting aimed at deepening the bonds of cooperation and friendship among brothers and sisters long separated by colonialism has ended at Gaoua in the South West Region of Burkina Faso.
The meeting, at the instance of the Governor of the South West Region of Burkina Faso, Colonel Tagsseba Nitiema, was attended by delegations, including Alhaji Sulemana Alhassan, Upper West Regional Minister, and Mr Bosse Zogbre, the Minister of Bounkani Region in Cote D’Ivoire.
The Upper West Region shares a common border with these regions, with approved routes at Hamile and Tumu and numerous unapproved routes to Burkina Faso in the north and Cote D’Ivoire in the West. The regions have about two million people in the catchment area who are engaged in various trading and farming activities, including animal husbandry, across the three borders and speak ethnic languages, including Moshie, Dagari, Lobi and Jurai.
Welcoming the delegations, Col Nitiema said there was the need for them to come together despite the boundaries separating them as a result of colonialism.
“The people should feel that they are all one people with one destiny only divided by colonialism,” he said.
According to him, although the artificial boundaries would exist, they should remain as physical structures for generations yet unborn to see the consequences of colonialism.
Thus, he said, they needed to dialogue about the cross-border issues which inhibited their co-existence, adding that the meeting, which was the first was to give them the forum to discuss means of easing communication among them.
Col Nitiema further suggested the introduction of joint activities such as celebrations of festivals and football to engender brotherliness.
For his part, Alhaji Alhassan expressed satisfaction with the meeting and expressed the hope that it would not just be ceremonial but the beginning of using the potentials and resources as the starting point to improve the standard of living of the people.
He agreed that as one people only divided by colonialism, they needed to come together to focus on how to live in harmony.
Alhaji Alhassan reminded them that colonialism still existed but in different forms with the aim of keeping Africans as dependants and producers of raw materials only to receive finished products from the colonialists.
He stressed the need for them to work towards economic and cultural independence.
Mr Zogbre, the Minister of Bounkani Region, also noted that as one people they should co-exist peacefully, adding that at the moment a lot of Burkinabes and Ghanaians lived peacefully in Cote D’Ivoire just like people of Cote D’Ivoire lived in the two sister countries.
He also hoped that the meeting would be the first step of a collaboration to break the barriers of colonialism.
At the end of the plenary session, the three ministers signed a six- point communiqué which spelt out their resolve to reinforce trans-border co-existence and share information on common issues such as friendship, good neighbourliness, armed trafficking and armed robbery, and also find common strategies to fight cattle rustling, eliminate human trafficking, fight against illegal mining and collaborate on security issues.
The next tripartite meeting will be held at Wa in March next year.