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Kofibadukrom : Covid – 19 and the unity that binds a multinational border community

BY: By Robert Tachie Menson
A Road Side Market On A Section Of The Main Road Leading To The Ivorian Territory

“Recently, Ghanaian immigration officers saw an Ivorian military officer’s wife not wearing a face mask against Covid 19. They felt she had flouted the law. They punished her.

The Ivorians heard this and wanted to retaliate but the chiefs intervened and peace prevailed,” said Mr. Augustine Osei, the Assembly Member for Kofibadukrom Electoral Area in the Dormaa Central Municipality of the Bono Region.

Main Artifical Border At Kofibadukrom

 

Opinion leaders in this community have risen to leadership challenges and responsibilities, rarely though, convening meetings between feuding factions to resolve disputes where the situation demands.

They have often employed a lot of tact, diplomacy, peace-building and negotiation skills for the peaceful resolution of outstanding chieftaincy conflicts to avert an escalation tensions between these two West Africa nations.

“I meet the faction with the larger followers (either the Ghanaian side or the Ivoirian side) and speak sense into their heads, later I speak to the party with small number of followers too to tame them and avert any acts that are likely to fuel tensions and confrontations.

Mr. Samua Domokona (Officer In-Charge Of Port Health, Kofibadukrom

“Anytime the national football team, Ghana’s Black Stars have played the Ivoirian national side, and we have beaten them, our people jubilate into the proper Ivoirian territory and vis versa. This never degenerate into violence,” the Assembly Member chips.

Many borders in Africa are flashpoints for violence

Unlike other border communities or towns which are flashpoint for major conflicts, chaos and violence in Africa, like as experienced lately in Ethiopia and Tigray Regions, the Kofibadukrom border community, ,mostly inhabited by Ghanaian and Ivoirian nationals, has for a long time been peaceful and seen steady development.

But the community is not only inhabited by these two nationalities. There are Burkinabes, Nigeriens and other nationals.

As you make your way into the town, the mere site of an artificial border post of the Ghana Immigration Service at Kofibadukrom appears quite deceptive. A first time visitor to the area is likely to pass an unfair verdict of the post-indigenes at the opposite side of the border may be Ivoirians. The fact is they are not.

Some few metres away from the main border post, is another sight of a concrete pillar and what is supposed to be the actual demarcation point and boundary lines that sets the two countries apart. Beyond that demarcation point is what’s supposed to be real Ivoirian community. Ghanaians are there too. They mingle, interact, socialize, commune with them.

But this is not so when you turn back and cross over deep into the opposite end, which is the Ghanaian territory. There’s a chain of stores as well as wholesale outlets sited along both sides of the road after getting across the main Ghana Immigration Service post. They trade in wide variety of goods and services ranging from farm implements, plastic wares to cooking utensils situated along the shoulders of the road. The site is a vibrant scene of commercial activity. For years, indigenes in this border community have succeeded in not allowing language barrier, their backgrounds, national identity, geographical location and boundary lines to divide them.

 

They have lived peacefully and remained united despite their diverse background. The area scarcely sees disputes, conflicts or any confrontations ensuing between the Ghanaians and their Ivoirian counterparts.

The closure of the country’s borders and announcement on restrictions on movement by President Akufo Addo following the outbreak of Covid 19, didn’t have any significant impact on the community. The inhabitants, mostly tomato and pepper farmers only had traded off and marketed their bumper harvest transporting them to Kumasi, the second largest city and Accra, the national capital. Goods were allowed from Ivory Coast into the Ghanaian territory and vis versa.

So what has held this multinational community with people of different background, different nationalities generally bonded in peace together?

Mr Emmanuel Adomah, Local Area Committee, Secretary, admits that though there appears to be a long standing chieftaincy dispute, which seems to have been settled or resolved, occasionally shadows of this disputes and divisions resurfaces and threatens the peace and social life of the area.

“Kofibadukrom is generally peaceful but the subtle divisions, differences and misunderstandings between the people has killed the community’s spirit of volunteerism and communal labour held on Fridays. People see themselves at loggerheads to the point that one family members become sworn enemies.

“Unlike Gonokrom border town about 30 minutes’ drive from Kofibadukrom, soon after you cross over the border you can interact with others, even make some new friends when you come to Kofibadukrom,” he adds.

Mr. Emmanuel Adomah-Local Committee Secretary

 

Historically, it is said that the Akan tribe in Ghana trace their ancestors from Cote d’Ivoire. The story about the origin and founding of the Dormaa state, shows that they had settled along the Pamu River, after relocating from somewhere in Cote d’Ivoire. Records have established the true historical bonds lying between the two countries. To date there are some Ghanaian and Ivoirian chiefs in both countries representing their communities who participate in august events like festivals, Independence day celebration and coronation, and enstoolment of new chiefs.

This is what has fostered closer collaboration between the two nations apart from enhancing existing relations.

“The Ivorians bring their goods and patronize items from the Kofibadukrom market on market days which falls on every Wednesday and vis versa,” Mr. Adomah added.

Artificial structures can’t be barriers for peace and unity

Mr Sule Madjer, a representative of the MCE in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire notes that the entire community have adopted and embrace rich cultural values of respect, forgiveness, love, good neighbourliness.

“The border is just an artificial structure that has been created by humans, the fact is it came to meet the community and it cannot divide it,” he states.

“We use all kinds of strategies including sports(football) to keep the community binded together, and whenever we face possible conflicts and anything that threatens our peace. For example, when Kotoko played Asec Mimosa and things turned chaotic we immediately organized a unity match between the two main side to calm tensions down.

Aside this, the Ivoirians and Ghanaians intermarry, trade and farming is allowed as some of the Ghanaian farmers use some portions of land in the Ivoirian territory. There has been concerns this can potentially spark a conflict and tensions between the two states in future if authorities don’t quickly apply themselves to make and implement actionable plans regarding where exactly the nationals of these two countries can legitimately claim as their national territories and permanently reside, after the actual demarcation lines are done.

Mr Samua Domokona, a Port Health Official at Kofibadukrom, notes environment and sanitation issues have the tendency to create conflicts, disagreement, tensions between community members from both sides.

“This may come about when garbage has to be collected at specific point and the question of who should collect those rubbish arises,” he adds. When they are face with such situations or cases, they try as much as possible to calm nerves down and settle any outstanding disputes between members or residents.          

“They become intimidated when you approach them with summons to court. So they clear up the garbage when they are confronted with sanitary, hygiene and environment issues,” he adds.