Peaceful coexistence —Mangrove & sunflower!

Peaceful coexistence —Mangrove & sunflower!

The last weekend of April 2024 took me to Keta for the usual Ghanaian weekend pastime… funeral!


So established have funerals become that a government official advocated the busing of tourists to the parts of the Ashanti Region like Bonwire to fuel the tourism sector. As we drove from Sogakofe through Dabala towards the old Police-Barrier at Savietula Junction, Whuti, I was struck once again by the greenery and beauty of the mangrove trees/woods in the swamp right/west of the road.

My mind raced back to my January 2017 article in the Daily Graphic titled “Mangrove and sunflower co-existence?” 
Part read as follows:

Shanghai Expo 2010

After visiting Ghana’s stand, which showcased Ghana with pictures of Abedi Pele and Michael Essien, as well as cocoa, at the Shanghai Expo of 2010 in Shanghai, China, I visited the Chinese stand.

At the entrance, the Chinese had created a mangrove swamp. While finding nothing unusual with the mangrove swamp, it struck me that, the sunflower plants growing in the mangrove swamp was a contradiction of nature. Why?

In my Geography class in school, Mr Senior taught us about both mangroves and sunflowers. Mangroves, he told us, were tropical plants which grow in coastal estuaries called wetlands.

Generally, where seawater meets fresh water in estuaries in the tropics, a maze of woody vegetation called mangroves grows. Sunflower on the other hand is a plant with a bright yellow flower surrounding an inner black circle of seeds.

Sunflowers do not like water and only grow in arid or semi-arid parts of the world. To show a sunflower growing out of a mangrove swamp was, therefore, contradictory.


Armed with the knowledge acquired about 50 years earlier in school, I confidently demanded from the Chinese organisers their reason for having a sunflower grow in a mangrove swamp.

After thanking me for a valid observation, they explained that the rationale for putting the two “enemy” plants together was symbolic. In life, it is possible for two seeming contradictions such as mangrove and sunflower to co-exist peacefully. The Chinese, therefore, were educating the world that peaceful co-existence is always possible despite seeming contradictions.

They concluded that while conflict is inevitable, it is resolvable if the opposing parties seek peace and harmony. That night, I asked myself why there was so much conflict between humans.


Ghana has just gone through Elections 2016. To the average onlooker, the posture and rhetoric from all angles before the elections seemed to suggest Ghana was going to war. Now, a bit about conflict!

In Genesis, we learn of Cain murdering his brother Abel. Cain was angry not because Abel had offended him, but because while his sacrifice to God using inferior produce from his farm was rejected by God, Abel’s sacrifice of a juicy lamb was eaten joyously by God.

In the 12th Century BC, we learnt about the Trojan War from the Greek writer Homer’s book The Iliad. Prince Priam of Troy in modern-day Turkey visited King Menelaus of Sparta in today’s Greece.

Somehow, Priam fell in love with Menelaus’ wife Helen and eloped with her to Troy. Sparta’s attack on Troy to retrieve Helen led to the Trojan War. In the 20th Century, two World Wars were fought. While 20 million lives are estimated to have been lost in World War 1 from 1914-1918, the figure of casualties for World War 2 from 1939-1945 is 60 million.

In West Africa, civil wars have been fought in Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Côte d'Ivoire. In East Africa, the civil war in Rwanda in 1994 claimed about 800,000 lives in three months.

Perhaps, the figure could have been higher, but for the extraordinary bravery of the Ghanaian Battalion commanded by then Lt Col JN Adinkrah (later Maj Gen), with Brig Gen Anyidoho (later Maj Gen) as the Deputy-Force-Commander, in stemming the carnage.

Ghana was the only country which stayed in Rwanda during the genocide after the world abandoned Rwanda because 10 Belgian soldiers had been killed. So, why did the mercury in Ghana’s political barometer rise so high?

Ghana’s Elections 2016

On November 25, 2016, the US Embassy in Ghana warned US citizens to be vigilant and avoid some places in Accra during the elections. Thankfully, by the grace of God, once again Ghana sailed through.

After the elections on December 7, 2016, there was a period of anxiety caused by the thought that there had been a delay in announcing the results. Indeed, a concerned friend from a sister African country called me to enquire what was happening. I explained that, by our electoral laws, the Electoral Commissioner had 72 hours to declare results.


Eventually, when the results were announced, my elated friend said: “Ghana, you have always been the natural leaders of Africa from independence. Once again, you have shown leadership, and Africa is proud of you!” Incidentally, the same words were repeated by a friend from another African country!” ”


In most conflicts, race/ethnicity/religion have been named as the causes. While this may be true, research has shown that greed/the love of money, as well as ego/arrogance, underpin the triggers of race and religion.

My trip to Keta brought back memories of a lesson I learnt from Shanghai EXPO 2010, China. Mangroves and sunflowers were symbolically planted together to show that seeming contradictions in nature can co-exist peacefully.

Ghana has a critical mass of brainpower across the board, and a great natural resource endowment, to propel faster development than has been the case. So, how come Ghanaian democracy effectively ensures the sidelining of half the population at any one time?


With visionary leadership harnessing all human resources, integrity, selflessness and discipline, backed by unity and positive thinking, the sky should be our limit. Parochial interests must give way to utilitarian good for Ghana. We have no excuse to continue justifying the unjustifiable, lawlessness, unbridled arrogance and disrespect and glorifying mediocrity.

Above all, friends from two African countries hailed us as Africa’s leaders and jubilated with us on our successful elections of 2016. So, why all the divisions and insults? We must unlearn greed and arrogance, and teach the true unadulterated history of Ghana, and civics for good behaviour!

As was in announcing the results of Elections 2016 the boxing style, Ghanaians expect in 2024 nothing but: “Ghana is the winner!”
Leadership, lead by example! Fellow Ghanaians, wake up!

The writer is the former CEO of the African Peace Support Trainers Association, Nairobi, Kenya/Council Chair Family Health University College, Accra.  

E-mail: [email protected] 


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