I am Fanti. However, before I regard my tribe under any circumstance, I first of all know that I’m a Ghanaian. And… even before I regard myself as Ghanaian, I regard myself first of all as human. In other words, regardless of where we all geographically come from, nature binds us together by putting red blood in us all; whether White, Black, Blue, Ashanti, Nzema or Ewe.
I have always wondered why we (Blacks) sometimes complain of racism anyway. Well. I pretty much know some of us are as racist as whoever but in a different way. When we see our fellow citizens, all we perceive is a tribe walking in clothes. We can’t look beyond their ‘geography’ in spite of their beauty. We can’t see any beyond their mother tongue despite their competence.
His Excellency Nana Addo earlier this week designated his first crop of ministers and guess what, it was met with the usual, petty, tribal politics of who belonged where! In this era where men and women are being appointed based on their competence, others are still stuck in backwardness thinking they should have been chosen instead according to their tribes… in the name of some regional balance.
I have reiterated times without number that if our nation would ever experience change, it majorly depends on us, especially our mindset. If you think the reason for being at the bottom is your tribe and not your skills, frankly, you need help no one can give! If you can’t see others beyond where they are coming from (tribe), it’s obvious you are confused as to where you are even going (vision).
Tribalism has torn us apart as a people. Some marriages never could be. Others who meant well for us were just written off. Leaders who could have brought us the development we so much needed were shoved aside. This racism is called tribalism!
When we forget about the same red blood that runs through our veins and instead pettily focus on our mother tongue, we mistake good people for bad ones. We mistake good spouses for bad ones. We mistake great leaders for bad leaders and vice versa. We assume our brothers are our enemies and our enemies, brothers!
You have no moral right to condemn a white-skinned person for racism when you’re such a tribalistic bigot. Who are you to whine when discriminated against when you’ve successfully stereotyped others who don’t belong where you do!? If racism is not good for you, tribalism is not good for another either.
We were all humans until races came. We were all Ghanaians until tribes came. Where we are supposed to see competence, all we see is tribes. Where we ought to see honesty, we only see geographical location. Where we ought to see the bigger picture of Ghana, all we prefer to see is a smaller picture of the tribe we come from.
Education is not the solution to tribalism just like it hasn’t been to racism. Little wonder the tribal activists are sometimes very educated.
Tribalism, like racism, is a character. It is a character that puts others in a fixed character. A pattern of thoughts it is; a parochial mindset. All we need is a change of mind. Change of character begins with a change of mind.
It’s about time we knew that not everyone falls within our oversimplified definition of a group of people. It’s about time we viewed others through the lens of what we shared in common and not our differences. To build that great nation we want to live in, we should focus our energies on competence and skills, not tribes. Competence builds a nation, not tribes. Skills make a nation great, not mother tongue.
Tribalism blinds our thoughts. It doesn’t permit you to see any beyond what you indeed want to see. Like alcohol, it clouds our thinking capacity. It gives us already-formed notions about others. If you already know me (supposedly because of my tribe) before you really get to know me, then you won’t even know me!
We all belong to tribes. Yes. We all belong somewhere. Our different tribes should, however, be the variety that will spice up our lives, not tear them apart. Our variety should merge us as one people with one common destiny. Poverty is our enemy, not the man from a different tribe. Greed is a threat, not the woman who speaks a different language.
I am Fanti and so? Before you brand me in your beautifully crafted stereotype of a typical Fanti, know that I am first of all a Ghanaian. I may or may not fall within your narrowly defined views of my tribe. And… even if I do, it doesn’t go without saying that all Fantis will.
Hence, can you kindly ignore my tribe? All I know is that I am a Ghanaian. Treat me as such. Regard me as a Ghanaian and never as a Fanti. Give me opportunities because I am a competent Ghanaian, not a competent Fanti. Perhaps, in case you may want to deny me, let it be for the same reasons. This racism called tribalism should not get in our way.
The writer is a playwright and Chief Scribe of Scribe Communications, an Accra-based writing company (www.scribecommltd.com). Order copies of his animation book, Animuonyam The Bully Stopper, via 0243752793.