Accra Mail (Accra)

23 August 2001

Ghana: Conflict Management: the Case of Northern Region

A lecturer of History at the University of Ghana, Dr. N.K. Brukum, has observed that the desire by tribes in the north to maintain their 'decadent status quo' is one of the main causes of ethnic conflicts that have plagued the regions.

The Northern Region of Ghana from 1980 to date has recorded about twenty ethnic conflicts, the Bawku episode in the wake of the December 2000 elections is the freshest in mind.

Dr. Brukum was speaking on the topic 'Overview of Ethnic and Racial Conflicts in Ghana: Causes, Origins and Factors Contributing to Inter-Group Violence,' at a two-day preparatory National Consultation Conference on Racism, Tribalism, Xenophobia and related subjects that can incite intolerance. The conference is slated for Durban, South Africa from 31st, August to 7th September.

Recounting the causes of some past conflicts Dr. Brukum said the "immediate cause of the 1980 Konkomba-Nanumba war was a quarrel over a lady in a pito house. That between Bimoba and Kombas was over the price of a mango fruit during which a Bimoba was killed while the 1994 Nanumba-Konkomba war was over the price of Guinea fowl," he said.

The lecturer who claimed he had investigated the conflicts in the Northern Region over the past twenty years said the previous government did not heed the recommendations made by committees established to investigate the cause of the conflicts.

He said no action was taken on the Justice Ampiah Committee's report when the Nanumba-Konkomba war of February 1994 started.

He observed that the response of the past government to conflicts was half-hearted. "Governments have either not rushed to areas of conflict early enough to nip them in the bud as was the case of 1994 or have failed to implement recommendations of committees which they themselves have set."

Dr. Brukum therefore called on the government to reprimand officials and ethnic groups who take sides when conflicts erupt.

He said the outcome of investigations into the case of two vehicles conveying arms to one of the warring factions impounded by the police during the 1994 war has since not been made public. He urged the government to appoint neutral officials to handle conflicts.

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