16 March 2017

Ghana: No Room for the Banda Xenophobia

What is happening in the Banda Traditional Area is an indictment on this nation's drive to a united society. It is also a danger to our survival as a people. It emerged on Tuesday, that an anonymous group of people in the Banda Traditional Area in the Brong Ahafo Region, have issued an ultimatum to all people regarded as strangers in the area, to vacate whatever vocation they are involved in, and leave as soon as possible or face the wrath of the local people.

The threat is contained in an unsigned statement issued by some faceless characters at Banda Ahenkro. The chilling message is headlined: Concern Members of Banda Ahenkro: To Whom It May Concern.

The contents read: "This letter is to inform your good office that upon a unit decision taken, the whole Banda Ahenkro Community cannot guarantee the safety of strangers working in the District, because; (1) They are interfering in our MP selection (2) They are fighting against the supremacy over Banda Land (3) They have claimed all job opportunities in the District."

The statement warns rather ominously thus: "We hope with immediate effect you will act or (1) "What happened in South Africa will repeat itself here or (2) What happened at Faith School in 2016 will be repeated. Thank you."

Already, the incident has claimed a major casualty, in 40 schools in the traditional area being closed down, as teachers flee to safety. Read the lips of Mr. Jones Agyeman, Headmaster of the Banda Roman Catholic School, who spoke on behalf of all teachers in the area. "We forwarded these letters to our directors, and they gave us the ultimatum that those who feel they are not secured can leave. Another came from the Director-General of the Ghana Education Service that we should all leave the place and close down the schools in the district."

He said they have complied with the GES directive. What this means is that with the Basic School Certificate Examination barely three months away in June, no school is in session in the Banda District to prepare the kids for the examination.

The Chronicle is disappointed that, so far, there has not been a decisive action to fish out those issuing the threat to be sanctioned for peace to return to the area.

We are disappointed in the rather tame reaction from the Police Service. According to the Assistant Commissioner of Police, Sebastian Atsu Wemegah, in Charge of the Wenchi District, which has oversight responsibility for the Banda area, police personnel have been deployed to Banda Ahenkro area to prevent any possible attacks.

So far, there has been no arrest. The Police Commander told an Accra radio station that, so far, the culprits have not been identified. The Chronicle is disappointed that such a major flash-point is being treated with kid gloves. We would like to believe that the first point of call should be the traditional authority. We would like to believe that chiefs in the area cannot be unaware of those beating war drums.

The leadership of the Traditional Council ought to be invited by the police to assist in their investigations into the circumstances leading to this threat. Ghana is a unitary state. What this means, is that any Ghanaian has a right to reside in any part of the country and work, provided he or she is qualified to undertake the assignment he or she seeks.

Xenophobic attacks and behaviours have no place in nation-building. That is why the Banda development should be nipped in the bud before it becomes a national canker.

As you read this editorial, three people are assisting the police in their investigations into circumstances leading to a call for the succession of parts of the Volta Region to form a separate nation called Western Togoland. These nasty calls are coming in the wake of a new government taking centre stage of the governance system.

We believe that these incidents cannot be unco-ordinated by people, some of whom might be in responsible positions in our traditional set-up or in national politics. Whatever the troubleshooters are, they are very dangerous to nation-building. That is why decisive action should be taken before they grow into a national canker.

The Banda issue, for instance, is stalling development in the area. In June, final year kids in basic schools are required to sit their final examination for entry into second cycle schools. Kids cannot prepare for the future with their schools closed down. There is need for stringent action from central government.

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