If there is one thing that I agonize endlessly over besides my health, it is the propensity for violence among some of our brethren. Once thought to be on the decline, violence in the region is on the ascendancy as recent disturbances in the Chereponi district amply indicate.
Like many outside the conflict zone, I was stunned; indeed shocked by the ugly confrontation between the Chokosis and the Bimobas because open hostility between the two groups was least expected;
After all, they are neighbors and have been since the beginning of time. Whatever differences exist between them have been papered over by intermarriages as well as a common adherence to similar customs and traditions.
What sparked the conflict according to authorities was the failure of the two tribes to resolve fishing rights on the river Oti. Fortunately, no life was lost, but many people were left homeless after houses were torched and burnt to the ground.
The clash is particularly heart-wrenching because the northern region is just emerging from a violent crisis in Bimbilla which claimed the lives of more than a dozen residents and destroyed property worth millions of Ghana cedis. The township and its surrounding villages are still traumatized and yet to recover from the conflict.
It is sad to note that violence is rapidly becoming normalized among some northerners: truth be told: wherever some northerners congregate outside the borders of their region, violent disputes are invariably among the first items on the agenda, besides earning money and taking care of the family.
How then do we explain the behavior of some Dagombas and Konkombas who engaged each other in a fierce battle last week in the slums of Agblogloshie over a trivial matter, a stolen phone? Two Konkombas were said by authorities to have been killed, and their tribesmen have vowed revenge, thus further complicating an already tense situation.
The latest clashes have once again unwittingly thrust the northern region into the spotlight, making it the target of cruel jokes and endless teasing by its detractors, affording them the opportunity to depict northerners as violence prone, untamed and far removed from civilization.
Unsurprisingly, the media was quick to describe the clash in Accra as an ethnic conflict while, in fact, it was just a brush up between two groups. Given all this, one wonders when we northerners are going to come to terms with our worse impulses and reject violence in all its forms.
Violence has torn our society apart, destroyed our families, and broken ancient bonds that once held us together. Compromise and amicable solutions of rather mundane issues are conspicuously missing in our everyday interaction with other tribes who are essentially our neighbors.
We resort to violence as a means to project our tribal strength and superiority over tribes we contemptuously refer to as minorities. Violence gets us nowhere; we are in the 21st century and that in itself should make us sit up and think.