Every time I come home from the cold winter of North America to the warm, sprawling and shining city of Tamale, I am filled with awe. The sheer expansion of the city, which seems relentless, and at times unstoppable, continues to fascinate me.
I just cannot wrap my head around the fact that in just a span of 20 plus years, Tamale has been dramatically transformed from a quiet, laid-back sleepy town to a bustling metropolis.
It is thriving with homes, a revived modern central market, a rejuvenated Aboabo market, higher institutions of learning, modern financial institutions, high rise office buildings, and large and small family owned businesses.
And a modern airport waits in the wings to further enhance the city’s appeal to international and domestic investors. It is simply marvelous. Tamale has come a long way and should be celebrated.
It wasn’t so long ago that Tamale was written off by its detractors, those who did not want the city to expand and progress. And to justify their rather ridiculous and tenuous stance, they advanced some arcane arguments.
The detractors said, for instance, that Tamale was so violence infested that any development effort would be short-lived. “Better to let the status quo prevail than to waste precious development dollars on a drab town,” they screamed.
But the people of Tamale were not deterred; they simply won’t let those who did not have their city’s interest at heart dictate to them, or tell them what was good for their city.
So, slowly but steady, they set in motion the foundation for a city of their dreams; they began building homes and businesses, gradually expanding the horizons of the city as far as the eye can see.
Various Ghanaian governments chipped in with roads, a modernized hospital and a first class university. Then the banking world and other industries sensed the fast growing city had a lot to offer in terms of business opportunities and decided to set up shop in Tamale. No wonder the city is now dotted with a variety of banks and an assortment of industries.
Of course, I am not whitewashing Tamale as a pristine and innocent place, devoid of problems. It has challenges unique to urban centers across the globe; youth unemployment, traffic jams, unruly motorists who disobey traffic regulations with reckless abandon, poor sanitation, and crime.
Nonetheless, Tamale remains a city that has a lot going for it; it is a true melting pot; it just doesn’t belong to one single group of people. It belongs to Ghanaians from all walks of life, with different tribal, political and religious affiliations.
And one of the most beautiful and inspirational things about Tamale residents is that despite their perceived differences, they strive to live as one people with a common destiny which they have manifested in the prosperous and remarkable city they have built by dint of hard work and commitment.
This prosperity must be sustained at all cost. Every resident of Tamale, young and old, has a stake in ensuring that Tamale continues to make strides. We must all vow not to engage in negative activities that will throw the city off its march towards modernity and progress.