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Deputy Agric. Minister Disparages Northerners: Tribal Bigotry Rears its Ugly Head Yet Again.


Some people can’t just conceal their inner prejudices. No matter how much they try to pretend otherwise, the ugliness, the bottled up negative feelings, somehow always manage to bubble to the surface, often to public ridicule and condemnation and to their own personal discomfort and embarrassment.

Once exposed, these people atone for their sins by engaging in a ritual that has come to characterize such obnoxious behavior — rendering unqualified apologies and asking for public forgiveness.

At this juncture,  you may be wondering what is it that I have up my sleeve; well, I am referring bluntly to the silly musings of the deputy minister for agriculture, Mr. William Agyepong Quaittoo, who in a moment of utter stupidity in a radio interview, remarked that northerners are problematic and very difficult.

Clearly unhinged, Mr. Quaittoo went on to disparage northern farmers describing them as cheats, whose primary purpose in fighting the army-worm that has laid waste to their crops, is to fleece the government with fictitious claims.

The pertinent questions here are: what will prompt a supposedly learned man, a public official to unleash such unprovoked verbal salvos on a whole group of people?

Is it the perennial false sense of superiority that southern politicians wear proudly on their sleeves? Perhaps; the man has not been psycho-analyzed, but believe me, he felt big in his shoes and way above our dirt poor northern farmers.

And where did Mr. Quaitoo leave his thinking cap? He ought to have it on at all times because he can ill afford to say things that will come back to haunt him, ultimately eroding northern public confidence in government.

In his capacity as a top government employee, his utterances have to be carefully weighed, sensitive and designed to satisfy all, irrespective of political affiliations and tribal loyalties.

I needn’t condemn Mr. Quaitoo any more than he has already been condemned, and rightly so. Though Mr. Quaitoo has apologized profusely for his blunder, an avoidable one I should add, I, like thousand others wounded by his remarks, wonder if his mea culpa was genuine, sincere and heartfelt?

And, aren’t his assertions that he lived in the northern region for 27 years and even speaks Dagbani, not a cop out, a face saving, a last minute feeble attempt to salvage his reputation to ward off mounting criticism, and save his job?

For the umpteenth time, a southern politician has exposed the ugly underbelly of tribal bigotry so pervasive in Ghana. The ruling NPP long criticized for its insensitivity to the issue is at the center of the controversy yet again. What is it going to do to dispel notions that it tacitly encourages this kind of behavior?

A few years ago, it was presidential adviser, that despicable ingrate, Safo Marfo who disparaged northerners. He curtly dismissed accusations that he is a tribal bigot. Now he sits comfortably in power, fully rehabilitated. There is no surprise here; the NPP always has a way of redeeming its members accused of bigotry.

Tribal bigotry in this day and age is repugnant, divisive and counterproductive. All it does is portray those who engage in it as a bunch of neanderthals, inward looking people, trapped in the past and unwilling to change for the public good. Ghana can do much better without these purveyors of hate.


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