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For umpteenth time, ethnic violence breaks out in the north yet again

Once again, for the umpteenth time, communal violence erupted in a far flung, remotely situated community in the northern region.

Last week’s ethnic skirmish in Nakpachie to be precise, claimed the life of the resident Iman and seriously injured several others, including a three-year old girl who is reportedly battling for her life in Yendi hospital.

Meanwhile, hundreds of Nakapchie’s residents sought refuge in Yendi, apparently having fled from the terror that had been unleashed in their village, authorities said.

Regrettably, the actors in this latest tribal drama in the north are two groups whose history of confrontation has been well documented.

Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed, potentially averting a larger confrontation that certainly could have had disastrous and long lasting consequences for the region and the nation more broadly.

The Overlord of Dagbon, the northern regional minister, security agencies, the army and the police, the regional Security Council, religious leaders, civil society groups and many others who spared no effort in bringing about a peaceful resolution to the firestorm deserve tons of praise.

You would think that in this moment of anxiety, fear and loathing, the Ghanaian media will act as an agent of peace and unity. No, instead, it had a field day demonizing its perennial punching bag, the northern region.

Media reports of the cause of the violence were sensational, outrageous, grossly misleading and simply out of this world. They called into question the professional ethics and integrity of headline writers in media organizations spread across the country.

The screaming headlines on the front pages of newspapers, news websites and on television and radio about the violence said it all; they were dehumanizing and super condescending to the northern region.

Whatever led to the violence, this is clearly not the time to apportion blame; feelings are still raw. No one group is responsible for the mayhem. In fact, it will be the height of irresponsibility to single out one group and label it the antagonist.

Rather, we should all allow diplomacy to work its magic. It will be prudent to attribute the nasty flare up to long held frustrations and the absence of communal cohesion.

Be that as it may, peace no matter how fragile has now returned to Nakpachie. But this latest bout of bloodletting in the northern region raises a couple of fundamental questions; is the region forever doomed to periodic outbursts of ethnic violence and if so what other measures, besides what has already been tried, need to be instituted to forestall further occurrences?

I don’t for once harbor the notion that the northern region is saddled with ethnic groups that have the propensity for violence, past episodes notwithstanding. Rather, the region has come a long way from the days when it was synonymous with aggression.

The northern region is acutely aware of its shortcomings and of the challenges ahead and is working hard, day in and day out, to avoid at all costs, problems that would ultimately hold it back. We are prepared to readjust our value system.

All northern authorities have to do to minimize violent behavior among tribes is to continue to preach the importance of tolerance and peaceful coexistence among the diverse groups of people in the region.

Northerners have done that for centuries and there is no reason to discontinue that tradition now.


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