The Northern Scourge

It is with a heavy heart that I write this piece today.  I am proud to have that Northern blood running through my nerves. I was born, bred and educated in the Zongos and I know the type of persons that we are. Apart from our bravery, we are very intelligent, hardworking, unassuming, smart, and above all, very truthful.  We are content with what we have and we don’t jealous anyone.

If you want to know our brilliance go to the campuses of all the universities in Ghana and abroad and you will see how students from the northern regions excel academically. At home, our women do brainstorming to find answers to issues concerning the family. Even as they cook the evening’s meals, they speak in parables to the children. Because poverty is endemic over there in the north, our women in particular wake up early in the morning, thinking of what the family will eat that day. And by the close of the day, they will find something for the children to eat. They are not like our women in the big cities who stock food in deep freezers and care less about what the family will eat.

Our bravery has no bounds.  Sergeant Koliba Kanjaga of blessed memory who lived in my holy village will have this to tell you about the bravery of the soldiers of northern bankground: “The time wey we go for Congo  war, when you hear tatatata, ibi  Asante man or Kwawu man wey he dey fire rifle. He dey run away be that. But when you hear bugudaam, bugudaam, if ino be Mossi man or Dagomba man then ibi Kanjaga man. He dey fire artillery inside enemy line.” It is even so now. People from the northern regions are not known for cowardly actions.

Our ladies were decent and their dress comportment did show. You could easily distinguish between a married woman and a spinster. No married woman went out without wearing a veil. When I was growing up in the Zongo, I never saw a Zongo girl wearing a skirt not to talk of a mini skirt. You hardly saw the kneels of a Zongo girl.  They were revered by men and they did not flirt around as we see today because if they did, they would find it difficult to get any man to seek for their hands for marriage.  They were respectful and they knelt down to greet elderly persons. Today all these virtue ethics have gone with the win. What went wrong? Modernity? Peer influence? Computer age? Poverty?

Today when you hear of arm robbery cases, the names you hear mostly are, Ibrahim, Mumuni, Seidu, Alhassan, Issah, Mohamed etc. When you hear of political violence the same northern names are mentioned. If there is any violence during football matches, about ninety percent of those involved are of northern background. They are always at the forefront during demonstrations and they do not hesitate to throw stones or draw knives when violence breaks out. This is not the type of bravery that Sergeant Koliba Kanjaga told us about. This is sheer foolish bravado.

I always put part of the blame on our northern brothers and sisters who have been able to make it in life and who are cooling off in luxurious mansions and ridding state of the art cars in the big cities. The worthy Alhajis, the successful politicians, the rich business men and women care less about the plight of their poor northern folks.  They do not invest back home where they came from, thereby leaving the unschooled youth with no option but to migrate down south to look for non-existing menial jobs. Some of them do not go home at all because they cannot dwell in the mud houses that their kinsmen live in.  The politicians among them only go to the Zongos to solicit for the votes of the northerners when it is time for elections and dump them after the elections.

What prompted me to write this piece is what happened in Ejura in the Ashanti Region which led to the death of three souls. Somebody has been gruesomely murdered and the police are investigating to find the culprits. A day or two after the murder, the youth from the Zongos decided to take the law into their own hands and attempted to storm the police station to teach the police men a lesson. Because the police men could not withstand the multitude they invited the military for support. In an attempt to bring calm to the township, the youth decided to stone the soldiers who were on a rescue mission.

It is regrettable that the soldiers used live bullets instead of the rubber bullets which are normally used for crowd control but one must also blame the wild youth who confronted the soldiers, knowing very well that they were armed. No soldier will rest his finger on the trigger whiles he is being stoned to death. And so the soldiers opened fire which in the first place they should not have done but at that critical moment when the lives of the policemen and their wives and children were at the verge of being killed, the soldiers found themselves in danger and the only thing they thought they could survive was to fire and so they fired leading to the death of two souls and others wounded.

The Akans say if you advise the rat you should also advise the cat as well (se wo tu akura fo a, na wa tu agyinamoa nso fo). What people must understand is that the era of instant justice, which is always rough and ready plus mob actions are gone with the 31st December revolution. In this 21st century, dialogue is the key to solving any problem. If you tow the path of mob action and you find yourself dead or wounded, nobody will have any sympathy for you.  The master story teller and musician, Nana Kwame Ampadu said in one of his songs that the fact that in the animal kingdom law was enacted forbidding any animal from killing and eating a fellow animal did not mean one should use the mouth of his fellow animal as a playing field.

One of the reasons why I support the Free Senior High School project is the fact that in no time, every family will have an educated child in the family. Such persons will not allow themselves to be used to cause trouble in their communities because they will be aiming high. I cannot fathom an undergraduate or a graduate stooping so low by joining a mob to attack a police stations or throwing stones at military officers. They will rather aspire to be an army or police officer. These dirty jobs can only be done by unschooled urchins and school dropouts living in the ghettoes. After all, did the sages not say the devil finds work for the idle hand? I rest my case for now whiles I wait for insults from my brothers and sisters in the zongos. Do I care? Apuu!!

From Eric Bawah