The Agbogbomefia of the Asogli State, Togbe Afede XIV, has condemned the military invasion of the Volta Region during the recently-ended voter registration exercise and the exclusion of some Ewe communities from taking part in the exercise.
According to the President of the National House of Chiefs, the army invasion was the culmination of age-old lies told about Voltarians as people who smuggle their fellow Ewes in neighbouring Togo and Benin into Ghana to register and vote during national polls.
Togbe Afede, who condemned tribalism as a dangerous thing during a visit to his palace by former President John Mahama, who is on a four-day tour of the region, said: “Unfortunately, the freedom and the justice that we are promised under our Constitution has become imperiled by tribalism. Our country has never been as divided”.
“I don’t think the Ghanaian is inherently tribalistic, no. And I recall that during a meeting that Otumfuo addressed, he said it among all others that we are one people and Anlos (Ewes) and Asantes are one people. He talked, with pride, about the fact that the cook in his house is an Ewe and coincidentally, the cook in my house in Accra is an Akan, so, we are, indeed, one people. The Ghanaian is not inherently tribalistic”, he noted.
The traditional leader said: “It’s so sad, just as you [Mahama] said, that after 63 years of nationhood, we are still trying to define who a Ghanaian is”, adding: “We don’t know, as of now, the value of our birth certificates in which we took so much pride as evidence of our belonging to the nation Ghana. And, of course, if the birth certificate has lost its credibility, then, of course passports that are given based on those birth certificates also would lack credibility”.
In his view, “it is a difficult time, indeed, for our country when we are no trying to rediscover ourselves; who are we, are we Ghanaians or are we not Ghanaians?”
There is a song in Ewe, he said, “that suggests that, and just as you [Mahama] said: ‘Everybody’s mother came from somewhere to give him birth at his place of birth’, but of course, we’ve all lived as tribes of Ghana on this land for hundreds of years and we have every right to be proud of our Ghanaian citizenship”.
And, he noted, “as I said several times recently, this is not the time for anybody to claim to be more Ghanaian than others”, insisting: “Tribalism is dangerous, as I’ve always said and tribalism is a result of ignorance”.
“It’s also a result of greedy politics, whose aim is to exclude some others and, therefore, to define some as insiders and some as outsiders”, he stressed.
Togbe Afede said: “We saw a lot of its effects in the recent voter registration exercise. Apart from the invasion of our borders, the villages and towns that we suffered in the Volta Region, we are also aware about the plight of non-indigenes in other Ghanaian communities”.
“Of course, some of my colleagues and I toured some of the Volta borders to see for ourselves, what the situation on the ground was. Unfortunately, we did that when there was no registration going on. We had the chance to talk to our people, our chiefs and community leaders and we are still saddened by the plight of some of the communities, in particular, Leklebi Kame, where some of our citizens are trapped behind the immigration border post situated 300 metres into the territory.
“We saw the invasion of the Aflao town where military checkpoints were put up right within town, disturbing ordinary lives of the people.
“Last Sunday, I hosted our brothers from Banda, who had come to inform us about the difficulties that they’ve gone through and wanted our support, lest the same difficulty is suffered by them come December 7.
“It’s so sad that some of the happenings across the country have been doubted, even in the face of evidence that were presented in reports, social media videos and etc”, the chief noted, admonishing: “We must not be ostriches, we must admit the reality of our situation and find solutions to our problems, otherwise, what is a small problem today, can become a very big problem tomorrow”.
He said: “Sadly, some of our region’s leaders have been very complicit”.
Togbe Afede noted that the claim “about the bloating of the register of the Volta Region is the result of lies that have been told over many many years”.
“I can’t imagine the suggestion that Voltarians brought their counterparts from Togo and Benin into Volta Region, sometimes, three weeks ahead of elections. Where would they say? Where would they be camped? Who’ll feed them for three weeks just because of one vote? But these lies have been told consistently by people from within this region that they become believable and I guess that accounted for the deployment of the military and other security agencies in our region during the registration exercise”, he said.
“I want to appeal to citizens of this region and of course, across the country, to tell the truth always, no matter what. Politics must not blind us to the truth.
“Instead of our leaders focusing on how to complete projects in our region, they’ve been busy inventing stories about misbehaviour of own people. That does not augur well for peace and unity of our region let alone the peace and unity of our country at large.
“Allow Ghanaians trapped behind the borders to also vote just as those who will fly home to register and vote once Kotoka International Airport is opened.
“Those people also deserve the chance to register”, the chief said.