In the last few hours I have seen some social media activists calling on gender activists to descend heavily on Prophet Badu Kobi(a popular pastor in Ghana) for allegedly making some defamatory and demeaning statements against women in Ghana.
The campaign has been so loud that for a moment I had to look for the said video and probably condemn it too (as pro affirmative action activist).
After carefully watching the video and again reading a transcript of what the Pastor said (as a gender activist myself), I didn’t find anything extremely wrong with what he said except for the usual stereotypical tribal undertones which we all do one way or the other.(and had nothing to do with women rights)
It may not have been the best of pronouncements, but the idea of connoting or aligning a certain character traits to a particular tribe in Ghana is very common and it features strongly in our daily conversations.
So we just cannot pretend and greet this open pronouncements by the man of God with the usual hypocritical sensationalism.
As a Country we must begin to look at these tribal stereotypes seriously and carefully and assess how they are affecting societal growth and the limitations they put on inclusiveness as a Country.
I have a personal story to share, when I was in the University, I met this girl and we fell in love, we dated for almost 5 years and one day, her parents had to force her to end our 5year relationship which was almost heading into marriage. (both parents were traditional Ashantis)
Their only reason was that I was half-ewe(can u imagine?)
I was so devastated and it took me several months to recover from this shock..(I didn’t understand why being an Ewe or any tribe for that matter should be a problem or a reason why i couldnt be with someone as husband and wife)
That event changed the course of my life entirely and I learnt a lot from it and i bet if you speak to about 10 young people in Ghana today, atleast about 4 of them minimum may have encountered a situation like this one way or the other.
That is our sad reality, that as a people we are still being sharply divided by religion, ethnicity, culture and worst of all economic status.
But the point is, what are we doing about them?
Because someway somehow these stereotypes seem be checking out to some extent.
But the problem shouldn’t be whether Ashanti women likes money or are mostly being influenced by their mums, the point is there are also Ashanti women who are none like what has been described.(and anybody from any tribe can have such character traits depending on their upbringing)
What we need to do now is how to consciously remove or lessen the impact of these stereotypes… so improving cultural practises and removing crucial cultural extremisms like Female Genital Mutilation and Widowshood rites would help a great deal.
Prophet Kobi was only speaking as an ordinary Ghanaian, I may disagree with him on a number of the things he said (because I believe people should be judged fairly and individually based on their actions and behaviours and no one should suffer or be judged wrongly because of some prejudiced stereotypical narratives…. but I also feel he spoke the mind of a lot Ghanaian parents.
Till date I am still struggling to get my own mother to understand that people are different based on how they are raised and not what tribe they belong.
Apparently, the old woman doesn’t want any of her sons to marry an Ewe, Northerner, Fante, Ga, Bono or an Akyem.
And she listed some serious stereotypical narratives as her reasons and everyday she keeps adding to the list and keeps making my options our options slimmer and slimmer.
The other point is the NCCE also hasn’t done much as far as cross cultural education is concerned over time.
Most of our coexisting traits are acquired through direct contacts with other persons through work, trips to funeral or tourism or living in the same houses or areas.
So apart from rural urban migration which has been the key influencer of cultural tolerance in Ghana, little has been done directly by the NCCE and the State Broadcaster GBC to facilitate peaceful coexistence and cultural tolerance and by far inclusivity and acceptability of one another as one people and one nation.
These stereotypes subtly lingers on and until the Ministry of Chieftancy and Culture, NCCE, GBC and we ourselves collectively pursue policies that tears these tribal boundaries down, we would have no moral rights to cry foul against people like Prophet Badu Kobi who comes out only to explicitly say what we all say in our bedrooms!!!
Executive Director, ASEPA