Savannah Thoughts!

Life in the savannah can be so frustrating especially being from outside it and knowing that it could be better but the indigenous callous to making it better. Journalists, among other professions in the Tamale metropolis are so biased towards sensationalism and other affiliations political and ethnic that it’s frustrating to observe what disunity can do to people.

Let me illustrate this with a story. Some time ago one of the largest and most popular eating places in Accra, Aunty Muni waakye in Labone, had two of her cooking girls ‘beefing’ over whatever  (no pun intended) and one decided to teach the other one a lesson so she put purgative in the food the other girl had cooked. Imagine the reaction of the hordes of customers who ate Aunty Muni waakye that weekend. It was only a small story in one of the sensational tabloids in Accra and a radio station. This story even came out because she had to render a public apology to her customers and assure  patrons it will not happen again.

Now let us examine this same issue and compare it to what happened in Tamale recently when medical students went to a colleague’s party and got food poisoning. The Ghanaian media jumped on the story and some even gave it front page prominence. Radio stations made it their main discussion story and television also picked it up. Why does it always have to be so? These students only happen to be medical students and their party was a private party that had nothing to do with the hospital only that they were admitted in the hospital. Does anything that happens at the Korle Bu medical school hostel end up in the print media and television too?

Southerners tend to assume that ‘the north’ is one small town when it actually comprises three of the largest regions (Northern, Upper East and Upper West) in Ghana. I find the need therefore to educate in lay man terms here in this article the size of just the Northern Region in relation to its districts. I believe this will shed more light on the size of the northern region and also make readers aware that when there is a conflict or whatever on one side of the region it doesn’t affect the whole region as if it was a small town where everybody will be affected.

In the Northern region there are 24 districts and these are pretty large districts set far apart. The two most prominent I am familiar with is Tamale metropolis itself and Tolon district which houses one of the campuses of the University of Development Studies in Nyankpala which is a 40 minute drive from the metropolis on a traffic free road. Travelling from the Tamale metropolis to the Tamale airport is also almost an hour’s drive and the airport is in Savelugu, a suburb of Tamale. Having lived in Accra my whole life I can only compare distances by time of driving so readers living in Accra or having been to Accra can understand. And when I say traffic free roads what I mean is that if there was traffic it would take longer.

It is therefore aberrant to say that Tamale is a small town such that when southerners hear that there is a trouble in any suburb of Tamale to just assume that the whole of Tamale is involved.

Just a couple of years ago the Ya-Na Andani case was a case in point that had residents of Tamale and its environs placed on tenterhooks because the region is very ethnic centered. But residents have put this behind them and the past and gone. The city has healed itself and now there are more southerners moving up north than before. Social amenities have improved tremendously and the city is now gradually feeling the effects of a metropolitan life with banks, supermarkets, improved health centres, education facilities, etc but which also means waste and dirt everywhere that should be taken care of and sometimes even traffic in the main centre after work hours for a few minutes.

If only the journalists and non-governmental organizations will stop peddling money stories and just write the unskewed stories that suit the perceptions of southerners, then maybe the savannah accelerated development project can work out. Development starts with the people and not structures and some of us sincerely wish the indigenous people of the north will realize that. Let us just leave the savannah region to try to develop on its own and stop peddling stories that are not really news worthy in other areas. The north has been marginalized enough in the colonial era and it is part of the nation Ghana and has to be developed to catch up with development in other areas of the country as well.

Furthermore, northern dwellers should push to demand for social amenities and act like the government is not doing them a favor with whatever is put in place for them. The leaders who can demand for these things won’t demand because they will be branded opposition to the many factions either ethnic or political. It is high time development in the north took a radical turn but only the indigenous people can lead this movement.

A few days ago Rick Ross tweeted that he’s landed in the beautiful country of Africa and I remember a friend of mind’s comment that ignorance is no excuse. If we chastise foreigners for making a mistake like that or we talking to white people online and they say ‘oh I have a friend in Uganda, since you are in Ghana  you might know him’ and we are amazed at their ignorance, then let’s not make the same mistake in Ghana in thinking that the north is just one small town called Tamale. It starts from you my dear reader..




3 Responses to “Savannah Thoughts!”

  1. Salomey Abraham Says:

    Well written, well said and very true.

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