By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Garden City, New York
I have been following the bloody clashes between the people of Alavanyo and Nkonya. It may be over a parcel of land, as a recent news report sought to simplify matters (See “Interior Minister Wants Inter-Ethnic Peace Committee Formed In Nkonya” MyJoyOnline.com 1/11/15). But the Nkonya-Alavanyo conflicts predates my birth; and I am a little past a half-century old. And so clearly, whatever land disputes may have to do with it, the Alavanyo-Nkonya crisis has remote causes of which the alleged parcel of land is only the immediate cause.
Mr. Mark Woyongo, the Interior Minister, wants an inter-ethnic peace committee, composed of local chiefs and elders, established to find a lasting solution to this problem which has resulted in the needless loss of tens of hundreds of lives over the decades. And Mr. Woyongo may very well know what he is talking about, for he is known to have instituted a similar measure while he served as Minister of the Upper-East Region, though it is not clear to me that the protracted and infamous Bawku Crisis has found any lasting solution as yet.
Still, one cannot gainsay the proverbial cliched maxim that “Half a loaf is better than none.” In other words, if our leaders are looking for more effective measures and lasting peace, then it may be worthwhile for the Interior Minister to think of bringing on board the Minister for Culture and Chieftaincy Affairs, or whatever they call the latter cabinet portfolio these days. I make the foregoing observation because like most conflicts around the globe that revolve around landed property, the Nkonya-Alavanyo Conflict, as is also the case with the Bawku Hostilities, is steeped in history, culture and politics. And so, obviously, it would be quite useful and instructive to invite aboard respectable historians and scholars with expertise on the Alavanyo-Nkonya Conflict.
A lot of animosity and resentment has transpired between the two ethnic groups, thus a lot remains to be deliberately and systematically unravelled before we can meaningfully begin to talk about a solution and a healing process. Make no mistake, legions of people have been hurt on both sides, and so a dispassionate acknowledgment of this reality ought to be foregrounded in any discursive attempt at resolving this age-old crisis. The band-aid approach entailing the establishment of a military base in the area is merely just, a temporary stoppage of hostilities that could actually degenerate into something even more apocalyptic than the present depressing situation.
Some level of policing is needed to maintain the truce, of course; but what is really required here is equanimous leadership of the kind that aims at reconcilliation and mutual respect. I don’t really know the meaning of the word “Nkonya,” but thanks to the poetry of Prof. Atukwei Okai, I think I know the meaning of Alavanyo/Elavanyo. It simply means: “All Shall Be Well.” Let all become well with our brothers and sisters of the “twin-towns” of Nkonya and Alavanyo.