Identities, Inequalities and Conflicts in Ghana.


Ghana's current image of peace and stability is worthy of attention. Compared with its neighbours, Ghana seems to be going through a period of relative stability. Nevertheless the periodic flaring up of conflicts into serious violence has become a source of worry. The paper is an account of the emergence of particular identities and inequalities and their role in promoting instability, conflict and violence. The paper analysed the different elements of the Ghanaian political economy which encourage or discourage particular patterns of peaceful co-existence and conflict. Understanding the emergence and dynamics of certain identities in any place is complicated by a number of factors. Analysts who consider identities such as ethnicity to be primordial are correct in that identities are not simple to assume and discard. Inequalities tend to arise principally out of differences in economic development and to some extent endowment in natural resources. A glaring pattern of inequality in Ghana manifests itself in the North-South dichotomy in development. A number of studies have emphasized the broad disparity between the North and the South of the country in terms of levels of economic development and the general quality of life resulting in the relative backwardness of Northern Ghana in relation to Southern Ghana. Whereas this major divide has never generated conflict in Ghana, it is possible to identify different categories of continuous conflict, some of it violent. These includes inter-ethnic conflicts, mostly centred on control over land and other resources and sovereignty issues; intra ethnic conflicts around land ownership, competing uses of land and the siting of institutions and services, but mostly about chieftaincy succession; and conflicts between state institutions, such as the police and communities, over policing and law and order issues arising from communal conflicts and inter-personal disputes. Although such conflicts are in general similar to other conflicts that arise in the sub-region, it can be generally concluded, though not substantiated in this study, that the conflicts in Ghana have generally been on a relatively lower scale than those of her neighbours, perhaps, accounting for the relative peace and stability in Ghana.


CRISE Working Paper 5, 52 pp.

Identities, Inequalities and Conflicts in Ghana.

Published 1 January 2004