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Assessment for Ewe in Ghana

Publisher Minorities at Risk Project
Publication Date 31 December 2003
Cite as Minorities at Risk Project, Assessment for Ewe in Ghana, 31 December 2003, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/469f3a845d.html [accessed 11 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.
Ghana Facts
Area:    238,537 sq. km.
Capital:    Accra
Total Population:    18,497,000 (source: unknown, 1998, est.)

Risk Assessment | Analytic Summary | References

Risk Assessment

The situation of the Ewe in Ghana is in the balance. Since a member of the Ewe is no longer the leader of Ghana, the group is no longer the politically advantaged in this sense, and the repercussions of this state of affairs are currently unknown. The election in 2000 occurred without many incidents, which is a sign that the group may not begin to engage in any anti-regime activities. There has not been a history of ethnic conflict among the various groups of Ghana, and the type of ethnic retaliation that is found in other states when a new party comes to power may not occur. Without organizations which represent the Ewe specifically, the opportunities for organized protest or militant activities are currently limited. However, protest may erupt if the current government diversifies the central government and bureaucracy at the expense of the Ewe too rapidly.

Analytic Summary

The Ewe span the borders of Ghana and Togo (REGIONAL = 1). They have been in this area of Africa for hundreds, possibly thousands of years (TRADITN = 1). The Ewe, the Ashanti, the Fanti, and the Ga (Saaka 1994) are the most prominent ethnic/linguistic groups in Ghana. The Ewe is the second largest ethnic group in Ghana, next to the Ashanti. Very few Ewe have left their region and settled throughout Ghana (GROUPCON = 3). The Ewe speak their own language, and this language is quite different than the other larger ethnic groups in the country (LANG = 1). Ethnicity is extremely important in Ghana, and the Ewe enjoy the advantages they have due to the ethnicity of the former leader of the country, Jerry Rawlings (he is half Ewe). These two factors combined have resulted in the group being highly cohesive (COHESX9 = 5).

Ethnic groups (particularly ethnic groups of southern Ghana including the Akan, the Guan, the Ga, and the Ewe) in Ghana developed a strong popular resistance and rebellion against any form of injustice due to experiences under colonial rule. This helped the country become the first African state given independence by Britain. Under Nkrumah (1947-1966), most Ghanaians identified themselves as those belonging to one nation since his Convention Peoples Party (CPP) opened its membership to everyone, regardless of ethnic origin. Although Nkrumah=s dictatorial leadership was much criticized, his efforts at state-building with ethnic pluralism deserves recognition. Unfortunately, the ethnic harmony that Nkrumah tried to foster did not bear fruit as successive ruling groups used ethnic consciousness in order to bolster their own communal interests. In the midst of post-colonial coups in Ghana, the Ashanti people and Ewes were the two major contenders seeking to expand their political influence. For example, when Acheampong (an Ashanti) seized power in a coup in 1972, the Ashanti played a major part in politics and Ewes revived their threat of secession. On the other hand, when Rawlings (his mother is Ewe, his father, Scottish) came to power in 1979, the Ashanti attempted coups against Rawlings to check the growing domination of the state by Ewes.

Currently, the group does not appear to endure any demographic or ecological disadvantages in comparison to other groups in Ghana (DEMSTR00 = 0). There is no evidence of political restrictions or discrimination against the Ewe (POLDIS03 = 0), due in large part to the favorable policies towards the Ewe introduced by Rawlings. In December of 2000 a non-Ewe president was elected in Ghana, and therefore the political situation of the group will need to be monitored closely. While not as economically advanced as the Ashanti, the Ewe have not faced any economic disadvantages (ECDIS03 = 0), and no cultural restrictions were apparent. Once again this is an aspect of Ewe life that needs to be monitored now that they are not in an ethnically favored position within the government. There have been no reports of overt government repression against the group. There have also been no reports of communal conflict between the Ewe and the other ethnic groups in Ghana (COMCON00 = 0). The elections in 2000 appear to have been conflict free.

The Ewe do not back one particular political party within Ghana, but rather support many of the mainstream parties. As the politically advantaged group in the country, the Ewe appear to be willing to work within the political process to have their individual demands addressed via whichever party they feel can accomplish this. As a result, there is no indication of any group-specific demands being voiced by the Ewe. Again, this may result from a lack of information provided by Western media sources, and this situation may change now that a non-Ewe has become president. While there are Ewe in neighboring countries, they do not appear to be providing any assistance to the Ghanaian Ewe. The group has been historically advantaged, and no assistance may be necessary.

The Ewe have been involved in minor protests – usually verbal opposition starting in the early 1950s (PROT50X = 2) and continuing until the coup which brought Rawlings to power in 1980. Since that point, only in 1996 was there any evidence of minor protest (PROT96 = 2), with none reported recently (PROT03= 0). There were reports of minor instances of militant activity in the late 1960s (REBEL65X = 1) and in the late 1970s and early 1980s (REBEL75X and REBEL80X = 1). No militant activity has been reported since Rawlings took power (REB03 = 0).

References

Murray, Jocelyn. 1990. Africa, Cultural Atlas for Young People, New York and Oxford: Facts on File.

Novicki, Margaret A. 1994. Interview with President Jerry Rawlings. Africa Report. March/April

Owusu, Maxwell. 1989. ARebellion, Revolution, and Tradition: Reinterpreting Coups in Ghana,@ Society for Comparative Study of Society and History. 372-397

Rothchild, Donald. 1995. ARawlings and the engineering of Legitimacy in Ghana,@ in I. William Zartman, ed. Collapsed States, Boulder: Rienner.

Ofori, Ruby. 1993. AThe Elections Controversy,@ Africa Report, July/August.

Saaka, Yakubu. 1994. ARecurrent Themes in Ghanaian Politics: Kwame Nkrumah=s Legacy,@ Journal of Black Studies. March. Vol.24 No.3: 263-280.

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