I am a northerner. And that is a shame, but please don’t blame me, blame God. He made me a northerner and didn’t practice democracy when he did so.

Perhaps there was a conference in heaven (or wherever babies come from) in which parents choose their children. Blame my parents and not me, I don’t recall being part of it, I don’t recall choosing mine – but hear me out, I am proud of mine.

But, maybe, given an option, I might have made a better choice, but I came as a northerner. This is the accidental badge of shame I carry, like all men, but mine is worse – I am a northerner.

Long before my parents made their choice, colonial thieves drew the map, it had nothing to do with me – they made me a northerner. No plebiscite, no Gallup Poll. With a stroke of the pen, they made their choice and made me – a northerner. My choice was never a part of it; they followed the stars and hit the mark – to make me a northerner.

My land of birth is great and vast, full of life and changing scenes. Sometimes arid, sometimes green. Most times dry and sometimes wet – it is the northern land. I don’t blame others, if they don’t know, but I make them angry for just being me.

My land is dry and breeds “no things”- but lush tomatoes, scented onions, hot peppers, and loads of grain, ginger and garlic. My land produces maize and beans; sugarcane, kola, sorghum, moringa and millet.  My pastureland is best for cattle, goats and sheep, best for donkeys, horses, and fowls of all kinds. These are part of the northern nothing.
The earth yields sheanut, melon and seeds. Once upon an ancient time, my land made groundnuts that built pyramids like Egypt land. The best of yams and potatoes breed; the best of beans and protein needs; yes, they’re nothing compared with oil – parlous insignificance to today’s gold. Whatever the north produced is nothing here.

I rile not those who produce cocoa, nor quarrel with those that grow their coffee. I bug not those whose rainforests produce the best of trees, timber and rubber and palm produce. Its nuts and fruits and lush red oil.

All I ask is live and let’s live and hold aloft our red, gold, green and black star. I don’t begrudge the vast rivers – that give more fish than the TONO DAM. I crave the taste of crabs and shrimps; I love the oil that powers boats, cars and moving machines. I love the tar that colours the road and lubricants that oil the wheels and burnish flesh.

Yet all I ask is live and let’s live, but nay they say we want you out. I am a northerner, to be seen never to whine, complain or hold my point of view.
I am a northerner, and everything I touch brings me shame. I love the land and fought for it. I love its make from my vantage point- the confluence of the Volta river, watching the evening sun throw the final arms of its glow, like rainbow shoots across the rest of motherland and even that they’ll take from me. For I am a northerner, who must see nothing, hear nothing and pretend to know nothing.

I am a northerner. Others are allowed to make their heroes, keep their heroines and turn their villains into saints but I am accused of political greed. I am the “grand daughter” of NAVRO-PIO KWARA KADATUA, but today, I am the butt of modern jokes.

I am a northerner, cousin of Hilla Liman. My uncles shed the blood that glued this nation. Yes, perhaps, not make professors per square metre but I made mine in quantum too. In NDEWURA JAKPA and NAA GBEWAAH I share my blood. I am a northerner, branded loafer, code-named parasite and forbidden to fight the label. I am never judged on the strength of my character, nor on my personal skill, for I am not supposed to have a brain, skill or character – I am a northerner.

If I drink, I’m called a drunk, and if I don’t, am called a “villager”. If I eat they laugh at me, if I don’t they say, let her starve to death if she will.

 I am the “daughter” of CHIEF S.D DOMBO, of unsung heroes and heroines, of brave hearts and royal Kings, of many tribes and many tongues. But when one Political leader errs, they say we are all incompetent; when one man allegedly fights another, they say we are all violent; when one man becomes the slave of a master, they say we are all inferior; when one woman chooses farmwork over education, they say we are all unlettered; when one woman is subjected to abuse, they say we are all timid and when one man takes a child and makes her his wife, we are all called paedophiles – because we are northerners.

The writer is the project officer for the Access to Justice Programme at the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative. Her email address is: ruthlaic@yahoo.co.uk

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