It has to be said that right from the colonial days, today’s 3 regions in the northern sector of the country, known then as the northern territories have always had a raw deal. True, the geography and weather itself has always been harsh and required a great deal of fortitude and resilience on the part of the indigenes.
Even though the colonial authorities intentionally watered down the education of the colonial subjects so that they could not challenge the status quo, the northern territories in particular suffered a severe fate when schools in the region could be countered at the finger tips and the teachers deprived of relevant books and other learning tools.
The effect of deprivation has meant that the northern regions are decades behind the other regions despite the concerted effort of Ghana’s foremost president Nkrumah to bridge the gap and make life a little easier for folks who call the region home. It is an open secret that thanks to Nkrumah, a generation of today’s prominent northern figures had free schooling even up to the university level. Other interventions included free feeding, electrification projects, road constructions, building of factories and the introduction of modern amenities to raise living standards.
Like Africa, despite gains made, one cannot just catch up when vital years are lost, so it is that the menace of rural urban migration continues to afflict the 3 northern regions. In the process, the 3 northern regions are losing their most fertile, healthy, brave, intelligent and resourceful citizens to other capitals leaving gaping holes to be filled.
The reasons for the migration are many but a few will be looked at in this write-up. One reason is the simple fact that some people in the north just migrate to chase mirages, fathoms and constructions in the media which do not always hold true. As with many western films and other content material, images constructed in films shot in Accra and the other capitals lure both young and old to the capital in search of the glitz and glamour presented on screen. The sad reality is that many end up sleeping on verandahs and in the open, a fate which should not befall any decent human.
Economic reasons also contribute to the rural –urban migration. Life can be hard up north and to escape such harshness folks choose to be in Accra to erk out a living, but because most of such people are not skilled they end up being head porters or ‘kayayei’ or scrap dealers of electronic waste and other aluminum products. The work is often times hazardous and injurious and the pay meager but man must live and so they soldier on to get bread.
Political reasons also drive some to trek to Accra, Kumasi, Takoradi and the other capitals. Political affiliations can mean one being dominant for 4 years or not. So when it happens that one is on the losing side, a good choice could mean moving away from home to cool off till such a time that it is prudent to return.
Again the many conflicts in the north have meant that many of the citizens of the area have become domestic refugees. Old Fadama also known as Sodom and Gomorra has become a boiling pot of activity for many of the northern folks who have no place to turn to. Agblogbloshie is another centre where a lot of the northern folks who escaped the Nanumba-Kokomba conflict in the nineties are situated.
The northern towns and villages hold on to some of the harshest customs and traditions till date and to escape such practices as early marriage, female genital mutilation, being thrown into a witch camp and being made to undergo difficult widowhood and funeral rites many run to perceived modern towns and cities for security.
For some, coming to Accra and the other cities is just to make money and return home. Such people contend there is easy money to be made in the cities, so they come to help themselves to some of the money and return home to make investments.
Many others come to the urban areas simply to have the bragging rights so that when others speak of the cities they can also share their experiences. It is simply a matter of ‘I was here some’.
Yet still others migrate to further their education in the cities to enable them secure good jobs to look after themselves and their families. Many still prefer being graduates of the University of Ghana, Korle Bu teaching hospital as well as other institutions in the capital despite having the University of Development studies at Nyankpala as well as polytechnics, training colleges and teaching hospitals up north.
For some, the urban migration is simply to get respite from the scorching sun especially when one hails from Bolgatanga and the other hot zones. For such people, coastal towns seem like sure places to spend some years once they are within reach.
The issue with rural urban migration is not that people leave one zone for the other but the problem has to do with loss of critically needed man power. Because of the drain from the north, old men and women who are past their prime are forced to till the land when it should be the young running such operations. The bigger effect is that food production is severely affected leading to food shortages and importation of items which could have been easily produced here in Ghana. Whiles the country has not had nasty demonstrations because of food shortages as is the case in other countries, if the wrongs are not remedied the people might just hit the streets to register their displeasure and disgust for the system.
Again the state can do far more than it has done thus far for the north because not only is the north a potential bread basket but also a rich vein of tourist potentials. When these potentials are developed, a lot of employment would be generated stemming the tide of very fertile youth leaving their homes for greener pastures in the cities which turn out to be brown pastures.
In all of these, the most worrying aspect is the exploitation of the young girls who happen to be stranded in the cities. With no homes and having difficulties with finding the next meal, such vulnerable young ladies are coerced into sex or plainly raped leading to fatherless babies being born and raised in deplorable conditions. The larger effect is that such children grow up in a cycle of poverty, uneducation and in environments which breed vices like prostitution, armed robbery, drug abuse and thuggery which poses a threat to all right thinking members of society.
It has to be said that despite the odds, there are wealthy men and women who hail from the north and could significantly contribute to making mother north smile and happy but it is regrettable that such people rather build mansions in the south and undertake projects in areas where the impact is less. The time has come for greats like sheikhs, imams, alhajis, babas, sultans, khalifs, ameers, doctors, professors, hajias, business tycoons, dons, nas and wuras to act and contribute money, in