Mr. Abu Karimu, the Executive Director of ‘Settle ‘Ghana, a non-governmental organization dedicated to defending the rights of indigenous people regardless of their tribe, religion, race, or political orientation, has revealed that the weakening of indigenous institutions is the primary reason for the loss of values, traditions, and morals among indigenous communities.
During a speech at the “Walking Together Initiative for Nature” event held in Kananto, in the West Gonja Municipality of the Savannah Region, Mr. Karimu appealed to the community’s elders to reflect on the state of their cultural heritage, forests, rivers, and languages.
He further urged traditional authorities to create a supportive environment for indigenous institutions to operate without fear, favor, or intimidation.
Mr Karimu stressed the importance of prioritizing this issue among indigenous communities, highlighting the decline in fluency in indigenous languages among children due to the perception that speaking English is an achievement, while native languages are seen as a failure.
He emphasized that losing one’s mother tongue results in the loss of linguistic heritage.
Additionally, Mr. Karimu lamented the shift from traditional delicacies like TZ and Fufu to fried rice and canned foods, with a growing emphasis on noodles.
Furthermore, he noted that indigenous people no longer openly perform libations to their gods and forefathers due to fear of ridicule.
He said the destruction of significant trees that served as gathering points and provided natural air for community gatherings has added to the loss of cultural identity.
Mr. Karimu expressed concern about the depletion of trees like rosewood, which were home to birds that played a vital role in providing information about rainfall, news, and alerts. These trees have been cut down and sold for profit.
He also highlighted the negative impact on local wildlife, such as the disruption of natural habitats for rats and the disappearance of a large mahogany tree that once provided a habitat for crocodiles.
Regarding the right of nature, an elder from the Kananto community described how certain beliefs and customs once provided warnings and alerts but are now fading due to modernization and technological advancements.
Mr. Karimu concluded by stating that indigenous identity and values have been eroded, as material wealth and titles have taken precedence over traditional virtues.
He called for a collective effort among indigenous people to reclaim their values and morals, emphasizing that the fight for conservation and the rights of nature should not be left solely to elites and CSOs.
The chief and elders of Kananto expressed their enthusiasm for the right of nature message, considering it a significant development for their community, symbolizing love and unity.