Threat Narratives, Group Identity and Violence: A Study of the Dagomba, Nanumba and Konkomba of Northern Ghana




Aapengnuo, Clement M.

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Ghana has a reputation as a peaceful, stable and democratic state in the West African subregion. However, beneath this peaceful image, there are more than 200 internal conflicts around traditional authority (Chieftaincy), land and politics. In the northern part of the country, these conflicts take on ethnic dimensions. Between 1980 and 2002, the three northern regions recorded 26 violent ethnic conflicts. The impact of these conflicts on national and sub-regional security in general and economic growth and development in the three northern regions in particular is very high. Governmental and nongovernmental organizations are frustrated because their efforts at improving the lives of the people are repeatedly disrupted if not destroyed by the cycles of inter ethnic violence. This thesis explores the relationship between value systems and ethnic identity formation and how the difference in value systems influences the salience of identity and conflict. Through narratives from in-depth interviews, the thesis analyzes group identity formation and their impact on conflict. Understanding the role of competing value systems in the formation of salient identity and relations between identity salience and violence will help explain why some ethnic groups are prone to violence in northern Ghana. The research shifts the focus from the use of ethnicity, chieftaincy and land as causal factors of the conflicts to their interpretation, perception and employment in the process of social identity formation, interests and perceptions of the ‘other’. By analysing the role of salient identity in the denigration of others, the thesis explains how through narratives an enemy is created out of the “other” and violence towards them justified.



Dagomba, Konkomba, Nanumba, Chiefs, Northern Ghana, Peace