Despite the economic challenges Ghana faces it is still described as the beacon of hope and democracy in Africa. We are enjoying these praises because the country is peaceful.
We've enjoy peace for over two decades now. No major tribal or inter-religious conflicts. Over the years we've proven to be peace loving people that makes Ghana a favorite hub for the diaspora.
However, we seems to be dancing a dangerous tune in recent times. A tune that can easily spoil our past glories. In fact a familiar tune that has broken great nations apart.
To start, Achimota SHS (A Public Institution) a month ago denied two brilliant students (Rastafari Students) the right to enjoy education on the basis of the school rules and regulations.
On the other hand Wesley Girls' Senior High School (another public institution) also denied Muslim students the opportunity to partake in the annual fasting of Muslim around the world.
Both schools maintained their position after meeting a strong delegation of the Rastaferian Council of Ghana and Muslims Parliament Caucus respectively. The Ghana Education Service at some point directed the schools to reconsider its positions but all failed.
It's normal to see some Christians defending the schools' position because both schools were established by Christian missionaries.
Likewise its normal to see some Rastas and Muslims condemning the action of the schools because their members have been affected.
I'm not in a better position today to blame any of the parties but let's also consider the future implications of these actions. Will it bring peaceful coexistence we So desire as a country? Will it promote religious tolerance our men of God has been preaching for years now. No. I can explain.
I believe we are facing these challenges because of ignorance of other religions. The school (Achimota) don't know what keeping a natural hair means to Rastaferians. Wesley Girls' may understand the importance of fasting but what they don't understand is what it means for a Muslim to skip fasting in a month of Ramadan.
I hold a view that intolerance is as a result of ignorance and such ignorance, is often passed down to the next generation when people in authority remained ignorant or silent. Ignorance often leads to fear, fear can lead to hate, and hate can lead to violence.
Intolerance and religious bodies are like fire and cotton - they can not live the same place. Inter-religious conflicts and terrorists organizations always begin with simple ignorance.
Is often noted that teaching tolerance has to begin at home, with the parents and at schools with teachers. That's more reason why we ought to take this matter serious and find lasting solutions to it.
To avoid religious conflicts our institutions must begin to respect all parts of the constitution of the republic. Our institutional rules must be a reflection of Ghana's constitution.
We can also begin by sincerely listening to other perspective, trying to understand why people feel and think the way they do. This would be a demonstration of our respect for them.