The effects of conflict could be long-term and catastrophic. In such situations, women and children are the most vulnerable. According to statistics, in the past decade, up to two million of those killed in armed conflicts were children.
The widespread trauma, emotional and psychological stress caused by these atrocities, and suffering of the civilian population are another by-product of conflicts. Effects of war also include mass destruction of towns, cities, and infrastructure which has long-lasting consequences on a country’s economy.
There are more: when a conflict breaks out, many people flee their homes in fear of losing their lives and their families, and as a result, they are displaced.
Worryingly, most of these conflicts occur because of election disputes. Examples are the Angola post-election conflict which lasted 27 years and took the lives of 500,000 people. Mozambique: 15 years with more than 1 million deaths; Sierra Leone: 11 years, 50,000 deaths. Liberia: 14 years, 250,000 deaths and that of Ivory Coast lasted 4 years and 6 months with 3,000 deaths.
Conflicts bring about untold hardship and excruciating pain. A single-life lost is a great loss, that is why any good citizen worth his or her salt, on any day, would sacrifice his comfort and ambition for the peace of his or her country.
Ultimately, sacrifice is one of the greatest ways to show love. Throughout the Bible and the Koran we are given many examples of individuals who exemplify true sacrifice and inspire us to live a life greater than ourselves. Good people make sacrifices for others, and this is exactly what former President John Dramani Mahama who was the flagbearer for the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) did when the results of the 2020 elections in Ghana were announced. Any incitement from him would have exacerbated the pockets of the displeasure shown by some sections of the public across the country.
If you want to build trust and earn the respect of others, you have to earn it. No one wants to identify with people who are selfish. This is the thinking of many Ghanaians, and I was elated when a man mentioned in public transport that even though he didn’t vote for the former president in the last election, President Mahama’s peaceful demeanor after the polls saved Ghana from a bloodbath and that he will vote for him in 2024 if he decides to contest.
What the man said was indeed heartwarming. It means that aside the over 6 million people who voted for JDM in the 2020 presidential election, a good number of the electorate who didn’t vote for him are lacing their boots to join the Mahama Rescue Mission. This must be a source of encouragement to the former flagbearer of the NDC.
The disappointment of 2020 could be a blessing in disguise, and the story below exemplifies that.
The only survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He prayed feverishly for God to rescue him, and every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming. Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect him from the elements and in which to store his few possessions.
But then one day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, the smoke rolling up to the sky. The worst had happened; everything was lost. He was stunned with grief and anger. “God, how could you do this to me!” he cried. Early the next day, however, he was awakened by the sound of a ship that was approaching the island. It had come to rescue him.
The weary man asked his rescuers: “How did you know I was here?”
They replied: “We saw your smoke signal.”
It is easy to get discouraged when things are going bad. But we shouldn’t lose hope because God is at work in our lives, even in the midst of pain and suffering.
I want President Mahama to remember that the last time he saw his little hut burning to the ground in 2020, it was the smoke signal that went up to summon the grace of God for his victory in 2024, because his contribution in maintaining the peace of the country after the 2020 elections in spite of the seemingly unfairness has touched the heart of the Almighty.
Anthony Obeng Afrane