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Minorities At Risk Project: Home    

Assessment for Ewe in Ghana

View Group Chronology

Ghana Facts
Area:    238,537 sq. km.
Capital:    Accra
Total Population:    18,497,000 (source: unknown, 1998, est.)

Risk Assessment | Analytic Summary | References

Risk Assessment

The situation of the Ewe in Ghana is in the balance. Since a member of the Ewe is no longer the leader of Ghana, the group is no longer politically advantaged in this sense, and the repercussions of this state of affairs are currently unknown. The election in 2000 occurred without many incidents, which is a sign that the group may not begin to engage in anti-regime activities. There has not been a history of ethnic conflict among the various groups of Ghana, and the type of ethnic retaliation that is found in other states when a new party comes to power may not occur.

The Ewe do not back one particular political party within Ghana, but rather support many of the mainstream parties. Without organizations which represent the Ewe specifically, the opportunities for organized protest or militant activities are currently limited. However, protest may erupt if the current government diversifies the central government and bureaucracy at the expense of the Ewe too rapidly.


Analytic Summary

The Ewe span the borders of Ghana and Togo. They have been in this area of Africa for hundreds, possibly thousands of years. The Ewe, the Ashanti, the Fanti, and the Ga are the most prominent ethnolinguistic groups in Ghana. The Ewe is the third largest ethnic group in Ghana, following the Mossi-Dagomba and the Ashanti. Very few Ewe have left their region and settled throughout Ghana (GROUPCON = 3). The Ewe speak their own language, and this language is quite different than the other larger ethnic groups in the country, and English, the official language of Ghana (LANG = 1). Ethnicity is extremely important in Ghana, and the Ewe enjoy the advantages they have due to the ethnicity of the former leader of the country, Jerry Rawlings (he is half Ewe). These two factors combined have resulted in the group being highly cohesive.

Ghanaian ethnic groups (particularly ethnic groups of southern Ghana including the Akan, the Guan, the Ga, and the Ewe) developed a strong, popular sense of resistance and rebellion against any form of injustice due to experiences under colonial rule. This helped the country become the first African state to receive independence from Britain. Under Nkrumah (1947-1966), most Ghanaians identified themselves as those belonging to one nation since his Convention Peoples Party (CPP) opened its membership to everyone, regardless of ethnic origin. Although Nkrumah’s dictatorial leadership was much criticized, his efforts at state-building with ethnic pluralism deserves recognition. Unfortunately, the ethnic harmony that Nkrumah tried to foster did not bear fruit as successive ruling groups used ethnic consciousness in order to bolster their own communal interests. In the midst of post-colonial coups in Ghana, the Ashanti people and Ewes were the two major contenders seeking to expand their political influence. For example, when Acheampong (an Ashanti) seized power in a coup in 1972, the Ashanti played a major part in politics and Ewes revived their threat of secession. On the other hand, when Rawlings (his mother is Ewe, his father, Scottish) came to power in 1979, the Ashanti attempted coups against Rawlings to check the growing domination of the state by Ewes.

Currently, the group does not appear to endure any demographic or ecological disadvantages in comparison to other groups in Ghana. There is no evidence of political restrictions or discrimination against the Ewe (POLDIS06 = 0), due in large part to the favorable policies towards the Ewe introduced by Rawlings. In December 2000 a non-Ewe president was elected in Ghana, and therefore the political situation of the group will need to be monitored closely. The elections in 2000 appear to have been conflict free. While not as economically advanced as the Ashanti, the Ewe have not faced any economic disadvantages (ECDIS06 = 0), and no cultural restrictions are apparent. Once again this is an aspect of Ewe life that needs to be monitored now that they are not in an ethnically favored position within the government.

There have been no reports of overt government repression against the group. Conflict between the Ewe and the other ethnic groups in Ghana is basically non-existent. However, in 2005, tensions between a member of the Ewe and the Ga manifested as at least two people were shot and over 80 buildings burned down in a neighboring island of Tetegu, near Weija in Accra , when a gang attacked the inhabitants of the community for opposing Kofi Kumah Ahorga as their chief. Inhabitants opposed the selection of Kofi Kumah as chief because of their belief that over the years, the chiefs had been selected from a particular family which was the royal family of the Ewe settlers. (INTERCON05 = 1).

The Ewe do not back one particular political party within Ghana, but rather support many of the mainstream parties. For example members of the Ewe usually tend to support the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and some Ewe are in the organization. However, the organization is not ethnically characterized by the Ewe and was not formed as an organization representing solely their interests. As a formerly advantaged group in the country, the Ewe appear to be willing to work within the political process to have their individual demands addressed via whichever party they feel can accomplish this. As a result, there is no indication of any group-specific demands being voiced by the Ewe. Again, this may result from a lack of information provided by Western media sources, and this situation may change now that a non-Ewe has become president. While there are Ewe in neighboring countries, they do not appear to be providing any assistance to the Ghanaian Ewe. The group has been historically advantaged, and no assistance may be necessary.

The Ewe have been involved in minor protests – usually verbal opposition starting in the early 1950s (PROT50X = 2) and continuing until the coup which brought Rawlings to power in 1980. Since that point, only in 1996 was there any evidence of minor protest (PROT96 = 2), with none reported recently (PROT06= 0). There were reports of minor instances of militant activity in the late 1960s (REBEL65X = 1) and in the late 1970s and early 1980s (REBEL75X and REBEL80X = 1). No militant activity was reported during the Rawlings era, and this lack of violence persisted under the Kufuor regime (REB06 = 0).



Africa News/Ghanaian Chronicle. 04/04/2005. "Ghana; Two Persons Shot, Over 80 Houses Burnt"

Africa News Ghanaian Chronicle. 06/20/2007. “Ghana; Stop the War Drums.”

Lexis/Nexis Academic: Various News Articles. 1990-2006.

Murray, Jocelyn. 1990. Africa, Cultural Atlas for Young People, New York and Oxford: Facts on File.

Novicki, Margaret A. 1994. Interview with President Jerry Rawlings. Africa Report. March/April

Ofori, Ruby. 1993. “The Elections Controversy.” Africa Report, July/August.

Owusu, Maxwell. 1989. “Rebellion, Revolution, and Tradition: Reinterpreting Coups in Ghana,.” Society for Comparative Study of Society and History. 372-397

Rothchild, Donald. 1995. “Rawlings and the engineering of Legitimacy in Ghana.” in I. William Zartman, ed. Collapsed States, Boulder: Rienner.

Saaka, Yakubu. 1994. “Recurrent Themes in Ghanaian Politics: Kwame Nkrumah=s Legacy.” Journal of Black Studies. March. Vol.24 No.3: 263-280.

World Directory of Minorities


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Information current as of December 31, 2006