Date of Award

2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Conflict Analysis & Resolution

Department

Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Ismael Muvingi

Second Advisor

Robin Cooper

Third Advisor

Elena P. Bastidas

Abstract

Ghana is considered an oasis of peace despite having the same mix of ethno-political competitions for state power and resources; north-south horizontal inequalities; ethno-regional concentrations of Christians and Muslims; highly ethnicised elections; a natural resource dependent economy; and a politically polarized public sphere, among others, that have plunged other countries in Africa into violent and often protracted national conflicts. Use of the conflict paradigm to explain Africa's conflicts glosses over positive deviance cases such as Ghana. This study used the peace paradigm in a mixed method, grounded theory research to examine Ghana's apparent exceptionalism in staving off violent national conflicts. From the survey of 1429 respondents and 31 Key Informants, findings indicate Ghanaians are divided on whether their country is peaceful or not. They are equally divided on classifying the state of peace in Ghana as negative or positive. Instead, they have identified sets of centrifugal and centripetal forces that somehow self-neutralize to keep Ghana in a steady state of unstable peace. Among the lift forces are strongly shared cultural and Indigenous African Religious values; symbiotic interethnic economic relationships; identity dissolution and cultural miscegenation due to open interethnic systems of accommodation and incorporation; and the persistence of historical multi-lateral political, sociocultural, and economic relationships. On the drag side are the youth bulge; emergent religious intolerance; elite exit from the state in using private solutions for public problems; and highly politicized and partisan national discourses that leave the country with no national agenda. In sum, Ghana is no exception to the rule. The four interconnected meso theories that this study identifies provide pointers to what factors Ghana needs to strengthen to avert descent into violence.