One of the surest ways to prove to the ex-colonial master and indeed the whole world that the Blackman is capable of managing his own affairs is for us to live together in unity, freely giving out respect that is mutually reciprocated.
If we govern ourselves well, it doesn’t only give us a sense of pride of being Black people, but, it also gives us the impetus to develop our 54 countries and the entire continent for that matter. One sure way to govern ourselves well – and be seen to be doing same – is for our traditional leaders to be exhibiting the craft of African diplomacy, fairness, maturity and hospitality we were noted for before the Whiteman put a knife on things that held us together.
Viewed against these truisms, the historic Kyebi meeting between Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II and Okyehene, Amoatia Ofori Panin, on Thursday, August 23, 2018 was edifying. Apart from bringing back reminiscences of our heroic and diplomatic past when the Bonos, Denkyiras, Akwamus, Akyems and Asantes could send their budding royals to even rival chieftains to learn the craft of leadership; this visit promised to put paid the growing tension between the Akyem political elite and their Asante counterparts with their vigilantes in tow. If the Asantehene and Okyehene are embracing each other, eating from one bowl, playing golf, riding palanquins in succession; which subject or fanatic will – by any stretch of imagination – have any cause whatsoever to call themselves Akyem Mafia or Asante Caucus? New Patriotic Party and National Democratic Congress schemers who created and/or fanned the rivalry into animosity must now bow in shame. They now find themselves in a situation akin to what used to happen in the olden days when relations trooped to the train stations to see their loved ones off. Whenever the train took off, all the wailing and sycophantic followers would, kind of, feel ashamed…
That said and done; it needs to be pointed out that the historic elaborate visit was – not an end in itself, but a means to an end. It could come to naught, if organisers went to sleep without leveraging on the goodwill the Kyebi get-together generated. Examples of well-started projects and programmes floundering in the course of time abound in this country. Let our traditional leaders lead us to make the most judicious use of this unity or renewal of unity. If you ask me, it should find expression in the Asantehene’s Education Fund being expanded beyond his geographical boundaries. If you ask me, it should reflect in the Okyehene’s crusade to protect whatever remains of Akyem Abuakwa’s vegetation being expanded to protect the whole environment of our beloved Ghana.
There’s relative calm up north, thanks to the onerous efforts by the Asantehene, some other Eminent Chiefs, succeeding governments from 2002 and the taxpayer. The Abudu-Andani hostility seems quelled, at least subsided. One of the bonuses I’m asking from the ‘Kyebi Accord’ is for these leading traditional authorities to do all it takes diplomatically to lead in the consolidation of Dagbon’s newfound quietude, such that it will transform into near-perfect peace. There are battles, skirmishes, squabbles and simmering disputes and battles in all the nooks and crannies of this country. May these two eminent chiefs lead in the resolution of as many as possible.
I am advised that the Central Region hosts the highest number of chieftains and therefore the highest number of chieftaincy disputes in any given season – though it is one of the smallest regions in the land. Central Region does not only need an intervention similar to what is prescribed above; Central Region also needs to emulate the coveted example of the Eastern and Asante Regions.
For the project to be seen in the light of its full importance, we implore all our chiefs to live to their traditional tenets, showing only positive dynamism. Our clan heads, village chiefs, wing commanders and paramount chiefs – many of them to be sure – have come under severe attacks in recent times because they have either failed to imbibe the good tenets of a true chief, or they have stuck themselves in the obsolete obnoxious lifestyles of our medieval overlords. If you sell the only cemetery of your village to take a new and fourth wife, you don’t expect to retain the respect of your subjects. If you collude with unscrupulous Chinese marauders and their comprador Ghanaian crooks to mine in the only river bequeathed to your generation by millennia of ancestors, you can’t expect opinion leaders, party spokespersons and progressives in your community to see eye-to-eye with you.
It is sickening to hear your hometown chief telling party A or party B, “I give all the votes of my wives and subjects in these 17 towns to you: you are the best thing that ever happened to our land.” When they make such utterances, it is because keys to a 4×4 pickup or some other automobile have been handed to Naa, Nana or Nii. At times, between our traditional leaders and party leaders your choice is as hard as between the devil and the deep blue sea. Those whose conduct takes away from the sacred image of the chieftaincy institution are implored to reform, to redeem the image of the noble institution.
For our chiefs to succeed in taking their rightful place in our modern and ever-changing world, they are entreated to have respect for one another; respect that is freely given and reciprocated. For the same purpose to be achieved, our politicians – especially those that tumble into power – should give the chiefs the autonomy they are provided for by the Constitution.
Over and above all the requirements, the people of this country must – not only revere their overlords – but, also, hold them accountable. Chiefs are not there solely to reign but also to serve. The adage that chiefs reserve the right to pull their finger-rings from whatever direction they choose is an overstatement. The claim that chiefs only ‘talk authority but not law’ is not supported by the facts of history and contemporary realities. In a republic, no one is higher than the president. In a republic, no one is above the law; not even the president who presides above everybody.
Flowing from that, subjects must submit to the authority of their chiefs; but never sacrificing their right and –actually – responsibility to hold their chiefs accountable. One area in which subjects must be eternally vigilant to check the excesses of undemocratic chiefs is keeping custody of our lands. Land is an inheritance for an unending generation of human beings of whom many are dead, a few are living and countless others are yet to be born. The lands, trees, minerals, rivers and all the other resources on this earth belong to all the people: our chiefs and government people are, at best, custodians. We must guard against our chiefs abusing our birthrights for their personal comfort.
“When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.” (Proverbs 29:2 – NKJ)