This report contains pictures that are disturbing.
The woes of the Bawku area started with delayed rains followed by floods and finally the chieftaincy conflict. Both bad weather and the conflict have had devastating consequences on the lives of the people in the area. Unfortunately, the area is not at the moment receiving the desired attention both from government and civil society organisation.
The Bawku Conflict is one of the numerous chieftaincy and land ownership conflicts that Ghana has been experiencing. However, the conflict in Bawku assumed a strange trend in which women and children have become targets for murders.
The Government of Ghana has since the outbreak of the recent conflict on the 31st December 2007, taken various measurers to restore peace in the area. The National Peace Council has been mediating in the conflict. Frequent and extensive curfew hours have also been used to restore calm in the area. Also the Government and President of the nation have held series of meetings with both sides to discuss the pertinent issues causing the conflict in the area.
Following the gruesome murder of ten (10) women and children (including babies, Amnesty International issued a press statement condemning the murders and urging government to do more in its bid to resolving the conflict. Amnesty International-Ghana in the said statement also expressed concern at the extensive hours of curfew (20 hours) 8am-12:00noon) at the time, considering it as too harsh for the citizens in the conflict area, especially the poor and vulnerable. As a follow up to this press statement, the Director of Amnesty International-Ghana undertook a two-day working visit to the Bawku municipality and its environs. The trip was accomplished with prior arrangements with the municipal authorities, the Municipal Chief Executive, Hon. Abdulai Abangna the Deputy Municipal Coordinating Director Mr. David Derry and the Municipal information officer. Meetings held with the various stake holders were as follows:
Wednesday 2nd July 2008
Meeting With Deputy Coordinating Director (9 :00a.m.-12:00 Noon)
The Director was met on arrival by the Municipal Deputy Coordinating Director, Mr. David Derry He expressed appreciation for Amnesty International-Ghana’s interest in the Bawku situation.
Briefing the Amnesty International-Ghana Director on the situation at the time, the Municipal Deputy Coordinating Director indicated that the situation was relatively calm, though an uneasy one. He was however optimistic of improvement in the situation. He recalled an incident in which a Mamprusi man strayed into Kussasi area but was not attacked as in the case of previous situations. The Kussasis arrested him and handed him over to the police for interrogation. This was contrary to previous situations in which the intruder was murdered in cold blood. The Municipal Deputy Coordinating Director admitted that the curfew was harsh but necessary. He also conceded that there were incidents of the security personnel brutalizing civilians, especially during curfew hours. He added that there were situations that the Municipal Assembly had to settle the medical bills of some reported cases of brutalities. The Municipal Deputy Coordinating Director disclosed that the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice office in the Municipality had recorded some of the brutalities.
Wednesday 2nd July 2008
11-12pm Tour of Bawku Township
The Director took time to tour the Municipality during the off-curfew hours. The town was busy with people trying to accomplish their daily agenda within the four hours time allowed (8am-12noon). Life in the town appeared normal. However, the division between the two tribes was remarkable. One tribe dared not cross a point that was identified as the boundary. A few houses were visited and interviews conducted with some residents. Two of the people confirmed brutalities on the part of the military. Find excerpts of video clip.
Most of the people declined to be interviewed. The few that consented said there were many hardships associated with the conflict. No Kussasi could attend the only hospital as it is situated in a Mamprusi area. The curfew also worsened their hardships. Generally, those interviewed expressed their desire to see the conflict end.
By a quarter to midday the town appeared thrown into a state of confusion as people run helter shelter to get home before twelve midday. At exactly 12 noon, the town was dead silent, and the only occasional sound was the military and police vehicles patrolling the town and its surrounding villages.
2nd July (Wednesday 2-4pm)
Meeting With The Municipal Chief Executive, Hon. Abangna Abdulai
The Municipal Chief Executive expressed delight to see an international human rights organization like Amnesty International-Ghana getting down to the ground to assess the conflict situation. He observed that most organizations rely solely on media reports which, according to him sometimes are inaccurate. He therefore commended Amnesty International-Ghana for their visit in order to have a first-hand information on the conflict.
The Municipal Chief Executive lamented the continued periodic escalation of the conflict. He noted that just a few people, especially the youth are the perpetrators of the violence. He gave a briefing on the situation at the time of visit and outlined the measures that were being put in place to contain the situation.
? The imposition of the curfew (20 hrs)
? Arrest of perpetrators of the violence and
? Sensitization of the populace on the need for peaceful co-existence.
Touching on the effects of the extensive curfew hours, the Municipal Chief Executive admitted the curfew was harsh, and regrettable, but appeared to be the immediate effective measure to contain the sporadic volatile situations that the area often experiences. Speaking on the effects of the conflict and curfew the Municipal Chief Executive enumerated the following.
? Kussasis have no access to the hospital in the Municipality as it is located in a Mamprusi community.
? The poor, mostly women and children were worse affected as earning a living had become almost impossible within four hours in a day.
? Schools have been closed since January when the conflict erupted.
? Farming activities have virtually come to a standstill as a result of the curfew and also the fear of being attacked by the enemy.
? A lot of the Assembly’s resources for development are being used to sustain the peace keepers deployed to the area at the expense of some projects.
? The area has lost most of its workforce in the various ministries, departments, and agencies as many people have fled for safety.
As to how to achieve lasting peace the Municipal Chief Executive noted emphatically that
? There was need to dispense justice. By this, anyone found guilty of the atrocities should face the full rigors of the law. In line with this measure, he disclosed that some suspects have been airlifted to Accra for further interrogation.
? Sensitization of the people, especially the youth to reduce the hatred and bitterness that they harbor against one another.
? The creation of job opportunities and small scale private enterprises would gainfully occupy the youth and make them less prone to go to war.
The Municipal Chief Executive concluded on a note of optimism that the conflict would be resolved. He lamented that the two factions have accused him of supporting the other, with some sending him death threats through text messages. He noted that whilst the Kusassis accuse him of not supporting his tribes mates, the Mamprusis accuse him of supporting the Kussasis. He resolved however to remain as neutral as possible.
Meeting With Bawku Naaba (Asigri Abugrago Azoka II
& His Elders (Kussasi Elders)
In line with the advice of the municipal Chief Executive not to invite more than three persons for the meeting for security reasons the Bawku Naaba invited only two persons for the meeting.
The Municipal Chief Executive arranged with the Bawku Naaba’s Secretary and that made it possible for a meeting with the Bawku Naaba Asigre Abugrago Azoka II at a short notice.
Bawku Naaba (Asigre Abugrago Azoka II)
The Bawku Naaba (Asigre Abugrago Azoka II) traced the source of the conflict to the celebration of the Samanpeed festival on 31st December 2007. Whilst the festival was ongoing the Mamprusis’ launched an unprovoked attack on Kussasis, killing one person, followed by burning of houses which continued till the next day.
The conflict resumed on the 15th of March 2008 and the President had to invite them to Accra for mediation. Upon return the Bawku Naaba said he summoned his twenty- four (24) sub chiefs and relayed the President’s message to them all, and appealed to them to exercise restraint. According to Bawku Naaba the King of Mamprugu the (Nayire) on the other hand failed to reach out to his people with the President’s message for peace. He lodged complaint when the National Peace Council paid a visit to Bawku to meet both factions.
The Bawku Naaba noted that the main cause of the conflict was Land ownership but scarcely that of chieftaincy. He said issue of chieftaincy had no basis as that case was resolved at the Supreme Court ruling in 2003. He did not therefore, understand the basis for Mamprusis contesting the issue of chieftaincy any longer. The Bawku Naaba blamed the Nayire for demanding that certain conditions should be met before one could seek a peaceful settlement. The conditions were
(i) Mamprusis should be allowed to perform sacrifices at the shrine which belongs to the Kussasis.
(ii) Mamprusis should be allowed to perform the funeral of the late Mamprusi Chief who was dis-enskined and died in 1979, though he was no longer recognized as chief of Bawku at the time of his death.
These demands he said were unacceptable.
The Bawku Naaba blamed politicians for fueling the conflict by identifying Kussasis as sympathizers of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) and Mamprusis as the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) sympathizers. The Bawku Naaba made reference to a communiqués signed in 2001 at the Damongo Peace Conference, endorsing the Kussasis and for that matter the Bawku Naaba as rightful ruler of Bawku. To him therefore the contention on chieftaincy had ended and that the issue had to do with land ownership. He was not happy that the authorities are not making these facts about the chieftaincy clear to all and for all to understand. He noted that since the last Mamprusi ruler of Bawku died in 1979, after which the Kussasis demanded their rightful ownership of the chieftaincy and which was granted in 1983, and he succeeded his father in 1984.
The Way Forward
As to what could end the conflict, Bawku Naaba emphasized that the government should be prepared to inform the Mamprusi that the land is for Kussasis and that Kussasis have the right to rule themselves.
He also pledged to keep appealing to the youth to desist from violence. He was however, quick to add that the Kussasis have always been on the defensive side, notwithstanding their numerical strength. He noted that out of fifty-one (51) electoral areas, the Mamprusis have four (4) only. The Bawku Naaba appealed to benevolent organisations and individuals to come to the aid of people who have been affected by the conflict. He lamented the devastating effects of the conflict and urged the National Peace Council to speed up its efforts, as he too was eager to see the conflict over because it had affected all life activities in the area.
Wednesday 6:30 pm.-7:30pm
Meeting With Municipal Information Officer
(Mr. James Dogbetor )
The Municipal Information Officer Mr. James Dogbetor recalled how the area was badly affected by floods for several months, and the conflict following closely thus leaving no space for respite.
He noted in particular, the high level of hatred between the two tribes and how children, are gradually being dragged into the conflict. He narrated an incident in which a child of about eleven years (11) met his colleague school mates and threatened. “Your people burned our house, I will show you when I grow”. The Information Officer recommended serious counseling services for the youth and the victims to help them overcome their bitterness and strong desire for revenge.
Skill training and providing income generating activities is one other suggestion the Municipal Information Officer gave. That he said would discourage the youth from engaging in fighting even if others try to influence them. The officer observed that the lack of jobs and skills for the youth was compounded by ignorance and illiteracy. He therefore called for support from well meaning organizations for the public sensitization exercise by National Commission For Civic Education (NCCE) that was on going, in the Municipality. He also called for support to equip the Information Office to enable it become efficient; enough to provide accurate and timely information that would help prevent conflicts in the area. The Municipal Information Officer was nonetheless optimistic that the conflict would be resolved and pledged to continue with the public sensitization exercise by his office and that of the NCCE.
Meeting With The Mamprusis Elders At Their Palace
1. Hon. Alhaji Kopilla (Opinion leader)
2. Mr. Ahmed Zibrim Harounah (Opinion leader)
3. Hon. David Moli Belko (Opinion leade
(The three Mamprusi elders
All with Kussasi mothers)
The elders started by disclosing that all three of them have mothers who are Kussasis. The opinion leaders were frank in their submissions.
They outlined four main areas of conflict from the Mamprusis’ point of view.
2. Land ownership
3. Traditional & Cultural practices
Each of them took turns to explain the issues.
Hon. Alhaji Kopilla spoke on chieftaincy. He explained that Northern Chieftaincy Scheme is based on lineage. The Mamprusis, according to him, have been ruling since 1956. He explained that since the beginning of chieftaincy in Bawku Mamprusis had fourteen (14) successive rulers and the last chief the 14th of them, ruled for fourteen (14) years, and that it was after the 14th chief’s reign that the changes took place; the lineage was over turned by PNDC Law 75. This he noted was the beginning of ‘the usurpers’ (Kussasis) starting to claim the right to rule.
The Mamprusis took the case to the Supreme Court to seek redress only to be informed that the law had been repealed and that compelled them to withdraw the case. They therefore objected to the suggestion by Kussasis that the Supreme Court had ruled on the case in their favour.
Tracing the chieftaincy history, the Mamprusis elder explained that the Nayire (King of Mamprusis Kingdom) had jurisdiction, not only in the Northern Region, but that of the Upper East and extending to Burkina Faso). He added that some sub chiefs in Burkina Faso and in Upper East Region still pay allegiances to the Mamprugu King. With time attempts were made by the Nkrumah Government to reduce the jurisdiction of the Nayire, and that saw some of the chiefs in Upper East Region becoming independent.
(B) Land As An Issue
The topic was handled by Ho. David Moli. The opinion leader began by making reference to the settlement pattern in the Bawku area. The central part of the town is inhabited by Mamprusis, whilst the Kussasis are at the outskirts, ie surrounding the Mamprusis. That, according to him, indicated that Mamprusis were first to settle in the Bawku township. He added that because the Bawku township controls the chieftaincy paramouncy, the Kussasis want to take over it. They explained that the outskirts of Bawku is inhabited by Kusassis and are ruled by Kussasis chiefs to which the Mamprusis have no objection. As further proof to their ownership of Bawku township, they explained that it was the Mamprusis chief who gave out land for the Presbyterian Mission to build the town’s hospital. The mission on its part awarded the Mamprusis chief with a citation for giving them the land.
The Samanpeed Festival is a source of conflict because instead of performing it at the shrine, they (Kussasis) insisted on performing the sacrifice at the Community Centre which belongs to all citizens both Muslems and non Muslims alike. Moreover, that Muslims consider the exercise as non religious.
The Samanpeed Festival according to them was being used as an avenue to provoke the Mamprusis. They cited the 31st December 2007 festival in which the youth defied the warning by security personnel not to cross to the Mamprusis community. They crossed to the Mamprusis community amidst casting insinuations at the Mamprusis and that infuriated the Mamprusis youth, hence the violence.
According to them the first clash occurred in 1983 when the first well organized “Samanpeed” Festival was organized. They said the festival was used to rally all Kussasis clans in the area to come together to fight for their land. In the first clash, Zabugu was destroyed, farmlands belonging to the Kussasis were seized and the government set up a committee to investigate the unrest. They added that they have a copy of the report. The opinion leaders added that during the festival, the celebrants sang whilst casting insinuations on the Mamprusis, referring to them as “Monkeys” who should “go back to the bush”. They added that the situation recurred in the last festival and that accounted for the clash on the 31st December 2007.
Politics As An Issue
Mr. Ahmmed Ziblim Harounah took on the political dimension of the conflict. The Mamprusis leaders said they suspect dubious intension on the part of the Kussasis politicians who are mostly the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) members of parliament (NDC MPs). They said the opposition political leaders were doing everything possible to sustain the violence in the area until the Voters Register is opened. That would mean most Mamprusis who have fled the area and those who live in Kussasi areas would not be able to register to enable them vote in the December National elections. This would give the opposition the upper hand. Parliamentarians were also exploiting the situation to their advantage, making wild promises to their members on issues relating to the conflict.
The Way Forward
As to the way forward the opinion leaders were unanimous in their call on the government to come out with its view on the matter after having listened to both sides. They also pledged to continue to advise their youth not to engage in violence, and to allow the security agents to help restore peace in the area.
As to whether they were prepared for a compromise of any kind in the search for lasting peace they maintained that the chieftaincy institution follows a pattern of lineage and that was what they would continue to uphold. Secondly, according to them the Kussasis should accept the fact that Bawku Central is traditionally for Mamprusis and should therefore allow them to rule their traditional land in order for all to live in peace.
As to what they make of the conflict and curfew, they admitted that the situation has had and continues to have devastating consequences on them, their families, relations, their businesses and farming activities. They were therefore willing to support any efforts geared towards ending the conflict.
Just before thee meeting ended an incident occurred as if to vindicate the desire of the Mamprusi elders to see the conflict end. A group of Mamprusis youth came in angry mood to lodge a complaint to their opinion leaders over an issue in connection with the re-arrests of some Mamprusis by the police. They complained that during a screening exercise, some Kussasis were dictating to the security officers as to who not to release. But for the timely intervention and urgent pleas by the opinion leaders to the youth to exercise restraint, and leave the matter to them the elders, there would have been a clash on the day in question. The opinion leaders then contacted the Municipal Chief Executive who also acted swiftly to avert a clash.
12:oo Noon -1:30 PM
Meeting With Worse Affected Families In The 21st June Massacre at Buabula
The meeting with the families of the two houses that were attacked and women and children slaughtered was an emotional one.
With the permission of the sub chief of the area the team was lead to Buabula, where the massacre took place on 21st June (Saturday night). In all four houses were attacked. The oldest among the victims was an over eighty (80) year old woman and the youngest being four (4) years (a pair of twins). Narrating the incident a representative to the affected families said earlier on that day they had information that a Mamprusi man was attacked by some youth and killed in their village and later in the evening of that day (Saturday) news went round that the security personnel was to patrol the place to enforce the curfew. At about 7:30 p.m. they saw some military vehicles in the area and had information that they were beating the young men in the village. That compelled the young men to run into hiding leaving women and children. Later he saw another pick up with people dressed in military uniform, moving from one house to the other. He had to also run into hiding after alerting his family of the presence of soldiers who were beating people.
After the attack the men returned to their houses only to find their women and children dead lying in pools of blood. The only woman who survived in the worse affected house hold where seven (7) people were murdered was the mother of a pair of twins who were also murdered. She hid in a bathroom with her three (3) year old child. What saved her was her baby which kept mute as she watched from her hideout the gruesome slaughter of her per of twins among others:
Both women and men broke down intermittently as they narrated the incident.
The elder of the family explained that in order not to keep remembering the horror of having to lose seven people in a single house, he recommended they bury the seven people in 2 mass graves -(four corpses in one and three in another) instead of having seven graves lying by a single house.
He further appealed for assistance from benevolent organizations to help them cope with life. He also appealed to the government to speed up its efforts in resolving the conflict. He said the only way government can resolve the conflict is to bring justice to those who have suffered innocently in the conflict. Amnesty International-Ghana after listing to them appealed to the youth who came in their numbers to support the elders at the meeting, to exercise restraint, and promised to make appropriate recommendations to the National Peace Council and the government for speedy resolution of the conflict. Both the youth and elders promised to comport themselves and allow the security personnel in the area help resolve the conflict. The attack on women and children in this village was gruesome and unprecedented in resent history of Ghana. Old women children and even babies were gruesomely slaughtered.
The casualty figures were as follows:
1st House - 2 people (a male and female)
2ndHouse - 7 people (2 boys and 5 women)
3rd House - 1 person (man)
4th House - 1 person (woman)
The family members displayed pictures of some of the victims of the massacre *(See group photograph). Amnesty International-Ghana presented GH¢10.00 to the head of the family as a sign of its sympathy.
Interviews With Ordinary Citizens
Amnesty International-Ghana interviewed a few citizens of the town to have their impressions about the situation. Most people declined to speak as everyone was suspicious of the other. However, the few who accepted to speak pleaded to remain anonymous. They expressed their plight as a result of the conflict and the curfew.
There were complaints of unprovoked brutalities on civilians by the military. Others complained of intense hardships as they were poor and could neither go to work to earn income as a result of the twenty (20) hours curfew. Others bemoaned the fact that they could not visit the only hospital in the town for fear of being attacked, nor could they go to work on their farms with the onset of the rains. A good number also blamed the politicians in the area and other educated people who lived outside the town for fueling the conflict. The claim was that those outside purchase arms and ammunitions for the idle youth in the town to fight. As to what was the way forward majority was of the view that any one arrested should be jailed to serve as deterrent to others.
Interviews with National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) Municipal Officer
An interaction with the NCCE officers in the Municipality revealed that the NCCE was collaborating with NGOs such as West African Network for Peace Building, (WANEP) in undertaking sensitization exercise. The campaign for peace messages were packaged in the main local languages. The information van went round the suburbs and town centres, playing good traditional music to attract attention of people before delivery the peace messages. They also visited markets places, gathered people and delivered the peace messages. The Municipal NCCE officer observed that the educational campaigns are yielding positive results, as people often stopped to listen to and others take the pains to echo the messages and to advise others to desist from violence, citing the messages as examples. The officer however, mentioned inadequate funds for the exercise as a major challenge and called on all well meaning organizations to support the sensitization exercise as their contribution to the search for lasting peace in Bawku.
Some critical issues stand out clearly from the various interactions.
• That both factions are tired of the conflict and are eager to see it end.
• Both factions have stand points and both expect the government to declare its position on. ie
(i) The Kussasis maintain the chieftaincy issue had been resolved by the
Court years back and the government and that the should point out this to the
(ii) The Mamprusis maintain that the Kussasis have no lineage in chieftaincy
and cannot therefore be rulers, and that the government needs to point this
out to the. Kussasis.
• The youth and in fact a few are those perpetrating the violence, and are resourced or are said to be encouraged and protected by influential persons who necessarily do not live in the town. These people according to the information gathered often assure the youth of being released if they were arrested in the course of perpetuating violence.
• Some security agents are engaged in brutalizing innocent civilians in the name of breaking curfew. Some of those who suffered from these brutalities are old women and children.
• The extensive curfew hours was having and would have long lasting effect on the lives of the people. It has affected farming and commercial activities.
• Children’s education has come to halt since the conflict erupted in December 2007. This would worsen the already poor enrolment of children especially the girl child.
• A lot of women and children have been displaced, with some escaping to neighboring Togo for refuge.
• Some inter marriages are either broken or weakened as a result of the conflict. There are inter marriages to a great extent among the two tribes, and the conflict is indeed a potential recipe for divorce and broken homes and its attendant hardships on children.
• Children are systematically being dragged into the conflict as they are constantly made aware of danger of crossing to the ‘enemy’s camp. This makes the situation potentially dangerous for future generations.
• The Municipality has lost many of its workforces and stands the chance of being rejected by new personnel posted to the area.
? Both factions have confidence in the government’s ability to resolve the conflict, and were therefore looking up to the government to come out clearly with its position.
? Both factions also expressed confidence in the National Peace Council but are concerned about the slow pace of efforts in arriving at a conclusion.
? Both factions believe that it was the dispensation of justice that could end the conflict.
? The conflict has a historical and political dimension that needs to be considered in addressing the issues at stake.
? Both factions identify politicization of the conflict as a factor for the continued violence.
? There is intense hatred among the people as a result of the lives lost especially among the youth.
? The local authorities led by the Municipal Chief Executive was courageous and relentless in their efforts to end the conflict despite threats they received from some members of the two factions.
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL-GHANA’S RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE NATIONAL PEACE COUNCIL (NPC)
The Bawku conflict is indeed severe and has resulted in gross human rights violation and deprivations. The effects are alarming on the poor and vulnerable. Based on the submissions made by both factions and the ordinary citizens, Amnesty International-Ghana wishes to make the following suggestions that it deems are crucial to the speedy return of peace and the observance of the basic human rights of the citizens of Bawku.
That the Government should as a matter of urgency come out openly to examine the two positions of the two factions and determine what compromises can be reached.
Fast tracking the prosecution of people found guilty would not only restore confidence in the Government’s efforts to resolve the conflict, but will also deter others. Politicians and other influential people mostly living outside the Bawku town would also be discouraged from manipulating the youth to commit violence if culprits are dealt with drastically.
The youth of the area would need counseling to help them overcome the strong desire for revenge. The National Peace Council (NPC) could explore this option.
Beatings of innocent citizens, especially women and children should be brought to the attention of the Military Command, so that those persons involved would desist from it.
The local authorities should be given more support especially in sensitizing the youth on the need for peaceful co-existence. The programme currently going on is achieving positive results.
The youth should be the main targets in efforts to resolving the conflict. Long term solutions should include skill training and establishment of small scale businesses through micro credits for the youth to enable them acquire small businesses. This would discourage them from engaging in violence. The assertion “There is nothing more dangerous than a person who has nothing to lose” cannot be over emphasised.
OUTCOME OF THE VISIT
The intervention media work followed by the fact finding visit by Amnesty International-Ghana has had remarkable positive impact on the conflict situation.
? Both factions (Mamprusis and Kussasis) appreciated the fact that an international organisation was particularly interested in their welfare and have taken the pains to visit them and to sympathise with them.
? Shortly, after the press statement of AI Ghana, the government summoned the Bawku chief and reemphasized his admonition to the two warring factions to cease fire.
? For the first time since the conflict broke out, suspects arrested were air lifted to Accra for screening and possible prosecution. Before then, arrested suspects were simply released shortly after they were arrested. AI Ghana’s condemnation of the manner suspects were released without appropriate screening might have contributed to the government’s decision to airlift those suspects. It is important to note that ever since the suspects were transported to Accra, there have been no further clashes. Find attached press cuttings of those who were airlifted to Accra.
? Amnesty’s deep concern over the extensive hours of curfew (20 hrs.) at the time of visit and the effect it was having on the poor and vulnerable was appreciated by the municipal authorities and the security personnel. It was therefore not surprising that shortly after the discussion with the Municipal Chief Executive, and curfew hour period was reviewed at the next District Security Council Meeting (held same day). The curfew was reviewed from the 8am to 12 noon, to 6pm to 6am.
? The recommendations AI Ghana made to the government and the National Peace Council are useful to the search for lasting peace.
? Amnesty Int.-Ghana is in a much better position to comment on the conflict situation since it has adequate background information. As regards the underlying causes instead of relying on media reports as many other organisations do.
? Amnesty International Ghana is in position to make appropriate recommendations to government and other organisations when it becomes necessary to offer relief support to victims of the conflict.
? The intervention of AI Ghana has encouraged other bodies to also visit Bawku and to organise a Women’s Peace March through the township of Bawku a few weeks after the visit by AI Ghana. AI Ghana was the first HR NGO to criticize the government’s efforts in resolving the conflict, and also the first NGO to visit the conflict area to obtain first hand information.
History Of Settlements In Bawku As Narrated By Some Citizens
The History Of Settlement Pattern In Bawku Was Narrated As Follows
Once upon a time the Bawku area was first inhabited by Yorubas who migrated from Togo and Nigeria. They were merchants and settled at the central part of Bawku. Then followed Kussasis who were farmers and found the outskirts more suitable for settlement.
The Yoruba’s started cheating the Kussasis and maltreating them. The Kussasis would go to town to sell their farm produce and livestock. The Yorubas would collect the items and refuse to pay for them. They sometimes beat up the Kussasis who resisted being cheated. The Kussasis were virtually reduced to slaves and needed to liberate themselves. Since they were not many and also not warriors by tradition, they solicited support from the King of Mamprugu the “Nayire” to send warriors to help them fight the Yorubas and probably chase them out of the place. The Nayire accepted and with the aid of his warriors, the Kussasis chased out the Yorubas from present day Bawku Central. With the departure of the Yorubas, Bawku central was left vacant. Some of the warriors expressed interest in settling where the Yorubas were, and the Kussasis Head (‘Tindana’) accepted.
Later the Nayire proposed that since Mamprusis were lead by chiefs, it was his practice to enskin a sub chief in any place that there was a Mamprusi settlement, and for that matter Bawku. The Kussasi ‘Tindana’ (land owner) accepted. That gave birth to the Mamprugu lineage.
With the arrival of colonialism the Governor made use of local chiefs in its policy of Indirect Rule. By that the Mamprusi chief represented the area in most meetings and that increased Mamprusis chief’s superiority over the Kussasi Tindana. (Land owner). Besides, the Mamprusis began to demand allegiances to their chief and made Kussasis farm for the chief who was then recognized as chief of the entire area. That did not go down well with the Kussasis and the feeling for self rule began to creep in.
The struggle for chieftaincy then ensued and ended with the chieftaincy entitlement being handed over to the Kussasis.
NB: This story was narrated by two different persons who pleaded to remain anonymous. A Mamprusi and a Kussasi.