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Diasporia News of Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Source: Nii Ashitey

The need for a united Homowo in UK

The Homowo season has almost come to an end in the UK with the segmented Ga groupings celebrating their various Homowo but that is not surprising taking into consideration the political structure of the Gas. The Akan political structure is different from the Ga traditional society structure because of the Akan institution of Royal paramoutcy as a central authority which
Exercises political power of a controlling nature.

On the other hand, the Gas had a decentralized political system which put controlling authority out of the question. The decentralized nature and politics of the Gas has not made unity easy. Instead the fragmented Ga set up which was a source of strength in the past has become a liability in the present, more so in UK. The independence of the traditional areas and the possibility of an individual belonging to more than one traditional area demands that the celebrations be organized in succession such as to enable interested parties to attend any of them.

The dates for the celebrations in the traditional areas are decided upon by a consensus council of Wulomei representing the various traditional areas. The first to begin is Nungua because the
Nungua people are supposed to be the first of the Ga people to arrive in Ghana followed by the people of Gamashi.Teshi is the last to celebrate being the youngest of the Ga towns which broke away from La and was established in 1710.

The political structure of the Ga people comprises six main independent sub-states known as the traditional areas of Gamashi, Osu, La, Teshi, Nungua and Tema. The Mantsemei or Kings of the capital towns are of equal status and independent. So when we talk of Homowo celebrations for the Gas we are referring to the people of these towns.

Just as clans came together to constitute towns, villages and traditional areas to enable them lead a more secure civilized life, the independent traditional areas also came together to constitute the Ga State as a whole. At some point in time, the Gamashi Mantse was selected to be the first among equals to preside over the meetings of the Ga State Council. The members of the Ga State Council are the Mantsemei of the capital towns of the traditional areas. The speaker of the Ga State Council is the Nai wulomo

One may ask why not the Dangmes as well since they come from the same stock and origin as the Gas. That is true, the Dangmes and the Gas constitute one indivisible people. They are united by blood, common origin, culture and history. The Ga language is but a dialect of Dangmes of which the Krobo language is a prototype but for some historical reasons their chieftaincy arrangement seem closer to the Akans and more importantly the Dangmes have their Asafotufiam and Nmayem festivals which they celebrate yearly in the UK which is different from the Homowo which is the focus of this article.

The Ga Dangme foundation Europe who are currently regrouping have a duty in this regard to bring the Ga Dangme family together in a joint festival of Homowo, Nmayem and Asafo tufiam. For some time now there has been some attempt which the Gadangme Nikasemo Asafo of UK has been championing over the years but which is proving difficult of late. However, there is no suggestion here that there is something wrong with the various groupings celebrating their various Homowo but there is a suggestion that a unified Homowo will be in our mutual interest.

Of late in the UK there had been at least four segmented Ga groups who have celebrated the Homowo which is dividing us rather than bringing us together, and it seems to create an atmosphere of rivalry if not competition. It is also an excuse by the High Commission not to participate in it because they point to the fragmentation and wonder which to attend.

The original idea of these associations in the Diaspora was to facilitate the integration of new migrants in the societies of destination. Being far away from home comes with a lot of challenges; People get home sick as they miss their home environment. They miss their traditional food, music, and other ways of life they have grown up with. These associations also introduced their cultural practices, customs and specially their festivals since they are also very much oriented towards keeping the connection alive between members of the Diaspora and their homeland, and towards contributing to the development of their country of origin.

Due to the different nature of the migrations to Europe especially UK this days, the idea of returning to our homeland, which used to be very present for members of older generations of diaspora, is not as strong anymore and new migrants are also running thin. The impact of Diasporas as a phenomenon is also to be seen on the second generation of migrants.

Generally speaking, children of African migrants, born in Europe, tend to emphasize the European part of their identity over their African origin and are reluctant to be fully integrated into the African culture, while still feeling attached to Africa and claiming to be of part of the African people. But with the phasing out of this generation the coming generation will even be more fragmented and the celebration of the festival may become a thing of the past unless we take another look at our organization set up and the legacy challenges.

I must emphasize that attempts have been made by Gadangme Nikasemo Asafo, Laa Kpee, Bishop T Ga Club, Ngleshie Kpee and others and recently by an organization led by Queen Naa Tsotsoo Soyoo I to bring all the Ga groups under one umbrella for the Homowo festival but they have all proved futile so far, so one wonders whether this decentralized mind set has become so entrenched at the Diaspora level as well at the expense of the bigger picture of Ga unity. The Ga people are fragmented and segmented based on each segment’s narrow interest. Most often, that interest is defined based on the vagaries of clan values and loyalty.

Reading through articles from the Diaspora on the Homowo festival, one of the main comments often head and complained about is the chieftaincy disputes in Accra and the call on the Diaspora Gas to help solve them by advising the chiefs. The problems of the Gas are many they are struggling to save their language and culture. The land is under severe attack from both the government and rich business men leaving nothing for the future generation of Gas. The accusing fingers point to complicity of the Mantsemei in these acts. They must remember that they are custodian only and not owners of Ga land but the allodia system is also unhelpful.

It is to restore the respect and dignity of the Ga State that we call on the Nii Mei and people to use the celebration of the Homowo to reflect soberly on the cost of these conflicts, bury their differences and endeavour to resolve all chieftaincy disputes.Homowo is an occasion to foster peace, unity and tranquillity, while invoking divine blessings and prosperity on the land and the people in the years ahead. We therefore, wish to take this opportunity to admonish the chiefs and people of the Ga State to give true meaning to the significance of Homowo by smoking the peace pipe and giving peace a chance. And to the Diasporas if we want to play any advisory role required of us in the disputes at home then we must as well put our house in order since charity begins at home.

What we need in this modern era are wise and well educated Mantsemei of gravitas and weight to lead the Gas to bring the unity and development orientation we so desire and to bring dignity to their role by doing the right things. The wholesale sale of lands which does not aid our developments must stop and the interest of the people must come first.

Nii Ashitey

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