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Opinions of Sunday, 15 May 2005

Columnist: Gausu, Mohammed

Correction: There is No ?Crown Prince? of Bole

The first time I read about the terminology ?Crown Prince of Bole?, I thought it was one of those highfalutin titles adopted by the Crusading Guide Reporter, Aremeyaw Anas Aremeyaw for the Bolewura?s son to enable them have access to the rebel territories in Cote d?Ivoire. Unfortunately, it is becoming clear that Alhassan Hambee, the Bolewura?s son is deliberately holding himself up as the Crown Prince of Bole.

Following the reported incident in the Saru area of the Sawla-Tuna-Kalba District, Hambee has granted interviews to a number of media houses, and I thought he would use the opportunity to correct the impression of him as the Heir Apparent to the Bole Skin. Unfortunately, this was not to be. Hambee appears to be in no hurry to correct this very important misnomer or to put it bluntly - exaggeration of his status in the Bole traditional system.

By definition, a ?Crown Prince is the Male heir to a sovereign throne?, or in our circumstances, a sovereign Skin (Collins Concise Dictionary and Thesaurus, 1991, 1995). WIKIPEDIA online Encyclopedia puts it more clearly as ?A Crown Prince or Princess is the heir or heiress apparent to the throne in a royal or imperial monarchy?.

On the other hand, Legal Definitions, an online Legal Encyclopedia, defines Heir Apparent as ?? one who is certain to inherit from a deceased unless he or she dies first or unless he or she is taken out of the will?. According to WIKIPEDIA online Encyclopedia, ?The term heir apparent is most often used to refer to someone who is first in the order of succession to a throne and who cannot lose this status by the birth of any other person. It is also used less formally to indicate someone who is an apparent successor to a non-royal position of power, e.g., a political or corporate leader?.

If this is the context in which Hambee is being referred to, then it is a serious mistake that needs to be corrected with speed.

In the Gonjaland traditional system of succession, of which Bole is part, there no such thing as Crown Prince. Of course, we have heirs apparent, but never Crown Princes, unless the Bole skin is about to introduce a novelty. I sincerely hope not, because, if that happens, we would not be too far from another chieftaincy problem in the north.

In Gonjaland, succession lines are clearly defined, albeit not documented. There is no place for the Chief?s son to hold himself up as a Crown Prince or to purport to act in the absence of his father beyond taking messages for the Chief. He is simply a prince. In the specific case of Bole, the Mankumawura becomes acting Bolewura if for any reason the Bolewura is unable to physically perform his functions either due to absence from town or illness. Therefore, it is absolutely wrong for Alhassan Hambee to purport to act in any capacity with respect to the Bole skin beyond serving as a conduit for messages to his father.

For as long as I have known Bole, Heirs to the Skin have always been the chiefs of Mandari. For instance, when Bolewura Jaaga V died, he was succeeded by Bolewura Mahama Amantana Safo II, who until his elevation to the Bole skin was the Mandariwura. The latter was in turn succeeded at Mandari by the present Bolewura. By providence, Bolewura Amantana Safo moved to occupy the Yegbon skin, after the death of Yegbonwura Ale Adengi Tikpiri, in an automatic succession arrangement. Thus, paving way for the present Bolewura Seidu Amankwa to be elevated to Bole skin from Mandari. At no point has any Chief been succeeded by his son.

An even more fascinating succession plan exists for occupancy of the Yegbon skin, to the extent that every baby in Gonjaland knows who will be the next Overlord of the Gonjaland traditional area. It is a simple rotation among the five Gonjaland Divisional gates, namely Wasipe, Bole, Kpembe, Tuluwe and Kwasawgu. To give an idea of how this works, here is the succession tree since 1942.

 Period	       King/Yagbonwura	Division
1942 - 1975 Ewuntoma Wasipe
1975 - 1982 Kurabaso Bole
1983 - 1987 Timu Kpembe
1987 - 1990 Kanyiti Tuluwe
1990 - 1992 Bi-Awuribi Kwasawgu
1992 - 1993 Ale Adengi Tikpiri Wasipe
1993 - 2000 Bore Nyinche Bole
2000 to Date Bawah Abudu Doshie Kpembe
*** Next in line Tuluwe

From the above succession arrangement, it is clear who the next Yegbonwura will be in case the unexpected happens. I have given all this detail to emphasize that there is no place for Crown Princes.

One could easily have dismissed the claim to the title of Crown Prince as an innocuous oversight. But, it is important at all times to err on the side of caution; especially, if you find yourself operating in a region where people are so passionate about their birth rights to the point that brothers become lifetime enemies. Needless to say: once bitten forever shy.

I have had occasion to draw attention to the need for Gonjaland to document its traditional folklore on succession, in an article in the ADM in 2004. In the said article titled, ?Daboya must ensure peaceful succession?, I stated among other things that ?The world is getting too sophisticated. ... We can no longer afford to leave such important traditional issues, merely as folklore or fairytales told by ?dodgy? elders, who supposedly, are ?well-versed? in matters of tradition. Clearly, some of the elders have shown that they are prone to influences by sneaky characters, be they politicians or other powerful persons in society?.

If you think this matter is not important enough, think of what the Media houses, who are interviewing Hambee, left and right, would say if his father dies and he decides to lay claim to the Bole skin. And imagine if the rightful claimants prevail as I believe they would; a probable banner headline would be ?Bole skin snatched from Crown Prince? or something to that effect. The result could be any body?s guess.

Hambee?s role in securing the release of the Saru chief was heroic, but his ?claim? as Crown Prince is alien and inappropriate, to say the least, and calls his credibility and motives into serious question.

Because coming events usually cast their shadows and mighty infernos start with little sparks, I feel obligated to make the necessary correction to this otherwise harmless claim. After all I have nothing to lose by doing so.

Mohammed Gausu
C/o Buipewura?s Palace
Buipe N/R

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