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Opinions of Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Columnist: Asuama, Adu

Chieftaincy Debate: The King is Naked

By Nana (no title, just first name) Adu Asuama; Raleigh NC USA

In school, my best subject was English Literature. While I excelled in that and could literally challenge any of my teachers in analyzing any author or work written in English, I was average in my English Language classes. I learned quickly that the art of writing is different from Lexicology. My preference is fiction and whenever I read any great fictional work, I look for real Life parallels or applications for the central theme(s) of the story. The ongoing SO CALLED GHANA CHIEFTAINCY DEBATE brings to mind one great fictional work - Hans Andersen’s fairy tale, THE EMPEROR’S NEW CLOTHES.

The Emperor’s New Clothes is about two swindlers who fooled an entire kingdom into ACCEPTING that their naked Emperor was wearing the most beautifully ornate clothes ever made. The swindlers told the Emperor that the clothes were INVISIBLE TO THE STUPID AND THE INCOMPETENT. Anyone who declared that he/she did not see the beautiful extraordinary clothes was stupid or incompetent. The Emperor donned these imaginary clothes, saw himself naked, his ministers and subjects saw him naked but none dared say what they saw for fear of being declared stupid or incompetent. The operating words of this fairy tale are ACCEPT, FEAR and LIES. By outwardly ACCEPTING the HOAX or at least LYING to one another out of FEAR, the emperor and members of his kingdom helped perpetuate the deception.

Somehow the swindlers of Hans Andersen’s fairly tale have managed to insinuate themselves into our country’s Chieftaincy Discourse to perpetuate a hoax. The HOAX: DRESS CHIEFTAINCY UP AS GHANAIAN CULTURE AND HISTORY; BRAND ALL WHO DON’T SEE THE INSTITUTION IN THOSE CLOTHES AS EITHER IGNORANT, STUPID OR BOTH. And so most of our politicians, prominent citizens, writers and donor NGO organizations are accepting the HOAX even when such acceptance goes against everything they have done, argued for, believed in or written about at one point or another. Fellow Ghanaians, we cannot allow this HOAX to hold us hostage any longer, we cannot continue to dress our king in imaginary clothes, THE KING IS NAKED!!

Chieftaincy is PART of our Culture and History and NOT our Culture and History. Our culture is DYNAMIC not STATIC. It has changed over the years as we have adapted certain practices, example CHIEFTAINCY from CIVILIZATIONS that preceded us and have dropped others like CLOTHES made from TREE BARKS. Stating the OBVIOUS does not make ONE IGNORANT. It makes ONE OBJECTIVE. Continuing to PERPETUATE the HOAX however, makes ONE a HYPOCRITE. And there are lots of these - Ghanaian Hypocrites doing their darndest to confound the rest of us.

HOW DO THE HYPOCRITES PERPETUATE THIS HOAX? Simple, ignore the central questions of the Chieftaincy Debate which are: IS CHIEFTAINCY ESSENTIAL TO GHANAIANS TODAY? Is there any Ghanaian Locality or Community that cannot function without chiefs? IS CHIEFTAINCY REALLY COMPATIBLE WITH OUR DEMOCRACY AS TOUTED IN “DUALITY OF GOVERNANCE?” Do we need DUALITY OF GOVERNANCE at all? The single answer to all the above questions is NO! NO! NO! and NO!. The hypocrites know this answer, therefore they avoid these questions and write about things which are neither here nor there: Much Ado About Nothing and call it “Ghana Chieftaincy Debate.”

The latest article that appeared under the Ghana Chieftaincy Debate Banner was written by His Eminence Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D. GhanaWeb Feature Article, Friday October 31, 2008. After announcing with fanfare that he has thrown his hat into the “raging debate on the relevance or, for that matter, otioseness of the traditional Ghanaian institution of the monarchy,” the professor gave us nothing, absolutely nothing.

Nothing on the central issues of the debate although he did more than his stated Civil Duty which was to heed a Ghanaian Minister’s call to perpetuate the HOAX. In typical Ahoofe fashion, he classified the arguments of all who do not subscribe to the HOAX as “ insufferably intemperate and vituperative tirades against this august institution by people best kept in cages.” He told us about the American College that members of Swaziland’s royal family attend, fired a shot at Dr. NKRUMAH, praised Dr. DANQUAH and other P.H.D. holders of Ghana’s past, slipped in the words Colonialism and Neo-Colonialism and crowned his piece with a dare WARNING - Ghanaians without chieftaincy will be “living-dead people!” WHEW!

At the end of the piece, my mouth was agape with incredulity. How can His Eminence who has always passed himself off as a champion of Democracy, hence his frequent attacks on Mr. RAWLINGS and Dr. NKRUMAH - the two former heads of State, he cites as the most despotic - be the mouth piece for the HOAX? Doesn’t it fly in the face of his hitherto professed stand? Unless he has been hypocritical in all his extensive writings as well. No amount of colorful acrobatic contortions can erase his paper trail of record.

As he rightfully pointed out, Chieftaincy is Monarchy an institution we did not invent but adapted. Europe and at least four-fifth 4/5 of the World’s civilization practiced Monarchy before we Ghanaians adapted it. Currently, at least nine-tenth 9/10 of the World have used and disregarded Monarchy. Surely all those people are not LIVING DEAD!. His only gripe, Europeans use of the title Chief instead of King to describe Ghanaian Monarchy? “An Absolute Non Issue,” to borrow from one of his previous Writings. The title King is used to show sphere of influence. Reputable writings have always referred to the Asantehene as King. The chieftain of Dr. Okoampa’s home town only qualifies to be referred to as Chief - nothing more.

His difficult to understand style, his superfluous insertion of Colonialism and Neo-colonialism into the discourse are designed to throw dust in our eyes. For decades African politicians and their stooges have used these two words excessively as sorry excuses to justify obnoxious acts and failures. It is time to let them know that we are tired “of isms and isms on absolute ism.” We are seeing through the HOAX now.

This HOAX has been so successfully peddled that even NGO’s of donor nations are helping to perpetuate it. The German Konrad Adenauer Foundation is a prime example. It sponsored most of the Chieftaincy Workshops of the Ghana @ 50 celebrations, work that culminated in the passage of the New Chieftaincy Act that seeks to imprison Ghanaians if they don’t show up for Communal Labor. Prison term for absence in voluntary work, very democratic. I guess modern Germany practices that.

Here are my questions. If these white folks are so nostalgic about Monarchy why are they not working to revive the institution in their homeland? Germany is home to Charlemagne, Bismark the great and Leopold, the host of the conference that partitioned Africa. That country was ruled by monarchs until 1918. Do these people really think that we Ghanaians are so wise that we can make two incompatible systems work together when Germany, Italy, France and even Britain cannot? The reader should understand that although Britain still has a symbolic monarch, the crown has absolutely no power and can make or implement no laws. Gone also is the power of the peerage system of Duke or Duchess, Marquess or Marchioness, Earl or Countess, Viscount or Viscountess and Baron or Lady and Knights that used to prop up the monarchy.

If the Western or Eastern world saw any use for monarchy in the twenty-first century, it would have made provisions to re-introduce that system of governance. Why have country after country worldwide opted for some form of government other than Monarchy? How many African countries have monarchs / Chiefs who actually wield real power the way Ghanaian chiefs do? Are we Ghanaians the only wise group of people on Gods earth? We Ghanaians should stop kidding ourselves. Autocracy and Democracy are two incompatible forms of governance. Western NGO’s know this but go along with our HOAX because they don’t want to offend our sensibilities. After all we are the people falling to acknowledge the nakedness of our king.