Feature Article of Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Columnist: Dr. Nii Otu Quaye

Ga-Dangme Chieftaincy crying for authoritative refinement by traditional, constitutional principles

Togbe Afede Fresh Togbe Afede XIV is the President of the National House of Chiefs

It is hard to say, but it must be said that the situation of Chieftaincy, especially in the Ga-Dangme areas, is intensely mind-boggling. Given that Chieftaincy was our sole governing institution before the superimposition of the central administration, and given also that Chieftaincy is the primordial governmental institution that we can open-chestedly call our own while it lasts, one wonders why the on-going chaotic state has lingered for so many years without being fixed.

The issue is particularly troubling not only because Chieftaincy is entrenched in our Constitution, but also because it is equipped with modern administrative oversight resources, the Houses of Chiefs, with the backing of other law enforcement personnel that can meaningfully and effectively step in to use the traditional and national laws to keep the situation from falling apart.

The question then is why has nobody, the Ga House of Chiefs, the National House of Chiefs, or even the Government, stepped in to ensure that the Institution is run with the fortitude, integrity, and the respect it merits?

I am sure some may argue that there are many, many pressing challenges facing the Nation— employment, education, sanitation, health care, etc., and I must solemnly admit that all those pressing issues must be tackled poignantly; but I must also say that, because Chieftaincy is the institution that historically identifies the connection between where we were and where we are today, we should and must maintain it progressively to preserve for posterity it’s positive and unique cultural aspects that eloquently depict who we are. Clearly, we cannot hold that mantle if we continue to allow the Institution to be compromised and vilified the way it has been. The hard fact about the state of affairs of Chieftaincy with us, Ga-Dangmes, is that it is abysmally below anything we can honestly be proud about.

Since the passing of the Great Ga-Mantse Nii Amugi several years ago, the Ga throne has been fraught with challenges regarding his succession. Teshie, on the other hand, has not had a chief for as long as one can remember. While there is no need to list all the Towns struggling through the Chieftaincy nightmare, it is essential to highlight a few of the causes to help our leaders in tackling them poignantly for solution. The biggest cause of the debacle is that members of our societies who are either not in the Mantseyeli [Kingship] Clans; do not rule as Msntsemei; or are in the Mansteyeli Clans but whose turns to run are yet to attach, seek to make themselves Mantsemei, rendering it difficult, if not impossible, for the Kingmakers to install the right kinsmen.

Sometimes, these overtures are directed even at sitting Chiefs, as has been in Nungua. Often, the destabilizers resort to lies and distortions of facts, efforts to manipulate Government Officials to hail them, or delude the public about who are the Chiefs or should be the rightful occupants of the thrones. The magnitude of the chaos thereby created is unspeakable, and I must say that if the problem is not expeditiously addressed and solved by the established constitutional setups of the respective Ga towns, very soon, it would defy solution as the lies, fabrications, and propagandas will so taint or seem to compromise the minds of would-be solvers as to obviate neutrality or its appearance, even where the quintessential neutrality is employed.

The degenerating state of Nungua adequately brings the issue into perspective: Few weeks ago, a group in the Amanfa Clan, led by Nuumo Bortei Doku, purported to inaugurate a Committee to address the Ga Chieftaincy issue. The Group hand-picked highly placed public figures, such as VCRC Crab, the designated Chair, several members of the Amanfa Clan, Prof. Joshua Alabi, and others to serve on the purported committee. Ironically, no single member of the Nungua Ruling Clan, the Mantseyeli Clan-Kwei-We, Ayiku-We, or Adjin-We, was included, let alone nominated or consulted.

The basic problem here is that, this same Bortei Doku Group has ironically been the arch destroyers of Chieftaincy in Nungua. During the inception of the PNDC Administration, they constituted what became the “June 4th Group” and used it to malign the Nungua Mantse to the Government. While doing so, Nii Bortei Doku went around parading himself everywhere as the Nungua Mantse, titled Nii Borketey Laweh XIV, when Nungua had never had a Borketey Laweh as Chief, NEVER a Borketey Laweh I to XIII; and when the ONLY Chief-wielding Houses in all records, including the National House of Chiefs’ and Ga House of Chiefs’, are the Adjin We, the Ayiku We, and the Kwei We. Fellow Nungua Citizens, Ga Dangmes, and Countrymen, let’s face it: doesn’t what Numb Bortei Doku and his group are doing smack of turning one’s self into a fox guarding the chicken hut, where the same person destroying chieftaincy is pontificating himself as the vehicle for its fixing? Let’s be further real: if that fictitious role is left to blink, Bortei Doku, being who he is will distort or manipulate anything done thereunder for his destabilizing excesses.

But the problem is not with Nungua or, for that matter, Ga-Dangme Chieftaincy alone. Instead, it poses real threats to the entire Ga-Dangme community and heritage, especially its peace and unity. Specifically, the Nuumo Bortei Doku Group further distortingly claim that they are the overlords of the Ga-Dangmes, a rift-fomenting and disharmonizing distortion that no Ga Town would fathom, let alone accept.

The purported launching of the committee was not the first time Bortei Doku’s group has employed this tension-creating propaganda to forward-drive its ambition. Last year, when performing the funeral rites of the Late Gborbu Wulormo, the group, propagated the same fabrications, visiting and inviting the President and living past Presidents, falsely presented its members as the leaders and overlords of the Gas.

Shortly after the celebration of the funeral rites, Nii Bortei Doku’s devastating overtures took a new turn: he went to the corridors of power, including the House of Chiefs, asking that the Nungua Chief’s name be replaced by his name as Nii Borketey Laweh XIV. Again, how could there be a Borketey Laweh XIV, when there has never been a Borketey Laweh I to XIII?

Dear brothers and sisters, let’s stop doing things that would make us a laughing stock and or destroy our heritage and the cultural mores that keep us together in harmony.

The constitutional hierarchy and history of Nungua is crystal clear and has been discussed too many times to require revisitation in this article. Suffice it only to say that the Mantseyeli Clan of Nungua comprises three Wes -the Kwei We, the Adjin We, and the Ayiku We, each of which rules in uninterrupted succession. The head deity of the three Weis and of the town is the Oshwe Wulormo. The Amanfa’s, and for that matter, the Gborbu Wulormo, a sub-deity, is not and cannot be the Mantse, let alone an overlord of Nungua, or of any other Ga town. The word “Amanfa” is derived from “maa afa”, historically, graciously welcoming our brothers and sisters to abide on part of Nungua, “maa afa”, when other Ga-Dangmes were already established in their respective current localities. Gborbu, in turn, is derived from the word “wo gboi abii” meaning “our guests’ off-spring”. So Gborbu Wulormo, in simple terms, is the dialectical expression for “the deity of our guests,” of the rank of the other sub-deities in the town.

Further, on Nuumo Bortei Doku’s highly inappropriate ambitious moves, three weeks ago, the Gborbu Wulomo and Bortei Doku’s group featured, again, in the news referring to themselves as the overlords of the Gas. On that occasion, in the context of a building demolition exercise in Nungua, the Wulormo claimed that the land on which the building was located, which the Government had previously taken, presumably by eminent domain was returned to them, the Nungua Stool, and that they then conveyed it to the builder. The fact of the matter, though, is that Amanfa is not the Nungua Stool, and constitutionally, the stool head, the primary signatory of Nungua land that signs stool documents with some elders, is the occupant of the stool, the Mantse; not a sub-deity; not the Gborbu Wulormo; and certainly not with Nuumo Bortei Doku, who is not a recognized elder on the Nungua political hierarchy.

Thus, the action being launched against the Government, specifically the Minister of Agriculture, is a non-starter, reflecting nothing more than fictitious self-aggrandizement to upstage the Nungua Mantse, and must be handled accordingly. If the Government had returned a piece of land that it had taken under eminent domain, that return would have been to the Nungua Mantse as that Chief or his predecessor would have been the Mantse that signed off on the conveyance to the Government.

In closing, I hereby appeal to all not to allow ourselves to be misled by the distortions. Further, I respectfully ask the Government, especially the Ga House of Chiefs, to swiftly address the Ga-Dangme Chieftaincy issues and resolve them by established traditional principles and the national guidelines embodied in Ghana’s Constitution and laws.

Let’s do things right and not spend our valuable times and resources to rewrite history and tarnish our images to posterity.

By: Dr. Nii Otu Quaye