You are here: HomeWallOpinionsArticles2011 09 10Article 218287

Opinions of Saturday, 10 September 2011

Columnist: Attakora, George Oteng

Ghaddafi and the Chiefs

The story of Libya, Syria and many others around the world remind us of one of the fundamental natural laws of nature. Call it natural law of physics if you will; that anything subjected under pressure (directly or indirectly) exerts an opposing force that under the right conditions seeks to relief itself. Ghana is still living under such pressure and unless change comes soon, it will be a matter of time before the people demand change through chaos. In the theory of Chaos there is order. After all it is in disorder that we find other. I am not writing this piece to cause any excitement. It is only a reminder that people can be fooled sometimes but not all the time.

Leadership in medieval times went to those with muscles; those who could conquer and subjugate their people; so came about the Kings. They were war warriors. It was believed that such attributes of “Leadership” run in the family, hence generations from the same family were enstooled to rule and by passing on “leadership” from one generation to the next a line of kingship was established. (The so called blood line or royal family). Whilst this has historical significance and developed unique tribes or groups of people, this notion of bloodline should have no place in post modern Ghana, a country purported to be governed by the rule of law, The Constitution. The exclusion of power to the privileged few based on so called “blood line” is undemocratic and the legislature should seek redress to amend the constitution.

In the days of no central government, the Chiefs served a central force of protection against tribal aggression. They settled local disputes and preserved a local identity through traditions and customs that defined a group of people. History bears the hallmarks of this so clearly; tribal marks, fetish gods, stools land, sacred rivers, etc. etc. What is also clear is that, the world has become one big community and those segregated traditional communities have lost significance. On the world stage, the Chinese, the Indians, the Koreans, the Japanese, the Middle East, the Americas and Europe are having great cultural communication and exchange and rubbing shoulders economically and politically. The unique identity that separated the once Great Britain and United States from the rest of the world no longer holds true. African is the next frontier for great cultural, economic and political revolution and there should be no place for such antiquated bloodline chieftaincy.

In fact a peaceful community only emerges when individuals are dealt with fairly, given equal opportunities such that they willingly surrender leadership or loyalty to a head or an institution; an institution that serves to represent their interests, advances the call to develop and improve standard of living for their children and children’s children. Ghanaians have by and large surrendered such loyalty by village, town and city to a decentralized government made up District Assemblies; this is the Republic of Ghana, placing her faith in The Constitution as the rule of law by which the country will be developed, her people improved and her boarders protected. The constitution should therefore make sound provisions for promotion of democracy and equal rights from the grass roots; the villages, the towns and districts and all the way to parliament.

The path to democracy suggests that the recognition of Chiefs who are not elected but enstooled based on “blood line” in post modern Ghana should be unconstitutional. It is backward, in the dark ages and should be abolished. Ghana should be governed by one rule of law and that should be The Constitution with no ambiguity for common law, customary law, folk law or traditional law which promotes polygamy and unfair inheritance when the country has the legislature and the judiciary.

It is unbelievable that in post modern Ghana there are provisions in the constitution that allow Chiefs to sell the lands of the country under the guise of “stool land”, “skin land”. Those that are not sold are prevented from development, like the shanty town right in the middle of the capital, Osu and Labardi. Isn’t article 256 of the constitution supposed to preserve the independence of the Land Commission? Why then render it impotent with traditional stool land which has no place in post modern Ghana? Land is the asset of the local government; it belongs to the towns or villages that make up the local district. Its value is per capita of the residents and ultimately of all Ghanaians? Why is it then that an individual could sell the land by virtue of bloodline and have no accountability to her people? How many roads have been constructed from the sale of lands? How many drainages, bridges, and sanitary improvements or schools have been built with land sold by the Chiefs? There is no accountability. There is no accountability because the Chiefs are not elected. The provision made in article 267 part 6 of the constitution is that, 10% of the sale goes to Stool administration, 25% to the Stool, in keeping of status, (what status, the bloodline?), 20% to traditional authorities and 55% to the district assembly, a total which is a 110%; no wonder there is no accountability!

Admittedly, the examples of the Ghaddafi regime, Syria and the Middle East are not on the same magnitude as described in this article but, they are similar in principle in terms of disenfranchising the people, imposing on them chiefs who have diminished roles in post modern Ghana. This contributes to the ambiguity of the rule of law and the surrender of loyalty from the Chiefs to local government and ultimately to the President.

The way forward in making relevance the Chiefs in post modern Ghana is to elect them into office by the vote of the people. Give them the role of a mayor with real accountability of governance in the various municipalities. They should be fit to articulate and defend the constitution at the local grass root level and not resort to some unknown tradition or quasi laws. The mayor has less scope of power than the District Assembly man or local government who takes on the position of a Governor with bigger responsibilities for the entire district. In this modern age, every District Assembly should have a website and make available budget information so the people can easily tract where development money goes including land sales. WE NO GO SIT DOWN!

Dr. George Oteng Attakora Georgia, USA. (gattak@hotmail.com)