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Opinions of Sunday, 21 March 2010

Columnist: Afreh, Manu Bernard

Is the Techimanhene also a Ghanaian?

I do not intend to fan the embers of ethnicity, nor do I wish to impugn someone’s reputation. In my history class, I was taught that barbarism and uncouthness belonged to the medieval ages, and I was also told that men with brutish nature died in prehistoric era. But the recent inhumane treatment of the Tuobodomhene, Nana Baffour Asare II, has forced me to have a rethink. Anyone who, like me, has taken a keen eye on the Tuobodom-versus-Techiman saga must be taken aback by the unfolding drama. Any curious mind might ask: What is the issue? Dear reader, a bit of history lesson: There are some nine towns under the Tano-Subin Stool Lands including Branam, Buoyem, Tuobodom and Nkyiraa. Since time immemorial, these towns have owed allegiance to the Golden Stool. It must be noted that, in 1995, the late Dotobiribi Ameyaw in the company of other Chiefs (Kukuomhene, etc) went to Manhyia to request from the late Otumfuo Opoku Ware II that he be allowed to administer those towns on behalf of the Golden Stool. The request was flatly turned down. Even when the bill for the creation of Brong Ahafo Region was sent to parliament, it was stipulated that it was not in any way going to affect communities that owed allegiance to their respective Stools. Flip back the pages of the book of history, and you would realise that at no time in history did Tuobodom owe allegiance to Techiman. Let me state emphatically, and for posterity sake, that as far back as the 1700s, Tuobodom has continued to owe allegiance to the Golden Stool. We claim to be practising democracy, a form of government where the constitution of the land is supreme. I am beginning to suspect that either some persons are above the rule of law, or the institutions are simply not working. For, how else, could one explain the unheard-of action taken by the Techimanhene whereby he sent his bodyguards to abduct the Paramount Chief of Tuobodom Traditional Area to his palace? True to his type, he did not stop there. He stripped the Tuobodomhene- a 71-year old man- naked (!), tied both his hands and legs, and left him under the scorching sun for three long hours! Like a man-eater in dire need of blood, he subjected the Tuobodomhene to severe beatings, and even at knifepoint ordered that he denounce his allegiance to the Golden Stool. When the indigenes of Tuobodom got wind of the inhumane treatment of their Chief, they took the law into their own hands; this led to the death of three people. I cannot fathom why the Techimanhene has not been made to face the full rigours of the law. In a desperate bid to rationalize his action, the Techimanhene said he abducted the Tuobodomhene because he wanted to hand him over to the police for a supposed attack on his convoy some two years ago. So I ask: Did the Tuobodomhene go into hiding for almost two years?

If you were shocked at the condemnable action taken by the Techimanhene, you would surely be horrified to learn that- according to the chilling account given by Nana Baffour- the Brong Regional Police Commander and Crime Officer have some selfish interests in the matter. If the allegations against these public officials are true- I actually believe it to be so, they have violated their professional ethics: and they should bow their heads in shame. Before I proceed, let me state that the indigenes of Techiman are so refined and sophisticated that I am unable to stomach the abominable acts by the Techimanhene. What is more, did I hear someone say the Techimanhene is a member of the National Peace Council? What irony! I listened to the Secretary of the Peace Council on radio, and I must say that I was awed by his matured submission(s). In fact, until I hear from other members of the Council, I refuse to accept that such a heartless chief belongs to this high-flying group. It seems this chieftaincy issue has become a fair game for ill-informed critics. I have known Kwesi Pratt to be straightforward (in spite of his occasional jaundiced submissions) on national issues; not minding whose sleep is murdered. But I must say that I was highly disappointed to hear him, last week, on Peace FM (104.3Mhz) questioning why the Asantehene is ‘threatening’ to kidnap the Techimanhene?

The barbaric incident happened last Thursday, and thanks to technology the message spread like wild fire. As customs demand, the Asante King is not expected to comment until the victim (Tuobodomhene) has presented his concerns. Critics of the Asantehene should think about this: if the King wanted to start a war, do you think he would wait till the next Monday before taking an action? Couldn’t he also have hired ‘macho men’ to capture the Techimanhene in the deep of night? Does Kwesi Pratt, the self-appointed defender of human rights, expect the Asantehene to watch passively while one of his Paramount Chiefs is being harassed by someone? Why are the Kwesi Pratts of this world refusing to acknowledge that it was the abduction of the Tuobodomhene that led to the loss of three precious lives (!)?

Massa Kwesi Pratt, when did it become legally or morally acceptable for the Techimanhene, a civilian for that matter, to abduct a 71-year old Paramount Chief to his palace and subject him to severe beatings? Even besides the protracted chieftaincy issue, would such remarks have leaked from Kwesi Pratt’s mouth if the Tuobodomhene happened to be his biological father? I advise Kwesi to remove his blinkers, stretch his vision a few meters ahead, and realize that it was the grace of God that saved the Tuobodomhene from the jaws of heartlessness. It beats my imagination that Kwesi Pratt would, perhaps, in the name of politics choose to support the Techimanhene even in his shameful enterprise.

Talking about critics brings to mind someone who sees no good in the Asantehene. In an article titled ‘Come again, Asantehene!’ posted on myjoyonline.com, the author, one Dr. M.J. Bokor, did not only fling wicked darts at the subject of his hate, but he exposed crass ignorance of the chieftaincy issue. Hear him: ‘Why didn’t Tuobodom and other areas owing allegiance to the Golden Stool see any disturbance under the reign of the previous two Asantehene?’ Must it be repeated that, in 1996, when the Tuobodomhene was elevated to the status of paramountcy by the late Otumfuo Opoku Ware II, some malcontents burnt down over 30 houses belonging to perceived supporters of the Omanhene- Nana Baffour Asare II. The author in a bid to satisfy his ulterior motives also wanted to know what had become of a 35 million World Bank loan given to the Asantehene- because of his sterling leadership. If Dr. Bokor is a PhD holder, not one with a pull-him-down title, then, he should as a matter of urgency visit Ghana to see at first hand the numerous projects undertaken by the Asantehene.

To round off this piece, I am forced to ask: What does the Techimanhene want? If, in his calculus, he thought he could gain prominence by kidnapping a fellow Paramount Chief, then, I am afraid, he has met his waterloo. His antics are indeed laughable. He is a tragic reminder of the delinquent chick who, being impervious to advices, chose to fight the eagle. In a discussion about the barbaric act, one interlocutor remarked: ‘Who is the Techimanhene? He is a nobody (emphasis his) in the chieftaincy institution’. I could not agree more. In the last five years or so, I have yet to stumble across any news item on him or his activities.

The Techimanhene can continue to flaunt his arrogance in cruelty. No one begrudges him. But he must never forget that in the battle between evil and good, God does not reside with the heaviest battalion (or political backing), but on the side of innocence. I surely know that falsehood shall not triumph over truth for too long. I rest my case.

By: Afreh Manu Bernard

nobunegga@yahoo.com