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Opinions of Sunday, 17 April 2005

Columnist: Asenso-Boakye, Francis

Rejoinder: Open Letter to Otumfour

I read with shock and regret a letter written by one A.M.Baba of Tamale in a title an open letter to Asantehene of the April 11 page of Although I was surprised at the tone and intent of the letter, I think my worst fears have been confirmed about the possibility of bring the Asantehene?s name in dispute. When I first read the letter, I thought about advising the editor of of not allowing people to use this medium to champion their political and ethnic agenda, but I quickly realized we are in a new world ? of press freedom - where people can make any statements, comments and arguments, however, stupid and tenuous they are. One thing the good people of Ghana should bear in mind is that ever since the overlord of Dagbon was murdered ? which I find it barbaric and primitive - all attempts at bringing peace in the area and finding the perpetrators has been met with unguided statements from some section of the Dagbon people. Many are those with political interest who have accused the president of masterminding that heinous crime.

In dealing with these unguided comments from some people in the Dagbon community the government has had to make a lot of sacrifices just to appease them. One of those sacrifices, I believe, was the removal of the government?s finest brain in law Nana Akufo-Addo from the Attorney General office to the Foreign Ministry. This was because one section of the Dagbon family had consistently doubted the former principal legal advisor to the president?s commitment to fair trial. There are several other sacrifices including the president?s decision not to campaign in Dagbon in the last elections. Most importantly one of those sacrifices was the decision on the part of Otumfour to accept president Kufuor?s decision to use his brilliant intellect and his deep commitment to peace and development.

As an Asante by tribe and Ghanaian by nationality, I first thought Otumfour should not have accepted that mediator role. This was primarily because of my fear that these Dagbon people might read political and ethnic undertone into it. But come to think of it ? No single tribe or territory is an island, as was brilliantly asserted by Otumfour that when he first ascended to the throne as Asantehene that ?Ashanti is not an island.? When there is conflict in Dagbon, the whole world hears that there is a conflict in Ghana not Dagbon alone, and this affect investment, development and the general political image of Ghana. That is why I think well respected individuals like the Asantehene and the other eminent chiefs had to be prevailed upon to help solve the Dagbon crises. Besides since Otumfour ascended to the Golden Stool he has helped solved a number of chieftaincy disputes in the Ashanti region and this I believe, was the reason why the president chose him to lead the eminent chiefs.

So the people of Dagbon should rather be grateful to Otumfour that writing article to insult him. Mr. Baba?s letter though I believe does not reflect the collective will of the people of Dagbon, is most unfortunate to say the least. To use sentences like: If the Asantehene in his wisdom do not understand the meaning of the word death we will explain that to him. The Ya-Naa did not die a natural death. Criminals murdered him (Mr. Editor please do well to edit these grammatical mistakes by people like Mr. Baba of Tamali) was myopic and irresponsible on the part of Mr. Baba. I do not intend to touch on the Supreme Court ruling about Dagbon ? which given the Mr. Baba?s letter, I do not think he needs or deserves any intellectual response. But will like to say that next time he should be mindful of making any porous statements on because so many people of different classes and intellect read it. I would also like to humbly advise the managers of that as the years go by their credibility has been on the line and therefore they should be very selective and circumspect the kind of information they put on there.

Francis Asenso-Boakye Development Policy Analyst
Program in Public Policy and Administration
Michigan State University

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