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Opinions of Thursday, 24 February 2011

Columnist: Akoma, Emil

The Emerging Power Struggle in Tanyigbe (Ho District).

(Part One) – Looking specifically at Adeblevi
It is said that on November 2, 2010, the Ho Municipal Security Council summoned two Chiefdom Elders from Tanyigbe, to Ho, to discuss about the need for peace in Tanyigbe.

What could have warranted this invitation from the MuniSecCo? What does chieftaincy imply? Why is someone a Chief? Who made him a chief? Why should ABC be made a chief and not XYZ?

These are the grounds that all over Ghana, disputes abound. As a citizen of Tanyigbe, Etoe Division’s Adeblevi Clan (Togbevi), and a former General Secretary of Tanyigbe Youth Association, I wish to expound little bits of what bothers me about the emerging power struggle in my hometown. Tanyigbe is an ‘independent’ community of well-meaning militant migrants who formed the township. By the term ‘independent community of migrants’ I seek to imply that our ancestors did not have to forge alliances in order to derive the needed strength that could assist them migrate or change settlements. Hence Tanyigbe, although a neighbour of several townships which have ancestral bonds during their exodus, Gbeléawo as we are traditionally known, only had military treaties with friendly settlements when they needed us. History has it that in migrating, some settlements moved together with Tanyigbe towards the same direction, and at some instances exchanged fire amongst ourselves etc.

Some twenty years ago, a prominent citizen of Tanyigbe and I ended up to sip some “Bu-Bra” at Korle Gonno after our monthly meeting at Kinbu. The senior man brought up this subject and spoke to me thoughtfully saying “why should chieftaincy be a thing for some secluded few, just because it is said that some centuries ago, their ancestors did this or that for the community? What about if at the present age, such a family’s descendants are {amedigborwo or amedudoewe} –loafers or nonentities? Should we encourage such a system to continue? Should we not start thinking of empowering leaders who can harness resources, draw development support, build rapport with state organizations towards Tanyigbe’s devopment?” This wise talk spoke volumes.

During the brouhaha after the election stalemate in the December 2008 General Elections, Tanyigbe was accused of serious electoral malpractices. I called Ghana, spoke to the Chief and took up the fight to defend our good name, won for us with the blood and toil of our forefathers. I even had (much as I would not have liked to do so) to state clearly that considering the supposed political leaning of the Paramount Chief of Tanyigbe, the voting agent of the NPP’s claim regarding some malpractices in Tanyigbe could not have been not accurate. See:

http://ghanaweb.net/GhanaHomePage//features/artikel.php?ID=155588
Analysing Lost NPP Volta Votes of 3rd January 2009

I was not defending Tanyigbe because of my family claim to the Adeble Chiefdom, neither was I defending Tanyigbe because of any other reason. I did just that so long as “I was doing a yeoman’s patriotic duty”. I drew strength from an earlier article published article by:

Concern Citizens Of Anlo In North America
http://ghanaweb.net/GhanaHomePage//features/artikel.php?ID=40543
The Awoamezi And Kaklaku Stools Of Anlo: Origin & History of August 2003
Para 14 or so:
“The Awoamezi is more than just a symbol of authority or a unifying force; it is the very embodiment of the soul of Anlo land, the emotions of war and peace, a link with our glorious past, a reminder of our present imperfections and our hope for a better tomorrow. It can neither be sold nor bought for it is priceless...”

This therefore makes me go back to the wisdom in the words of this prominent Tanyigbe elder in Accra about who, in his opinion should rather be a Chief. We cannot simply gloss over his points as well. But if we should consider what the Concerned Citizens of Anlo said as quoted, the Stool has a meaning. The words of the quoted paragraph is, to me, absolute. If today, ABC is a very successful public servant or businessman who can develop Tanyigbe, build up the citizens’ quest for higher attainment in society, so we hand over political power in Tanyigbe to him/her, that makes good sense in a way.

On the other hand if we therefore dissolve chieftaincy that we inherited, and then implement this Tanyigbe Elder’s wise proposals, won’t there be this question of how long ABC will remain in his/her position as the new Leader? Will there not be the likelihood that other citizens may develop to surpass that same ABC’s status upon which the society may have elected ABC as their “Chief” (Leader)? What happens then? In that sense, because ABC became socially endowed, s/he had been elected to rule. And what happens if his/her fortunes dwindle or if his/her social status fades with time?

Need we mention the blood and toil of those who died in the fight for the land; or those who had to make human sacrifices, or those who, simply said, made it possible for Gbeléawo to remain intact as what Tanyigbe is now known??

These factors are the reasons we have disputes over illegitimate claimants to Chiefdoms. Traditional roles were ‘divided’ among indigenes based on specific circumstances. When society gradually expanded, then came with it, added roles relating to the royalty. In local Tanyigbe parlance, a socially endowed person whom the Traditional Ruler respects, recognizes, and invites to add ‘weight’ and colour to his Chiefdom is known as ATUFU. But too often, ATUFUS over the time tend to present themselves as claimants to the Stool.

Tanyigbe citizens home and abroad may have known, or will like to know that DZIKO ABRO – my father, a biological descendant of Adeblekodzoe, ruled Adeblevi as ADEBLE the 5th (V) from 1951 till January 4, 2004 when we incredibly lost a summon against the enstoolment of Tsoku Atta the Eighth (VIII). This was because our affirmed ‘Captain’ of the ADEBLEVI Clan (Zikpuitor), a non-resident lady, did give her consent to the TSOKU ATTA VIII’s enstoolment at the very last day of the arbitration. We knew and recognized that the woman, by ancestral right, is ADEBLEKODZOE’s senior, but sadly may not have been really aware of her answer “YES, I CONSENT”, when she was quizzed by the Chiefs on the said enstoolment.

We in the Akuma House maintained that we refuse till this day to recognize any biological relationship between the ADEBLEVI Clan ‘Captain’ (Zikpuitor) and the family which did the said enstoolment in December 2003.
We only did not want to haunt the woman, but resolved that “time alone will tell”. Did we leave it to fate?

The Akuma House was reliable informed that the Adeble Captain (The Lady Zikpuitor) disclaimed her annointing of the newly enstooled chief Tsoku Atta VIII even before end of January 1984, yet we kept our cool. Then came the Lady Zipuitor to pacify the Adblekodzoe Clan but Dziko Abro would not accept.

However, early 1988, the Akuma House got information that House of Chiefs had sent out a questionnaire to Chiefs for gazzetting update or whatever. Akuma House then petitioned against any recognition that might be given to Tsoku Atta VIII. The petition was addressed to Dufia (Chief) of Tanyigbe’s Etoe Division, and copied to 1) The Clan Head, Adeblevi; 2) The Lady Adeblevi Captain {Zikpuitor}, 3) The Fiaga (Paramount Chief) - Tanyigbe Traditional Council; 4)The Family that enstooled Tsoku Atta VIII; 5) All Divisional Chiefs of Tanyigbe; 6) The Hon. Volta Reg. Secretary; 7) The Ho District Secretary; 8) The Volta Reg. House of Chiefs; 9) The Volta Reg Organizing Assistant, C’sDR; 10) The Ho District Org. Asst., C’s D. R; 11) The Asst Comm. Of Police Volta Reg; 12) The Hon PNDC Secretary, Volta Reg.; 13) The Hon PNDC Secretary, Chieftaincy Secretariat, Accra; 14) The National House of Chiefs, Kumasi.

Below, we reproduce the above petition of March 1988:
“The Ad?blekodzoe ‘Kumah Family
Ad?blevi, Tanyigbe Etoe,
Via Ho

11th March 1988

Sir,
DELETION OF THE NAME OF EDMOND KWAMI ASIGBEE alias
TSOKU ATTA VIII FROM THE LIST OF CHIEFS OF ETOE DIVISION
OF THE TANYIGBE TRADITIONAL AREA IN THE QUESTIONNAIRE TO
BE FORWARDED TO THE HOUSE OF CHIEFS AND THE CHIEFTAINCY
SECRETARIAT FOR GAZZETTING

TANYIGBE: HO DISTRICT OF THE VOLTA REGION

Having heard of Government / House of Chiefs’ questionnaire sent out to Paramount Chiefs / Chiefs / Sub chiefs to be completed and forwarded to the authorities for the National Register / Gazzette, we the descendants of Tsokunyofoe otherwise known as Adeblekodzoe ‘Kumah family respectfully appeal to you to delete the name of EDMOND KWAMI ASIGBEE alias TSOKU ATTA VIII whose papers may appear in the ETOE Division of TANYIGBE in the Ho District of the Volta Region.

We believe no person with the name EDMOND KWAMI ASIGBEE alias TSOKU ATTA should file any papers as Chief of Adeblevi, and conscientiously declare this out of the fact that:

1. As one of the sixteen sub-divisions (clans) making up the Tanyigbe Traditional Area, ADEBLEVI Means ‘Children of ADEBLE’ – founder of the clan.

2. The eldest of his Children were Tsokute and Anyofoe (Tsokunyofoe) and when Tanyigbe first requested representation, Adeble delegated Anyofoe. He later called his entire family and told them Tanyigbe was coming to consecrate his stool. Thus the symbol for worship was his stool and it was named ADEBLE in his honour. He in turn invested custodian seniority responsibility to Tsokute. We now term this responsibility Stool Father. The children who continued Anyofoe’s sub-chief (delegate) job are today known as ‘Akumah Viwo’. Akumah’s descendants have other brothers as Akpatse and Afesi.

3. Tsokute’s descent had had very few males. However, presiding in the Tsokute seat (line) today is Madam Mordzi Bebi, she succeeded her aunt Madam Gakpo Kofi Yawa.
During the lifetime of Madam Gakpo Kofi Yawa, she was saddled with the problem of males and so used to invite men near her line during rituals for the stool. She ever kept the ADEBLE STOOL with Asigbee – a grandson of someone else associated to her grandfather, and also Kuzagbe who is still alive. The invitation to keep the stool or perform some rituals does not make one a legitimate occupant or stool father. Madam Mordzi Babi also kept it with Asigbee Kofi when she was not at home. The Asigbee family hurriedly took advantage of this and allegedly installed this son of Asigbee Kofi with the name TSOKU ATTA VIII. He was being considered as chief of Adeblevi to which we vehemently protested only to realize that he was being given some sort of recognition.

4. Madam Mordzi Babi on her return appearingly consented but after a while realized that the Asigbee family only wanted to be annexed as children of Gakpo as a result of the lands. She therefore refused to contribute in any kind or in cash to the Asigbee Family over the alleged enstoolment. This was two months after the said enstoolment when the former officially informed her.

5. Life in Adeblevi is an entirely brotherly affair. Gakpops have their role, Akumah’s have theirs, Matis have theirs too and so are Afesis etc. Adeblevi as stated means children of Adeble and the stool is ADEBLE. The Asigbees cannot just get up and ignorantly enstool anybody, and to call him TSOKU ATTA VIII, to consider him chief of Adeblevi and to assume that he rules on the ADEBLE STOOL. Our ancestral uncle Tsokute didn’t conjure a stool for himself besides his father ADEBLE’S. None of our former chiefs was ever called Tsoku Atta.

The Chief of Adeblevi during this alleged Tsoku Atta enstoolment is privately known as Dziko Abro, a biological descendant of Akumah.
We appeal earnestly to the authorities to consider as a matter of absolute importance and priority, the deletion and suspension of the Adeblevi file and to invite us all for settlement or to arbitrate on this issue.

The brotherly loving state in which our ancestors left us behind is no more. The unison in which we adored and worshipped our ancestral link – ADEBLE STOOL has died out as a result of this Tsoku Atta Case. Consequently Adeblevi has known no real peace and unity since then.

It’s therefore our avowed aim of bringing about mutual understanding at Adeblevi through the most minimal and amicable means; and this we believe is in line with Government’s relentless efforts to thrash out chieftaincy disputes which have hitherto marred social and economic development.

Yours faithfully,

Signed signed
YAO ABRO DZIKO-KWAME AKUMAH
For: (HEAD OF FAMILY)


THE DUFIA OF TANYIGBE ETOE
TOGBE KOMLA DANKU III
ETOE DIVISION
TANYIGBE”


Febr 22, 2011, by Emil Akoma

Part Two will follow.