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Opinions of Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Columnist: Abdul-Yekin, Kofi Ali

Who is in charge of us in Ghana?

How can we choose to be fooling ourselves and pretending to be wise, at the same time? We called Ghana a nation of the republicans and democratic people, while at the same time, we are slaving under mushrooms of tribal Kingdoms, who feddle with the course of our destiny.
I am a great republican and a strong believer in the ideals of democracy. I know that Republic and democracy go together while monarchy and dictatorship are also close allies. I do not only preach but I am also very active in advocating for the abolition of the tribal chieftaincy institution in Ghana. It is common to have my attention drawn to any indicative of the demise of the Ghanaian tribal chieftaincy institution, and that is exactly what the sympathisers of the course I was championing were doing, when they drew my attention to the article titled "Ghana is a Democracy but not a Monarchy- "Capito" Ashantehene?" The article featured on Sun, 25 Jan 2015, on Ghanweb, was credited to Rockson Adofo.
This article to me and the recent developments around the Ghanaian chieftaincy institutions, only remind me of the European experience, when they had to do away with their tribal chieftaincies, to make way for proper centralisation of their institutions. This effort had everything to do with what lead to modernisation and development of these nations.
The difference with us in Ghana is, the opportunities are daily presenting themselves but we are failing to take advantage of them, like our Europeans counterparts did. Our writers, actors, journalists, academicians and activists, are all cowed in their capabilities to engage the masses on the need of relieving ourselves, of these ancient ways of governance. We are too much stabled in our comfort zones, to do serious politics. The activists are held back by their own tribal entrapments and superstitious beliefs, allowing the false claims of the gods and ancestors to flourish, making some people masters while others, serve as their slaves.
The contentions raised by Rockson Adofo were not actually in defence of democracy, as he claim. The gentleman was openly rejecting an act of having the paramount chief of the Ashanteman, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II for imposing a ruler over Kumawuman.
In his own words, Rockson accused the state machinery saying "They are there to beat, terrorise and intimidate the good citizens of Kumawuman for opting to reject that puppet chief (Barimah Sarfo Tweneboah Koduah) he imposed on Kumawu".
Yes, the inhabitants of Kumawu are citizens of Ghana and are therefore the responsibility of the Government of Ghana. The contention is, was the act an independent decision by the government of Ghana, led by our head of state President John Dramani Mahama to protect the citizens of Ghana, without any sense of bias to anyone, as he swore by his oath of office or this was indeed an order influenced by Ashantehene?
Another concern centres on wondering, how those who are citizens of Ghana, happened to be living as subjects of a chiefs, in a republican democratic nation? Rockson Adofo was clearly fighting for the right of rejecting Barimah Sarfo Tweneboah Koduah, as imposed on the people of Kumawu. He instead prefer to have the favourite of his faction to serve as the tribal chief, over the inhabitants of Kumawu. Rockson use of the word "democracy" means allowing tribal factions of Kumawu land to choose their fovourite among their royals. So the choice of their preferred ruler, is going to be exactly the way Ashantene chose one for them but this time, it will be done from within.
The position of Rockson is not what you and I have in mind, where the inhabitants of Kumawu will be allowed to exercise their democratic right as Ghanaians, in voting on one man one vote basis. So the aggrieved faction are opposing having the Ashantehene imposing someone over them.
What Rockson is doing here is exactly what happened to the Ghanaian populace, when we were agitating for self rule and asking the colonial masters to stop imposing people on us. What we claimed we wanted to do is to vote for our leaders, on the basis of universal adult suffrage. We never knew that, we were being con by some people among us, into doing away with the colonial dictatorship and authority impose on us from the Queen of England, to be replaced by indigenous tribal chiefs. We had no say on who the British Monarch impose on us but how can we claim we have say when local monarchs impose themselves on us, after independence?
We all know it is just about a group of people, with superstitious claim of special royal blood running in their veins, who want to decide how the inhabitants of Kumawu will be rule. It is all about having a small group of royals who will be judging the people, selling the peoples' lands, imposing tax on the people, collecting tax from the people and spending the money on themselves. The people are always poor and shall remain ever poor, regardless to who ever impose rulers on them, as long as it is not on one man, one vote basis.
In referring to Otumfuo, Rockson Adofo went on to add that "His intention is to get his puppet to sign a document for him to sell 240,000 hectares of land to a Noreigian business tycoon and again take a 50% share of Kumawuman money sitting in the Bank of Ghana". This allegation has been going on for sometime and it look like no one is responsible enough to relieve us all of it. The question is not whether this is true or it is lie. The fact is, why did we in Ghana, created local authorities all over the country? How can a tribal chief be entering into contract on behalf of a community, when the people have a local government? Worse still, we are talking about tribal chiefs entering into contract with foreign contractors, like how these same people engaged with slave traders in the darker days of slave trade?
We live in the world where local authorities in some countries, are running highly modernised educational facilities, up to secondary level, for their inhabitants. We have local authorities building ultra modern houses to provide shelter for their inhabitants. Local authorities are providing leisure/botanical parks and health care to their inhabitants. We have local authorities providing employments for their citizens who want to work and giving benefit as incomes, to those who don't to work. We have local authorities encouraging large business like Tesco Retail outlets, Asda, Morrison's, Sainsbury's, Walmart, etc. into their communities, making large parcels of lands available to them, for a fee. We have local authorities providing ultra modern waste recycling facilities in the communities, again to create job and income, for people and the community at large.
The above article clearly shows that our local authorities are replaced by our tribal authorities and rendered useless. How on earth should any people have their money tatched away in the central or any bank of the country, under the name of a tribal authority, than the local government of the people? The fact about idle money is, someone will be tempted to hijack it when it is laying away.
I just wonder why Mr. Rockson Adofo is making all these sudden noise against Otumfuo, when Ashantehene Osei Tutu has never spare a second, at the slightest opportunity, in calling Ghanaian citizens his subjects. The king or any other tribal king in Ghana, have been very clear about their status as over Lords on Ghanaians.
How dare anyone blame a king for laying claim over his subjects and deciding how his feudal lands are used? Are the petty war lords of Kumawu telling the big king that Kumawuland is no more his and the inhabitants of Kumawu, are no more his subjects? Do we call this a form of session against the king and his Kingdom? How dare anyone say Ashantehene is interfering in Kumawuman when that is exactly the purpose the institution, he is in place to serve? How dare anyone say Ashantehene or any chief is selling land or taking away 50% of land sale in any of his authority, when that is exactly what is the purpose? What do you know to be the source of money to run the big mansion own by our kings in London and other cities of Europe?
The tone in Rockson's article sounded like Ghanaians have no choice on whether to keep the tribal chieftaincy institution to continue to manage us or not. It sounded like we just have to put up with them, whether we like it or not.
All these tribal practices are not helpful at all to any modern day Ghanaian, including the so called Chiefs themselves? The thought of thinking we are still in the pre-colonial days, when everything is about tribal people fighting over ownership of people and land, is just absurd. This is very disgusting and I have always been talking against this. Look at how they are messing every decent thing up? Look at how they have intertwine the presidency, ministers, the police, the judiciary and the army into the whole mess? We are not suppose to be having the whole chieftaincy practices in the Republican Democratic Ghanaian system, in the first place.
It is all about the question of having the tribal chieftaincy institutions or not at all? The fact is, if we chose to have the tribal chieftaincy system, then we cannot chose to live without the chsracteristics associated with their nomenclature. This things will always happen as long as these institutions exist in our lives. This is like choosing to have a group of wild dogs and you are not expecting to have them bark, bite and shit. No, that is impossible because that is what wild dogs do!
Please, Ghanaians have a choice and Ghanaians can live without all the tribal chiefs. We are better off in a local government that will exist to serve all, than this ancient system serving a tribal few!!!!

KOFI ALI ABDUL-YEKIN
Chair/Coordinator
ECOWAS CITIZENS RIGHT ADVOCATE (ECRA)
kofialiabdul@yahoo.co.uk
@actiongroupa