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Wamfie Will Secede From Cheating Dormaa.

Author:
Nana Akrase
Date:
2008-03-17 08:54:02


It is only a matter of time, Wamfie ( the original owner of the Wam lands ) will certainly secede from the one who resides at wampamu....Akrase

To ensure that the hoped-for distribution of public goods would be concentrated in Wamfie, Wamfie?s leading citizens and its chief sought to secede from the Dormaa state and found the independent Mansen state. Wamfie launched its bid to secede from Dormaa in 1951 under the leadership of Kwasi Ansu. From the outset, the dispute revolved around the distribution of land revenue.

The Dormaahene (or paramount chief),Nana Agyemang Badu, had imposed a two-schilling tax on each bag of cocoa sold. Ansu contended that his division, the Krontire division, was the largest cocoa producing division in Dormaa, and therefore deserved a larger share of the monies. Moreover, Ansu claimed the Dormaahene had agreed to this logic, and promised to give the Krontire division ?2,750 for the construction of a new school and court building. In the end, the Dormaahene gave the division only ?250 (Resolution passed by the Mansenhene, 10 November 1951; interview with female dignitary, Wamfie, 17 September 1996). dignitaries, Wamanafo 18 September 1996). 25

More generally, Ansu rebelled against the Dormaahene?s claims to Wamfie land. In early petitions to the British District Commissioner, Ansu claimed nearly 27 villages and all the land therein for the new Mansen state. And he complained that the Dormaahene was ?interfering with the quiet enjoyment and possession by the Mansenhene of his ancestral lands,? and that the Dormaahene had improperly instructed the District Commissioner ?not to countersign any documents relating to Mansen land which had not been passed by the Dormaahene himself (Resolution passed by the Mansenhene, 10 November 1951).?

The dispute between Dormaa and Wamfie has endured nearly 50 years, and remains active today. The dispute?s intensity ebbs and flows, following the currents of national politics. Wamfie?s citizens have most actively pursued their claims just prior to independence, when Kwasi Ansu gained the support of the opposition National Liberation Movement; and in 1966, when K.A. Busia?s UnitedParty ousted Kwame Nkrumah?s Convention Peoples Party and re-enstooled Kwasi Ansu (whom Kwame Nkrumah had destooled). The dispute (now between two pretendants to the deceased Kwasi Ansu?s office) gained new life in 1996, when President Jerry Rawlings privatized a state-owned cocoa farm and returned to the Dormaa state 750 hectares of undeveloped farmland valued at 17 million cedis.

The bulk of the undeveloped land lies in the area claimed by Wamfie (Interview with businessman, Sunyani, 29 October 1996). In pursuing their claim, Wamfie?s citizens have taken full advantage of all the legal forum offered by the colonial and post colonial states. Litigants have brought suit in local courts, in Ghana?s Supreme Court, in native tribunals, and in the contemporary Regional House of Chiefs. They have petitioned divisional officers, local administrators, and prime ministers. They have framed their arguments in terms of customary law, writing at length about the historical details surrounding Mansen?s affiliation with Dormaa, and about traditions governing succession to office. And they have appealed to western law, invoking Lockean principles of private property.

Moreover, in the dispute?s most current iteration, the Dormaahene?s supporters have borrowed from Wamfie?s strategy set and created a local Lands Committee to oversee use of the privatized land, and to ensure that the revenue from the land is used to benefit Wamfie and the surrounding villages. The Lands Committee ? a private institutional innovation ? is intended to assure citizens that the new revenue will be shared equitably with the Krontire division, and thereby persuade the villages surrounding Wamfie to split with the rebel candidate (Ansu Agyei) and rededicate themselves to the Dormaahene and his candidate (Kodjo Peprah) (Interview with Lands Committee members, Wamfie, 26 and 27 October 1996).

All of these efforts have failed. Wamfie?s citizens have been unable to establish their independence from Dormaa, and Dormaa has not compelled Wamfie to end its protests and accept Dormaa?s rule. I argue that Wamfie?s efforts have failed because local actors have been unable to enforce their privately negotiated institutional reforms or resolve their ongoing distributional conflict with Dormaa. Wamfie?s private institutional reforms can succeed only if citizens alone exercise control over the chief?s term in office, determining the chief?s identity, the conditions under which he may govern, and how he will be rewarded. The conflict between Wamfie and Dormaa will end only if citizens can compel Dormaa to accept their departure (or conversely, fail if Dormaa can force Wamfie to accept its distributional losses).

These conditions are not attainable in part because citizens in Wamfie and Dormaa have not negotiated a satisfactory solution to their distributional conflict. Instead, each side insists on imposing zero-sum losses upon the other. Thus, the private solutions are not self-enforcing. Equally important, however, the conditions are not attainable because local actors are not autonomous decision-makers. The colonial and post-colonial states both made local decision-makers dependent upon the state to ratify and uphold local decisions.

Paradoxically, though state institutions have compelled local actors to rely upon external enforcement, state institutions do not give politicians and bureaucrats an incentive to offer definitive or consistent ratification of local decisions. Colonial bureaucrats refused to intercede decisively in local disputes for fear of undermining the paramount chiefs? authority. The chief was the linchpin of the British system. To intervene incorrectly was to weaken the chief. British officers were, then, constantly striving to determine ?true? custom and were often swayed by whomever mounted the most persuasive case at any given moment (BERRY [1993]; FIRMIN-SELLERS [1995]; PHILLIPS [1989]).

Contemporary politicians refuse to intercede decisively, because they have a direct interest in the disputes? outcome. This is vividly illutrated in Dormaa. At the time of independence, the Dormaahene lent his political support to Kwame Nkrumah, giving him a political base in a predominantly opposition area. In return, Nkrumah supported the Dormaahene in his dispute with Wamfie, agreeing to exile both Kwasi Ansu and Ansu?s main supporters. For a time, the Dormaa-Mansen dispute receded. When Nkrumah was overthrown and replaced by Busia in 1966, Wamfie?s citizens quickly sent a letter assuring Busia of their support and condemning the Nkrumah regime (Letter from Akua Malon, grandmother and sisters of Wamfie to Chairman, National Liberation Council, 3 May 1962). Busia then re-enstooled Kwasi Ansu and compelled the Dormaahene to pay reparations (Report from Regional Administrative Officer, Sunyani to Secretary, National Liberation Council 20 October 1966).

More recently, in this new era of multiparty politics, Rawlings has supported the Dormaahene?s candidate, Kodjo Peprah; and the Dormaahene has given Rawlings a base of support in a region historically dominated by the opposition. The state?s ambivalence has only reinforced citizens? proclivities for litigation. As during the colonial period, citizens today are able to present and re-present their cases in multiple forum, under multiple guises, again forestalling definitive judgmentsagainst (or for) them.
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Okomfo Anokye Bajan
03-17 09:42
nii boi
03-17 09:45
Nana Akrase
03-17 11:12