I read with utter disbelief a purported fine of 72 sheep and 36 cartons of schnapps imposed on an Akyem royal, Odehye Kwame Agyei Boateng, by the judicial committee of the Abuakwa Traditional Council for having the gut to accuse the Okyehene of complicity in illegal mining in the Akyem Abuakwa Traditional Area.
According to the details of the fine, should Odehye Kwame Boateng fail to meet the deadline and pay the fines, he will be considered a persona non grata in the whole of Okyeman, and nobody would be expected to either socialize with him or attend his funeral, and he cannot be buried in Akyem.
It is surprising to know that in this day and age, some chiefs are still caught up in the old ways of doing things. Yet again, I was elated to read the quick rebuttal from Odehye Kwame Boateng who said he would never pay any fine because the council had fined the wrong person.
“The traditional council should rather fine the Okyehene for the calamity he is bringing on the Abuakwa state, and rather give me the 72 sheep and 36 cartons of schnapps to appease me for referring to me as a ‘nonentity’ from Kyebi who does not matter in the Asona royal family,” he said.
While I congratulate Odehye Kwame Boateng on his bravery and steadfastness, I also reject the Okyehene’s 14th century “Ahinfia Police” attitude against his accuser. We are in the 21st century, for goodness sake, and If Okyehene feels that he has been offended and defamed, why can’t he proceed to court and seek redress?
I find the Okyehene’s behaviour quite absurd. The Okyehene should not shy away from the fact that there is a lot of “galamsey” operator’s right under his nose. At a point in time, people were even digging parts of Abuakwa State College school field for gold. The Birim River behind the school also became a site for such operations. As a great paramount chief with all the powers, what has he done about it?. “Galamsey” gives employment to the youth, but it must be done rightly and legally, taking into consideration the hazards that can come with it.
I see the fine as a bullying tactics to silence Odehye Kwame Boateng. As a chief, the okyehene should try to live above reproach if he wants to be respected. Now that Odehye Kwame Boateng has made it clear that, he will not pay the fine, what next?
The Okyehene must know that he is just a traditional overlord, and cannot banish anybody from any part of Akyem. He has no such mandate, and must be told in plain language.
Being a “Chief” doesn’t give Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panin the prerogative to deny others their basic rights guaranteed under the 4th Republican constitution of Ghana.
Why can’t Ghanaians see education as a transformative resource that offers the acquisitor the psychological clout to challenge extraneous customs, the irrelevancy of outmoded traditions, and instead see humankind as agents who have the ability to do good?
If anything, our familiarity with our cultural heritage must bolster our pride as worthy citizens, and add to our determination to convert our nation’s colourful experience, history, wealth of knowledge, and social capital to solidify Ghana’s democratic credentials, and achievements.
At this point, even the most fanatical of the believers in our traditions, are getting bewildered. There is a maze of customs that have accrued emotional attachments over a long period of years. What is clear is that, from Kyebi to Gambaga, none of the believers in the traditions has any answer to the great question of how we can live without any scientific inquiry into the mysteries of the universe.
At the same time, we have become accustomed to a host of goods which are products of scientific enterprise. Others have deftly chosen to charge us money for such goods, while adding their own unproductive religions to our own unproductive cultures. Consequently, we are mired in a double-jeopardy of inertia and irrelevance to modern advancement.
Despite all the big talk by some Kyebi opinion leaders, the Palace strife there shows that we are stuck in time. Come to think of it, these were the people who claimed God had made them to show us the way out of our morass.
Africa’s biggest problem is where leaders think they are infallible. This “idiotic syndrome” exists in every sphere of life in Africa, even between parents and wards. In this 21st century, we still live in primitive part of the world where a child has no right to say ‘don’t be silly, dad’; even if the father is undermining the existing alliance among the family members.
Why can’t we change, or what’s preventing us from moving from static state of reasoning to dynamism? It is very disgusting for members of Abuakwa Traditional Council not to take this criticism on the chin but rather chose to incite the youth for violence and demanding such fine from Odehye Kwame Boateng (a concern member of the council) for speaking his mind.
My disappointment stems from the fact that if a whole traditional council being led by Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panyin (someone with over 20-years of experience abroad), does not see any sense in what Odehye Kwame Boateng is putting across, then, the people of Abuakwa Traditional Area are in serious trouble for having such a person as a chief.
The Okyehene is recorded as having chided political leaders for failing of the people for doing nothing during their four- year term of office. Bearing in mind that the Okyehene, as a paramount chief, has tremendous superintending powers over his lesser chiefs and all the lands in his domain, is hard to belief that he professes not to know the damage that is been caused by the illegal mining activity in his traditional area.
It is difficult to understand that, somehow, he has not acquiesced, and indeed, benefitted from this activity. His accuser has a very good case, and I am solidly behind Odehye Kwame for his campaign against illegal mining.
I shall be back!
By: Dela Coffie
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