The following points were raised by the writer, acting as a resource person, in a five-day session dubbed, “Development Revival” organised by the Generational Thinkers of Ave-Dakpa (GTAD), a think-tank at Ave-Dakpa in the Akatsi North District of the Volta Region of Ghana:
Topics for Discussion:
-Unity, peace and security for development
-Youth for development
-Chiefs and elders for development
-Queen-mothers and women for development
-Government and other stakeholders for development
UNITY, PEACE AND SECURITY FOR DEVELOPMENT
- A) Unity
- Unity is sensed, felt and seen–it results from love, care, forgiveness, loyalty, empathy and sympathy.
- Unity is a binding factor for a group/community to develop.
- Unity has no place for acrimony, envy, hatred, discrimination, backbiting, insults and attacks.
- A community unites for a purpose and for strength to do a task.
- Unity draws people of varied ages, experiences, ideas, attitudes and behaviour together for a common vision for or goal of development.
- B) Peace
- Unity brings peace.
- Effective fellowship (spirit of love and “we-feeling”) and forgiveness promotes peace.
- Good communal spirit and peace of mind in a group/community speeds up development.
- Negative acts like arrogance, covetousness, jealousy, gossiping, and “pull down” affect peace.
- Misunderstandings, conflicts and wars confront peace and not encouraged in development.
- C) Security
- Security is sensed, felt and seen.
- Security is about protection of person(s), a group’s ideals/property and people’s well-being.
- A secured group/community upholds accountability, probity and fairness for development.
- Without peace and unity, there is no security.
- Security is by All (all-inclusive), for All (needed by everybody) and for all purposes at all times—protection, peace, law and order must be kept always for development.
- D) Development
1) Development is measurable and verifiable (it can be quantified, qualified and evaluated).
2) Development is seen, felt and described.
3) Development is purposeful, progressive and all-inclusive.
4) Development is a process and it takes different forms: physical (infrastructural), socio-cultural, economic and political (citizenship, leadership and management).
5) Development is a product of unity, peace, security, hard work, love, commitment, dedication, selflessness, respect for self and for others, honesty, fairness, firmness, transparency, good leadership, good followership (citizenship), etc.
YOUTH FOR DEVELOPMENT
- Youth are an important section of a society.
- Youth have the energy, exuberance and resources (i.e. time, ideas and even money) to support development.
- Youth need coaching and guidance from chiefs/elders to be more responsible and productive.
- Youth, when left unsupported, can be tempted to be overly reactive to some situations.
- Youth are prone to the tendency of being arrogant, insulting and abusive so the need to support them to do things well at all times.
- When tapped effectively, the resources in youth are useful to the development of communities.
- Youth are great doers of communal projects due to their rich resources.
CHIEFS AND ELDERS FOR DEVELOPMENT
- A) CHIEFS
- A chief keeps and defends (i.e. custodian of) tradition, culture and customs of a community.
- A chief protects and conserves good things in a community (resources/property).
- The well-being of citizens/residents is dear to a chief and he protects them against enemies, diseases, poverty, hunger, starvation and mysterious deaths.
- A chief is a person elected in accordance with a customary law and usage and recognised by Government to have an authority and performs functions derived from tradition or assigned by the central government (Arhin, 2002).
- Article 277 of Ghana’s 1992 Constitution defines chief as a person, who hailing from the appropriate family and lineage, has been validly nominated, elected or selected and enstooled or enskinned (installed), as a chief or queen mother, in accordance with the relevant customary law and usage and recognised by Government to have authority and performs functions derived from tradition or assigned by the central government.
Personalities and items defining a chief:
According to Ntewusu (2017), in his online notes, “UGRC 228: Chieftaincy and Development”, the personalities and items that identify a chief are:
- A) Linguist
- B) Asafo
- C) Servants
- D) Music and musical instruments
- E) Regalia
- F) Stool/skin
Process in becoming a chief:
Ntewusu (2017) stated the process in becoming a chief as:
1) By descent/royal lineage (appropriate family and lineage)
2) By nomination
3) By election/selection
4) By enstoolment/enskinment (installation)
5) By confinement
6) By outdooring
7) By gazette/gazetting
Hierarchy in chieftaincy:
Ntewusu (2017) stated the hierarchy in chieftaincy as:
- Paramount chiefs
- Divisional chiefs
- Female chiefs and leaders-Ohemaa, Po-Naa, Mamaga, Magazia
- Traditional chief priests-Earthpriests (Tendana), Okomfo, Wulomo, etc.
In modern times, youth chiefs/leaders (e.g. Sohefia, Abrantiehene, etc.), development chief (e.g. Nkosuohene, Ngoryifia, etc.), strangers’ chief (e.g. amedzrofia)
Major functions of a chief:
Ntewusu (2017) identified, as below, major functions of chiefs:
- Protector/custodian of tradition, culture, customs, norms and property
- Moral icon
- Agent of development
- B) ELDERS/OPINION LEADERS
- Elders/opinion leaders are identified as matured and experienced persons with proven records of good morals, performance and achievements.
- Elders/opinion leaders are not necessarily members of royal families or may not even be connected to royals—they could be heads of families/clans, or even strangers of good records.
- Elders/opinion leaders are of sound mind, knowledgeable in the history of the community and rich in opinions, plans and possibly in resources (i.e. money and materials) for development.
- Elders take summons and adjudicate on them or assigned by chiefs to adjudicate and to report.
- Though not a part of royals or of royal courts or of the chieftaincy architecture, per se, elders may be invited to provide an information or to take part in a royal sitting.
- In some localities or traditional areas, Councils of Chiefs and Elders bring chiefs, queen-mothers and renowned elders or their representatives together to plan and discuss development.
- Elders/opinion leaders are a strong backbone of chiefs and queen-mothers.
QUEEN-MOTHERS AND WOMEN FOR DEVELOPMENT
- A) Queen-mothers
- Queen-mothers have an ideal role of overseeing females (i.e. women/girls) in communities.
- Ghana’s 1992 Constitution (Article 277) has Queen-mothers in the chieftaincy architecture.
- There is need for more representation, power and influence for Queen-mothers at royal courts.
- Queen-mothers are a part of any retinue of chiefs and elders at public events/forums.
- Queen-mothers have linguists, servants; music and musical instruments, regalia and stool/skin.
- On women empowerment, marital troubles, divorce, and on child marriages, abortion, teenage pregnancy; childhood and women-related matters, Queen-mothers provide some guidance or recommend for professional support.
- Queen-mothers are a part of royal courts in some localities and adjudicate on matters, especially concerning women/girls, and report on same to chiefs or at royal courts.
- Queen mothers are a great body, soul and spirit of communities; they handle issues on love, relationship, and on marriage and family life. On failed love relationships and “broken hearts”, Queen-mothers counsel and encourage victims for psycho-emotional relief/recovery.
- Queen-mothers advocate for unity, peace and security (i.e. citizens’ well-being).
- Queen-mothers attend to visitors and assure them of their safety in communities and towns.
- B) Women
- No town exists without females (i.e. women and girls)-they are a major section of the society.
- National census says female number is over 50% the size of some 30 million people in Ghana.
- When tapped well, such a huge number of females (women/girls) could yield a greater fold of contributions to development than what even men and boys may provide.
- Girls grow into women and once supported well, they become useful to their communities.
- Girls and young females suffer indecision and the temptation to become child-spouses, teenage mothers, child labourers, and victims of failed relationships with its associated disappointment, stress and depression. Dangerous acts like abortion, use of illicit drugs for sexual pleasure and the thought of having to commit suicide disturb girls and young females. They need support to have sound mind, energy, time and money for development.
- Women need financial, material and psycho-social support to contribute to development. Issues of delayed marriage, marital troubles and childlessness with the feeling that husbands, men and society are unhappy with them limit some women’s interest in development.
- Women are loving, caring, empathetic and forgiving-values useful for development.
- During communal labour and self-help projects, women are usually seen fetching water, cooking, giving money and urging the men and youth to work well.
- With their soft voice and use of decent words, women usually are seen calming down hot temperament of men and youth, especially during heated debates and quarrels.
- Procreation perpetuates a community. Without women, no community can increase in population. Men and societies should act in ways that comfort them and make wives and mothers have the peace of mind in their marriages so to continue to support their communities to develop.
GOVERNMENT AND OTHER STAKEHOLDERS FOR DEVELOPMENT
- A) Government
- Government is seen as a big stakeholder and partner of any community development.
- Government is the chief supplier and superintendent of basic amenities (e.g. water, food, electricity, etc.), social services (education, health and sanitation, transport-roads, etc.), and security/social protection (Military, Police, safeguarding tradition/culture, etc.).
- A community hardly lives without government partnership and support.
- Government has structures to work with and to support communities—e.g. central government and decentralised bodies (e.g. parliament, ministries/departments/agencies, district assemblies, zonal councils and unit committees), and non-state bodies (e.g. Houses of Chiefs).
- Government deals with and supports communities through the district assemblies.
- Communities, mainly led by chiefs/assembly members and through the Assemblies, notify government for partnership and for support.
- Communities use appeals and lobbying via courtesy calls/visits, letters, phone calls and at festivals and public events (e.g. town-hall meetings) to communicate their needs to government.
- Government, mainly through the Assemblies [e.g. M/DEOC, NYA, Department of Community Development, etc.], connects to communities for partnership and for support. Traditional leaders, corporate bodies, FBOs/CBOs/NGOs and individuals are identified by Assemblies for partnership and for support in community development.
- Government is a stakeholder and partner NOT a sole duty-bearer of community development.
- Communities do communal labour and self-help projects to support their development.
- Communities, with the support of traditional leaders, and assembly and unit committee members, can form committees as follows (it is good to assign unit committee members or persons trusted to lead such committees) for development:
- I) Finance and Audit Committee
- II) Education and Social Services Committee
III) Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Committee
- IV) Festivals and Fundraising Committee
- V) Information Services Management Committee
- VI) Chieftaincy, Religious Affairs and Security Committee
- B) Stakeholders
- Stakeholders are partners, donors, supporters, facilitators, encouragers, participants and beneficiaries (either directly or indirectly) of an area’s development.
- Stakeholders are not necessarily the torch-bearers or vision-bearers or duty-bearers of development.
- Stakeholders are of local source (in the communities) or external (outside of the communities).
- Stakeholders (i.e. local ones) mostly are impressed upon or convinced as the external ones are searched for, lobbied and invited (some may trace to join by themselves) to support development.
- Stakeholder status may be permanent (e.g. youth into communal work) or temporary (i.e. project specific-e.g. nurses for community sensitisation against CoViD-19).
- Stakeholders may be individuals (e.g. citizens, teachers, nurses, etc.) or bodies (GES, GHS, GCB, NYA, etc.).
- Stakeholders may be beneficiaries of projects (e.g. CEPS/Immigration constructing a road into its border post through a town for more revenue) or non-profit making (e.g. FBOs/CBOs/NGOs, benefactors).
- Stakeholders may be of state or parastatal (private and government) or non-state (purely private based).
- Stakeholders analyse proposals of activities and projects for viability as against accountability, transparency and trust of the project leaders to determine whether to support or not to support.
- Stakeholders are honoured during commissioning of projects and at public events. In a community-stakeholder engagement, any help offered is valuable and ought to be appreciated.
E-mail: [email protected]
NB: The writer is an educationist and a professional counsellor in Ghana Education Service (GES) with thanks to Director of Girls’ Education (GES), Mrs. Benedicta Seidu, for the review.