By Henking A. Adjase-Kodjo
When on Monday August 3, 2015 news officially broke about the passing of Oseadeeyo Addo DankwaIII, Paramount Chief of the Akwapem Traditional Area,a chain of questions came to mind.
Will the Akwapems also disappoint mother Ghana and take to open confrontation or street fight to select a successor who will take over the traditional leadership of the area or they will prove themselves more united and advanced; and use the opportunity to demonstrate to Ghanaians that indeed Okuapeman is the home of discipline, fellow-feeling, orderliness, and respect for authority and due process. By that, at least, they will also show that they have picked useful lessons from the sad but avoidable succession disputes that have devastated other traditional areas across the country.
I dare say that if the police should put together and publish a list stating the causes of violent communal clashes and protracted disputes, chieftaincy will be in the highest category, if not topmost.Ask me in my sleep to recite the names of traditional areas that have literally been shattered by needless succession disputes and I will put up a good show; I will give you ten times the number you request.
Sadly, I have been casting my mind around to point out good examples of areas that have gone through seamless and peaceful processes to fill vacant paramount stools but I can?t seem to find any readily. Yes, it is quite an exercise. May be we should put together a list of the good and bad examples, only then will we realize how bad the situation is.
Once a stool of skin/skin becomes vacant, greed and self-interest take the better part of the kingmakers/elders (the very people who should know better) and we see them slapping truth in the face, side-stepping custom, tradition and laid down process which end up creating confusion on which and from which they gladly feed at the expense of peace and development of their communities.
The bad Yilo Krobo example
Here in my backyard, in the Yilo Krobo traditional area, blood ties have virtually been severed over matters of succession/chieftaincy, turning kith and kin into arch enemies because the elders (kingmakers) will not speak or stand by the truth and do the right thing to select or endorse the most deserving candidate to continue the work of the late Paramount Chief, (Konor) Kpetekple Nene Narh Dautey Ologo IV who passed away in 2009.
One gate has taken over the palace and installed a?new Konor? to the annoyance of the others who have pitched camp just across the entrance to the palace, seething with anger and waiting for the least opportunity (on the blind side of the police) to stage a show and eject the former.
The people of Manya Krobo (next door neighbours to the Yilos) were down a similar lane following the death of Oklemekuku Nene Azu Mate-Kole such that eight year after his passing, the stool remained vacant characterized by acrimony and clear division that visibly stagnated the development of the area. Believe it or not, the ghost of that disagreement and infighting is still hounding the Manya Krobo state, seventeen good years after the stool was eventually filled (in 1998). Tell me why this should not be an example for the people of Yilo to learn from.
Who is the real Ga Matse?
Isn?t it amazing (and disgraceful, if you like) that there is only one Ga Paramount stool/Traditional Council with ?two GaMatseme??We were recently told (in the Monday August 3, 2015 edition of the Daily Graphic newspaper) of the installation of a ?new? GaMatse, King Dr. Tackie Teiku Tsuru II, whose installation had the backing of ?the kingmaker? and Dzasetse of the Ga state, Nii Dr. Kwei.Do we have a sole kingmaker or kingmakers; or maybe the Ga state operates a structure or setup different from the other Ga-Dangme tribes.
We also know of another Ga Matse in the person of Nii Adama Latse II who is also backed by the Ga Traditional Council and whose name is said to have already been gazzeted in the Greater Accra Regional House of Chiefs as well as the national register of chiefs.
Is that to say he went through the due and complete process of installation and had the support of all (emphasis on all)who should consent to his enthronement, including the ?sole kingmaker? who has since taken side with the new Matse, King Teiku Tsuru, the rival camp?
Before then, there was another GaMatse, King TackieTawiahII who at a point ruled concurrently with NiiAdamaLatse. He however passed away in silence and many were hoping that could open up an opportunity for the system to be sanitized. But what do we see, claim upon claims that are only stirring the muddy water, creating unnecessary tension and holding back the development of the traditional area and worse of it all tainting the bigger image of an otherwise revered institution, chieftaincy.
Widespread chieftaincy clashes
We all saw the Abudus and Andanis of Dagbon take on each other in a recurrent strife with the resultant loss of lives and destruction of properties. The Bolga area has had to literally come to a standstill due to the rumpus over succession. The Kumawu, Tuobodom, Kade, Nungua, AkyemSwedru, Yeji, Wa, Nadowli, Suhyen, Abease, Senchi, Buipe, Nakpanduri, Brekum, and AkyemKotoku areas all took turn to give Ghanaians needless headache over one form of chieftaincy dispute or the other. The violence that rocked Afloa, Bunkpurugu, Bimbilla etc. and attendant fatalities left many with nagging questions if chieftaincy is doing us more harm than good in its current form and practice.
We have come to a point where we simply can?t wait any further to put in pragmatic measures to stem the tide and that is why all who have a role to play in bringing to fruition the ongoing project by the National House of Chief to codify the lines of succession to all stools and skins must embrace it and give it urgent attention to save mother Ghana the shame and pain.
Over to you, the people of Akwapem
Very soon, the process to find a successor for the late OseadeeyoAddoDankwa III, will commence and that would be even before we get to implementing what comes out of this codification exercise;the Akwapems thuscan chose to distinguish themselves and be the streak of light in the midst of the darkness that is spreading across the country.Some of us can and will support in prayers but the decision to move Okuapemanforward or turn upside down like the others did or is in their hands. We hope for the best.
SOURCE: The writer is a journalist(activist writer) and a culture enthusiast. Read Part I of this article on thekroboquill.blogspot.com (http://thekroboquill.blogspot.com/2015/05/giving-chieftaincy-bad-name-yilo-krobo.html) or contact him through firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on twitter via @henkingklonobi