THE KING HAS DIED! LONG LIVE THE KING!
I don’t know who borrowed from whom or put in the political parlance of today’s: “who stole” another’s cloth? I dare would be controversial more than enough to claim that I think our ancestors had it first, considering its genealogical date backs, irrespective of which people occupied this earthly world the earliest. I am dwelling my case exclusively on the formula of oral and later written words constructed to convey the news of death of royalty—from the overlord to micro hereditary ruler—its authorised and unbroken consistency with hallowed and decorous simplicity from ancient time as far back as the history led in human recall.
The verbiage has not altered since one bit, unless there might be an English Historian Rattray’s genius in you. [He at one moment translates the oath of allegiance at enstoolment ceremony of an African Chief [King; and in that instance the Asantehene (Kumasi and the King of the Ashanti) with such admirable respect and then later describes the Ashanti as “primitive…savage people” in a book[printed by Oxford Press]
. In contrast, within the terminologies in global formulae of literal and oral presentation announcing the demise of royalty, I should remark in passing pointedly that the continuum of the language in the announcement of death, shows that at least in one significant respect, we have kept something, despite its sacredness because we revere the dead; but that we are not after all destroyers of all of our heritage, much as we detest trends now.
That clap over, it is true we have failed to seize the narrative of our own history and tell it with unquestionable authority to the world. The intent is that it is now most imperative, especially three score and three years after Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah [First President first Republic-1960-66 after independence 1957] was stopped in the overthrow by combined Military and Police, repeating that the African is not inferior, a hated attempt to make it stick once and for all to a world fed and living with too many misconceptions about the African. It had been admitted throughout that if his vehicle was mainly the political arena, it is more than time for us to retrieve the lapse and fill in the omissions with a double-fisted approach—written and oral.
And here in our country, it is beginning to happen. I can report having sighted snippets from what reads a very exciting piece of intellectual historical delivery on King Tackie I of Accra—his life and times. Already, I have gleaned three heavy weights in the stuff and have rounded them out in an anecdote: “The important message is the urge which compels this generation to start the renaissance for us to reconstruct and tell our own story about our history including without praising or condemning the brave leaders, Kings, Chiefs, men and women of thought and valour for their selflessness serving their people and country—a man like King Tackie Tawiah I of Accra.”
To keep my relay straight, I shall presently add the other two and then briefly discourse curtain-raisers on issues each of which necessarily projects further probes, hoping to add a mere little to detail for the world and posterity as indeed the erudition in the upcoming lecture inevitably brings anyone to a shortest step closer to want to learn some more about our past and throws up for instance what looks like an intractable national problem put here thus: “The genealogical controversies surrounding Tackie’s origins give an inkling into the complex dynamics of royal pedigrees in Ga society, a matter which continues to bedevil the Ga chieftaincy institution.”
And thirdly, what it was that the British colonial government made the Elmina Castle the prison for the chiefs they exiled for standing up to them. The same has a sub-subject with regard to clearing up (a) the overall role [courageous, despicable and or whichever] of our chiefs on rights; and (b) to attempt to find new lights to settle the confusion about the distinct separation between who did what towards and or for independence and the “Founder-Complex-Bug”.
On chieftaincy, it is apparent that it is only academia which shall seize itself with the initiative to unravel how and why the institution finds itself as if under siege—legitimacy, recognition and public standing, which only not more than a few can be safely vouched throughout the country. It is painful because that is our singular and sine qua non bedrock as a nation people. I would not let the chiefs themselves alone but prefer for undisputed record now and futurely that any research would engage them among primary sources. Without any disrespect, asking them to undertake the job, is like asking for abdications en masse.
But we have to unlock the difficulties stalking chieftaincy and royalty-succession open-mindedly guided by written and oral history with laid down processes to guide, coming to both principled and enduring sustenance of it. That then unleashes the potential and power to influence stability for progress initiatives such as King Tackie and his kind strove across the country. Incidentally, those [not all] led to wars of annexations comparable with 18th century Prussian Empire. While on that, I should state my opposition to the use of the word “development”, which is used un-checked to mark up or down a chief. In the stories which represent the causes for removing our chiefs, you often heard “he did not do anything”. It is an erroneous attachment because it supposes the chief was or is laid back—neither initiated nor participated [except war led by few] whereas there would have been or were better reasons which certainly was not the sort the colonial Brits had used to usurp power.
I should remember also the treachery of some of their people. That also needs finding out because traditionally, allegiance is owed by all to the chief. But the causes of exiling chiefs have none as clear mix for cause(s). The probable alternate place to locate it is the Elmina castle where two strong Kings were held—Tackie and Prempeh I before Sierra Leone and finally to the Seychelles. But that offers no leads. Elmina is listed as the key outlet for Gold, Ivory and slaves specifically from Ashanti. There are gaps who, why in that Ashanti bit of involvement in the Slave Trade to re-examine to draw down properly. Cursorily read, there is a deeper story which can only be best explained telling by us.
I like to observe with reference to detentions on own post-independence, might the practice, as bad as probably, have been inherited, we have yet to establish that per se historically and move on to demarcate the political rational differences and or nuances, contrasted with the colonial model and its goals. At the bottom, there is no real departure from the sole or of one major in the purposes which was to silence the deemed “Trouble-maker(s) – I.T.Wallace Johnson, the Sanwiss, “Big Six” and corresponding African freedom fighters by the Brits. Is it the same tactic whereby authority uses to intimidate or as protest which we had experienced in the X’Borg shootings, the boycott and the bombs? All of these historical-driven enquiries via speculation presently, confirm an urgent renaissance to occur. That in a sense was starting according to a flurry of Ads, Radio/TV and other publicity currently.
Confessedly, I have a problem. It has two elements: funding these and the research. The third is whether it would change our reading habits. I think these headaches are not new, but I suspect the fresh African University-centered energy being brought to it would, if sustained, fizzle out the rampant distortions of our history both locally and globally. A bigger problem is enveloped in whether the financing shall be state-stipend. The reality of that consists of the pledges that would be contingent upon the status of the economy and the culture of dependency on that, a colonial relic which created the hard-to-banish “paternal-state-mentality” and the phenomenal passiveness of all governments towards research in general.
We may have to find and build a special Research-Kitty for the restoration and hopefully the first products would excite private donations and endowments which shall put the study of history on auto-pilot for this generation and the elders to start writing what they know and I bet there is a well.
© Prof nana essilfie-conduah.