Well done, President ‘Kurugu!’

When the news was made public in November 2018 that the Asantehene, OtumfuoOsei Tutu The Second , and his group of eminent chiefs had managed to settle the Yendi chieftaincy crisis, which had dogged the Dagbon kingdom for nearly two decades, someone who had watched the settlement being related to the President, Nana AddoDankwaAkufo-Addo, remarked: “Oh, don’t mind those Northern chiefs. As soon as they go back to the North, they will forget everything they said in Accra and rekindle the murderous feud all over again!”

But the peace effort, adroitly engineered by the Asantehene, OtumfuoOsei Tutu II and other eminent chiefs (appointed with great care by President John Kufuor to settle the matter) held fast.

And on Friday 25 January 2019 – a date that will surely be etched in the memories of all the peace-loving people of Dagbon – the President of the Republic, Nana AkufoAddo went to Yendi himself to attend the ceremony outdooring a new Yaa-Naa (whose skin-name is NaaAbubakarMahama The Second).

The sight that greeted the President when he arrived in Yendi was magnificent. The TV coverage was excellent and we saw both Northern and Southern chiefs, as well as many prominent politicians paying their respects to the new Dagbon monarch.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that many of the Northern personalities who were interviewed on Akan-language television stations were able to express themselves in the Twi language.

It reminded me that I once heard the former Minister of information, Dr Mustapha Hamid, who is a Northerner, quote a proverb in flawless Twi to make a point, when he was addressing the staff of the Information Services Department. We already ave a lingua franca, though we are too timorous to recognise that fact.

We are behind the people of Tanzania (for example) in this, for although not all Tanzanians are native speakers of Swahili, almost everyone in that country enjoys the use of that language for business and social interaction. Such a situation automatically removes the lack of access problem that English presents to millions of our fellow countrymen and women. (In this respect, I shall never forget the time a relative of mine, who is illiterate, tried to grapple with the concept of one “million” Cedis! )

Nana Akufo-Addo is quite an astute politician, for he exhibited political footwork comparable to the antics of a Baba Yara or Mohammed Polo on a football field, when he turned up for the ceremony clad in a traditional DagbonKurugu/Mugri outfit.

That this has wrong-footed many of his political opponents can be gleaned from the many ungracious remarks made about his attire on Ghanaweb and other social media. Those who have criticised the outfit have been roundly condemned as tribalists who don;t want Ghanaians to be socially integrated, and they have snow topped their barbs.

Nana Addo’s defendants point out that it was Kwame Nkrumah’s use of what was called “an NT smock” that endeared him to many of the “verandah boys” of Ghana, when he was organising the people of the Gold Coast to fight for their independence.

The Dwabenhene, Nana OtuoSriboe (who represented the Asantehene) stole the show when he and his retinue went to greet the new Yaa-Naa.

The drums; the umbrellas and the young ladies carrying numerous secret gifts in covered traditional “containers”on their heads, aroused a lot of interest.

Also making a strong presence was the Chairman of the National House of Chiefs, the Nayiri, the Yagbonwura and other chiefs who had played a role in securing the peace settlement, were a present.

I was delighted to find that one of our most enlightened chiefs, Nana KobinaNketsia of Essikadu, had also found his way to the ceremony.

To me, the ceremony carried one very important message: we are all brothers’ keepers. We are all Ghanaians and when trouble arises anywhere on Ghanaian territory, we should all get involved in resolving it.

We shouldn’t wash our hands of the problem and pretend that it s only happening in a particular place because the people of that locality like to make trouble too much. Ghana’s peace is indivisible and we should all work towards making that a reality.

The peace deal gave access to the Abudus to the Gbewa Palace to perform the final funeral rites of the late Yaa- NaaMahamaduAbdulai, according to the Abudus’ customs and traditions. The rites lasted two weeks – commencing on 14 December 201814 and ending on 28 December 2018.

After that, the Abudus left the Gbewa Palace peacefully to allow the Andanis to take their turn at the Gbewa Palace, to observe the funeral rites of the late Ya Na YakubuAndani (from 4-18 January 2019.) Then, they too left the palace. So the new Yaa-Naa ,as elected, could be enskinned there peaecfully.

The holding of the two funeral rites paved the way for processes to begin towards the enskinment of a new Yaa Na afor the Dagbon Traditional Area.

Long may the peace endure. For it is a significant development in the modernisation of chieftaincy in Ghana. No longer are chiefs automatically expected to ensure the welfare of their people, because money has crept into the calculations regarding the accession to a stool or skin.

In the past, warriors and people of impeccable character were the candidates who were presented for approval by the traditional king-makers. That is no longer the case. But today, intense lobbying, often accompanied by bribery, seems to be the order of the day.

And once a chief gets a stool or skin through these dubuous methods, he will by all means attempt to use the stool/skin to repay the “debts” he incurred whilst canvassing for the stool/skin.

However, once the populace of a town or village or state realise that the person at the head of their affairs is a mercenary, their respect for him evaporates.

This has happened in many localities and it would be a good idea for the National House of Chiefs to try and establish rules regarding the canvassing and lobbying that can be allowed during efforts to fill a vacancy for a chief’s position.

Otherwise, they will all wake up one day to find that no-one respects chiefs any longer, because they have not heeded the ancient warning, which is beaten on our drums, that :

“Asaasetretretre, entre kwa!

Yennsi wo Henekwa!

Opaninkwa!        1              :

(The earth is wide, wide, wide;

It isn’t wide for nothing!

[Similarly] we don’t make you a chief for nothing;

We don’t make you an Elder for nothing!)

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