Sunday, 17 July 2016

Does The Institution Of Chieftaincy Pose An Existential Threat To The Unitary Status Of The Republic Of Ghana?

Does the institution of Chieftaincy pose an existential threat to the unitary status of the Republic of Ghana?

And if as many Progressives  and nationalists in Ghana, insist, the institution of Chieftaincy is a redoubt and the last bastion of Ghana's rabid tribal-supremacists, should Ghanaians continue to accept and tolerate it?

The time has come for discerning Ghanaians to have a conversation about the role of Chiefs in the Ghana of today. It is time Ghanaians understood clearly the real nature of the Chieftaincy institution. Today's piece is this blog's humble contribution to that conversation.

Any system that is built on a foundation of the enslavement of others is an iniquitous one. Societies that tolerate such systems in the 21st century will continue to remain backward nations. Ghanaians must never forget that inherited privilege is the greatest enemy of meritocracy.

That is why the clear-headed and deep-thinking leaders of India, moved rapidly to rid their country of the miasma that inherited privilege represents, by taking steps to do away  with the Maharajas after independence - with Prime Minister Indira Ghandi finally removing the last remaining privileges of India's Maharajas in 1971.

Today, India,  a country that once had an agrarian economy with a mostly impoverished population, is a global economic power - whiles Ghana continues to remain stunted economically.

No modern nation has prospered without first ridding itself of feudalism - and Ghana will continue to mark time if puts up with the institution of Chieftaincy, a relic from our pre-colonial feudal past, which in 2016 still literally enslaves some of our fellow citizens.

What then is the point of maintaining the institution of Chieftaincy in modern Ghana? Is it not a fact that the palaces of Chiefs across Ghana are peopled mostly by tribal-supremacist individuals who think that their particular tribal group is superior to all other tribal groupings in Ghana?

Yet, that foolish belief held by many of the denizens of Chiefs palaces across Ghana flies in the face of the results of some of the latest scientific research.

Empirical evidence by researchers show conclusively that Ghanaians are one people: We share virtually the same DNA regardless of the part of the nation we hail from and whatever our ethnic heritage is.

That is why patriotic and nationalistic Ghanaians insist that no tribe is inferior or superior to another in the unitary Republic of diverse-ethnicity that is our homeland Ghana.

Only a nation in which many have the mentality of serfs will delude itself into thinking that a system that enslaves others so that they will be permanently available to fetch and carry for a privileged few, is the embodiment of culture.

Culture is dynamic. How then can the calcified institution of Chieftaincy be the repository of our cultural heritage? It is not. Any system that permits human beings to carry their fellow human beings on their heads in palanquins is abhorrent and an abominable one. Why tolerate it in this day and age, I ask?

Our living culture, which is dymamic, is on display in many aspects of our everyday lives: When we mourn and bury our loved ones who pass away; at child-naming ceremonies; during marriage ceremonies;  how the different generations relate to each other when they interact; etc., etc.

In all of my 63 years on this earth, I am yet to come across any Ghanaian who was a deep thinker, who, precisely because he or she mercifully did not have a serf-mentality (the unfortunate malaise that alas afflicts so many in this country), did not also despise the institution of Chieftaincy - because it is a carry-over of the ghastly fuedal system from our pre-colonial past.

There is not a single country anywhere in the world that has progressed without first ridding itself of feudalism. That is why we must not tolerate today's progeny of the ruling elites of our pre-colonial feudal past: especially when they disrespect our democratically elected leaders. That is intolerable.

In light of the totally unacceptable ultimatum issued recently to the regime led by the Commander-in-Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces, by Chiefs in Kumasi, if we had a regime in power today that clearly understood the latent threat posed to the stability and cohesion of the Republic of Ghana, by Chiefs, they would be moving rapidly to take a number of steps to neutralise that potential threat.

To begin with, the government of President Mahama must make sure that  Act 759, that discriminatory Chieftaincy Act of 2008, is amended before the end of its tenure: and ensure that the amended version clearly states that all Paramount Chiefs are of equal status and share the same protocol-ranking in the Republic of Ghana.

Act 759 of 1971 is  one of most outrageous pieces of legislation ever passed by any of Ghana's post-independence Parliaments. With the exception of its main beneficiary, it is an affront to all the other Paramount Chiefs in Ghana.

It is the disgraceful handiwork of the tribal-supremacists and hypocritical politicians who dreamt it up in 1971 as an amendment to the original piece of legislation crafted in 1961 on which it is based.

An egregious insult to all the Paramount Chiefs in Ghana whom it does not name - which means all Paramount Chiefs in Ghana bar one: the tribal Chief of the tribal-supremacist politicians then in power who shepherded it through Parliament in 1971 - Act 759 must be revised to reflect the edict of the 1992 Constituency that no one should be discriminated against in the Republic of Ghana.

Secondly, if it has not already done so, then the government of the National Democratic Congress (NDC),  must not accept the resignation of the Metropolitan Chief Executive (MCE) of the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA), the Hon. Kojo Bonsu, under any circumstances.

To accept the resignation of the Hon. Kojo Bonsu, would be tantamount to appeasing Chiefs - who clearly have overblown ideas about themselves and need to be put firmly in their place. No weakness whatsoever must be shown to Chiefs who issue ultimatums to the Commander-in-Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces.  Ever.

Where, in the 1992 Constitution, is there a  state-within-a-state clause - such that any Paramount Chief in Ghana can carry on as if he was the reigning monarch of such a state-within-a-state in the Republic of Ghana? None.

The question is: Since when did a refusal to  fawn on Chiefs and a refusal by government appointees to humour arrogant Chiefs been a crime in Nkrumah's Ghana? No one who is clear-headed, who also thinks deeply and does not have a serf-mentality, is a toady. Period.

Clearly, the Hon. Kojo Bonsu does not have a serf-mentality and refuses to kowtow to any Chief in the Republic of Ghana. That is as it should be in a liberal society that is also a constitutional democracy. Hard-working men like the Hon. Kojo Bonsu have no need to be toadies.

If it is indeed true that Chiefs in Kumasi did say that they will frustrate the  execution of national development projects in Kumasi if the Hon. Kojo Bonsu remains in office, so be it. If media reports to that effect are true, then it was not the wisest of statements for noble men said to be sagacious to make - but that is their own headache.

The vast majority of the residents of Kumasi will always remember that once upon a time Chiefs in Kumasi put foolish pride ahead of the well-being of their city and the welfare of the people who live in it. Is that really the kind of legacy Kumasi's Chiefs want to leave behind? Incredible.

Finally, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government of President Mahama must learn to have an arms-length relationship with all Chiefs in Ghana. Let them treat them with respect, but going to the extent of lending some Chiefs the presidential plane  must cease forthwith (if that bush-telegraph Toli is true that is).

That ought to be the position of every government  of Ghana that actually cares about the stability and cohesion of our country - for the institution of Chieftaincy without question does pose a long-term existential threat to the survival of the unitary status of the Republic of Ghana.
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