So what happens when one paramount Chief kidnaps the other? A King will roar! hence The Ashanti King, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II , sounded his ‘war drums’ to issue a threat to also kidnap the Chief of Techiman, Oseadeayo Akumfi Ameyaw if he steps foot in Kumasi, capital of the Ashanti Region.
“I closely watching with keen interest and I will kidnap the so-called Techimanhene and bring him to the Manhyia Palace whenever he steps in Kumasi if the government fails to take action against him for kidnapping Tuobodomhene.”
The King’s outburst infuriated youths of Kumasi and Techiman to launch series of violent attacks on blameless natives shuttling between the two towns resulting in deaths.
But why would the King of Ashanti issue such a threat when he is most respected for his judicious counsel?
This brazen posture of the King was incensed when one of his allegiants, Nana Asare Baffour II, the Chief of Tuobodom was kidnapped by bodyguards, stripped naked and tortured in the palace of the Chief of Techiman, who accompanied the ordeal of his captive with a verbal message full of invectives meant for the Asantehene. After the horrid experience, the captive Chief was later handed over to the police by his hostage takers. The police, rather strangely locked up the poor Chief in cells at the Sunyani Police post.
When did traditional leaders start acting like the mob bosses in Mario Puzo’s Godfather sequels? The capture of the Chief happened on the eve of the 53rd Independence Day celebrations, when the Tuobodom leader was slated to attend a court hearing at a nearby town, Wenchi.
Two years ago, the Chief of Techiman had to act on allegations raised against Tuobodom’s Chief to authoritatively summon him. The intended summon concerned assassination attempt on the latter’s life when he was on his way to a festival celebration at Tuobodom. Seemingly, unknown armed youths from the festival-celebrating town had barricaded and ambushed the highway that links both towns; a shooting incident occurred and some subjects of the visiting Chief got injured.
Since the October 2008 shooting incident, the Chief of Tuobodom has snobbishly refused to respond to the summoning by his royal-hood ‘brother’ in the neighboring town. On a number of occasions he replied saying his response to summons and overall allegiance lays only to the respected and widely recognized Ashanti King and the Golden Stool; the symbol of the Ashanti Kingdom, even though he is in the Brong Ahafo Region.(see the Golden stool being carried below)
According to Ghana News Agency reports, it was the late Ashanti King, Otumfuo Opoku Ware II who elevated the Chief of Tuobodom, Nana Asare Baffour II, to the status of Paramount Chief. Doubling also as president of the Tuobodom Traditional Council, Nana Asare, thought it pointless to submit himself to the Techiman Traditional Council for affirmation and recognition as a Paramount Chief who’s worth his salt.
Consequently, when Tuobodom’s Chief was recently abducted, it wasn’t difficult for many Ghanaians to decipher that it was planned plain-face retaliation against a defiant Chief.
The current Ashanti King have had to recount with documents the history of the Tano-Subin area lands of which Tuobodom together with eight (8)other towns is a part of. There has been a long standing controversy as who has legitimate claims to the nine area lands. The area stool lands are Tuobodom, Tanoso-Boase, and Branam; others also are Buoyem, Nchiraa, Nwoase, Offuman, Tanoso and Subinso Number Two.
The issue was resolved by the Committee of Privileges and the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council that absolutely confirmed that the nine towns owed allegiance to the Golden Stool.
Then on February 21, 1986, under the Chairmanship of Flt. Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings, leader of the now defunct Provisional National Defense Council, The Iddrissu Mahama Committee also corroborated the facts indeed as already established by the previous committees. Obviously this was not the first time a Techimanhene has lost on this delicate matter.(pix below- Chief of Techiman Oseadeeyo Akumfi Ameyaw IV)
Historical accounts have also shown that as far back as 1770, the area lands were serving under the Golden Stool prior to the founding of Techiman. It has also been said that, the British colonial government took over the area lands in the ‘Sagrenti War’ under Sir Garnet Wosley when Ghana used to be the Gold Coast. In that war, then Ashanti King, Nana Agyemang Prempeh was captured and exiled in Seychelles by the British, which subsequently led to the famous Yaa Asantewa uprising in Ashanti history. A brave woman, who led men to war; with the aim to rescue their captured King.
This is the reason why Otumfuo issued out his ‘Ayatolla Komeini-styled-fatwa for Salmon Rushdi (author of satanic verses)’ against the Chief of Techiman. Otumfuo together with members of the Asanteman Council (made up of all paramount Chiefs in Ashanti Region and some in the Brong Ahafo and Volta Regions) in a meeting heavily criticized and condemned the Chief of Techiman, describing his actions as barbaric and inhumane towards a fellow man.(Nana Baffour Asare II-Tuobodom Chief,pictured below)
He also had harsh words for the government and police for allegedly taking sides on the matter, and not affecting any arrests when the incident broke. Otumfuo went on asking the President Mills led administration to choose between him and the Chief of Techiman. 12 suspects have subsequently been arrested following the violent youth clashes.
But what has been government’s own position on the matter and the basis of the King’s allegation?
The Techimanhene was reported by claims of the Tuobodomhene to have shouted from the roof tops when he held him (Tuobodomhene) captive; that he was above the law and could do as he pleases because he had the police in his pocket and that his government was in power.
Government has subsequently reacted by denying the claims describing it as untrue, and quickly dispatching a high powered National emissary, led by Brigadier-General Joeph Nunoo-Mensah (National Security adviser to the President) which included Dr. Christine Amoako Nuamah (Office of the President), the Ashanti Regional Minister, Mr. Opoku Manu, Alhaji Collins Dauda (Minister of Lands and Natural Resources) among others to meet the Ashanti King. Local media is yet to be made privy to the details of the summit. Calm has been restored in all three towns since, thus Kumasi, Tuobodom and Techiman.
Is the government indeed being bias on Chieftaincy issues?
In a matter of weeks, this is the second time the Mills Administration is being criticized by another King for being bias. The first was when Ga Mantse, King Tackie Tawiah, lamented in a press statement that the National Democratic Congress led government was sidelining him when it came to national activities and events. He accused government of not inviting him officially when the President, John Evans Attah-Mills read the State of the Nation’s address to Parliament.(see below the pix of the Ga King)
He took a swipe at the President and his men in his ‘warning-laced advise’ to him, “this land belongs to the Ga State…the President should not seat at the Castle and heed to council from standard seven boys”, the Ga King said. The King was fuelling into the perception that, the National Democratic Congress held the notion that, he (the King) was ‘ably installed and imposed’ onto the Ga people by the opposition New Patriotic Party when they were in power.
Indeed the Government has confirmed that it cannot officially recognize the Ga King when he has not been gazetted by National House of Chiefs to gain an official status. This is owing to issues of controversy surrounding Ga King’s installation.
Government appears to be circumspect and neutral in this affair, in order not to be seen by another faction as supporting an illegitimate King that would fuel violent tensions. During the last Homowo Festival celebration, King Tackie Tawiah was threatened and prevented from sprinkling ‘kpoikpoi’ in some areas.
Government had therefore advised the King to properly settle the stalemate between himself and the National House of Chiefs which will duly lead to his name being entered into the gazette.
Interestingly, President of the Ga Dangbe Council, K.B Asante, has added his voice backing government’s position.
Mr. Asante said, “The Ga Mantse has not gone through any rites or rituals yet”, “…he did not go through all the required traditional and customary rites needed for him to become the occupant of the Ga stool”, the retired diplomat added.
What has been public opinion concerning these Chieftaincy matters? Human rights activists, lawyers and social commentators have been buzzing and debating with diverse opinions on local radio and in the tabloids.
Whilst many recognize the importance of Chiefs in the Ghanaian modern society others have sharply called for the whole of the Chieftaincy institution to be scrapped entirely. Journalist and anti-corruption activist, Kwesi Pratt Jnr, is of the opinion that Chieftaincy has outlived its purpose.
To him the maintenance of Chiefs and their practices in contemporary and democratic Ghana is backward and primitive, “if it’s not for the lands that these Chiefs get to sell, nobody would like to be a Chief, Chieftaincy contradicts the principle of democracy, it is not based on merits but rather a claim to a special royal bloodline surrounded by myths, this is unfair”, Kwesi Pratt Jnr opined on Peace Fm.
Kwesi does not also agree with champions of Chieftaincy who cogitate that the institution of Chieftaincy preserves the rich Ghanaian culture which must not be left to die out. He describes them as non-progressives who do not want to be dynamic with the changing times.
Other supporters of royal hood have also counted the contributions of the Ashanti King to education being the Otumfuo’s Education fund that offers scholarship to needy children. A similar move by the Okyemhene, King of the Abuakwa State in the Eastern Region, Amoatia Ofori Panyin, with regards to education is also hailed. Again Togbe Afede of the Asogli State in the Volta Region is lauded for his initiative to set up a thermal energy plant for his people.
Plainly, it’s the choice of Ghanaians to determine wither we drift with Chieftaincy, whether we will support our nascent political democratic dispensation or freeze Chieftaincy to be forever part of Ghana; the united house that Kwame Nkrumah built, and the acceptance of never-ending disputes and conflicts? In Northern Ghana, the ‘Abudus’ and the ‘Andanis’ are yet to settle scores, Government does not seem to be find it’s feet in the search to find and prosecute the killers of the Ya-na, Yakubu Andani. As the Mamprusis’ and Kusasis’ tprepare for their festival very soon, let all Ghanaians across every length and breadth of the globe pray for peace.
I hadn’t finished writing this article when news came in from Northern Region that; Chief of Garishegu has been murdered by irate youths who ambushed and attacked him on his motor bike. He had gone to visit a close pal in a nearby village.