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Opinion: ‘All hail the new Ga mantse and state!’ by  Gabriel Nii Otu Ankrah

By Gabriel Nii Otu Ankrah
Ga Mantse, Nii Tackie Teiko Tsuru II
Ga Mantse, Nii Tackie Teiko Tsuru II
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A strong wind of peace has blown over the Ga-Adangbe Kingdom as they successfully installed a new Ga King, after 17 years of succession bruhaha.

It has been a few days after the media space was filled with news of the installation of a Ga Mantse, Nii Tackie Teiko Tsuru II, known in private life as Dr. Kelvin Tackie. I have been in both verbal and writing hideout as a result of anxiety. I was anxious because I have been used to similar colourful installations and media launches only to have counter installations interspersed with fights and fisticuffs afterwards. I, therefore, waited patiently for this drama (installations and media launches, followed by counter fights) to be re-enacted. I am however getting “disappointed” as the Ga State has gone days without any rumpus. I bet this is the best time to come out to share my observation of happenings in recent times. I have observed rather shamefully how my people seem not to be aware of the global ridicule we subjected the Ga State to when we fought each other over who the rightful occupant to the throne should be. This ideally should have been a family affair. However, I remain elated that lucidity has prevailed and the Ga State has taken back its lost glory. This is a time to be a proud Ga f)m)bi (son or daughter of Ga-Adangbe).

Honestly, I was not present at the ceremony (who am I to be invited?) but I participated actively online as I watched proceedings. Such display of culture- Beauty and Royalty at its best. I watched the new King, Nii Ga, as he was ushered into the Greater Accra House of Chiefs in Dodowa and was received by the other Chiefs and given his seat at the august house. I remember he took the oath of office as it was administered by a senior member of the Superior Court. It has been sealed! You should have seen the jubilation on the streets from Dodowa back to Accra. Followers were cladded in white apparels with powder poured on their heads amidst the tooting of car horns. Indeed, victory at last!

Subsequently, the new King went through similar rites at the Ga Traditional Council. He took his seat as the President of the Council. It was after this that the President, H. E. President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo had the opportunity to pay a courtesy call on him as the overlord of the Ga State. The practice of dignitaries visiting traditional leaders to pay homage to them to ask their blessing on efforts they are embarking on and to officially notify them of their physical presence in their jurisdictions, had eluded the Ga paramountcy for some years now as a result of the chieftaincy conflict. The President was this time on an official working tour of the Greater Accra Region. This single act of the president’s visit gave me hope that this political recognition has affirmed the customary installation and final acceptance of the new Ga Mantse (King).

Could this continued atmosphere of tranquillity that has silenced the known counter agitations for the past few days be a sign of finality to the Ga succession confusion? For this, I pray to the Lord!

Paradoxically the confusion over who qualifies or is the eligible claimant to the stool has existed since the demise of Boni Nii Amugi II, the former Ga Mantse, in December 2004. Nii Tackie Teiko Tsuru II became the fifth Ga Mantse to be installed since the death of Nii Amugi II.  There have been other claimants who have undergone the same rites, press conferences and ‘” fistfights” - the late King Tackie Tawiah, known in private life as Joe Blankson; Nii Tackie Obli II, Nii Adama Latse and Ayitey Canada.  According to Ga tradition, the kingship rotates among four royal houses, namely, Teiko Tsuru We, Amugi We, Abola Piam We and Tackie Kommey We.

The Greater Accra Regional House of Chiefs and the legal Courts had their fair share of having to adjudicate matters on these issues.   A petition filed against Dr. Joe Blankson‘s installation in 2006 was pending until his death in 2012. Another petition filed against the installation of Nii Adama Latse in 2011 travelled a long haul.

Again, it is evident (I observed but I know it is true) that all factions were apprehensive of the intentions of either of the current two major political parties (NDC and NPP). This made it problematic, for a government formed by any of these parties to be able to resolve the conflict through direct involvement of the State and its institutions. Rightly so because the ruling government and other political groups have most often than not taken sides.

I could not agree more with Paul Acheampong Boakye and Abdul Karim Issifu in their graduate programme research work on Chieftaincy Conflicts in Ghana: A Case Study of Ga Mashie Chieftaincy Conflict under the Fourth Republic and An Analysis of Conflicts in Ghana: The Case of Dagbon Chieftaincy, respectively.

 Boakye made certain observations although cannot be subject to strict evidential proof (hahahahaha). But if one observed critically, there could be some truth in this observation: Ga Mashie chieftaincy dispute is the subtle influence of successive government and political parties, particularly the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP). This has always led a divide between the king makers (Ga Paramount Stool Dzase); and the Ga Traditional Council. The result is the creation of parallel offices who then install their preferred candidate as Ga Mantse. This was the case when a pro-NPP Ga Traditional Council, with the support of some state officials in the Regional Administration installed the late Dr. Joe Blankson as the King. The Ga Paramount Stool Dzase, led by a disputed Ga Dsasetse, Nii Yaote Oto-Ga II, in a press conference held on April 12, 2007 openly kicked against the installation and indicated the Dzase would not tolerate impunity, illegality and shameful distortion of the truth, customs and traditions of the people of Ga. The NPP seemingly recognized the Ga Mantse by paying courtesy calls on him and inviting him to national events in his capacity as the Ga Mantse. A case in point was when the Presidential Candidate of the then ruling NPP, Nana Addo-Dankwa Akufo-Addo, extended his courtesy-call itinerary to the Ga Mantse in 2008. Upon assuming office in January 2009, the NDC under Prof. John Evans Atta-Mills refused to acknowledge Dr. Joe Blankson as the Ga Mantse. Instead, they covertly engineered the installation of a new Gbese Mantse, Nii Ayi Bonte II, who is a known NDC adherent. The Gbese Mantse later led a pro-NDC Ga Traditional Council to install George Tackie-Abia as Ga Mantse with the stool name Nii Tackie Adama Latse in 2011, and subsequently had him gazzetted on April 24, 2015. Another claimant to the Dzasetse of the Ga State, Nii Dr. Tetteh Kwei II, and the accredited heads and elders of the Ga Paramount Stool, known as Dzase, installed Dr. Kelvin Nii Tackie Abia Tackie in August 2015. The Greater Accra Regional Minister, Nii Laryea Afotey Agbo, in an interview with Citi FM on August 5, 2015 described the installation of the new chief as fictitious and an attempt to disturb the peace of the Ga community. He indicated a meeting with the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) and the National Security Council (NSC) to find out the intent of the ―new chief. The continuous manoeuvrings of the political parties and successive governments, thereby creating factions within the Dzase and Ga Traditional Council created a fertile ground for the conflicts to thrive(I hope none of them disputes this assertion because they know the political benefits they have derived during voting in elections from such rifts).

I am now a happy Ghanaian because my quest to understand the succession confusion, which led me to read extensively, will finally be rewarding as the pieces have now come together. My hunger for this knowledge was motivated by my admiration for the architecture of the Chieftaincy institution and the role it plays in shaping society.

Africans have great respect for the chieftaincy institution not because of its primordial features, but because of its contribution to community development. Chiefs before the advent of colonialism performed several functions towards not only sustainable community development, but also for security, law making, military, judicial, economic and social welfare functions. Chiefs were subservient in mobilising local people for community action.

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According to Odotei and Awedoba (2006), the chieftaincy institution in Africa is generally acknowledged as a pre-colonial institution of governance with judicial, legislative and executive powers. Odotei and Awedoba (2006) also reiterate that chiefs were instrumental in military, economic and religious matters in their areas of jurisdiction. 28 The Journal of Pan African Studies, vol.8, no.6, September 2015. In Ghana, the chieftaincy institution has historical significance, and it also has a legal recognition, making it a formidable foundation. For example, the 1992 constitution of Ghana acknowledge the chieftaincy institution and defines who a chief is in Article 277; “chief means a person, who, hailing from the appropriate family and lineage, who has been validly nominated, elected or selected and enstooled, enskinned or installed as a chief or queen mother in accordance with the relevant customarily law and usage” (Republic of Ghana Constitution, 1992).

I am elated that the new Chieftaincy Act, 2008 (Act 759) has outlined procedures and guidelines for kingmakers on the installation, enskinment, destoolment and deskinment of chiefs. Chiefs are important actors and in the forefront of local development initiatives; some have created educational scholarship schemes; some have used their personal resources to build health centres, schools, provide water supply systems for their communities. Chiefs, just like government officials, have thus become “development agents”.

The New Ga Mantse has outlined his vision for his people and the Ga State – unification and development of the Ga State. He pledged to provide the needed leadership that would focus on peace, unity and development. He highlighted the provision of education and skills training, the empowerment of the girl-child and information and communications technology (ICT). He wants Accra renamed “Ga – Adangbe” (a call I strongly support) and the reintroduction of the ga language and posting of ga teachers to schools in Accra. The identity of any ethnic group must always be jealously guarded to avoid extinction. I pray his reign sees most land disputes in Accra resolved.I think President Nana Addo has every right to feel proud that two major chieftaincy conundrums have been resolved in his time as president of the republic.

READ ALSO: Commission an equiry over absence of Ga Mantse-Traditional Council to Akufo-Addo

Like him or hate him, it was under his leadership that the Dagbon chieftaincy conflict was resolved and now the Ga Mantse succession dispute. I am convinced that the others like the Sukusuku chieftaincy conflict, Sekondi chieftaincy conflict, Cape Coast chieftaincy conflict, Bawku chieftaincy conflict, and the Anlo chieftaincy conflict will also be resolved with time. And he expressed his happiness at this new development at his meeting with the new King at the latter’s palace: “He stressed that a united Ga State will help provide a conducive environment for the central government to function, and help improve the living standards of the people”.

Let me conclude by calling on all people living on Ga land to brace themselves to enjoy their stay in Accra. There is now a stronger leadership for the Ga people. They must learn to RESPECT the culture of the people. Submit to every cultural and legal demand from your landlords. Be admonished by the words of the Prophet Jeremiah:

“Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” – Jeremiah 29 :5-7.

May Fantes, Asantes, Ewes, Bono, Akyems, Dagombas, Gonjas, Wala’s, Frafras, Kokombas, Dagatis, Kasenas and all groups dwelling in Ga in the State, seek the wellbeing of the Ga state because it is in the prosperity of the Ga people that they will also find prosperity.

His Royal Highness, King Tackie Teiko Tsuru II, Ga Mantse, may your reign bring the needed prosperity to your people. May you be a transformational leader who will unify the Ga State and influence the rest of the country.

Congratulations to the people of Ga – Adangbe

Long Live the new Ga Mantse and the Ga State!