Tuobodom crisis; A conflict between Tradition and Modernity
With reference to recent the incidence at Tuobodom that resulted in the deaths of three persons and injuries to several others, which culminated in certain pronouncements made by the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, that have also generated a lot of controversies among Ghanaians, kindly give me some space to express my views about a protracted chieftaincy dispute at Tuobodom in the Brong Ahafo Region.
Even though things have calmed down, there is the need for me to write to create awareness about certain aspects of our history. If we hide certain things under the carpet, one day, it may explode into volcanic anger to the detriment of our dear and beloved country.
If this thing happens, posterity will judge us. In view of this, we cannot sacrifice the peace of Ghana for the sake anybody's traditional rule and authority. In my opinion, the Tuobodom crisis is a conflict between tradition and modernity.
Before I explain everything, it is imperative for us to go back to history, because he who forgets his history is bound to doom. The problem of Africa is due to the fact that we do not know how to keep records of our history. As a result, most people do not know where they came from.
If you do not know where you came from, you will not know where you are going. For this reason, most people are perishing for lack of knowledge. (Hosea 4:6). Likewise, most people are perishing in this Tuobodom dispute for lack of knowledge.
Before Africans can advance, we must know our identity. We can know our identity through our cultural heritage. Our cultural heritage can only be preserved when we keep records of our history.
Historically, Bono is the cradle of all Akan people. According F. K. Buah, (2000) History of Ghana (p. 9), the Bono Kingdom (1328-67) was the first Akan kingdom to emerge in Ghana. The capital of the Bono Kingdom was Bono Manso. Professor Adu Boahen, (1980) a renowned Historian, also confirms this in his book; Topic in West Africa History (p. 60).
Most Scholars and Historians had come with a view that the first towns in Ghana were Bono Manso and Begho, which were all located in present day Brong Ahafo Region. When the Bono Kingdom collapsed, other kingdoms like Akwamu, Akyem, Adansi, Denkyira, Asante and also emerged subsequently.
Among all these kingdoms, the most popular and powerful one, was the Asante Kingdom, which covered greater parts of present day Western, Central, Eastern, some parts of the Northern and Volta regions, as well as the whole of the Brong Ahafo and Ashanti regions.
When the Ashanti Kingdom also collapsed in 1878, some states like Denkyira, Kwahu, Akyem, Sefwi and others broke away from Ashanti rule. However, due to a strong links between the Ashantis and the Brongs, Brong remained a vassal state under Ashanti rule.
Before independence, there were only three regions, or provinces, in Gold Coast (Ghana), namely the Crown Colony, comprising, the Western, Central, Eastern, and Greater Accra regions. The Ashanti (protectorate) was made up of the Ashanti and Brong Ahafo regions. And the Northern territory, which was made up of Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions.
When Ghana gained an independence from British colonial rule in 1957, this element of nationalism prompted some Bono chiefs, under the leadership of late Nana Kumfi Ameyaw III ( then Techimanhene), and the late Nana Agyeman Badu I (then Dormaahene), to form the 'Bono-Kyempim' Movement to secede or to break away from the Asantehene's rule and authority over them.
This secession movement led to the creation of the Brong Ahafo Region by the late Dr Kwame Nkrumah, first President of Ghana. The creation of the Brong Ahafo Region was both traditionally and politically motivated. Traditionally, the purpose was to weaken the Asantehene's power and authority. Politically, to weaken the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) - NLM strength in Ashanti, because this made most Brongs support the Convention People's Party (CPP). The opposition also made counter-attack by electing Dr. K. A. Busia (former Prime Minister) as leader of the United Party (UP).
When the Brong Ahafo Region was created, certain chiefs, mostly the Ahafo chiefs in the region, decided to maintain their allegiance with the Golden Stool. This is by virtue of fact that the Ahafos have historical links with the Ashantis.
Even some Brongs have historical links with the Ashantis. For example, Nkoranza, Berekum, Japekrom and others have historical links with the Ashantis. According to tradition, the Nkoranzahene is the Asantehene's son. Even though Nkoranza is not under the Asantehene's jurisdiction, when the Nkoranzahene dies, custom demands that the Asantehene must be informed before all rites concerning the funeral ceremony can be performed.
The current Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, has used this traditional link between Asante and Nkoranza to strengthen a strong relationship between Asante and Nkoranza. This is creating a problem for the Nkoranzahene because his enemies within and outside think he has sold Nkoranza to the Asantehene.
They argue that it is unwise to take your mother's property and give it to your father. Currently, the Brong Ahafo Regional House of Chiefs is made up of two groups - the Conservatives and the Progressives.
The Conservatives are those chiefs who want to maintain their allegiance with the Golden Stool. On the other hand, the Progressives are the chiefs who do not want to see the Asantehene exercising any authority over any part of the Brong Ahafo Region.
One of the most complicated problems is the issue of the Tano-Subin towns which still owe allegiance to the Golden Stool. They are Tuobodom, Buoyam, Tanoso, Ofuman, Nchiraa and Nwoase. The chiefs in these towns who owe allegiance to the Golden Stool also have their counterparts in these towns who also owe allegiance to the Techimanhene.
Moreover, these towns are located within the Techiman Municipality. They are enclaves within the Techiman Traditional area. Administratively, they are under Techiman, but traditionally, some parts are under Techiman and other parts under Asanteman.
The problem is similar to the situation of the 'Berlin Wall' in Germany during the 'Cold War'. Berlin was in East Germany. However, the city was divided into two - one for East Germany and the other half for West Germany.
This situation defies commonsense. No wonder the 'Berlin wall' was destroyed, and East Germany re-integrated into West Germany. Even though the people of Tano-Subin have links with the Ashantis, the inhabitants no longer speak Asante.
They all speak Brong instead of Asante. As a result, the people identify themselves as Brongs. In view of this, they see those chiefs who owe allegiance to the Golden Stool as traitors who have betrayed their cause. Likewise, the people of Nkoranza are Brongs not Asantes. No wonder the Nkoranzahene is facing problems with regard to his association with the Asantehene.
In 1982, the late Asantehene Otumfuo Opoku II Ware elevated some chiefs in the Brong Ahafo Region to positions of paramouncy. This sparked off a problem which led to the killing of one chief called Kwaku Duah at Ofuman, a small town near Wenchi. Some youth stormed his palace and burnt it. He was killed in a situation similar to the Yaa-Naa's case.
Some of the chiefs, realising the dangers and threat posed to them, decided to withdraw their allegiance to the Golden Stool. Examples are the chiefs of Japekrom, Nchira and Woase. However some of the chiefs still remain adamant.
They have absolutely decided that no matter what happens to them, they will never break their allegiance with the Golden Stool. One faction of Tuobodom chiefs, Nana Asare Bafour II is a notable example. Another thing that exacerbated the situation was when Asantehene Otumfuo Opoku Ware II again, elevated some chiefs within the Tano-Subin towns (those loyal to him) to positions of paramouncy in 1996.
The elevation of the Tano-Subin stools loyal to the Golden Stool sparked off a bloodbath with nine people being killed at Tuobodom and Buoyem. The then Chief of Techiman, the late Nana Dotobibi Takyi Ameyaw, opposed the elevation, claiming that the area belonged to the Techimanhene and not the Asantehene.
When one looks at the issue critically, one can say that traditionally the Asantehene was right to elevate them, because a paramount chief has power to elevate a chief to become paramount chief. Constitutionally, a Paramount Chief is the highest chieftaincy position in Ghana, looking at the hierarchical order of kingship. Act 759, (Section 58) of the Chieftaincy Act 2008 categorises the position of chiefs as follows:
The Asantehene and Paramount Chiefs Divisional chiefs Sub-divisional chiefs Adikrofo and Other chiefs recognised by the National House of Chiefs
Traditionally, the Asantehene is more or less like a Super-Paramount Chief, and for that matter, he has the right and power to elevate a chief to the position of paramouncy.
Even though he has power to elevate, according to the principle of Fundamental Human Rights, you have the right to swing your arms but it ends where another person's nose begins. If that is the case, why is it that the Asantehene is still interfering in the internal affairs of the Brong Ahafo Region?
This is why most people in the Brong Ahafo Region are angry with him. They see it as an Asante neo-colonialism. On the other hand, the Asantehene is still right, because according to him, Asanteman is different from the Ashanti Region. Asanteman and the Ashanti Region are not synonymous, because Asanteman transcends beyond regional boundaries.
Asanteman is made up of the Ashanti Region, some parts of the Volta Region and any part of Brong Ahafo Region that falls under the Asantehene's traditional jurisdiction. Constitutionally, the Asantehene does not have power to elevate chiefs in the Brong Ahafo without consulting the Brong Ahafo Regional House of Chiefs, because, in accordance with article 274 of the constitution and Act 759, Section 9 clause 2 of the Chieftaincy Act 2008, “Each Regional House shall:
(a) advise a person or any authority charged under the constitution or any other law with responsibility for a matter relating to or affecting chieftaincy in the region.
In view of this, the Asantehene is under obligation to seek the advice of the Brong Ahafo Regional House of Chiefs before he can elevate any chief to the position of paramouncy. The Constitutional provision empowers the Brong Ahafo Regional House of Chiefs to elevate a chief to the position of paramouncy.
Some years ago, the Sunyanihene was not a Paramount Chief. However, looking at the position of Sunyani as a regional capital, the Brong Ahafo Region House of Chiefs found the need to elevate the Sunyanihene to become a Paramount Chief.
The question is what criteria did the Asantehene use to elevate the Tano-Subin chiefs to the position of paramouncy? Because the Asantehene did not seek the advice of the Brong Ahafo Regional House of Chiefs he made a mistake by elevating these chiefs who are not qualified to become paramount chiefs. It is ridiculous to elevate a small town like Tuobodom or Buoyam to a position of paramouncy.
In my opinion, they are not qualified to become paramount chiefs. Why? In the first place, a town can be considered for paramouncy when it has a large stool land, with some towns and villages under it. Looking at the size of Tuobodom, comprising two chiefs, it is inappropriate for any chief in that town to become a paramount chief. I am not condemning the Asantehene. However, since he is a human being he is not infallible. If we try to sweep certain things under the carpet, posterity will judge us.
For this reason, if he makes a mistake, we should be bold to say it. Even though he has right to do it, I do not think it was necessary to elevate them to become paramount chiefs. Secondly, the Techimanhene is a Paramount Chief, and it is ridiculous for a chief within his traditional jurisdiction to rub shoulders with him as another paramount chief. This argument can also be rejected by virtue of the fact that there are some districts and municipalities comprising two or more paramount chiefs.
For instance, the Tain District in the Brong Ahafo Region is made up of four paramount chiefs, namely, Badu, Seikwa, Nsawkaw and Banda. On the other hand, one can argue that these paramouncies were independent entities before the district was created. Secondly, each entity has its own stool land of big sizes with a lot of villages under them.
However, this not the case of the Tano-Subin towns. They are enclaves within the Techiman Traditional area. Moreover, each town is made up of two chiefs - one loyal to the Asantehene and the other loyal to the Techimanhene.
In this case, it is inappropriate to elevate any of them to a position of paramouncy. Probably that might be one of the reasons why the Brong Ahafo Regional House of Chiefs is refusing to recognise them as paramount chiefs. The media, especially the Daily Graphic and Ghanaian Times, are making a big very mistake by always referring to the Tuobodom chief loyal to the Asantehene as the Omanhene of Tuobodom. It is very sad and pathetic that the media has taken sides in favour of the Asantehene. However, the Tuobodom issue is two sides of the same coin. The mere fact that the Asanteman Council recognises Nana Asare Baffour II as Paramount Chief of Tuobodom does not guarantee him being Omanhene of Tuobodom. His position as Omanhene (or paramount chief) has not been gazetted. In this case, it is unfair and inappropriate for anybody to call him Omanhene. The Asanteman Council is a confederacy or federation of traditional councils. Since the Asanteman Council is a Traditional Council, it is subject to the Regional House of Chiefs within any particular area of its jurisdiction. The order of hierarchy of the chieftaincy institution in Ghana is as follows:
National House of Chiefs Regional House of Chiefs Traditional Council Divisional Council
With reference to an article written by Yaw Boadu-Ayeboafoh (Daily Graphic, March 18, 2010) he committed a fallacy of misappropriation by referring to the Chief of Tuobodom, who is loyal to the Asantehene, as Omanhene of Tuobodom, and describing the chief of Tuobodom who is loyal to the Techimanhene as 'Odikro'. Since the chief loyal to the Asantehene has not been recognised by both the Brong Ahafo and the National House of chiefs, it is unfair for anybody, including the media, to try to legitimise his position as a Paramount Chief. On the other hand, the chief loyal to the Techimanhene is not 'Odikro'. He is the 'Akyempimhene' of the Techiman traditional area. In this case, he is a Divisional Chief. In view of this, I want to use this opportunity to appeal to the Asantehene to reconsider his decision concerning the elevation of the Tano-Subin stools in the Brong Ahafo Region. Traditionally, he might be right, because I do not know the traditionally basis for elevation. For the sake of peace and sanity to prevail in the Tano-Subin towns, including Tuobodom, the Asantehene must reconsider his decision concerning legal action he has decided to take against the Brong Ahafo Regional House of Chiefs. Last year, the Asantehene threatened to sue the Brong Ahafo Regional House of Chiefs for refusing to recognise the chiefs he had elevated in the Tano-Subin towns.
Historically, all the Akans, comprising, Asante, Bono, Akyem, Kwahu, Denkyira, Sefwi, Wasa, Fante, Nzema, and for that matter all Ghanaians, are one people. We should not allow any trivial issue to escalate into ethnic conflict to the detriment of our dear Nation.
Together we can build. Traditionally, the Asantes and Brongs are the same people. It is interesting to note that both the Asante and Techiman stools are occupied by the 'Oyoko' Clan. That means they are one family. In this case, it corresponds with the Twi proverb that, “se wotwa wo keterema wia wonwii enam biaa”. Metaphorically, it means there is nothing you can gain by destroying any part of your own body. If war breaks out between Kumasi and Techiman, the whole nation will suffer. In the first place, Kumasi, being the second largest city in Ghana, and centre of attraction, needs to be handled with special care. On the other hand, Techiman, being one of the largest market centers in Ghana, needs to be handled with care. The market supplies food products to various towns and cities, including Kumasi, in Ghana and West Africa as a whole. Any inter-tribal war breaking out between the Ashantis and the Brongs would bring untold hardship to Ghanaians.