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11.10.2006 Feature Article

CHIEFTAINCY, POLITICS AND THE CHRISTIAN

CHIEFTAINCY, POLITICS AND THE CHRISTIAN
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This piece is set out primarily to react to the views expressed by Nii Lantey Okunka Bannerman on the question of monarchy and what he refers to as 'meritocratic democracy'. In his write-up on monarchy titled “Why Royalty and Meritocratic Democracy Are Not Bedmates” published by the Ghanaweb.com on 12th September, 2006, he rails against the institution with highly charged emotional arguments which for this writer does not hold. He puts forward many disputable arguments in the said piece but the main concern to be addressed is his employment of his supposed Christian beliefs to call for support against a system which is older and more ingrained in us as a people. Mr. Bannerman after failing to advance any cogent argument to convince others to his line of thoughts employs the religious card to make his case seem better. To quote him: “I am here to make the claim that royalty in its entirety is an idea or concept that must be rejected. The idea that some carry blue blood and are created by the almighty to rule others is not steeped in fact and reality. I urge or {all} Christian brothers and sisters to speak up on this matter virulently.” Here is someone talking about 'fact and reality' but turns round to use religion which is based on faith to back his claim.

The religious zealotry he employs is akin to playing the tribal card when one fails to use rational arguments to raise support for a notion or belief. Ghana is a multi-religious country therefore to call on Christians to resist the national system constitutes a strategy to alienate sections of the society who may not subscribe to Christianity as a form of religion. However, the focal point of this write-up is to debunk the notion that the Bible is against the institution of monarchy. To this writer the Bible is the supreme instructional word of every true Christian. It does not matter what a so-called man of God or Church teaches it can never be above what the Bible says. Therefore to Christians who have been brain-washed into believing that it good to be anti-social by not giving respect and resisting the authority of chiefs and political leaders let us turn to the word of God for guidance and direction.

Biblical Authority of Monarchs

The duty of every true believer or Christian is to obey the Word of God. This writer would like to believe that Nii Bannerman is not a charlatan or a quack but a sincere Bible believing Christian who has only 'gone astray' in his zeal to take up a cause he cannot support and in the face of obvious failure decided to use Christianity as a weapon. Time would not permit the consideration of the establishment of kingship according to the plan of God and the carnal desires of the Israelites to have an earthly king. The first book of Samuel (Chapter 8, particularly) in the Bible gives an ample teaching on the beginning of the institution among the Israelites. For biblical support of the institution let us consider Romans13:1, quoting from the King James Version (KJV), the Bible says: “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God; the powers that be are ordained of God”. This exercise is not to preach, but to expatiate, the Bible explicitly supports the institution of chieftaincy. Saint Peter further confirms this view in his letter (1 Pet 2:13-14a) that: “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king; as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers”. This explicitly clarifies the biblical fact that all political authorities, good or bad, come into being according to the will of God. Moving further to the Romans 13:2, Saint Paul says: “Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.” It is in view of this that this writer shudders to consider the implications of Nii Bannerman's obvious misleading of some sincere but otherwise ignorant Christians who may not know the Biblical falsity being peddled here. Dear reader, do not take my personal view but only consider what the Bible says. Of course, this writer accepts that there are professed Christians who have been blinded by their political inclination to the extent that they would regard the obvious untruths about their political opponents as more sacrosanct than the Biblical Word of God. But then it should not be surprising as the Lord Jesus Christ points out in Matthew 15:14 that: “Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch”.

Praying for People in Political Authority

Again Mr. Bannerman seems to be causing a sacrilege by employing religion as a tool for bringing down the institution of chieftaincy. In his earlier write-up on the subject of monarchy titled: “Who Is A Better Leader: Kufour Or Asantehene?”, he employs insults in reference to the President of Ghana and traditional rulers. His language was not only unchristian but also not in nature and character of a true Ghanaian brought up to respect people in authority and the aged. If this is the kind of Christian or Western culture he wants us to adopt no wonder the flak and rebuttal he faced when his first piece was published on the Ghanaweb.com.

Hear what the Christian saint, Paul, wrote in his letter to Timothy (I Tim 2:1 – 2) quoting from the KJV; he says: “I exhort brethren, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” These are not my words but those of the Bible. How then can Nii Bannerman mislead Christendom into believing that we can rise against any political authority? The Bible is explicitly clear that it is not the duty of any Christian to call for rebellion against any political authority. This writer dares Nii Bannerman and his like-minded to adduce any Biblical teaching which grants Christians the power to the contrary. We should beware of blasphemy when we engage in partisan politics. The question of Christian in partisan politics would be considered in future write-ups. For the now, the crux is to warn Christians to desist from cavaliering crusades when engaging in their political ventures. That is against the expressed will of God according to the Holy Book.

Capacity Building and Institutional Strengthening of Chieftaincy

Another concern of Nii Bannerman is the president's support for the institution of chieftaincy. He further claims that the “formation of a ministry of chieftaincy or any such gilded undertaking shows that this system and the leadership that it produces is bankrupt.” He continues that: “Perhaps the proponents, minions, fanatics and protagonist of chieftaincy may want to take a stab at this project … I thought most, if not all, chiefs were graduates of leadership instructions from their own rancid palaces. No? So it turns out that this is also another farce!! … If chieftaincy runs as smoothly as their protagonist and minions what us to believe, why the need to fund a ministry and royal academy?” Frankly, this argument ranks high among the most bizarre yours truly has come across in any quasi-intellectual discourse. The fact that one is well trained in traditional systems, leadership and social skills does not preclude the setting up of a 'royal college to teach global development and technologies to our chiefs', to quote Nii Bannerman. Seriously if this is not part of the grand pull-him-down (PHD) quest by Nii Bannerman and his friends to attack President Kufuor and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government then nothing better demonstrates the notion. His claim that setting up the proposed institute to train chiefs is an indication of the bankruptcy of the institution sounds rather bizarre. Even well educated and trained professionals go through periodic re-training and refresher courses to be abreast with current trends and developments in their fields of endeavour. It is not only common but needful for all professionals from doctors, teachers, business executives, engineers and architects to undergo re-training and development programmes. It is also interesting that 'meritocratically' elected politicians also undergo training programmes to make them better equipped in the course of carrying out their mandated duties. We are all witnesses to the number of times training programmes have been organized for politicians by the Ghana Institute for Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) and other bodies. What makes chiefs bankrupt for the simple reason of requiring instructions in 'global development and technologies' remains a mystery only Nii Bannerman can explain.

Insults and Temperance in Political Discourse

As a Christian and Ghanaian steeped in our cultural values of respect and tolerance the ability of professed Christians to insult leaders of the country for no reason other than sharing a different opinion from them remains a strange phenomenon. Read Nii Bannerman articles and the objective would understand my anxiety. Even in this main article under review which he considerably makes a great effort at showing some sense of decorum he cannot help but continuously stoop to throw insults at those who disagree with his viewpoints. Hear him referring to the supporters of the institutions of Chieftaincy as 'minions' and 'fanatics'. One problem with Nii Bannerman is that he never accepts the right of others to hold a contrary view from his. If one puts up sound, factual and superior arguments it is difficult for others to begrudge him or her. Hardly can Nii Bannerman accept criticisms but he gets on a high horse to insult the national leadership and our traditional leaders

This writer accepts the right of Nii Bannerman to support any political grouping of his choice however he cannot rewrite history to paint the NPP government and its antecedents in the bad light by persistently referring to them as the 'Matemeho' group. This is obvious reference to the United Party's (UP) preference for the federalism as opposed to unitary form of government. Federalism is a well accepted democratic system of governance practiced in many countries including the United States of America and Nigeria. The United Kingdom in recent years has consistently shifted towards this form of governance through the process of power devolution to the 'Home Countries'. Now there are the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly with many others pushing for an English Assembly or Parliament. Once again it is Nii Bannerman at his intemperate worst abusing anyone who has a divergent view. For his information tolerance of ideological differences is the hallmark of all democratic minded individuals and institutions. Therefore the notion that the UP's ideology of federalism, which is not held by its successor NPP, makes groupings with unitary leanings superior ideologically is rather laughable. Of course his writings demonstrate not just his lack of objectivity and failure to advance intellectual arguments but also a consistent outburst of emotions without any recourse to assessing underlying factors for any given situation. Again this is not surprising to many anti establishment watchers.

Nii Bannerman further attempts to equate support for the institution of chieftaincy with tribalism and ethnocentricism. This writer is not ashamed to openly support the institution. However he remains one of the most avowed opponents of the ethnocentric bigots and half-baked educated charlatans who operate on the SIL and other sites under assumed names. Nii Bannerman is invited to point out where and when this writer remotely supported ethnocentrism under any shape or form. This writer dares any critic to check the archives for any writings which have in any way or shape supported bigotry and tribalism. Chieftaincy in the country is not the preserve of any particular group.

It is also interesting that Nii Bannerman cites President Nkrumah as his example of a good leader as far as the attempt to destroy the institution of chieftaincy is concerned. If it was so easy why did the great leader fail to achieve that aim. If Nii Bannerman and his like-minded care to know no one compels people to recognise chiefs and accord them respect but it is something which flows from the deep religious and social training we receive as part of our upbringing. It takes political leadership with deep seated fear of their own inadequacy, importance and power to fight the traditional leadership. Colonialism and modern democratic system of governance until the end of the days of the political leadership of President Nkrumah failed to kill-off the institution. Even the military usurpers could not touch the institution. Therefore it may take a high level of folly for any political grouping to destroy the system. Indeed the constitution of the country which is the supreme law guarantees the institution a right of place therefore let the Bannermans stay off our president and allow him carry out his constitutional mandate invested in him by the expressed will of the majority of our citizenry.

God bless Ghana.

Kofi Nyame
Thornton Heath,
Surrey

Kofi Nyame
Kofi Nyame, © 2006

The author has 11 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: KofiNyame

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