African Tradition and A Possible Modern World?

Feature Article African Tradition and A Possible Modern World?
OCT 4, 2021 LISTEN

There is a YouTube video of the Asantehene, the traditional King of the people of Ashanti Region of Ghana, speaking about Ibrahim Mahama’s business Eaton Cubic (GLU Forum Sun.Oct.3, 2021).

The recent findings of uncleanliness in Kumasi, the regional capital and for centuries the capital of the Asante (Ashanti) Kingdom, is being blamed on the Asantehene, even though we have a Municipal Chief Executive, MCE. Nobody even seems to know the MCE to blame! His last name is Osei- and funnily that is good enough for me.

The Traditional Relationships and Gifts

So why Ibrahim Mahama and the Asantehene? Rumor is that Ibrahim, who is not an Ashanti, is friends with the Ashanti King. How? Well, remember Ibrahim is rich. African Tradition likes “gifts”, and the rich are good at giving gifts and free rides on private planes!

In America, where this writer has lived for more than half a century, the rich give gifts as political campaign donations- And some gifts are accepted under law and sometimes even tax deductible. Of course, sometimes politicians go to prison for taking some gifts not allowed!

Sometimes it appears American life would be too complicated for an African Chief or Elected lawmaker. A Governor of Illinois, a very big state in the US, was impeached and went to prison for planning to take bribes before filling a Senate position vacated when Barack Obama left to become President. He did not even receive the bribe. The mere planning and thought were enough.

In Ghana, gifts are given to Chiefs by politicians as the norm and even voters. The Electoral Commission seems not to care about ethics and the traditions of open corruption starts right from there!

Traditions are different in America from Ghana.

The King and the Chief Executive

Asantehene cannot be absolved from blame for the reported recent uncleanliness of his capital Kumasi because he gets credit for great things that happen in Kumasi or in Ashanti.

Having studied our Ghanaian and many African society well for my PhD dissertation, I find there is something sad about Africa and mysterious how our minds work! Africans cannot seem to be capable of jumping the traditional system. No!

In Ghana, despite the effort of Kwame Nkrumah at Independence in 1957, has there been much change of mindset and standards in 60-70 years? Who is responsible for the uncleanliness and getting rid of the ugly open gutters in our cities? Is it our Chiefs and Kings or the newly appointed young man as MCE who lives around the corner?

Let’s be realistic! How many Ghanaians know of a thing called Constitution? How many have a copy? If the ancient King of Asante, the Asantehene, gave verbal command for people of Kumasi to jump, and the newly appointed young man who lives around the corner told people not to jump, who do you think they will obey?

People should stop believing that just because they studied Algebra and Chemistry in the white man’s school they are better people! No! Tradition continues unabated, as a friend puts it.


What our society needs is define leadership well and let the people understand who is responsible for what. In a nation where people would rather spend all night at Church service in the middle of the week, who tells people to think the way they do? With all due respect the best way to modernity is decentralization of national Executive powers with each local town, district and region having an elected board or Council that includes the local town/district and regional Chiefs. Let’s put the local Chiefs to work and give them a monthly salary like everybody else. And you will see results! Please read about Botswana and understand.

This proposal has. Even made in writing before - but as usual who do you make proposals to in Ghana? We made this through the Constitutional Amendment GLU submitted in 2010 and again in 2019 to Parliament. Africans once given power simply live in a different stratosphere! It is not their fault but that of the people around them. The mindset needs changing. And who is going to do it?

The sad aspect of power is that anybody elected who tastes power, left by the mistake of the Rawlings so-called revolution, does not feel like pushing to share that power with local areas. Africans are not known to share power. No! It takes the mystique away from the position. Africans regard their Chiefs and now elected Leaders as mysterious human beings not unlike the way the Romans looked at Julius Caesar like a King. Africans - at least the Akans in Ghana- carry their chiefs on their heads or in a special carrier on their heads, with a big umbrella called palanquin. Our women take their cloths off and spread them on the ground for the people carrying the Chief or King to walk on!

How can one hold such men to account for lost funds or to be held accountable for anything! They are like Gods!

The Discipline and Path to Progress:

Evidence shows the people around most of our Presidents appear to be thieves and hence seeking opportunities to be the one sending the money to some remote district. Yes, the hangers on sometimes wield more power and keep the spare change of sometimes a few million dollars in their pockets. Corruption starts right around any African Chief or King or President.

So far as our modern leaders don’t punish crimes, there is no change! President Akufo Addo is simply continuing what Kufuor did and building a cathedral where Kufuor had taken public money for his public gold chains! And President Mahama could not put his foot down strongly enough to discourage family and friends from grabbing what they could!

Oh! Africans! We look real bad from outside! Many NPP folks did not even talk about those gold chains of Kufuor! I thought the man was going out of his mind! But then Africa is a wonderful place- they allowed that man to put that 24 karat $3.6 million gold chains around his neck and get away with it!

Ethics, modern laws can work in Africa. However, the truth is that unless and until we get rid of this traditional mindset that the nation of Ghana belongs to some ancient Chief or Kings, or President who can forgive crimes of his friends, and can buy private Jets because the American King also has a Private jet, we are never going to make much progress for the people of our nation Ghana! Period!

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