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23.09.2003 Feature Article

The Dagbon Revolution & CPP Political Disaster

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“Sokpang febiga ku febi nin yino” is a Dagbani maxim that translates to “a stray leaflet on the side of a pathway will not lash one person”. Literally, it means that whenever an obstacle is placed on our way, it shall certainly torment every one of us. That is the name I chose to give myself. The Dagbon crisis can be appropriately described as a clear manifestation of the several obstacles, we the people of Dagbon with the help of some politicians have placed on our way to progress and socio-economic development. I shall compromise my leaning and position on the Dagbon case for the sake of the truth to “lash” all parties concerned in this misfortune of our lifetime. In subsequent articles I shall serialize the social, economic and religious effects of the crisis on the lives of Dagombas. This article is in response to a story carried in the Accra Daily Mail on 17th September, 2003 entitled “Building of Gbewaa Palace: A right step forward in solving Yendi crisis, says Ibrahim Mahama” centered on one of the hard nuts to crack before peace returns to Dagbon. The man at the centre of the story is Ibrahim Mahama, a Tamale based legal practitioner and former counseller to the late Ya-Naa. It must be made abundantly clear without fear of contradiction that the destroyed palace was the sole property of the Abudus. It was built during the reign of a past king after the Andanis have burnt down a palace built by a common descendant of the two sides (in the person of Naa Yakubu whose two sons engaged in a rancor leading to the present Abudu and Andani gates. It is of tremendous importance to appreciate the fact that the issue of the right to ownership of the palace is one of the remote causes of the war between the two brothers. In his comments Mr. Mahama lauded the idea of constructing a temporary palace which he stated is a precondition for the interment of the Yaa-Naa. This is a good point but not absolute as it contravenes Dagbon custom to bury a chief who fell in a war elsewhere other than where he fell. Unless of course Dagombas have decided to defy traditional norms, customs and practices as has been done in the past. However, we should remind ourselves that it is as a result of our incessant violation of tradition that has led to the present crisis. “Do not cry over spilt milk” – the harm has been lashed on us. It is now left for us to sort ourselves out. All Dagombas must admit that the events of March 27, 2002 are a revolution in our lives. We must not allow history to repeat itself. If we do, posterity shall curse us. We must look ahead and philosophize on how to move forward. The greatest of this responsibility rest on the leaders of the two gates to selflessly compromise certain entrenched positions for the sake of peace. We cannot afford a new home better than what we currently have. The temporary palace is a good thing to do. However, a permanent palace would have been more appropriate. The issue of the site for the palace needs to be understood in context. The Andanis want it sited where the King fell. This is unfathomable! They want to create the impression that the King was attacked in his palace and deserve to be buried where he fell (some 50 meters away from the old palace). Meanwhile, it has been proven beyond reasonable doubt by the Wuaku Commission’s report that the palace was not attacked but it was vandalized in a war situation as a warring faction advanced towards it. There is so much land in Yendi township where the palace can be sited without fear of robbing people of their ownership of land. Indeed, land is not the issue. It is all about an entrenched position adopted by leaders of the Andani gate like Mr. Mahama. This attitude is not helping anybody. The body of the King has been preserved for more than a year now. It builds up tension and keeps awake the existing acrimony and hatred among Dagombas of the two gates. I wonder when men like Mr. Mahama will wise up to face the realities of the day and let Dagbon know peace. The government’s attempt to resolve this crisis is undermined by such elements. Being the politician that he is, many Dagombas expected that he having made himself the unofficial leader or the “Draconic legislator” of the Andani gate would use his position well to persuade the group to abandon entrenched positions for peace to be restored so that he can go ahead to pursue his political agenda. Close observers of political developments in Ghana have cautioned that the Convention People’s Party (CPP) is just about to commit the biggest political disaster of the new millennium. A Dagbani maxim translates to mean that when carrying soldiers to a warfront and one of them is tainted with blood, it is better to drop that warrior. Mr. Mahama described himself as “the only untainted” politician after the demise of the CPP from political power. That may be true to some extent. Until recently, he could accord himself that description. The events of March, 2002 and the subsequent investigations of the Wuaku Commission have implicated him somewhat in the Yendi crisis. Mr. Mahama cannot run away from that. It will forever be an indelible mark on him. The delegates to the CPP Congress must realize that they are carrying along a “tainted political warrior” who has so many weak points that can be capitalized on by their opponents to ridicule their attempt capture political power. His current appearance will not give him the capacity to unite the rank and file of the party. Mr. Mahama has been viewed by some Dagombas as a “monster”. How then can he win votes from both sides of the Dagbon chieftaincy divide? Well, I wish to add my voice to the calls by some observers to caution the CPP to save itself from committing a political disaster. I wonder why radical elements in the CPP like the Baakos and Pratts are not taking a critical view of the party’s selection of presidential candidates. I rest my case! Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Sokpang Febiga
Sokpang Febiga, © 2003

The author has 1 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: SokpangFebiga

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