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27.04.2005 Feature Article

Dagbon – Can’t Ghanaians see that the government is acting criminally?

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One wonders how President Kufour is able to convince his colleague African Presidents at the numerous AU and ECOWAS meetings, and sit comfortably among them to discuss conflict in other countries when he is nurturing one at home – the unsolved, yet explosive, gruesome murder of the Ya Na. How is he able to explain why he is unwilling to arrest any suspect? Does he not think that he must be a subject of gossip and finger pointing at those meetings? Surely his colleague Presidents and the diplomatic missions in Ghana are fed up urging him to do something to solve the murder and they will not be surprised if next time they are grappling with conflict in Ghana.

Any interested and curious world leader would have by now been advised by his country's intelligence organisation that all is not well in Ghana. It was therefore not surprising to read from the American news agency, the Associated Press (AP), the other day that war is feared in Dagbon over a successor to the murdered king.

What is at stake here is murder, the murder of a king in broad daylight of a kingdom dating back several centuries; and yet government has conveniently abdicated the responsibility of finding a solution to a trio of chiefs. After the deed, there was jubilation by the attackers who dismembered the body of the King and mounted his severed head on a spear. With these body parts this devilish group danced to the sound of drums, in a big crowd, to present the body parts to the two people that Associated Press reporter was able to interview.

What is the psychology of the government regarding Dagbon? We frequently hear government officials talk of peace in Dagbon while they do nothing to bring about the peace. Officials are quick to come to the defence of suspects/accomplices who received the severed head of the King. The other day it was a deputy Minister of Justice arguing that those accomplices did not received the body parts but that those who were bringing it to them were “turned away” a few metres to where he sat! (see page 3 of the Daily Graphic newspaper of Friday, January 10, 2003). Then other officials argue, in favour of the suspects, that the king died in war! And now the latest star-attorney for the suspects and accomplices, to argue their innocence on TV, is a former advisor to the former Minister of Justice. She contends that we must not talk of murder in the case of a King who came under sustained attack in his palace for three days and was beheaded. Now come on woman, even NPP members will agree with this reasoning of yours.

What is worse with the government's psychology is the warmth with which some of the suspects and accomplices of murder are treated. The other day, thanks to photos published by the Daily Guide (page 3 of Wednesday July 2, 2003) the President himself was “in a warm handshake with” the man who received the severed head of the Ya Na. After the handshake this man, who was indicted by government's own appointed commission of inquiry, went home convinced that government would not arrest him. And despite the protestations of the Vice President that he has any connection with the matter, he is seen here in a hearty pose for a photograph with the fellow 'who sat-in-state' to receive body parts of the Ya Na. The Vice President who claims that he is innocent and neutral ignored the Kuga Na (present traditional head of Dagbong) during his March 2005 visit to Yendi and rather chose to give encouragement to suspects/accomplices of murder. Can we really be said to be civilised when our leaders behave in this manner?

Anytime the chilling details of the killing of the King are recalled many weep for Dagbong and Ghana. As I wrote the other time in “A Message from Dagbon” there are some things one hopes that all Ghanaians from all political shades can agree on – that a human being has to be depraved beyond believe to cut off the head and other parts of another human and delightfully dance with the severed parts. What occurred in Yendi was so brutal and outside the normal limits of cruelty that any group that engages in such conduct forfeits any claim to be humans or to be a friend of any political party let alone to be defended by it. What they did was savage, primitive, sadistic and unacceptable. The dreadful spectacle of the charred body of the King lying in the Yendi morgue cannot be erased from the minds of Dagombas when for three years nobody is being held for the crime. No one who has seen the remains of the King can forget, yet no official has remembered any therapy for the traumatized women and shattered children from the king's household who saw it happen. The question is whether members of the NPP know how much damage the murder of the Ya Na is doing to the image of their party. The stigma will stick with the party long after President Kufour and his vice Aliu Mahama have spent their two terms. In the long term therefore, it is certainly in the interest of the party to urge government to arrest the criminals even if they are party members, and thus distance the name of the NPP from it.

Arguments as to who should be the next Ya Na are now centred around the suspect/accomplice who received the severed head of the murdered King. And what are the facts? I personally hate writing about Abudu and Andani instead of writing for development in Dagbon and Ghana; but in my next article I shall attempt to summarise the succession quandary and explain why it should not bring about war but rather the murder of the King if left unsolved could. Dagbon wants to weed out of its society murderers and people who perform sadistic rituals with human body parts in this 21st century e-world. If government should be honest to Ghanaians and the world it should admit that numerous as the leads are to unravel this case they are simply unwilling to act for political reasons. The question is: when will President Kufour bite the bullet? Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Dasana Pukariga
Dasana Pukariga, © 2005

The author has 8 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: DasanaPukariga

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