Youth Unrest In Buipe: A Press Statement By Gonjaland Association UK & Ireland

Press Release Youth Unrest In Buipe: A Press Statement By Gonjaland Association UK  Ireland
DEC 20, 2022 LISTEN

Our attention has been drawn to a protest by sections of the youth in the Buipe traditional area of the Savannah Region. On one hand, we have watched video footages of the events that culminated in the unrest among sections of the youth. In that video, the Public Relations Officer of the Gonjaland Youth Association is seen calling on the youth of Gonjaland to, among other things, reject the installation of a Fulani as a chief in the Buipe area with rights to parcels of land.

On the other hand, we have listened to an audio recording by the Secretary to HRM Buipewura Jinapor II in which the secretary sought to clarify and rebut some of the allegations contained in the PRO’s video. Furthermore, we are also in possession of video recordings in which some members of the Fulani tribe in Buipe expressed their gratitude to HRM Buipewura Jinapor II for the honour done them by not only allowing them to install a chief but also, assigning a parcel of land to them. We note that the crux of the agitations of the youth in Buipe revolves around allegations that Buipewura has assigned parcels of land to the Fulani community with allodial title or interests. This suggests that the Fulani community assigned this land has complete and absolute freedom to dispose of such land subject only to the laws of Ghana. But in his rebuttal, the Secretary to Buipewura Jinapor II argued that the said land was assigned to the Fulani community for the purpose of building a school for the Fulani community. This means no allodial interests have been assigned to them.

While we appreciate the arguments posited by both sides, there are a number of issues we want to drum home as a group:

  • We appreciate that the development of Gonjaland in general will take investments not just from indigenes but also from people who have migrated from other places. Without a doubt, Kumasi is what it is today not just because of investments from indigenous Asantes, but also investments from people from other communities including Gonjas who have settled in Kumasi. The same is true for all other places including, for example, London.
  • Following on from the preceding point, we welcome investments from everyone including Fulanis. It presupposes then that whatever it takes to create the “enabling environment” for anyone to invest in Gonjaland remains a priority to us as a group. This means that peaceful co-existence is a sine qua non if our goal of attracting investments into Gonjaland is to be actualised.
  • While we appreciate the importance of investments into Gonjaland, what we cannot accept is any attempt by any chief to divest of us of our land. It is significant to note that the allodial interest to land is the highest title to land and is subject only to such restrictions and or obligations as may be prescribed by the laws of Ghana. We note that in places like Accra, and Kumasi, there are community leaders or chiefs for the various tribes that reside in these towns – Sarkin Zongo, Wangara Chief, Gonja Chief, Zabarma Chief, Fulani Chief. These chiefs are recognised by (for example), the Asantehene and Ga Mantse. However, what the Asantehene doesn’t do is assign portions of Ashanti lands to these community leaders or chiefs. In that regard therefore, if Buipewura indeed assigned portions of Gonja land to the Fulanis as is claimed in one of those videos, he needs to rescind that decision as a matter of urgency and priority. We are happy to co-exist with the Fulani community and indeed any community. What we are not happy to do is have the allodial interest to our land assigned to any community.
  • Response from HRM Buipewura’s palace dated on 18 Dec 2022 still refutes the enskinment of a Fulani despite video evidence. However, within the same document it mentions the enskinment of Mr. Abdulai Alhassan as Mandewura who was enskinned on 16 Dec 2022.
  • This subsequent enskinment raises more questions than answers as it implies that the enskinment of Mandewura was a knee jerk reaction in response to the previous allegations of HRM Buipewura’s actions.
  • Tradition and history have preceded majority of us. Therefore, the roles and responsibilities of our leaders should not deviate from what we know.
  • However, if there is a change in custom regarding chieftaincy and land ownership/distribution, it is only appropriate that these are communicated effectively to all Gonjas.
  • While we respect the rights of our chiefs to have the final word in all decisions pertaining to their respective jurisdictions, it is our considered belief that in keeping with majoritarian rule and the tenets of democracy, stakeholder engagements are necessary. Contrary to what the Secretary to Buipewura sought to posit, such engagements have always been part of our tradition – just in a different form. The elders that sit with Yagbonwura don’t do that just because they like the shape of Yagbonwura’s nose. They do so because they are the ones he feeds off from in decision-making matters. That is the format stakeholder engagements have traditionally taken. In our modern dispensation, however, it is not wrong for any chief to engage the youth in matters that directly or indirectly affect them. To refuse the youth such an opportunity is to refuse them the opportunity to shape the future they want to live in. That cannot be right.
  • We deem it appropriate for HRM Buipewura II to hold a televised announcement to the people of Gonjaland along with both chiefs of Mande. He can use this platform to clarify actions and doubts that has led us to this path of discontentment.
  • We have always been told that a chief without subjects is not a chief. Therefore, we your subjects demand that HRM Buipewura II addresses this matter as a true leader with efficiency and urgency.
  • We also note the potential erosion of established traditional, cultural practices and beliefs with unguarded opinions made in videos circulating on social media.
  • We request our Chiefs to unstintingly be humble custodians of such traditions and go to extra lengths to protect them from corruption.
  • Again, there is report of condescension and alienation of some chiefs by apparently more "powerful "educated peers.
  • We wish to state clearly, our educated and enlightened chiefs must use their privilege to lead with candour, humility; and also advocate benefits for kinsmen by harnessing royalties, revenues and social obligations of companies and investors within jurisdiction.

We use this opportunity to call on all chiefs of our land to be mindful of the fact that our land and its customs predate them. They are only playing a fiduciary role and must, in all their dealings be cognisant of the fact that they have a responsibility towards the current and future generations. Any decisions they make today have far reaching implications for generations unborn and posterity will judge them unkindly if they make the wrong decisions today.

Thank you.
Rashid Seidu
Gonjaland Association UK & Ireland