President Akufo Addo’s disrespect for our chiefs undermines our unity and cultural heritage

By NDC Norway
Press Release President Akufo Addos disrespect for our chiefs undermines our unity and cultural heritage

The NDC Norway Branch deems it necessary to address the gross disrespect President Akufo Addo has shown to our traditional rulers or chiefs in recent times. His disregard for our traditional rulers raises serious moral and ethical issues that all concerned citizens of Ghana need to reflect upon. The disrespect shown by the president towards our traditional rulers is not just a matter of personal behaviour. It is also a reflection of his total disregard for the values and principles that underpin our cultural fabric.

Traditional rulers in Ghana are the custodians of the customs, traditions, rituals, folklore and rich traditional knowledge of their communities and ethnic nationalities. It is their role to promote these aspects of their subjects’ cultural history and identity and help transmit them to the next generation. Many traditional rulers have religious or spiritual roles within their communities, overseeing sacred rituals, ceremonies, and spiritual practices. They may also serve as intermediaries between the community and spiritual forces or deities. Most of them serve as symbols of authority, unity, continuity, cultural identity, and pride in their communities.

While the influence and authority of traditional rulers in Ghana has evolved over time in response to changing social, political, and economic dynamics, the fact remains that they still wield huge influence in their communities and are deeply respected. That President Akufo orders such chiefs to stand on their feet and greet him borders on unbridled arrogance, narcissism, and ego-erection.

Akufo Addo has led Ghana downhill since he assumed power and his rule has been characterised by institutionalized graft and corruption, nepotism, high inflation rates, heavy borrowing from the Bank of Ghana and from foreign sources. The country has nothing to show for all this borrowing apart from becoming heavily indebted, a debt that the future generation must pay.

Every government institution in Ghana has become a cesspool of contamination, corruption, and indiscipline under the Akufo Addo misgovernance. Youth unemployment is very much on the rise leading to a deep frustration and disaffection among the youth, who are witnessing firsthand, the erosion of their cultural heritage and the disregard for traditional authority figures. This disengagement could have long-term consequences for Ghana’s stability and unity.

It is unfortunate that Stephen Asamoah Boateng, the Minister for Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs, chooses to defend President Akufo Addo’s disregard for our chiefs. In a statement he issued and signed which was reported by Graphic Online on May 2, 2024, he stated that “the call for chiefs to stand when greeting him at public events is not intended to undermine the dignity or autonomy of traditional leaders. Rather, it is a recognition of their esteemed role in Ghanaian society by embracing the Head of State, thereby showing brotherly love and mutual respect”.

For the Minister, ordering chiefs to stand up and greet the president is not an act of disrespect but rather an appreciation by the President of the “harmonious blend of modern governance with the rich tapestry of Ghana’s cultural heritage”. Further, the Minister invokes article 57

(2) of the Constitution that stipulates that as the Head of State and Head of Government, and Commander of the Ghana Armed forces, the President takes precedence over all other persons in Ghana.

We cannot deny the fact that the institution of Chieftaincy in Ghana today coexists with a modern form of governance in very complex ways. While the Constitution of Ghana may grant certain powers to the president as the highest officeholder, it should not be used to justify actions that undermine the cultural heritage and fabric of society. Moreover, as Professor Raymond Atuguba, the Dean of Ghana Law School, has made clear on a JoyNews TV show, our traditional rulers take precedence over all other persons in traditional settings or contexts.

It is within these traditional contexts that the recent disrespect shown by the president towards these esteemed chiefs becomes even more appalling. By ordering them to stand and greet him, the president not only disregards centuries-old customs but also disrupts the delicate balance of power inherent in our traditional hierarchy. In traditional settings, it is the chiefs who traditionally receive deference and honour, not the other way around. The president's disrespectful actions signify a departure from the values that have long defined our society.

This breach of protocol is not merely a matter of etiquette. It strikes at the very heart of our cultural identity and heritage. It sends a message that the president views himself as above the cultural norms and traditions that have bound our communities together for generations.

President Akufo Addo’s insistence on being greeted in a specific manner is a gross abuse of power. He must lead by example as the president of Ghana and demonstrate humility, especially when interacting with respected figures in society. His untoward behaviour contributes to the erosion of trust between government and the people. By failing to respect traditional institutions, President Akufo Addo has demonstrated his failure to govern fairly and effectively.

What is even more alarming is his discriminatory behaviour by singling out certain chiefs for this disrespectful treatment while exempting those from his own ethnic group. This adds another layer of injustice to an already despicable situation, underscores issues of favoritism, and exacerbates ethnic divisions in Ghana that have characterised his misgovernment.

It is important that his handlers advise him to show respect to our traditional rulers. As a leader, he must serve as a role model for future generations. By respecting traditional values and institutions, he will set a positive example for Ghanaian children and instill a sense of pride in their cultural heritage.

Ghanaians should hold President Akufo Addo and his government accountable for disregarding the customs and traditions that are deeply ingrained in the fabric of Ghanaian society. It is important to respect traditional and cultural values in governance and leadership. We must not allow him to continue to contaminate our traditional institutions like the government institutions. We must reaffirm the importance of respecting our traditional institutions and upholding the dignity of our cultural heritage.

Dr Moses Deyegbe Kuvoame || Secretary
Mr. Jacob Isaka || Chairman.