PRESS RELEASE BY SAKUMO WE HOUSEHOLD ON THE PURPORTED 'SUSPENSION' OF THE SAKUMO WULOMO NUMO OGBARMEY III BY THE GA TRADITIONAL COUNCIL AND ON CURRENT PROBLEMS WITHIN THE GA STATE
The principal elders and the general membership of Sakumo We priestly household have read with interest a report in the Daily Graphic of Thursday 3 May 2007 purporting to communicate the 'suspension' of the Sakumo Wulomo to the general public. According to the said report the Ga Traditional Council (GTC) had suspended indefinitely the membership of the Sakumo Wulomo. The report cited the alleged sustained absence of the Wulomo from meetings of the GTC, and claimed that the Wulomo had been involved in a number of activities “resulting in public insecurity and unrest.” The GTC was also reported to have directed that the Sakumo Wulomo's 'activities of whatever nature during the period [of suspension] shall not be recognised by the Council.”
The foregoing is of grave concern to the people and elders of Sakumo We as well as the generality of GaDangme people. The institution of Sakumo is key to the effective functioning of the Ga polity. Sakumo We people constitute one of the ruling houses of the Ga State; namely, the Tackie Kommey We for the eponymous Tackie Kommey I was, as the name Kommey indicates, an integral member of Sakumo We. Additionally, it is the Ga Mantse who acts as Sakumo Wulomo in the absence of a substantive Sakumo Wulomo. Crucially, all anthropological, historical and legal authorities on Ga society, including Field, and Reindorf, frankly acknowledge that it is solely the Sakumo Wulomo who is vested with final authority to perform rituals for the enstoolment of a Ga Mantse. The Sakumo Wulomo plays a similar role during the enstoolment of the Gbese and Asere mantsemei.
The Sakumo Wulomo's only crime in the present matter is to insist on the right process in the enstoolment of a Ga Mantse. It is trite knowledge that wherever a Jaase is instituted among any people in southern Ghana, it is the Jaase that nominates and installs a chief. Following the nomination the chief he is presented to religious leaders for sanctification after which the individual is rightfully made a chief. During the recent chieftaincy problem over the installation of a Ga Mantse, no individual was ever presented by the Jaase to the Sakumo Wulomo for sanctification. In fact, the Jaase was itself hardly constituted which remains the case to date. Consequently the position of both the Sakumo household and the Sakumo Wulomo has been that since no candidate had been presented to the Sakumo Wulomo for sanctification, no Ga Mantse had been installed according to time-honoured practice among the Ga people.
It needs to be stated in further explanation that upon the demise of a Ga Mantse, the Mantse's wristband or afli is presented to the Sakumo Wulomo. Upon the installation of a new Ga Mantse the old wristband is tied to the arm of the new chief. The same process is followed in the installation of an Asere and Gbese mantse. In the case of the Ga stool the wristband of the previous chief, Nii Amugi, is yet to be presented to Numo Sakumo. Chiefship is based on blood or consanguinity. The Ga are a patrilineal people; chiefship runs in the male line. In rare circumstances, selection to office may run in the female line once the male line is exhausted or the males in the succeeding unit are proven to be worthless. Even then the selection of a candidate in the female line is preceded by tireless diplomacy and consensus-building. Patrilineality is the key to Ga society. It explains status and rights to inheritance as well as the origin and position of an individual within a family. We risk throwing away the key to Ga society and destabilising ourselves when we ignore hard facts.
We have quietly watched the selective presentation of news to the public. As regards dealings with the GTC prior to the nomination of a candidate from Teiko Tsuru We, the following is what transpired. On 2 January 2006 the head of family of the ruling Oblie Nii Ayikuma Tiaku Ban Family of Abola Piam wrote to the Registrar of the GTC inter alia: “the Head, Nii Tackie Oblie and the entire membership of Oblie Nii Ayikuma Tiaku Ban Family of Abola Piam faction of Ga Mashie proudly and formally wish to inform the Ga Traditional Council of the successful and peaceful nomination and initiation of one of their sons as the new Ga Mantse in accordance with the laid down traditions of the Ga State. This is fully supported by the Memorandum of Understanding of March 23, 2005 by the families of the Ga Paramount Stool Dzaase. We shall introduce the initiated successor to the Ga Stool to the Council in line with custom at their meeting at the end of this month.”
In response to the above, the Assistant Regional Registrar, Bernice Bempong, wrote on behalf of the GTC: “I am directed by the GTC in session at their meeting held on Wednesday 25th January 2006 to acknowledge receipt of your letter dated January 2006 informing them of your nomination and initiation of a new Ga Mantse from Abola Piam Faction of Ga Mashie, and to informyou that the late Ga Mantse Boni Nii Amugi II has not yet been buried, and preparations are being made to give him a fitting burial as the overlord of the Ga State. In this wise I am further directed to notify you that the drinks presented to the Council in support of your letter cannot be accepted. Therefore it should be returned to you to maintain the peaceful atmosphere of the Ga State.”
Meantime, Dr Jo Blankson had been installed 10th June 2006; and the late Nii Amugi was buried on 27th January 2007. The silence on Blankson's installation was deafening compared to the response to Abola Piam.
In the circumstances it would be asking the Sakumo Wulomo to act dishonestly in endorsing what he knows to be contrary to custom. Sakumo We prides itself in integrity, a value which is highly upheld among GaDangme people generally. We risk distabilising the Ga State if the present mischief continues. Sakumo We pledge their determination to uphold truth and honesty in the name of the GaDangme nation.
We are in the meantime concerned about the level of State pressure being piled on the Sakumo Wulomo to acquiesce in unsavoury political processes. On 17th April 2007 about 70 police officers from the Striking Force Unit arrived at the Sakumo shrine at 2.00am with assoted weapons. The wulomo emerged and was approached in the courtyard by 3 officers; the other policemen surrounded the shrine. The attitude of the police was to question the wulomo hastily to avoid a crowd build-up. They claimed that a bull had been observed somewhere in Accra Central apparently being prepared for ritual purposes. The Wulomo was questioned about the 'coronation' of a Ga Mantse and his position on the matter. He answered that as the one who performs the rituals for the installation of a Ga Mantse, no candidate had been presented to him by the Jaase and therefore he had no knowledge of installation of any chief. As the police left the crowd booed. This was the third time in a short frame of time that police officers had descended on the Sakumo Shrine. Only last week police officers, again, descended on the Gbese palace in Accra central and subjected innocent citizens to brutalities and rounds of teargas.
END OF PRESS STATEMENT