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07.06.2007 Regional News

Ban Lifting On Drumming Results In Riots At Ga Mashie

By D. Graphic
Ban Lifting On Drumming Results In Riots At Ga Mashie

Three hours of fierce fighting between some Ga youth and security personnel yesterday characterised the lifting of the ban on drumming and dancing at Ga Mashie.

A number of youth suspected to be part of those causing the riots were arrested, while several others were brutalised in the running battles.

The clashes, which started early in the morning, saw dozens of the youth opposed to the performance of the Odadao (the ceremony to mark the lifting of the ban on drumming and dancing) by King Tackie Tawiah III, the Ga Mantse, in a battle with security personnel.

So determined were the youth in the fierce fighting that at critical points the police had to call for reinforcement, finally bringing in the military to overpower the irate youth.

The fighting intensified around 12 noon when the youth charged on the police, who numbered about 90, pelting them with stones. In the process they vandalised a police vehicle.

The police fought back with tear gas and rubber bullets, as well as stones, which they hurled at the youth.

The controversy surrounding the event was brought about by the fact that traditionally the Odadao is performed on a Thursday, not Wednesday. Furthermore, it is not customary for the Ga Paramount Stool to perform the ceremony, since the Ga Mantse can only perform it when there is a dispute at Gbese.

Currently, there is a dispute at Gbese but the argument is that a Supreme Court ruling gives Nii Tetteh Ahinakwah II, the Regent of Gbese, the prerogative to perform the ceremony.

Notwithstanding the clashes which lasted for three hours and the controversy, the Odadao was eventually performed by King Tackie Tawiah, amidst heavy security.

The brief ceremony was observed in a rather peaceful atmosphere, contrary to perceptions that it would be disrupted as a result of the clashes earlier in the day.

The Ga Mantse, accompanied by Nii Tetteh Ashong, the Ga Seitse, beat the Odadao drum to signify the lifting of the ban, followed by jubilation as the king was carried shoulder high.

King Tackie Tawiah expressed disgust at the attitude of those who attempted to disrupt the ceremony by consecrating the venue.

Custom and tradition, he said, could not be changed by anybody, adding that anyone who wanted to breach the peace at Ga Mashie would be dealt with.

He called on all Gas to bury their differences and lend their support towards building a united state for Gas.

The Sempe Mantse, Nii Adotey Obour, said it was not wrong for the Ga Mantse to perform the Odadao, saying the move was to forestall any clashes between the two Gbese factions.

Recalling history, he said King Tackie Tawiah would not be the first king to have performed the ceremony and that other kings had in the past done same.

The ceremony, he said, was not for Gbese but the whole of the Ga State and so if Gbese was not in a position to perform it, it was crucial that the Ga Mantse should intercede to allow for the celebration of the Homowo Festival.

Meanwhile, the Nii Ayi Bonte II faction at Gbese has also served notice that it will perform the ceremony today at the Gbese Palace.

Present at the ceremony were the Greater Accra Regional Minister and his deputy, Sheikh I. C. Quaye and Madam Theresa Tagoe, respectively, the Accra Metropolitan Chief Executive, Mr Stanley Nii Adjiri-Blankson, and other paramount chiefs, including Nii Kpobi Tettey Tsuru, the La Mantse, and Nii Duodoo Nsaki, the Otublohum Mantse.