President J. A. Kufuor has denounced the numerous chieftaincy disputes in the country and has asked king makers to resist any attempts at influencing them during the selection and installation of traditional rulers.
He said the failure of king makers to guard against such influences would undermine the dignity and relevance of the institution within the modern system of governance.
Addressing a durbar of chiefs and people from different parts of the country to mark the end of the National Festival of Arts and Culture (NAFAC) at the Kumasi Centre for National Culture on Saturday, President Kufuor said the issue of succession disputes was of grave concern to the entire society.
It is estimated that about 300 chieftaincy disputes are currently before the various regional houses of chiefs, the National House of Chiefs and the law courts, with some degenerating into conflict and bloodshed.
Closing the 10-day NAFAC, which showcased the diverse culture of the country's 10 regions, President Kufuor expressed the hope that the findings of a current study into the succession to stools and skins would help all stakeholders to make informed decisions on such issues in future.
The event was on the theme, “50 Years of Culture, Integration and National Development.”
The President further asked chiefs to eradicate cultural practices that were injurious to the dignity and rights of the individual, particularly women and children.
Chiefs, he said, must also promote good governance and the rule of law which, in the traditional setting, were referred to as fairness, justice, protection for the vulnerable, including women and children, the aged and the physically-challenged.
The President said it was because of the crucial role chieftaincy played in the society that the 1992 Constitution recognised that institution, but indicated that, in practice, not all aspects of the country's culture reflected the spirit and letter of the Constitution with regard to human rights, especially the rights of women, widows and the girl-child.
He asked chiefs to take advantage of structures like the judiciary and the Chieftaincy Act 370 of 1971 in the resolution of chieftaincy disputes which sometimes threatened to derail development.
The President acknowledged the efforts of Dr A.A.Y. Kyerematen of blessed memory who was the founder of the Kumasi Cultural Centre and initiator of NAFAC, as well as others whose contributions towards the development of the original idea had given the nation an important legacy with tremendous tourist potential.
He said the nation had faced many challenges and learnt many lessons during the five decades of nationhood but noted with happiness that at the mature age of 50, Ghana was well integrated and governed by the rule of law and a democratic constitution, with a stable economy.
He used the occasion to promote the forthcoming Ghana 2008 soccer fiesta and asked all Ghanaians to work hard towards making it a very memorable tournament.
The President said the tournament would attract thousands of football fans and tourists to the country and over one billion television viewers around the world.
“This should be one of the nation's finest moments; we must all work hard towards a very memorable tournament,” he added.
The Local Organising Committee (LOC) of Ghana 2008 paraded the trophy at stake at the durbar.
President Kufuor further urged every Ghanaian to pray for the success of the tournament and in particular for the Black Stars, the national team.
The President told another gathering of chiefs at Techiman in the Brong Ahafo Region that Ghana was on the rise again to take its rightful place within the comity of nations, judging from the many good events taking place in the country, reports Nehemia Owusu Achiaw & Akwasi Ampratwum Mensah.
He said the discovery of oil and deposits of gold at Kenyase and the revamping of the cocoa industry were some of the signs of God's blessing on the country under his leadership and good omen for national development.
He, therefore, asked Ghanaians to continue to show love towards one another, as well as promote unity and peace which, he said, were prerequisites for national development.
He was addressing a durbar of the chiefs and people at Techiman to mark the 60th anniversary of the enstoolment of Nana Afia Abrafi II as the Omanhenemaa of the Techiman Traditional Area.
Nana Abrafi was enstooled as queenmother in 1946 and has since contributed to the development of Techiman, the Brong Ahafo and the country. She was actively involved in the efforts which led to the creation of the Brong Ahafo Region.
President Kufuor asked king makers to ensure that they filled the thrones and skins with people who deserved them.
He said they should also guard against situations where they would be influenced by money to enthrone or enskin people who did not qualify for those positions.
The Brong Ahafo Regional Minister, Mr Ignatius Baffour Awuah, presented assorted drinks to Nana Abrafi and announced a donation of GH¢2,000 (¢20 million) by the President towards the construction of the proposed Afia Abrafi Senior High School.
Nana Poku Fosu Gyeabour II, the Chairman of the Planning Committee of the anniversary, said Nana Abrafi had set aside 50 acres of land for the establishment of the Afia Abrafi II Senior High School to mark her reign.
Story by Nehemia Owusu Achiaw& George Ernest Asare.