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30.01.2015 Opinion

Response To Togbe Tsedze Atakora's Comment On Nkonya / Alavanyo Conflict

By Felix Ohene
Response To Togbe Tsedze Atakora's Comment On Nkonya / Alavanyo Conflict
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The Vice President, Kwesi Amissah-Arthur's meeting with the Chiefs and elders of Nkonya and Alavanyo at Kpando on Friday January 9, 2015 turned into a 'history class' taught by Togbe Tsedze Atakora VII. Teacher Afeti Kwaku, as he was popularly known during the days he was teaching at the E.P. Schools at Nkonya Ntsumuru, sought to give free history classes on the etymology and toponymy of “Bowiri” as a corrupted version of Moree near Cape Coast where the Bowiris were said to have migrated from.

He said that, in terms of historical or chronological settlement, between Nkonya and Alavanyo, there was nothing like Senior Headmaster status. In fact, there is truth in the adage that “the tone of one's voice when asking for a loan is surely different from that used when the time for repayment falls due and the money lender is at one's door-step”.

He threw a challenge also, that “if anyone has evidence that the Alavanyo Stool and for that matter, any Atakora has ever been to court over land with the Nkonya Stool, that person should show it”. I swallowed that statement and challenge with equanimity since the forum was not intended to be a turf for confrontation. If it were not for the sake of the Vice President and his eminent entourage, I would have ignored these statements and challenge thrown at Nkonya to provide evidence on the matters Togbe Tsedze Atakora raised and considered them as “a straw a drowning man would clutch on” out of desperation.

Togbe Atakora craftily avoided any migration history and etymology / toponymy of his own people, the Alavanyo, one of the main parties for whom the meeting was called by the Vice-President and rather dwelt on the migratory history and etymology of BOWIRI. I have, therefore, offered to provide the history and legal records involving the Alavanyo Stool and Nkonya Stool in the dispute over their boundary for the information of your cherished discerning readers.

These accounts had been well-documented by German Missionaries especially, G. Haertter, Dr. Hans Gruner as well as historian Paul Kwame Dzathor, an Alavanyo citizen. Historians in Gbi, Kpando, Sovie and Aveme know and can testify to the veracity of these facts about Alavanyo. The Court proceedings and judgments are at archives in Ghana and outside Ghana and any Commission of Inquiry set up by Government can call for them for their scrutiny.

Origin of The Alavanyo People.
The Alavanyos as known today were a family from Sovie who were being sought to face justice for the murder of a citizen of Aveme who had gone to Sovie to demand payment of a debt owed him. Indeed,the adage that “the tone of one's voice when seeking a loan is different from that which one uses when the money lender calls in to demand repayment” is true. It is alleged that,the members of the family that took part in the crime fled to the Bubulu-Bu forest for fear of reprisal attacks from the Aveme people or that their own people would give them up for prosecution. The Bubulu-Bu party escaped from the forest and sought refuge with Togbe Tsatse Kwaku, their brother-in-law, from Kpando Tsakpe who took them to his friend, Akondo from Nkonya so as to keep them far and safe from prosecution. Akondo, (the Alavanyos referred to him as Kondodze because he was fair-skinned) led the Sovie settlement seekers to Nanai Obranie, Chief of Nkonya Ntsumuru who took them to Nanai Okotor Kofi I, Paramount Chief of Nkonya. This was in about the early 1840s.

After series of thorough and exhaustive consultations with his elders of Nkonya, Nanai Okotor Kofi who reigned from 1793 to 1849, allocated to the Bubulu-bu party, initial settlement on a piece of land at the banks of the Volta River which they (Alavanyo) named “LOGLOTO” reference “THE EWE NATION AND SASADU- Brief History”, Pages 51-55 authored by Mr. Paul Kwame Dzathor - a citizen of Alavanyo; and pages 65 and 66, paragraph 3 of 'Ewegbalehlela We Suku We IV' by German Missionaries, G. Haertter; J. Spieth and G. Daeuble, 1906 published by Norddeutsche Missionsgesellschaft, Bremen, Germany.

These records bear testimony to the fact that the Alavanyos were granted settlement on Nkonya land when they fled from Sovie. History has is that, after a brief stay at Logloto, the Bubulu-bu party sent for their wives and children to join them at their hide-out. Thereafter, they requested to be re-settled at a place far from the river for fear that their children might drown in the Volta River. Their new-found friend, Kondodze led them back to Nanai Okortor Kofi to plead for their re-settlement.

The Paramount Chief of Nkonya, Nanai Okortor Kofi consulted his elders and resettled them on Nkonya farmlands of some families from Tayi, Ntsumuru and Asakyiri. The people of Nkonya Akloba, original farmers on the Logloto land resumed their farming activities from then on until today.(the name LOGLOTO has over the years been corrupted to OLOKLOTO by farmers from Nkonya Akloba). Commenting on the new place allocated the Bubulu-Bu party, their leader, Togbe To, lamented in Ewe language thus “Kpeme wonami. Mianↄ fi kpↄ dewohii Adabanyo.”

This translated literally means, “We have been allocated stony land. All the same, we will stay here and hope that it will be good someday.” Kpeme being their first settlement, has since, been their capital town until today and they took the name Adabanyo which has, over the years, been corrupted to Alavanyo. Togbe To's lamentation drew sympathies from some Nkonya farmers who subsequently, gave out their farmlands to the Adabanyos to settle on and eke out a living. These settlements were named Dzogbedze (Red Grassland) Deme (Settlement under Palm Trees) Agorme(Settlement under Fan-palm trees) whose fruits produce some edible juicy substance like thick palm soup, Agorhoe (Huts made from palm fronds) and Wudidi (Ripe fruits from the Wu tree).

This kind gesture was vehemently opposed by the paramount Chief of Gbi, Togbe Gabusu, when Nanai Okortor Kofi sent emissaries to inform him of the settlement of the fugitives; because Nkonya originally shared boundaries with Gbi along the River Fantibi. He warned Nkonya not to harbour the Bubulu-bu party because his enquiries about them revealed that they were a bunch of criminals who were fleeing from justice after murdering an Aveme citizen and that, he Togbe Gabusu would not want to share boundaries with them, should Nkonya go ahead to host them. Nanai Okortor Kofi ignored this admonition and went ahead to allocate large portion of their land to them but left a strip of land including Abehenease, an Nkonya farming cottage in between the Adabanyo and the Fantibi River to respect the wish of Togbe Gabusu not to share boundary with the fugitives.

(I believe Togbe Gabusu will be saying to Nanai Okortor Kofi in the grave; “I told you so”). Encroachment on Nkonya Land In about 1905, the Alavanyos started encroaching on Nkonya lands not allocated to them. There was some confrontation and Nkonya lodged a complaint with the German Colonial Administrator at Kpalime. This eventually caused Dr. Hans Gruner and Chief Cartographer, Paul Sprigade to commence cartographic work on what they called Kunja Gebirge Gennant (Nkonya Mountains).

They documented, in detail, every farmer's hut, farm location and ethnicity, every river, pond, fetish grove, mountain, valley, footpath and marked clearly, the boundaries between the six communities surrounding the Togo Plateau namely, Bowiri, Nkonya, Alavanyo, Gbi, Santrokofi and Akpafu. On completion of this cartographic work, Dr. Gruner invited the head-chiefs of the six communities for final confirmation of their boundaries. The Nkonyas complained of the inappropriate allocation of their strip of land between Alavanyo and Gbi that had been retained to respect the wish of Togbe Gabusu; but Dr Gruner ignored their plea and hence Nkonya involuntarily, ceded their land to Alavanyo for the cartographic simplicity and administrative convenience of the German colonial governor.

Thus, Nkonya lost Abehenease, their farming village, to Alavanyo who, subsequently, moved in to make it their seventh settlement, in 1915. Co-incidentally, all the six head-chiefs who attended Dr. Gruner's meeting on the mountain, held long walking sticks. This excited Dr Gruner and his team, led by Paul Sprigade hence they re-named the “Kunja Gebirge Gennant” (Nkonya Mountains) Gruner Map, “Karte des Sechsherrenstockes” (Map of Six Men's Sticks) to signify the boundaries of the six communities. The map was printed in Berlin and each head-chief was handed a copy of the map.

Copies of the map were handed to the British and French authorities when German colonies were taken over after the latter's defeat in the First World War (1914-1918). Copies of the map are available at the following archives and libraries world-wide: • The National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, UK; • The British Library, St Pancras, London, UK; • The British Library, Wetherby, West Yorkshire, UK ; • Bibliotheque nationale de France, BnF Paris;France; • Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Munchen, Germany. • The American Geographical Society; New York, USA

In 1923, the people of Nkonya-Tayi noticed that some Alavanyo farmers had encroached on Nkonya land. On May 24, 1923 a nine-member delegation from Nkonya-Tayi went to Alavanyo-Kpeme with the view to inviting the Alavanyos to inspect the encroached portion. The Alavanyo Chief declined to let his people go for the inspection. Nanai Kwasi Addae, leader of the Tayi delegation was assaulted by an Alavanyo for showing disrespect to his chief by talking without removing his cap. Nanai Addae retaliated and this resulted in a scuffle and escalated to the first full-scale war between the two communities. The Alavanyos reported the matter to the District commissioner at Kpando who caused the arrest and imprisonment of the members of the delegation for breach of public order. On June 1, 1923, before passing sentence, His Worship, P. D. Le Livre advised them to take their case to court, for determination of ownership of the land allegedly encroached on, after serving their sentences.

a) In 1931, Norton Jones the Chief Conservator of Forest, met representatives of the six nation-states on the issue of the Togo Plateau Forest Reserve Settlement Enquiry where they all agreed that their boundaries were as shown on the Gruner map drawn in 1913. In his May 1931 Report to the Colonial Secretary, Victoriaborg, Accra, he wrote this about the Gruner Map: “There are in this Reserve, parts of six Divisions. Their boundaries in the past formed the subject of an exhaustive enquiry at the hands of a German Commissioner, whose name is still a household word with the people, Dr. Gruner. By infinite patience and laborious care, he had investigated, laid down on the ground and set forth on a detailed plan, the boundaries between these Divisions (Gbi, Santrokofi, Akpafu, Bowiri, Nkonya and Alavanyo)” The Nkonyas are in possession of this map of TOGO (KUNJA) Plateau Reserve Plan of 1931.

b) In 1951, Nkonya filed a suit at Akpini Court “B”. The case was to determine and declare the true boundaries of Nkonya and Alavanyo. The case, No. Tr. L 19/53 was later transferred, on the orders of the Chief Justice, to the Land Division of the High Court in Accra under Justice Van Lare. On 24th May, 1957 in the High Court, Accra, Justice Van Lare ruled in favour of Nkonya. In delivering his ruling, he wrote: “I am satisfied that the boundary between Santrokofi and Akpafu and Alavanyo was finally demarcated in 1913 by Dr. H. Gruner and is as shown on either Exhibit “C” or “C1 or “G” or “D” and either of this map also shows the true boundary between Nkonya land and Alavanyo land.”

c) On 8th June, 1959 His Lordship, GRANVILLE SHARP J. A.(presiding) Court of Appeal, Suit No. 12/59 with C. S. Acolatse and H. O. Smith, up-held the accuracy and authenticity of the 1913 Gruner Map as indicating the true boundaries and that defendants (Alavanyo) are “estopped per rem judicatam” (a matter that has been finally determined), from ever raising the question about their boundaries; " interest reipublicae ut sitifinis litium" The rationale of the rule or doctrine is that it is in the public interest that a litigation must come to an end.

d) In 1961, the Nkonyas instituted another legal action in the Ho High Court, this time against the individual citizens of Alavanyo who happened to have trespassed onto the Nkonya side of the undisputed 1913 Gruner boundary namely. Joseph Foli, Togbe Mensah Aniabor, Korkor Sampende, Trigautt Kosihu, W.A. Dornya, Kwasi Asigbetse, Eugene Prikutse and Aaron T. Kuma.

On February 29, 1963 Togbe Andrews Kwasi Nyemiku Atakora VII, led by his counsel, Isaac Emil Osei-Bonsu Esq; swore an affidavit at Ho High Court that he was the substantive Paramount Chief of Alavanyo and moved a motion for substitution of his name for that of Togbe Mensah Aniabor, Regent of Alavanyo Stool who had then abdicated following the installation of he, Togbe A.K.N. Atakora VII, as the substantive occupant of the Alavanyo Stool. Togbe Mensah Aniabor joined in 1962 as co-defendant on the ground that the land in dispute belonged to Alavanyo Stool which he was occupant as Regent following the death of the Paramount Chief, Togbe Atakora VI, a co-defendant in the 1959 case. How then can Togbe Tsedze Atakora boldly say, in the presence of the Vice President, the National Security Co-ordinator, the Army Commander, the Regional Minister, the Chief of Staff and other respectable personalities, that there has never been a court case between the Stool of Alavanyo and the Stool of Nkonya, in the light of these array of sufficient and substantial evidence to the contrary?

Is it that Togbe Tsedze Atakora does not know these facts and never cared to know, ever since he ascended the throne, hence holding the country to ransom? If he does not know these facts, then his actions and comments are understandable as being made out of ignorance and should be forgiven for leading his people astray and causing so much pain and agony.

During the court proceedings, two events occurred :-

a). The court gave an interim injunction in 1966 restraining both parties from entering the disputed land “till the final determination of the suit”

b). The court, by Consent Order dated June 19, 1962 made by His Lordship Mr. Justice Prempeh at the High Court, Ho ordered a surveyor, Mr. Henry Hagan, to demarcate the Nkonya /Alavanyo boundaries based on the Dr. Grunner 1913 Plan Map. This was done and pillars were accordingly re-erected at points where the Alavanyos had willfully obliterated the 1913 pillars.

In December, 1970, High Court, Ho - Suit No. 28-35/61, 1970, Justice G. R. Mc Vane Francois ordered the Alavanyos to atorn tenancy within one month of the ruling to the Nkonyas if they did not want to be dispossessed of their farms. He stated that, (a) “The impression one is left with is a strenuous bid by the defendants, the Alavanyos to discredit once more the Grunner Plan of 1913. “I regret, this third throw of the dice cannot yield the desired bonanza” page 5 paragraph 4 lines 1-4; and, (b) “I must emphasize that this is the third judgment the defendants, the Alavanyos have lost; they have accordingly the last opportunity of showing their willingness to abide by the decisions of the courts of this land and acknowledge the boundary between them and the plaintiff”. “ The courts are established to resolve conflicting interest in any society. They are legally constituted and are above self or individual interest. If people fail to accept, recognize and respect the judgments of the courts based upon concrete and truthful evidence, bloody clashes as this nature of Alavanyo and Nkonya are bound to be a constant feature of our lives” (page 10 paragraph 3 line 8). “Civilization presupposes respect for the law”.

e) After the final determination of the suit in December 1970, the Nkonyas naturally entered their land and begun to re-farm on it. The Alavanyos again appealed against the Justice Francois's judgment of December, 1970 at the Court of Appeal. In addition, the Alavanyos brought another action to the Ho High Court against the Nkonyas that they had allegedly flouted the order of interim injunction imposed in 1966.

The Ho High Court dismissed the action on the grounds that there was NO subsisting injunction and in the circumstance, the Nkonyas could not be held to be in breach of a non-existent Order. On 4th December, 1975, Court of Appeal, Accra Suit No. 112/74, Justice J. A. Amissah (Presiding), Kingsley Nyinah and J. A. Annan dismissed the appeal filed by Alavanyo and up-held the 1970 ruling by Justice Francois. This was reported in the 1976 Ghana Law Report pages 194-203. f) After the December 4, 1975 judgment, Mr. Joseph Foli and others of Alavanyo who appealed against the judgment of 1970, and also instituted an action against the Nkonyas for flouting the interim injunction of 1966, approached the Nkonyas, apparently to atorn tenancy.

The Nkonyas requested them to submit, in writing, the names of all Alavanyos farming on Nkonya land. The Alavanyos complied with this request by submitting names of seven farmers who had trespassed into Nkonya land, in a letter signed by Joseph Foli and Eugene Prikutse, dated 14th January, 1976. This letter was addressed to Nana Agyattah IV Chief of Nkonya Tayi and his secretary Peter Akuffu. Names of the farmers were as follows; 1. Joseph Foli 2. Kwasi Asigbetse 3. Winfred Donya 4. Eugene Prikutse 5. Aaron T. Kuma 6. Korkor Sampede. Consequently, each of these Alavanyos, whose names were submitted, atorned tenancy in the traditional manner by presenting a ram and a pot of palm wine and was, therefore, left free to farm on Nkonya land.

In 1980, the Alavanyos decided once again to re-litigate the matter, which they took to the Stool Lands Boundaries Commission chaired by Mr. Justice Amorin in Accra. The Commission gave judgment against the Alavanyos but ordered that the boundaries be re-demarcated- (25th January, 1980; Enquiry No. 7/1979.) The Nkonyas felt dissatisfied with the Commission's Re-demarcation Order and therefore instituted action at the High Court, Accra to have that order quashed. Justice (Mrs.) Cecilia Koranteng Addo quashed the Stool Lands Boundary Settlement Commission's order for re-demarcation on 2nd December, 1980. She stated that, two previous rulings at the High Court and the Court of Appeal had up-held the accuracy of the Dr. Grunner Map of 1913 and thus settled the issue of the boundaries.

Ref. Miscellaneous matter No. 91/1980 It is worth-noting that in all the above-cited cases affecting the boundary, the judgement had been against the Alavanyo Stool and not the six encroachers. This last judgment - Miscellaneous matter No. 91/1980, effectively ended the protracted legal tussle over the boundary between the two states of Nkonya and Alavanyo.

As far as the Nkonyas are concerned, and in view of the above legal developments, there is NO land nor Boundary dispute between the Nkonyas and the Alavanyos.

There are civil ways of land acquisition that any well-meaning and peace-loving citizen, community or entity may resort to and NOT by force of arms, mischief or arrogance in contempt of court ruling. The latter options are anachronistic and acts of lawlessness that must NOT be encouraged by civilized society. Where is the much-touted and oft-trumpeted "Rule of Law" in Ghana?

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