Once my grandfather told me a story about a stranger who sent to the Jaagbo shrine located in a faraway place from Tamale. This stranger was sent as an emissary of the big white man who resided by the sea and had established order in the land. His purpose was to help the chief priest in sweeping the large compound of the shrine.
One day the stranger, after having given his belly a kegful of palmwine, assumed that since he was the sweeper of the compound, the priest of jaagbo shrine had no right to punish a man and his foolish kinsmen who had desecrated the shrine without his, the stranger's notice. Of course in those days, the Jaagbo shrine was potent and didn't allow nincompoops to pooh on its priest. Those who had eyes, those who had ears knew that the stranger had thrown an ugly challenge to the gods themselves. A man whose spirit doesn't want him to see grey hairs on his head often misleads him to challenge the gods that created him to a wrestling match.
In the next days to come, our stranger was first striken with a severe headache. Words have it that he developed bellyache too later in the day. Before the big white man and his people from the sea could perform their modern magic on him, Jaagbo gave his miserable soul to Naawuni, the great God of all gods.
I recount this story because today, in Tamale, a certain Criminal Investigation Department boss, Mr Acheampong who is like that stranger sent to help us clean our compound is questioning our ways of cleaning the compound. He has chastised one of the revered chiefs of Dagbon, Nyab Dakpema for disciplining his own errant children.
Mr. Acheampong in doing this, has gone further to attempt to invite (arrest if possible) the revered occupant of our ancestors' skins to his four corner cubicle at the police headquarters in Northern region.
What is the chief's crime? He ordered a certain errant man and his lover to be whipped in his forecourt for showing disrespect to the land and in extention our gods. The young man and his lady, it is said, whiles doing the thing we all do in the other room, decided to record it on video and afterwards share to the general public. I hear the act was even shorter than that of a cock and a hen: he could not even last for 45 seconds (tweaaa). Residents of our fatherland who abhor such things, reported the matter to the chief, Dapkemah of Tamale. As custom demanded, the wise occupant of our dead fatherss skin after hearing the case meted out the punishment of whipping to serve as deterrence.
Ndoo I was there. I and others present left the scene happy with hopes that our generation has not lost it all. I saw the lady, as she 'twerked' that little bottom of hers in pain when the horsewhip greeted her back. And the gentleman? Young men of today know no shame. He cried and swallowed his spit at the same time.
Back to the problem, the CID boss who has been a blind man in the spate of increased armed robbery in Tamale, suddenly had a messianic healing to see an infringement on the human rights of the two charlatans the chief punished. The same Mr Acheampong who is dining and reveling in the bottle at popular spots in Tamale whiles his colleague police service men are killed in broad daylight suddenly woke up from his slumber to fight for human rights. Ndoo, even that same CID boss and his commander who, when a Chinese national was caught degrading our land, did nothing but to let her escape has finally found a straw to cling to for fame.He even forgot to investigate the Vitting shooting incident where a mobile vendor nearly lost his life to criminals.
Perhaps what Mr Acheampong, the regional CID boss has forgotten is that there exists a chieftaincy act in our constitution which spells out the ordinate roles of chiefs in the society. Perhaps Mr Acheampong and those faceless devilish human rights group who beat the drums of human rights abuse need to read clause 1 to 3 of the chieftaincy act in the 1992 constitution of Ghana to understand that the Dakpema discharged his role under Dagbon customs and traditions.
Perhaps again, Mr Acheampong is so intoxicated with power to forget that a stranger does not show the landlord how to discipline his children. And we shall, if he pursues resist him in all ways deemed lawful.
We do not argue about the sky and the land which came first. Or the one Naawuni created first as they are all important in our lives. For such reasons we, as bilchinima (upright beings) of Dagbon are not arguing that the constitution is of less significance to us. Or that our customs are more important and that we disregard human rights in Tamale. What we simply say to the Mr Acheampong and his ignobly written letter, the faceless human rights activists and all who have ears is that, the constitution came to meet our customs. It recognized the roles of our chiefs. The Dagbon chieftaincy is not above being tested by the law but law itself is not an island. It holds on to skins of the Lions of Dagbon to see light.
The dog once said that if I fall and you fall, it makes play. The CID boss must learn to be this dog. The human rights groups must learn to fall and let's fall to make Tamale a beautiful place. If he and the numerous dead human rights groups are blind to the domestic abuse, assault on citizens by party hooligans etc they should ever be blind to our customary ways of disciplining misfits in our house. I shall be back....
Being wise is better...