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Opinions Wed, 7 Apr 2010

Time to resolve this Brono - Ashanti conflict before it explodes!!!

                                           The recent disturbances at Techiman and Tuobodom have opened up one of the old fault lines of potential communal strife engulfing our dear nation. We hope that government will not let the death of three people at Tuobodom go in vain but rather explore all avenues to resolve this age old Ashanti – Brono conflict.

                                           To give the government an impartial and objective hand to deal with this conflict, we must all resist the temptation to introduce politics into this Brono - Ashanti debate.

                                           We stand ready to call out anyone who tries to use politics as a means to an end in this conflict. When I read the about statements attributed to the Techmanhene in the latest conflict with Tuobodum, I saw an attempt being made to draw the NDC government into a three hundred-year conflict. This classic Manyhia propaganda tool used to rally Ashantis against the NDC is very unfortunate and must be condemned.

                                           For all who will care to know, this Techimanhene is direct uncle of the NPP Member of parliament of Techiman, Professor Ameyaw Akumfi and it was latter’s direct involvement and his power of suasion over the king makers that made Nana Akumfi Ameyaw IV the Omanhene of Techiman.

                                              If as is being alleged by an operative of the NDC that he, the Omanhene of Techiman refused to entertain Ex-president JJ Rawlings in his palace at the height of the last campaign, then one thing is certain. The Techimanhene is not a closet NDC sympathizer and he is the most unlikely person to brag to anyone that he is untouchable because of NDC government in power.                                             The Asantehene has been getting some bad counseling lately and if he is wondering why people of all walks of life have descended heavily at his unguarded comments, it is because a King in his position should have known better to verify all complaints before reacting in public.                                    

                        If he had bothered to use the various scientific communication tools available to him, he would have known for instance that the man Nana Baffour Asara who stood before him had blood on his hands and he was inclined to say anything to get his sympathy.

                                            We all heard what the national security advisor said about security lapses in the way this case was handled. If indeed the police commander did tell the                                             Techimanhene that they cannot find Nana Baffour Asare and that they will proceed to prosecute if he can help to apprehend the suspect, then I don’t think the Techimanhene is the venomous kidnapper who tried to force the Tuobodumhene to swear allegiance to  him as Manchia wants everyone to believe. I am not in anyway defending the tactics used to get the man to the palace, a civil matter this is for the court to decide culpability.

                                               Let us allow the National security to conduct a thorough investigation on this case instead of issuing threats and forcing the hand of government to choose between two citizens of Ghana. While thanking the government for the rapid response on this matter, we want the people of Ghana to know that we the people of Techiman are no strangers to bullying coming from Manyhia palace. Ashantis have always used lies, deception and false pretences to wage wars against our people and to use such cover to destroy, covert and plunder the riches of Bronolands.

                                               As the chief of Techiman rightly said recently, it was such lies and treacherous deceptions of one (Ashanti) Baffoe Pim that led to the first Ashanti-Techiman war some three hundred year ago. To understand issues of allegiances and customary rights of the people of Tano/Subin in Techiman with the palace at Manchia, one needs to look at the broader context of the relationships between the people of Brono and Ashanti over the last two hundred years.

                                                The conquest and annexation of Bono people and their lands into the Ashanti Empire is something Brono citizens are very uncomfortable to discuss in public because of the inhuman treatment their ancestors went through.                                  

                   Brono relationship to Asanteman was that of servitude where the land, people and wealth of Bono was meant only as a service to Ashantis kingdom. To the extent that some citizens still purport to swear allegiance to the golden stool is blight on the conscience of Brono people.                                                 We would have loved to overlook such an aberration were it not for the violence and death they bring on innocent people. It is through the likes of Nana Baffour Asare that successive Asante monarchs have waged their proxy wars of subjucation against the Brono people.                                               

  We hope the Otumfour Osei - Tutu11  will have the moral conscience to ask himself if it is worth defending a piece of real estate that his forbearers bequeathed to him if he knew that the land in question was a stolen property.                                                                           

Can the Asantehene explain to the good people of Ghana how his forbearers acquired those seven villages called Tano Subin. And if he knew that these were stolen property, will such a systematic destruction of lives in defense of such robbery be worth the price of condoning in assassinations and waging proxy war against the people of Techiman.                                                   

 In 1986 the Ashanti agent who called himself the Offumanhene Nana Kwaku Duah was killed together with the entire members of his family in one of such internecine communal battles at Offuman. It is ironic that the person in whose name such destruction and suffering is visited on the lives of people in Tono Subin will be made the facilitator of peace in Dagbon.                                                      The fundamental question that we as a nation will need to address is whether in our match towards independence as a nation, there was a place for any class of people who were internally colonized, systematically raped and abused being accorded the same aspirations of freedom and liberty.                                                                                                            To the Brono people, our liberation started even long before the Brong Ahafo Act of 1959. Historians do remember that in the last British - Ashanti that sent Prempeh I to the Syechelles island, in 1895, the Ashantis were defeated and the empire disbanded.                                                           

   In fact when Prempeh I returned from Seychelles Island and the Ashante confederacy was being constituted, it was the British who persuaded the Bronos to join the confederacy in 1935 for administrative convenience.                                                         We did so at own free will and it was in this spirit that prompted Nana Akumfi Ameyaw III to opt out when he found that Ashantis were misconstruing confederacy to mean the old Ashanti empire.                                                      

Together with the Dormaahene Nana Agyemang Badu11  and a few other Brono chiefs, they formed the Brono Kyempim Movement to press for a separate and distinct region for the Brono people.                                                      

   To us in the Brono community therefore, our liberation was consummated on 6th March 1957 when Dr. Kwame Nkrumah looked in the eyes of all Ghanaians and uttered those solemn words: “Ghana our beloved country was free forever”.                                                     

We knew then and now what freedom meant and we will not allow anyone to hide behind any ancient tradition to perpetuate injustice and usurp the articles of independence declaration. I hope Nkrumah did not lead a movement to emancipate Ghanaians from foreign domination only turn a blind eye to allow the internal scramble for the spoils of the lands and its resources where the strong grabbed everything at the expense of the weak.                                                        

  If Otumfour Osei -Tutu 11 is so convinced that his subjects at Tuobodom love to serve him so much why don’t we as a nation subject them to a plebiscite to see if they really prefer to swear allegiance to the golden stool.                                                          That idea will not be novel at all since we offered it to the people of Trans-Volta Togoland. Within the last few weeks you might have heard about this belligerent outburst from the Asanteman and how some Ashanti youths invaded the Kejetia beating people and destroying lorries coming from Techiman.                                                       

You might be wondering why the Techimanhene is not be running around looking for emissaries to apologize to the Asantehene. Well, he will not and there is no panic at Techiman because our people have lived through this before and they have learnt to ignore this nuisance coming from Asanteman. Most Ghanaians are familiar with the famous Techiman market but what you may not know is how the market was started.                                                         When Akumfi Ameyaw III opted out of the Ashanti confederation, Manchia in their anger reminiscent of what Otumfour has shown in the last few weeks responded by blockading all the roads leading to Techiman as punishment.                                                       

The blockage lasted for two years at the height of which starvation and disease began to take a toll on the people. In response Nana Akumfi Ameyaw III started a market and encouraged farmers from all the villages to bring their wares to Techiman every Friday with a promise to buy all food items that came to the market so the people can buy food to survive. He followed through by purchasing every food item the farmers could not sell with his own money so they will be motivated to come back the following week.                                                        

That is what started the mythical Techiman market that is now visited by people from all over the sub region. We call the bluff of those Ashanti Chiefs who threatened to stop trading with Techiman market to follow through their empty threats.                                                      Most people argue that Nkrumah created and administrative boundary for the people of Brono Ahafo and therefore all paramountcies who owed allegiances should be allowed to serve their kingdom as they wish.                                                    You notice that I have not mentioned Ahafo in my narrative until now. We agree that the people of Ahafo are ethnic Ashantis who settled on that virgin forest called Ahafo to continue the cash crop farming vocation that made Ashantis the richest ethnic group in Ghana.                                             

    We accept that fact and indeed the Ahafo chiefs go freely to the Manchia palace to perform their traditional and custodial duties at their free will and are still welcomed into the Brong Ahafo house of chiefs. In fact the current president of the Brong Ahafo house of Chiefs Nana Aterkyi of Kukuom is from Ahafo part of the region.                                         

          Obviously the occupant of the Golden stool is having a hard time adjusting to the new reality in a country called Ghana. Some people will like to compare the majesty and opulence of the office of Otumfor to the British Monarchy.                                                   

What is worth comparing here is that the British Monarchy responded to enlightenment and let go an empire that straddled every continent of the world for a Commonwealth of Nations with only a symbolic cultural and linguistic relationship.

                                                   Manchia on the other hand is bent on preserving and relishing in old traditions and institutions that were built on greed, plunder, hate and lies and for which they are willing to condone in assassinations and intimidation on anyone standing in their way. The king must understand that at the dawn of the twenty first century, this republic does not have a place for a king who harbors feudalistic imperial dreams.                                                                                                    The palace historians must explain to him that history is not on his side and he should look no further back into history than in the last decade when the Union Jack was finally lowered over Hong Kong . Of all my research into what has become the Ashanti-Brono Ahafo debate, nothing has caught my interest than a proposition put forward by one brilliant Ghanaweb contributor the other day; A COMMONWEALTH OF AKIN STATES.                                                 If the Otumfour can use his office and position to initiate such a community of Akan states where qualification is not based on who was the victor, master, conqueror, vassal or servant. Think about that, just us the Akans meeting to deliberate on matters affecting the largest single ethnic group in Ghana.

                                              That will be the greatest legacy that Otumfour Osei Tutu 11  can give to all Akan people. It will also erase once and for all the lingering mistrust, suspicion and pain that some Akans have felt and continue to endure at the hands of a Big brother mentality from Manyhia.                                                 Think about what that will bring to your prestige and your contribution to national peace and development. Even if you don’t succeed no one will begrudge you for trying. I can assure you that you will find a very receptive partner in Bronoland because we Bronos do not hate the Ashantis, we only detest their attitude.   Mr. Kofi Kyeremeh Techiman Citizens Council of North America Send your comments and response to Tkyeremeh@hotmail.com           

Columnist: Kyeremeh, Kofi