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Whither impunity in Chieftaincy?

The recurrent trending problems involving our chiefs cannot pass without comment.

Only a few weeks ago the Bantamahene of Asante was reported to have built a structure at the Racecourse area of Kumasi on a waterway – the city authorities had been unable to stop him.

Last week, the Apedwahene of Akyem Abuakwa was reported to have attempted to takeover lands at Dome Faase in the Greater Accra Region, aided by soldiers.

Victor Hugo, the French author tells us: “In the Middle Ages men had no great thought that they did not write down in stone”.

The history of the cathedrals and castles in Europe; the Great Wall of Benin; the great architectural evidences in the medieval empires of Ghana, Mali and Songhai; and similar monumental pieces in the Congo Basin, Ethiopia, and throughout the rest of the world provide evidence that sound moral judgment, appropriate governance and lofty ideals of learning, all employed to establish order in society were cast in stone both literally and symbolically, and hidden in plain sight.

History can provide the missing ethos in our chieftaincy institutions in Ghana, and stop the horrid, disgraceful and totally unacceptable acts of impunity which are perpetrated by chiefs (or kings) and or sanctioned by them.

When the Asantehene punishes the Bantamahene and orders that the aforementioned building on the Racecourse/waterway should be demolished, is the venerated king’s action not serving as a facade to, sort of, assuage the public outcry while mitigating the legitimate responsibility and duty of the police to apprehend the Bantamahene and bring him to trial?

Owing to how low the nation ghana has sunk, we can understand those who surmise that the police are weak and the Kumasi city elected/appointed authorities impotent.

Thankfully, the Asantehene stepped up to the plate and ignited the moral flame of righteous judgement.

But therein lies the danger.

So long as His Majesty is seen to be acting and intervening in such matters; the police, the city authorities and other law enforcement agencies – such as the Environmental Protection Agency, are more likely to continue subjugating sublimated common sense in expectation that if there is any chief or any other person in Asante involved in acts of impunity and the Asantehene has not spoken against or acted against such persons, then maybe, perhaps, such ignoble acts are being done with his subtle endorsement?

That is why the calls on the Okyenhene and the Akyem Abuakwa Traditional Council to speak up against what happened in Dome Faase are in the right direction.

As our mentor continues to lament: “There are published articles that say rampant destruction of the world’s forests will create more pandemics. This warning has been sounded multiple times but who is listening? More viruses are coming!!!”.

One cannot watch the Dome Faase viral videos without noticing the degradation of vegetation that covers the hilly land – how sad.

Simply put, the current events debase the institution of chieftaincy in Ghana.

What then do we do with chieftaincy, “The quintessential ban2 institution” as our mentor has described it?

We can also turn the problem on its head: “Can we do away with chieftaincy?”

Given the corrupt ghanaian environment – a nauseating brew of plain ignorance and blatant dishonesty- where POTROG is often “unaware” of his additional role as Head of State, one should be cautious in writing off chieftaincy.

Our chiefs can still elevate public discourse as they did during the days of the Consultative Assembly that produced the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana.

Back then, Ghana attempted to transform the role of traditional authority into a legitimate administrative and governance structure by introducing into our constitution, the National House of Chiefs.

And for at least 12 years now, successive political administrations have appointed ministers for chieftaincy affairs.

Both the National House of Chiefs and the Ministry of Chieftaincy Affairs are run with taxpayers’ money.

It is therefore high time we asked our kings and chiefs a few questions which they must answer with candour.

Here are just five:

1) Do the oaths you swear debar you from pursuing the cause of justice?

2) Why should the taxpayer keep funding your respective institutions?

3) Even if successive elected political administrations have underfunded you, has your voice of moral authority forsaken you, and if so, how come?

4) Will the people of this nation get credible answers soon, or you are also using your offices to perpetrate and perpetuate impunity and then slink away?

5) When shall we hear from the Okyeman Environment Foundation (which has received tax deductible donations from private and corporate sponsors) on the wanton destruction of the environment at Dome Faase….should we hold our breath?

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Columnist: Isaac Ato Mensah/Augustine Williams-Mensah