Who Is A Better Leader: Kufour Or Asantehene?

Fri, 25 Aug 2006 Source: Bannerman, Nii Lantey Okunka

When I observe president Kufour’s obsession with chieftaincy, my blood curdles. I believe sincerely that this president plays the majority of Ghanaians for fools when it comes to the issue of chieftaincy. It defies logic that as one who was democratically elected through universal adult suffrage, this president will rather stake his bet on chieftaincy as our saving grace. Where is the ministry of democracy Mr. President? This president says chieftaincy is so dear to us! You and who Mr. President? You certainly do not speak for me and a lot of Ghanaians, I hope. This kind of political and ideological acrobatics on the trapeze of traditionalism must be rejected in its entirety. Galling indeed!!

You see, if chieftaincy was that fair of a system, and Kufour is that good of a leader to govern country Ghana, why was he not selected Asantehene? The Asantes are a section of Ghana right? Kufour is a bonafide Asante right? And Kufour is this fabulous leader right? So why was he not selected king of Asante when the throne became available? He is this awesome leader right? Why did the Asantes put Kwaku Dua in place but not Kufour? A careful examination of the Chieftaincy system will show its discriminatory nature. Kufour would be a footnote in history if Ghana did not have a democracy. Instead of being thankful and shoring up the system that gave him a chance, he is recklessly pushing us into the messy business of chieftaincy. That Kufour was denied the opportunity to lead his own people because his genes and bloodline did not qualify him should warn the president that it is not a fair system and must not be supported in any way, shape or form. Did Kufour contest for the post of Asantehene when it became vacant? If not, why? Who is a better leader, Asantehene or Kufour?

Even with whatever royal pedigree Kufour is alleged to have, he is not fit and qualified for a dogcatcher when it comes to the Asante throne. So here we have a president who is a nobody when it comes to the great Asante throne but is fit to lead Ghana? Which is greater, Ghana or the Asante Kingdom? We have a president who is the subject of the Asante a king, yet the so called powerful king squarely falls under the authority of the presidency? You really want confusion? Well you’ve got one! A much fairer and transparent system has made Kufour president of Ghana. The presidency of Ghana, ironically, happens to be far superior to the Asante throne. What does that tell you about the two systems we are dealing with? While democracy has it warts and all, it is still a fairly new system to us, and has done more for a multi-tribal country like ours than the outdated institution of chieftaincy. I believe for a fact that 50 years of pure democracy, not chieftaincy, would have made Ghana a much better country than it is. Chieftaincy had its chance but did not deliver then and cannot deliver now. Ghanaians have chosen democracy over dictatorship and it is for this reason that resurrecting a dying system of governance must be rejected. Why should we reach back to the outdated system of chieftaincy and nurse it like a baby? Does it mean we don’t have better things to do?

The institution of chieftaincy predates colonialism. Prior to colonialism, chieftaincy was a simple system of government designed to meet the needs of agrarian communities, cowered by superstitious beliefs. In Ghana’s case, the British, through indirect rule, used the chiefs to help rape the people economically and recondition them politically. These same chiefs were the architects of the slave trade and did get their simple pleasures met with frills from the colonialists. The bottom line is this; chieftaincy has not done for us what leaders in other countries have done for their people. Since president Kufour is a well traveled man, shouldn’t he know better? Is this president learning anything from his per diem inspired travels? I am not talking textbook stuff, but instead, out of the box empirical observation.

Here is a president who has reduced the office to a begging steamroller. Now, most of the places he goes to panhandle do not have the kind of convoluted and irresponsible chieftaincy system that we do. Every inch of blade in Ghana is closely guarded by some village clown called chief. Yet, this president, a finagling foe of democracy, thinks Ghana needs chieftaincy to move forward? This president does not have the credentials of someone who believes in the democratic system that got him to power. Notice that it was this same man who for selfish and opportunistic reasons joined the ghoulish military junta of Dictator Rawlings. Even when the 3 judges were maliciously killed, Kufour stayed on for at least 6 months before bolting. I am sure his opportunism nudged him to get away since the political fallout was messy. This president is not a known advocate for democracy and we should see through the charade. At least his larding of the Supreme Court, keeping the chief “bonker” and other uninformed shenanigans leaves a string of doubts in my mind.

I know Rawlings lowered the bar on personal freedoms, therefore, a do nothing president Kufour smells like roses. A thorough perusal will show that this president has not done the things that he could have to help shore up democracy. He never speaks up for the need to amend our constitution in various ways. He has been mute even as the good people of Nkoranza live hopelessly without representation. What really has this president done at the local level to help strengthen democracy? How can this president push chieftaincy at the local and regional level if he believes strongly in meritocratic democracy? Is it not obvious that the weaker democracy stays at the local level the more powerful these inept chiefs become? One sure way of marginalizing these chiefs is to have a functioning democracy at the local level. A functioning democracy at the local level will eat away the insecurities that makes tribe and chieftaincy paramount. Once people can see clearly that a meritocratic democracy has more to offer than a suffocating self-centered chieftaincy system, their choice will be obvious. Chieftaincy is not based on democracy and universal adult suffrage.

There are all kinds of institutions designed to help these inept chiefs. Some of these institutions are even recognized constitutionally. So why must we have a ministry for chiefs? To read the justification by this president is to puke vigorously. A royal college to teach global development and technologies to our chiefs? What about the uneducated ones who are squatting on their throne for life? How will they be instructed? Are we going to pay for interpreters too? Which of our chiefs qualify for this royal academy? So now, Ghana is funding a class based institution? I mean what kind of prattle is this? It is as if being selected a chief is not privilege enough. Now, the commoners must pay taxes to teach the royals? Why can’t these chiefs use the same institutions that everyone uses? This kind of class warfare canard must seize. Even among these royals, you can see class and tribal warfare getting ready to explode. This president better be very careful with what he does with our scare resources. I am galled to witness the reckless manner in which our resources are spent even when our burning priorities wait indefinitely. What about the less privileged kids Mr. President? What about them? You ought to be ashamed of yourself Mr. President. Now is not the time to troll in backward class based ideologies.

If these institutions designed to help chiefs cannot function at the local and regional level, who is to says a national institution will make a difference? This president is so managerially handicapped; he believes that setting up ministries for every problem is the way to go. I mean does it not stand to reason that if you have the same chiefs saddled with the same backward mentality, nothing much will work? If these chiefs cannot solve their problems locally, who is to say that they can solve it elsewhere? At a time when our kids roast in the hot streets of our filthy cities, peddling dog chain and other imported products, this president wants us to believe that our money is well spent building a royal college and ministry for chiefs? What really is the dying need to promote chieftaincy? Who is behind this misguided prodding? Why can’t the institution of chieftaincy, through its own deeds promote itself? We have gotten so good at chieftaincy that we now seek to make it an export product? None other that bonehead Buthelezi, after teaming up with the forces of apartheid is now ready to learn about the dictatorial chieftaincy system in Ghana? God, please save your children from these agents of pure evil.

The vision that most Ghanaians harbor is one of an egalitarian society. A society where each can pull him or herself by the bootstraps. What this president is pushing is a local aristocracy based on privilege and genetics. This kind of self interest mentality at the expense of the broad majority must be rejected. Any training institution, funded by the taxpayer but confined to admitting Ghanaians based on birth, bloodline and genetics must also be soundly rejected. Ghanaians must note and note carefully that the absence of social justice is a recipe for wars to be fought now or later. You can call me a peddler of doom but if this kind of ideology triumphs, it will set the stage for more unrest ahead.

My fellow Ghanaians, we have a duty to stand up against the misguided efforts of Kufour. Our character will be judged, not based on where we stand in comfort but what we did when the stakes were high. It is for this reason that we must do all we can to kill the ministry of chieftaincy and reject the funding of this silly royal college. First it was 100 acres of ploughed and seeded land for our privileged ministers. Then the 30 million presidential palace for our president Kings. Now a royal academy and ministry for our Chiefs. What next Mr. President? Even in the royal college, meritocracy is what will define progress for every student. Why can’t we build a meritocratic democracy for Ghana now? The president is a huge beneficiary of meritocracy and ought to be ashamed for resorting to class and privilege as a way forward. What is really new with the Danquah-Busia tradition anyway? Viva Ghana!

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Columnist: Bannerman, Nii Lantey Okunka