View Full Version : Opinion: The Chieftaincy Institution

30th November 2010, 10:14 AM
Our cultural values have always been the quintessentially source of who we are as Ghanaians. Our cultural values frown on vices in any form imaginable. The dynamism of our culture has brought virtues in our lives and has shaped our characters immeasurably. We have always been our brotherís and sisterís keeper due to the fusion of our traditional beliefs and our cultural values. This has groomed us to perceive ourselves and to act pragmatically as one people with preordained future.

We admire our culture immensely that, every moment permissible within the time frame, we display some of them to the admiration of everybody. Foreigners troop to every part of the country to witness our rich cultures in display. This happens every year throughout the country from Paga the Fao Festival, Tamale the Damba Festival, Kumasi the Akwasidae Festival, in Accra the Homowo Festival just to mention few but the list goes on in all the ten regions.

Over the years some have observed the chieftaincy institution sometimes with apprehension due to happenings and anecdotes sometimes detrimental to the situations in which they occur.

Of late we have agitators who keep carping that, the chieftaincy institution should be abrogated because we are in modern times. Some vehemently posit: it has outlived its usefulness so, the system is out of date. But these people always fall short of saying we should abrogate our cultures all together.

With the exception of the Almighty God who is infallible, no human-being is perfect. In your lives, you have taken decisions or made comments that did not please your family or the entire community but, did you abrogate the family structure that makes you the head of your family? So why is it that once in a while, if one Chief makes a mistake, the contumacious agitators lump all of them together and chastise them as if they must be infallible. Chiefs are human beings just like you and me. Why do you make mistakes and think they should be perfect?

They have their shortfalls just like you so, you can bury your head in the sand as long as you want not to listen, but you cannot deny that fact that, the culmination of our culture revolves around them. The chieftaincy institution is a unique body in our part of the world which genuinely represents the values and the rich culture of our people.

In whatever level we find ourselves on the education ladder, we still revere our parents if even they are illiterates, because of their immensurable wisdom that has guided us till date. But Iím yet to meet anybody who can affirm that his/her parents are/were perfect. If you really value the wisdom of your parents then, you should value the Chieftaincy institution as well because; it came into being, due to the wisdom of our ancestors.

While you have ensconced in seeking for your greener pastures, walks into the air-conditioned apartments, swinging to open your televisions with remote controls and start your cars from the comfort of your rooms, you must cogitate that, thereís more to life than those amenities. Some of us have embraced the cultures of our foreign domiciles and want to juxtapose those cultures with ours back home. Wrong idea! We admire every tribe, every race and their cultures but, that does not mean we should throw ours away. We should filter for the best and stay at armís-length from what does not commensurate with our cultural values, no matter how enticing they may be portrayed to us.

We have a monarch in England, Spain, and Japan the list goes on in most countries throughout the world and their people revere them with pride including most people like me who admire culture. Weíre fortunate that ours groom our people from the grassroots level and the resultant effects are deeply felt positively in our social fabric. Why then should we abrogate this culture? Why should others be entrenched to maintain theirs while we try to destroy ours?

Ghanaians did not learn courtesy from the corridors of our classrooms, itís part of our cultural values. Meet a complete illiterate from the boondocks and youíll be surprise to encounter our hospitality at its best. Why are we admired everywhere we find ourselves, if not for our cultural values that have shaped our characters?

Kingdoms have been mentioned and played vital roles with flaws in the Bible and in the Qurían yet we still cherish and use those sacred books, why donít you the contumacious agitators suggest we do away with those sacred books?

In every family, thereís always a head that manages and direct affairs with the auxiliary weight of the entire family behind him/her. In every human institution thereís always a leader who manages and directs the activities of that institution with the assistance of those with the requisite knowledge amongst them.

All the chiefs are human beings just like you and me before they ascended those positions they find themselves. As much as they try their best, they are not perfect; they have their bad days and will sometimes make mistakes so, when issues of that nature comes up, we should be circumspect and kind in dealing with them because, even under pressure they still listen more than you can imagine.

Even though we donít have tribal conflicts and wars like it use to be in the medieval days, Chieftaincy institution has played a vital role in the daily lives of our people till date. In every family, we have our squabbles and altercations, issues of this nature happen because we are human. Instances like these, we feel very comfortable addressing them within the family for amicable solutions. If we couldnít settle them within the family we proceed to the Chiefs Palace for fairer adjudication. When we fail at the Chiefs purview then we finally go to the court to meet the wielded gavel.

There are instances if you circumvent the local authority and proceed to the police stations youíre advised to settle those issues at the family level. Chiefs are awake at anytime of the day and night to settle disputes to prevent anomie on several occasions without any remuneration or even thank you from the central government.

If you donít want to praise the institution stop chastising them at the least instance because, they do a lot to calm situations youíve no idea. This institution has played a very significant role over the years to amaze most of us who admire good and value what culture has brought to bear on our entire communities and the country as a whole.

Can you imagine what the situation will be in the absence of a Chief in our communities? There has been some amount of dislocation in our cultural values hence, the continual invectives spewed all over the media of late. Adherence to the ethics of our cultural values, to be respectful permeates in every tribe in Ghana; it stretches from Paga to Accra and from Elubo to Aflao. If youíre disrespectful in any community, youíre noticed immediately and parents will frown on anybody seen with that disrespectful entity.

If youíre not part of the royal family donít be jealous of them because they did not inherit that institution out of nothing, their ancestors toiled and in most cases scarified their lives to unify their people and in the final analysis, it has benefited the country immensely. If you feel youíre well educated and abhor that institution, read your history books assiduously, you may repent for good. Get near any royal in any part of the country, whoíre without any written history and youíll be amazed with their wondrous scarifies they have made over the years to maintain peace within their people.

Since the Chieftaincy institution was created by human beings itís not flawless but, thereíre rules and guidelines that govern this wonderful institution. Custodians of the institution must strictly adhere to the rules of the institution to avoid embarrassing situations because we hold them in high esteem.

Itís not by coincidence that we stand out exceptionally different wherever we find ourselves in this world for that reason, we must endeavour to maintain our cultures by fine-tuning the rough edges of the Chieftaincy institution to commensurate with our contemporary world but, under no condition should we think of abrogating that rich institution bestowed on us by our wise ancestors. If you have any accolade and constructive opinion that will assist in shaping this our wonderful culture youíre welcome, if not just shut up.

Credit: Balemwo Assam
Washington DC