Generally, heritage refers to our tangible and intangible inheritance from past generations that we (the present generation) cherish, and strive to preserve for posterity. Heritage is significant because it helps us “shape our identity” and showcase to others what we are, “our values and priorities” (Heritage council of Ireland, undated). And I doubt strongly if killing and maiming of brethren form part of the values and norms.
Undoubtedly, the youth provide a crucial channel for the easy transmission of heritage from one generation to another. Similarly, chieftaincy institution is a pivotal cultural heritage. In fact, the chieftaincy institution is known to have played significant administrative role in Ghana— spanning pre-colonial, during and post-colonial eras.
Unfortunately, the protracted chieftaincy disputes that engulfed many traditional areas in Ghana for nearly two decades (especially in Dagboŋ and Nanuŋ Traditional Areas) are assiduously distorting the pristine and proud heritage inherited from the past generations. In other words, our cherished values and priorities associated with our heritage are largely distorted; thereby throwing the youth into a depth of identity crisis—as to what or who they are.
Conventionally, the youth constitute the largest proportion of populations in the developing countries. And Ghana is not an exception in this regard. Invariably, the labour force of many countries is carved and replenished typically out of this youthful population. Hence, building a prosperous future for Ghana in general and Dagboŋ and Nanuŋ traditional areas, in particular, is inextricably linked to well-informed and peace-loving youth.
On the contrary, the protracted chieftaincy disputes in many traditional areas in Ghana have practically reduced once powerful, peaceful and closely knitted societies to public ridicule and exposed them to dire socioeconomic challenges. Families are rapidly breaking apart as marriages are crumbling and children are disowned in some cases by their fathers under the heavy weight of unyielding and uncompromising stance in the chieftaincy disputes that engulfed many traditional areas for the past two to three decades. Other examples include Bimoba, Ga and some parts of Gonja Traditional Areas. Additionally, the once vibrant areas known for food crops production and animal husbandry are increasingly becoming desolate.
The immediate victims of such unfortunate disputes are children and their mothers. The future of these children is bleak, as businesses (both farm and non-farm activities) of their parents are badly affected contributing to many social ills including the kayaye (head porters) syndrome. These children and their mothers are predisposed to extreme psychological trauma due to the persistent killings and other sophisticated forms of violence accompanying chieftaincy disputes.
One can describe youth as representing two sides of the same coin. On the one hand, the youth can be used to build long-lasting peace because they are the future, and decoding to them the proper perspective on chieftaincy issues (especially the lines of succession to the skins or stools) can play a determining role in resolving such conflicts. On the other hand, the youth are manipulated unfortunately to fuel these chieftaincy disputes. This contravenes the provision of the Constitution of Ghana (1992) that guarantees the protection of youth from exploitation and harmful cultural practices.
Solutions within the existing Heritage
Critical conditions require critical measures. Therefore, youth of the immediate feuding families or gates in the Dagboŋ and Nanuŋ chieftaincy divides should be made to initiate peace dialogue through the formation of Specialized Youth Associations known as:
- Abudu-Andani Youth Association (ABANYA) in Dagboŋ Traditional Area and
- Gbuģmayili-Baŋyili Youth Association (GBUBYA) in Nanuŋ Traditional Area.
It is significant for the leaderships and core members of these specialized youth associations to comprise largely youth of the traditionally recognized immediate families (i.e., the lines of succession) that ascend the Dagboŋ and Nanuŋ Paramount Skins.
Miraculously, putting the two acronyms together gives Dagbamba and Nanumba a meaningful clue or indication. ABANYA—GBUBYA in the local parlance signifies a public plea (i.e., ABANYA) for the need to maintain or sustain (i.e., GBUBYA) something the person pleading thinks is a good cause. And in the context of this article, the good cause refers to efforts to build peaceful environment for peaceful co-existence for prosperous future in the Dagboŋ and Nanuŋ Traditional Areas, while maintaining the progressive cultural values and norms. Hence, our heritage.
The Message or Resolution
On behalf of youth in other conflict areas in Ghana, the Youth of Dagboŋ and Nanuŋ Traditional Areas including their mothers, kid-sisters, and brothers are yearning for peaceful environment and better future because:
- Parents, by conventional wisdom, do not only wish, but also pray for their children to attain higher feats with brighter future;
- Such wish and prayer coupled with concrete actions are much more needed by the youth in this globalised, and highly competitive era;
- For this reason, the Youth of Dagboŋ and Nanuŋ Traditional Areas are urging their parents, especially fathers, to make concrete efforts in building peaceful environment for a brighter and prosperous future for them;
- A future that is devoid of acrimony, bickering or wrangling, and protracted conflicts, especially chieftaincy disputes.
- And the first step towards that FUTURE should start NOW.
- We, ABANYA—GBUBYA, solemnly pledge to not engage in, or be cowed into, any forms of aggression and violent confrontation against one another;
- We, ABANYA—GBUBYA, passionately ask the Elders of Dagboŋ and Nanuŋ, who are incidentally our parents, to help us attain this WISH, and finally
- We, ABANYA—GBUBYA, solemnly ask ALMIGHTY ALLAH to grant our parents, who double as Elders of Dagboŋ and Nanuŋ, the wisdom and determination to work together for concrete peace and to ensure PEACEFUL co-existence.
Making Passionate Appeal
By this write-up, I am calling upon (i) National Peace Council, (ii) Religious Organizations, (iii) Peace and development-oriented non-governmental organizations (NGOs), civil society organizations (CSOs), and (iv) Ghana’s development partners to collaborate with the Northern Regional Coordinating Council (NRCC) to restore broad smile on the faces of the youth of Dagboŋ and Nanuŋ and help wipe away the tears of mothers who lost their loved ones to these conflicts. And to, finally, call on the judicial council of Ghana to facilitate the speedy resolution of chieftaincy disputes pending in the law courts to avert unnecessary life-threatening anxieties and loss of lives. God is the Best Knower.
By Dr. Abdul-Mumin Abdulai
Dr. Abdul-Mumin Abdulai is an Adjunct Senior Lecturer,
Institute of Local Government Studies.