The travails of a bleeding hometown – Wa (II)

The actions of these politicians and religious men tend to misdirect focus and mischannel the positive energies of productive youth from productive undertakings which have the potential to uplift the development of society. In effect, the opium of politics and religion administered to the youth of our fatherland is by far the most destructive force relentlessly visited on a bleeding hometown.

We cannot afford to allow politicians and extremists to continue using politics and religion to sow seeds of discord and antagonism among us. We owe it to future generations to leave behind a society that brews peace, love and unity in the midst of diversities.

Delving further down introspection lane, values and cultural systems which have regulated our lives over the years come under the microscope. Social values which have kept the fabric of our society closely knitted have gradually crumbled and given way to the plethora of vices we are now confronted with. The cultural systems which gave us identity and regulated our lives in ways that embodied ‘tijaabunyeni’ have long-since been relegated to the relevance of obsolescence.

Some cultural and value systems have survived generations; therefore, modernity in any mutated form imaginable cannot coax a people with firm resolve and focus to jettison those systems which have stood the test of time. Suffice it to say, the Ashanti kingdom amply demonstrates this assertion.

Manhyia is the epitome of a fully functional traditional state within a 21st century modern Ghana. Through festivals, culture is held in high esteem. Through its traditional administration, Asanteman is regulated according to the time-tested values, traditional and cultural systems which give Ashanti its unique identity.

In all the successes that Asanteman is noted for – like being a model traditional state of great repute in a modern mix – it is worthy of note that the success of Ashanti as a modern traditional state revolves around the general accord in which the custodian of Asanteman’s traditions is held in dignity and in stature.

Asanteman beholds the revered Otumfuo as the fulcrum around which Ashanti works and develops. Drawing from this, the king commands the voice to make decrees which conform to culture and impacts positively on subjects. Drawing further from same, the king is given the clout to make demands from the modern administrative Ghanaian state and be taken seriously.

The story of the Ashanti state illustrates the fact that our traditional systems and cultural values remain relevant in regulating our lives and building our societies in spite of modernity.

Just as Manhyia is to Asanteman, Nayiri is to the Wala. Nayiri is not just home to the king of the Wala kingdom, it’s also the traditional administrative hub where the king sits in state.

One cannot compare Asanteman to Wa in terms of size and composition. Equally, one cannot reasonably juxtapose Manhyia with Nayiri in terms of structure, organisation and other vital parameters of establishment. Notwithstanding, the most important commonality between the two traditional set-ups is that the occupants – thus Otumfuo and Wa-Naa respectively – are custodians of the traditions and cultures which define the identities of their respective kingdoms. In effect, the traditions and cultural values which regulate and bind society stem from traditional authorities.

The big question that then arises is, how has it been possible for Manhyia and Asanteman to have been successful in promoting values and traditions toward the regulation and development of Asanteman, with all the associated challenges of modernity – yet Nayiri and the Wala have not been able to get their act together in the same regard?

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At the heart of this inquisition lies the one factor that has comatosed traditional values and cultural systems which bind people and give meaning to co-existence – protracted chieftaincy disputes.

Over the years, chieftaincy disputes have sharply divided our society. With unending squabbles and litigation over succession-rights and legitimacy of successive overlords, the Wala kingdom has always been robbed of the unanimity that seals the overlord’s authenticity and the power that comes with his authority. Divided into blocks of different lineages amid divided loyalties on who has always been the rightful heir to the skin, Wa and the Wala continue to deny themselves the rallying factor that the king requires for his words and actions to be law unto the people, insofar as championing affairs of growth and development are concerned.

Through protracted litigations challenging the legitimacy of king after king, Wa and the Wala continue to debase the might and clout of the skin; thereby denying occupants the relevance and stature to command attention and use traditional administration to effectively oversee affairs of the kingdom. When a society undermines its supreme leader, that society forfeits direction and oftentimes get drowned in retrogression and deprivation.

As a people, we cannot continue to decry lack of attention by successive governments on matters of development and expect to be taken seriously if there is no unanimity in giving voice and clout to the leader of our society to make such profound engagements on our behalf.

Chieftaincy is a delicate institution. Royals view chieftaincy as a right and heirloom that must be passed on to successive generations to keep royal identities afloat and lineages relevant in the scheme of aspiring to the highest traditional skin of Wa-Naa in the kingdom.

Based on these considerations, royals tend to be passionate about chieftaincy. This has eventually led to disagreements on the chieftaincy front, which have denied us the common voice in championing the progress of our society. It is important to state that chieftaincy disputes are not limited to only Wa and the Wala. However, the size of Wa and the interlinked relationships among the Wala leave one traumatised as to how chieftaincy could so perilously divide a people and render traditional administration so ineffective.

We can continue to haggle over rights and loyalties, but the reality is that without unity of purpose the society we aspire to be kings over will never be peaceful enough to ensure any effective rule. We cannot go back in time to make changes to events that have led us to our present state, but we can surely start from now to find common ground, write-off past wrongs, evaluate points of departure, and decide the direction we aspire our society to take – by making compromises and giving the necessary support to traditional authority in our bid toward resuscitating social and cultural values aimed at bringing a semblance of normalcy to our bleeding hometown.

Furthermore, the modus operandi of the police force in curtailing crime within the region comes to the fore. Concerns raised by citizens on the professional etiquette of police personnel have been rife. Through town hall meetings and radio talk shows, residents continue to question the will of the police in their fight against crime.

On the 15th of December, 2017, a police officer was busted with others for narcotics-related offences and that adds to a list of established cases of police personnel in cahoots with petty criminals to carry out criminal schemes to the chagrin of residents. Over time, faith in the police’s ability/willingness to protect society has waned considerably – with the force being viewed as a compromised unit that has glorified in corruption, aiding and abetting crime.

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The effect of such bad policing is that, over time, residents will resort to their own ways of dealing with crime and criminals. Eventually, mob justice will hold sway; the plight of our hometown will be aggravated. The regional minister, through the REGSEC (Regional Security Committee), must get tough on security heads and urge them out of their lethargic approach to fighting crime. For a bleeding hometown to recover, the grave concerns of crime must be given serious attention beyond talk-shops and written scripts read at functions.

The Attorney General’s Department is the state institution vested with prosecutorial powers by the Constitution of the Republic. The young state attorney in Wa brings verve into the office. Significantly, major strides have been made by the affable state attorney and his department in stamping out crime through prosecutions.

That notwithstanding, our hometown continues to be a graveyard of fear, with known criminals pervading the streets. In evaluating roles of the department and state attorney in the scheme of things, we must confront our own attitudes and actions which stand in the way of justice-delivery.

Apart from the fact that Wala dwells so much on the maxim of “tijaabunyen” (we are one and the same) – thereby consciously shielding known criminals and refusing to act as witnesses for prosecutions when such criminals are caught by the long arm of the law – they also go to all lengths to ensure that known criminals are spared and let back into our fold.

It has become the norm for opinion leaders, politicians, religious figures and men of stature in our society to act as power-pillars by stepping up to the police, the state attorney as well as judges to plead, coax and influence them in any way possible for known criminals or offenders of the law to be pardoned rather than punished, all in the name of complex interconnected relationships for which the community is noted.

How long can we allow such tactics to obstruct justice-delivery yet continue to envisage having a crime-free society? How long can we prioritise personal relationships over the health of our society? How long will it take us to come to the realisation that our bleeding hometown is in its current state due to the knife-wounds we continue to inflict on it through unchecked behaviour and attitudes over time?

Judging from commentaries on social media, the concerns catalogued in this write-up fall into sync with varied views on the plight of our society. Having identified the cracks, we are obligated to start addressing the deliberate actions that create and compound our plight in order to redeem our society.

To this end, there is need for the formation of an all-inclusive civil society group that reflects selfless service. When formed, this pressure group would become the mouthpiece through which affairs of Wa and the region can be evaluated and assimilated so as to proffer informed solutions.  Making individual comments on Facebook and other social media platforms regarding pertinent developments of our fatherland is positive – but lacks the force of meaningful impact.

….to be continued

 

 

You may contact the author on samaddanaa@gmail.com

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