The Nanumba kingdom is one of the four main established kingdoms that constitute the Northern regional House of Chiefs (NRHC). The others include Dagbon, Mamprugu and Yegbon kingdoms. For a very long time now the Presidency of the NRHC has rotated among the Paramount Chiefs of these four kingdoms.
It is however, sad to state that the cohesion and stability of two of these kingdoms, that is Dagbon and most recently Nanung has been badly threatened by protracted chieftaincy disputes arising out of succession challenges. It is instructive to state that while that of Dagbon could be traced to have reached its deadly heights in the 1960s and still counting that of Nanung started in 2002 and gathering a momentum at a rate that is threatening the total collapse of the very tiny kingdom of Nanung, if divine intervention is not sought. Indeed, until this rough and very recent turbulent times, Nanung was considered the most stable and peaceful kingdom in terms of succession to the throne, because the people and for that matter the royals had evolved over time a system of succession that ensured peaceful transitions of authority for over a century.
In the evolution of the chieftaincy institution in Nanung at a point, a two-gate system emerged, that is the Gbugmayili and Bangyili gates that took their turns to assume the leadership of the kingdom on rotational basis. In the wisdom of the forebears, a well-established hierarchically arranged chieftaincy titles was evolved to safeguard conflicts in the succession process; with two gate skins identified by both gates as the ultimate lead to the paramountcy of Nanung. These are Nakpa for Gbugmayili and Dakpam for Bangyili. This arrangement served the kingdom very well for several decades and ensured its stability and cohesion. No doubt this was the golden era of succession harmony in Nanung. If this system of arrangement served the people well, what went wrong and why is Nanung on its knees begging for salvation today?
EMERGENCE OF AN OVER AMBITIOUS PRINCE.
In 2002, when the final funeral rites of the late Naa Abarika Attah was performed, it was the expectation of a lot of the citizens of Nanung based on the time-tested traditions of Nanung that, the next to assume the throne was the Nakpa Naa as clearly defined in the succession plan according to the hierarchy of chieftaincy titles in the Nanung. This had rigidly been adhered to in order to guarantee peaceful transition of authority in Nanung and was varied occasionally only under very exceptional circumstances. This expectation of the good citizens was however, dashed when out of the blue emerged an over ambitious Prince from the Gbugmayili lineage determined to annex the throne at all cost whatever cost, in total disregard to the established hierarchy of succession. The very early manifestation of this untamed ambition found expression when against the established traditions of the customs of Gbewaa states, that allows only Chiefs of distinguished chieftaincy titles to patronize the final funeral rites of Paramount Chiefs with a triumphant entry into what is normally referred to in the local parlance as “Gun-gong”.
On this occasion, the Prince, in breach of the traditions and customary protocols, adorned himself in all the chieftaincy regalia, which signalled his determination to contest the throne of the Bimbilla paramountcy by entering the” Gun-gong”. But for the sake of preserving the peace of the area at that time that would have marked the very early violent confrontations between the two divides in the current chieftaincy crisis. This was because those who were opposed to that action, which they considered was in breach of customary protocols, decided to resist his entry into the Gun-gong but restrained themselves upon a second thought. It was obvious that the Prince and his supporters would have countered that resistance and result to violent clashes at the time. This singular action signalled clearly that the battle line had been drawn for a protracted chieftaincy crisis with the potent to degenerate into violent proportions; the worst to have happened in the annals of the Nanung Kingdom. It was this action that set the stage for the current turmoil that engulfed Chieftaincy in Nanung.
The position of the Prince and those who share his convictions was that he was better qualified mainly because of his grandfather and father were past Paramount chiefs of Bimbilla even though he had no known skin title identified within the gate skins of the Nanung ‘Naam’. This position respectfully, is problematic and if allowed to hold sway will be opening a Pandora box of a very chaotic future of contest for the coveted crown of Bimbilla paramountcy. This is because at a point in time they could be several Princes emerging to lay claim to the paramountcy since by his action he had redefined the eligibility criteria to contest for the paramountcy to merely being a Prince. This means we stood the risk as of tearing the kingdom apart if at any point several Princes emerged to lay claim to the paramountcy and this is exemplified by what is currently happening in Nanung. This perhaps could possibly just be a tip of the iceberg. It is against this background that our forefathers in their wisdom evolved over time, a well-defined hierarchy of succession for the people of Nanung. This provided some degree of sanity within the chieftaincy institution and guided the conduct of affairs for several decades today. Indeed, since the introduction of rotational principle between the Gbugmayili and Bangyili gates, no Prince has jumped to occupy the paramountcy without first occupying a lesser skin. But this over-ambitious Prince and his collaborators think otherwise and disingenuously citing examples in history that is not applicable in our contemporary context. In the process they have debased the sanctity and the value of the cherished established order. Indeed, what provided the respect and cloud for the paramountcy was that, aspiring Chiefs respected and paid homage to the Overlord to catch his eye for possible elevation. That was the pride and power of authority that was vested in the paramountcy and made it enviable and attractive. Today if people want us to believe that you can just jump from no point to the paramountcy simply because you are a Prince, I don’t think you are providing a motivation for other Princes to respect and pay homage to you to be elevated along the hierarchy you have scaled. A Prince is a Prince, and nothing confers on you that exceptional glory. Under our current circumstances there are several Children of Naa Natogma Attah, the chief who assumed the paramountcy before Naa Dassana. Most of his children are older than the late Mr. Andani Dassana, do we as citizens of Nanung objectively find it proper that, these people should pay homage to Nyab Andani or whoever his representation is to be given a chieftaincy title in Nanung when he never did? That is why the current stalemate within our chieftaincy cycles is legendary and destroys completely the established structure of chieftaincy in Nanung and let nobody under estimate that. These constitute one of the ugly legacies of an over ambitious Prince.
GROUNDS OF OPPOSITION TO THE ENSKINMENT OF NAKPA NAA SALIFU DAWUNI TO BIMBILLA NAA.
Those opposed to the enskinment of Nakpa Naa Salifu DAWUNI as the Bimbilla Naa have stated their opposition basically on the following grounds:
That he is a great grandson and is therefore not qualified to be a Bimbilla Naa.
That he is a great grandson related to the Gbugmayili gate maternally, which makes his claim to the paramountcy untenable since Nanung system of inheritance is patrilineal.
While their opinion is respected, it is important to subject these claims to scrutiny and critical analysis in order not to allow the greed and selfishness of those who hold this view to triumph over the facts of history, traditions and customs of Nanung. To do a critique of these claims, it will be examined based on (a) legality and logic (b) the beliefs and superstitions of the Nanumba people in our cultural setting and (c) Nature and design of Allah’s creation (In theology, the doctrine of teleology might be applicable).
Under the customary law of Ghana, those who are deemed qualified to become chiefs are those who belong to the Royal Clan. In this regard, under customary law in Ghana, there are two types of family relationships in Ghana; maternal and paternal. The common thread in all these systems is whether one can trace his ancestry to a common ancestor, paternally or maternally depending on the family system one belongs. In Re ADUM Stool; Agyei v For [1998-1999] SCGLR191, “it was held as follows (1) A person’s immediate family in a patrilineal community would consist of his children, either male or female, his paternal brothers and sisters, paternal grandfather and descendants of the paternal uncles in the direct male lines. His wider family would consist of the immediate families of all those who trace their ancestry through the common male ancestor”.
Furthermore, in the classic work on customary law in Ghana –THE LAW OF INTESTATE AND TESTATE SUCCESSION IN GHANA, N.A. OLLENU at page 171 states: “In the patrilineal system, the family which succeeds is the group traced from a male ancestor in the direct male line”. It is against these propositions under the customary law of Ghana, that the attempt to limit only those qualified to succeed to sons and grandsons and to exclude great grandsons, is self-seeking and not supported by law, because the emphasis is on whether a person can trace his lineage to a common male ancestor. In the case of Naa Salifu DAWUNI, he can’t be disqualified under the customary law of Ghana, because he traces his lineage to Naa Azuma (Gbugma) who was a Bimbilla Naa. Naa Azuma gave birth to Naa Mahama Kalo, a Bimbilla Naa, who gave birth to Nabiyoung Dahamani and he gave birth to Lepuhi Naa DAWUNI and he in turn gave birth to Naa Salifu DAWUNI. So effectively per the provisions under customary law of Ghana, he is qualified because he can trace his lineage to a common male ancestor (in this case Bimbilla Naa Azuma).
It is important to acknowledge that under the customary law of Ghana, cognizance is given to the fact each traditional area, may evolve or have provisions in their codified customs either verbally or documented that are peculiar to them and if those within that traditional area all agreed and accept that to be the law, then it can be enforced. But if explicitly no such provisions exist in the customary provisions of the area, any matter that arise in connection with custom, the provisions that are made within the customary laws of Ghana as contained in the constitution will have to be applied in resolving such an issue. It could not have been therefore proper for the NRHC to have reached the conclusion that great grandsons were disqualified from ascending the throne of Bimbilla, when those who discounted his qualification claiming he was a great grandson could not provide any such evidence to back their claim. It becomes particularly intriguing when a ruling to that effect was made by the same NRHC and which is on record.
For instance, in the case of Dagbon, a debate limiting the Paramountcy to only sons was undertaken and documented. In Yagbon ascendency to the throne is not limited to sons and grandsons but is limited to royals who follow through certain defined hierarchy. In Nanung there is nowhere in our history this bizarre imposition has ever been agreed upon by the stakeholders within the chieftaincy clans, either verbally or written. So, if there is any evidence that great-grandsons are not qualified to ascend to the throne, even when they have risen through the hierarchy to the apex of gate skin titles, as was the case of Nakpa Naa Salifu DAWUNI, then the burden of proof is with them to proof it and not for those who say great grandsons are qualified. Indeed, if a great grandson has never ascended the throne it does not suggest it is a taboo or an abomination for such a thing to happen even though it might be a rare occurrence. This is because available facts in the history of Nanung point to the fact that Dakpam Naa Dadinkai was a great grandson who was set to become a Bimbilla Naa but died before the final funeral rites of Naa Abudulai. So, his inability to ascend the throne was due to death and not because he was a great grandson. When this burden of proof was put to these detractors in the famous 1993 Nakpa judgment, they were unable to discharge themselves and the court went ahead to rule that there was no known customary enactment or provisions that debarred great-grandsons from ascending the throne of Bimbilla let alone that of Nakpa. So if this ruling that was passed by the northern regional house chiefs and has not been reversed by an appeal as stated earlier, then the complete twist of position by the Regional house of chiefs puts one in a total state of cognitive dissonance, more so when the same chairman who passed this judgment can again uphold a relief that sought to debar great grandsons in another judgment he presided over again as a chairman.
In most African or Ghanaian cultural settings, Nanung inclusive, there is a very strong superstitious belief in reincarnation. That is, we believe that children that are born today are sometimes a reincarnation of our ancestors who it is believed we trace our genetic traits and blood from. This belief is so strong that some children who are born and exhibiting some unusual traits may have to be pacified either by renaming the child after His/her great ancestor or pacifying them with certain things they claim they need. In most cases the solution is found, and the child becomes normal. It is in the light of this that I find it extremely hard to understand those who believe in this theory of reincarnation and yet are struggling to exclude great grandsons from benefitting from the collective inheritance of their ancestors if a rare opportunity like becoming a chief avail itself. In my view any society that seeks to exclude others from benefiting from the collective possession and bounties of the society, when there is every demonstrable reason to benefit from, with such limitations of opportunities to only Sons within any family lineage is not a progressive society. Indeed, it is a mark of greed and selfishness. Otherwise can anybody explain to me why in our daily prayers both as Muslims, Christians and traditionalist we always pray that our children, grandchildren and generations to come after us should reach higher heights than where we are today? So, these limitations are artificial, it is informed by greed and selfishness to serve the parochial interest of some people. This explains why over the years within the chieftaincy of Nanung the emphasis has always been that chieftaincy is a clan property and God the Almighty can at any designated point in time choose among the chieftaincy clan someone to lead. Indeed, the ascension to the throne in Nanung has never been strictly that of sons and grandsons because if that was the case Naa Abudulai Andani would not have had the opportunity to become the paramount chief, because they were chiefs before him who ruled the kingdom much more longer than him, and yet not even a single child of theirs became a paramount Chief. That is why the recent attempt by some people to push down the throats of Nanumbas with this spurious and alien enactment just to pave way for someone whose only qualification is that he is a son and a grandson of previous Bimbilla chiefs’ beggars logic. It is the only reason why that act, is being fiercely resisted by many good thinking and well-meaning Nanumbas. Today the accusation among loyalists of Mr. Andani is that majority of the elite class in Nanung living either outside and within Nanung do not support their bid. They don’t support the bid of Mr. Andani not because they hate him in person, but they find his action a potentially dangerous move going forward. Today the bitterness about this has reached its highest proportions that these people can plan, target and shoot to kill young teachers in Bimbilla town without any provocation, their only crime being that they have demonstrated open support for the Oldman, Naa Salifu Dawuni against the title less Prince. The attempt to down play and close opportunities to great grandchildren is absolutely not in line with our superstitious beliefs as Africans and not in conformity with nature’s own design. In the science of genetics, we know that recessive genes suppressed over time eventually emerges. It is this strange attitude of an over ambitious Prince and his other conspirators that has left behind this trail of ugly legacy of confusion and chaos in Nanung today.
God the Almighty, in his infinite wisdom has designed his creation along an order and sequence. A child from conception to birth and growth into adulthood goes through a defined order and sequence. Any attempt to jump Allah’s order or sequencing will create a disequilibrium as a matter of natural consequence. A child crawls before he walks and walks before he runs. Any attempt to jump this sequence can only lead to injuries to the child. Similarly, every society has a defined structure that guides the orderly conduct of affairs. Any attempt to jump this sequence, as has been the case in Nanung today can only lead to total anarchy in which the Nanung kingdom has found itself. God has an appointed time for everything and he gives whatever opportunity to who so ever he wishes. We are all witnesses to the fact that Naa Dassana’s eldest son Jua Naa Mahama Dassana, who was his regent died much earlier, his next son Jua Naa Andani Dassana also died earlier. So, at the time for the contest for the paramountcy he had no son who had a chieftaincy title to provide the basis to launch a contest. Mr Andani Dassana who was next in line had no chieftaincy title. He did not have a title not because a title was not extended to him. He did not have it because Naa Abarika Attah’ had on one occasion appealed to him to help organize for the funeral performance of some of the chiefs within the Gbugmayili gate who had died for a long while, but whose funerals were still pending, so that he could start him with a title. For whatever strange reason that did not happen, so at the time of Naa Abarika’s death, he had no title to his credit. Perhaps if he did the fierce resistance he had on the grounds that he could not use his bear name as Andani to assume the paramountcy would have been absent. This scenario did not come out of the ordinary. In my view which I strongly believe is the case, it was Allah’s design to change his bounties from the Dassana lineage to another lineage within the Gbugmayili clan if even it was to be for a while. It is this attempt to circumvent Allah’s order of events that had brought Nanung into these ugly confrontations that has claimed and continue to claim lives, most of whom are very innocent.
Earlier, reference was made to opposition against Nakpa Naa Salifu DAWUNI becoming a Bimbilla Naa on the grounds that he is related to the Gbugmayili gate maternally. It is important that this issue is digested for the benefit of readers who may not be well informed. This claim is a grand conspiracy by his detractors that was led by the late Nzo Fusheini Balga. They know in the deepest of their hearts that the account of theirs regarding the lineage of Naa Salifu to Gbugmayili was false, but they were prepared to sacrifice their personal integrity to lie to achieve their agenda. What then are the facts? Naa Azuma (Gbugma) who started the Gbugmayili gate system under the rotational gate system of Nanung, gave birth to several Children. These included, Laanja Naa Bukali, Naa SHERU, Naa Mahama Kalo, Nakpa Naa Nagkurigu, Nakpa Naa Andani Just to mention a few. Nakpa Naa Nagkurigu and Nakpa Naa Andani were said to be of the same mother, Naa Mahama Kalo, etc. of all the sons of Naa Gbugma, it was Naa SHERU and Naa Mahama Kalo who were privileged to become Paramount chiefs of Bimbilla. Nakpa Naa Nagkurigu had a daughter who was called Kasua. Kasua was reported to have been brought up by Nakpa Naa Andani. Naa Mahama Kalo gave birth to several Children among them was Nabiyoung Dahamani. He was called Nabiyoung because he was a Prince who never took on a chieftaincy title. Nabiyoung Dahamani, married Kasua daughter of Nakpa Nagkurigu and raised by Nakpa Naa Andani, popular referred to in oral literature as Jua Naa Andani, because he started Juanayili chieftaincy title and was there for quite a while. Nzo Fusheini Balga in his statement of account at the trial court of the Northern regional house of chiefs, said that his relationship with Nakpa Naa Salifu was through his aunt Kasua, who gave birth to Lepuhi Naa DAWUNI and he also gave birth to Naa Salifu DAWUNI. Even though this account was right, he chose to emphasize his relationship to Nakpa Naa Salifu through his Aunty, Kasua. He however, chose to remain silent over who fathered Lepuhi Naa DAWUNI with Kasua either out of ignorance or through mischief. In this connection when this issue was raised during cross examination at the house of chiefs, Nakpa Naa Salifu DAWUNI insisted he was related to Gbugmayili both maternally and paternally. Maternally through kasua a daughter of Nakpa Naa Nagkurigu and Paternally through Nabiyoung Dahamani whose father was Naa Mahama Kalo. People have often questioned the marriage between Kasua and Nabiyoung Dahamani with some disdain because Nakpa Naa Nagkurigu and Naa Mahama Kalo were brothers from the same father but different mothers. That was not strange and was a common practice in those days. Indeed, it was not an abomination. Marrying within very close family settings was common. So, it is clearly disingenuous for Nzo Fusheini Balga to have remained quite over who Lepuhi Naa DAWUNI’S father was. Every individual has two sides. Those who relate to you maternally and those who relate to you paternally. Those who are known to relate to Naa Salifu DAWUNI, through his paternal side, that is Naa Mahama Kalo lineage, are Afa Hudu, Zakari tractor, Gbeinaa’s Father, Jilo Naa Zakari whose mother was linked to Naa Mahama Kalo, Sagnarigulana, who is currently representing Naa Salifu DAWUNI at the supreme court, Nabi Keri, Lamidi’s mother to mention but a few. So why should some people who choose to know Naa Salifu DAWUNI maternally continue to discount the relationship of those who choose to associate with him paternally. In any case these people have not been able to explain to us why Naa Dassana enskinned Lepuhi Naa DAWUNI to Lepuhi if he knew he was related to the Gbugmayili gate maternally. Because the Lepuhi skin title is strictly for royals who relate paternally to the skin. At the trial at the Northern regional House Chiefs, the judicial committee for whatever reason decided to accept the version of Nzo Fusheini Balga that Naa Salifu DAWUNI is related to Gbugmayili gate maternally and went ahead to declare that he was not qualified based on that. Even though Naa Salifu DAWUNI, denied this claim under cross examination and insisted he is related to Gbugmayili both maternally and paternally. The trial court upheld their position under a very untenable view that Naa Salifu DAWUNI failed to call his blood brother or any of his family members from the Gbugmayili gate to corroborate his story that he was related to Gbugmayili gate both maternally and paternally. Such conclusions have no basis in law. In its judgment the judicial committee held that the failure of the 1st Appellant to call his blood brother to testify on his behalf was “fatal” to his case. Such a conclusion is the reason why most people believe the judicial committee sold out their conscience just to secure a favourable verdict for Mr. Andani, because it is not supported by facts of law. The only brother of Naa Salifu, Suga Naa was in support of late Mr. Andani during the trial. The supposed head of family had taken a side of Mr. Andani. Therefore, can the failure to call such a person as witness be fatal to the case of Naa Salifu, the 1st appellant? Certainly, not. In Adam v The Republic 2 GLR 150 150, “it was held that the refusal to call a witness who would not speak the truth; and who was closely associated with the other party was not fatal”. This issue should not have even arisen since in an earlier judgment by the same court they had ruled that he was qualified to be the Nakpa Naa because he is related paternally to the Gbugmayili gate. But when justice is subverted so brazenly like this, it can only lead to the chaotic situation Nanung finds itself. Truth was crucified.
WHEN OUR ELDERS SELL THEIR CONSCIENCE FOR THE DEVIL’S MONEY.
OLA ROTIMI, in his celebrated novel “the gods are not to blame” made this instructive statement “That if our elders who we revere and cherish so much, can sell their conscience for the Devil’s money, then let pigs eat shame and men eat dung”. This statement was in reference to the elders of a particular community who failed to speak the truth about the true status of chieftaincy in that community and which invoked the curses and wrath of the gods to visit series of calamities on the community. This state of affairs in that novel is very much akin to the current happenings in Nanung.
Today, Nanung has become a shadow of its past. We claim we own the land, but do not matter in every sphere of our national life. Politically we are insignificant, because politicians rely on numbers, and people who are focused. We lack the numbers and also lack focus, so we mean very little to the politician. We have the men of great intellect and potential to excel in politics, yet we have no single representation in Parliament. Economically we are impoverished because our main occupation is agriculture and yet we have no access to the fertile lands we claim we own. We have in the last two decades wasted all our efforts and resources fighting a worthless battle that was needless and avoidable, for supremacy over chieftaincy that has completely been debased. The Chieftaincy for which we are tearing ourselves apart has lost its respect. Visit the villages and our chiefs are like squatters and, the Konkombas elders stand prominent. That is the obvious out come when a gang of elders have ganged up to turn the truth upside down just to serve their own parochial interest. They sit together and rehearse their lies so well as though they are billed to stage a play, and off they go to the regional house of chiefs with stories and an agenda to rewrite the history of Nanung. Stories that has kept many wondering whether they truly are our respected elders? The lies and outright fabricated lies are just too legendary to believe. This pack of elders led by Nyab Azindow and Wulehi Naa Salifu Wumbei, determined to do the bidding of an over ambitious Prince have set the whole of Nanung on a demolition course. You read their account on Nanung chieftaincy at the trial court and you can see through that these are just a gang of fraudsters’ forcefully trying to usurp the coveted throne of Nanung for a Prince who had the potential to ascend the throne but whose time was not yet due. Hasty climbers, they say have sudden falls. This is not a legacy any Prince will be proud. It is better to be remembered for the problems that you solve than for the problems that you create. So, much problems have been created for Nanung by this over ambition of an otherwise potential in Nanung chieftaincy.
THE KPATIHI FACTOR IN THE CHIEFTAINCY OF NANUNG.
The Kpatihi factor in the Chieftaincy of Nanung has become one of the very important factors that cannot be ignored when the history of Nanung is being written today. This is not because of any extra ordinary role that they have played in the Chieftaincy of Nanung to the glory of the people of Nanung but because of the stream of controversies they have generated or introduced into the body polity of the chieftaincy institution in nanung. They insist they are the pioneering generation in the history of Nanung and that they came along with Naa Gmantambu for the establishment of the Nanung kingdom. Yet as prominent and important as they claim to be, when they are asked to mention the names of Kpatihi ‘Nanima’ in the evolution of the Nanung kingdom, it can be counted just by the fingers. Those that come readily to mind are Kpatihi Naa Disaa, and Kpatihi Naa Napari in whose reign as a Kpatihi that the position was effectively abolished or proscribed in the palace of the Bimbilla Naa in Nanung. Indeed, it was reported that he was beheaded on account of gross insubordination to the authority of Naa Pienkpaa. At that material time the Kpatihi was never listed among the kingmakers of Nanung. Indeed, the nine members who constitute the kingmakers of Nanung today, were not initially nine. It started off with Juo Naa as a central figure, it became 3 at a point and addition to the membership, continued to increase until this current number of nine was reached. It is reported that Tagnamo Naa was part of the kingmakers of Nanung until Tagnamo seceded to join Dagbon. At no point in the history of the kingmakers of Nanung that the Juo naa was absent. So, from the time of Naa Gmantambu to date no paramount chief of Nanung has been enskinned without the involvement of the Juo Naa. That cannot be said of the kpatihi Naa. That is why, the Juo Naa is regarded as the first among equals within the kingmakers of Nanung and has undeniably been acknowledged as the Chairman of the kingmakers’ at all material times. Today all attempts are being made to downplay the position of Juo Naa and to elevate the position of the Kpatihi Naa over and above that of Juo Naa, when in fact Kpatihi is the least among the kingmakers, because he is the only Worizoha among them and his main function is protocol at the palace. The rest are substantive chiefs of communities. It is on record that since the cancellation of the Kpatihi Title during the era of Naa Pienkpaa, several Bimbilla ‘Nanima’ have assumed the paramountcy without the involvement of Kpatihi in the enskinment process and yet today people want us to believe that without the Kpatihi enrobing a Chief, his enskinment is null and void. The question that arises naturally is what becomes of the position of the numerous Chiefs who ascended the throne without the involvement of a kpatihi? The Kpatihi title was not too long reintroduced into the palace of the bimbilla Naa by Naa Natogmah Attah who conferred officially that title on Kpatihi Naa Yidantogma, after him came Kpatihi Naa Wumbei, Kpatihi Naa Ponadow and now the controversial kpatihi Naa Azindow, how then can this group of people want everyone in Nanung to accept their claim that they are the alpha and Omega in Nanung chieftaincy and without them Chieftaincy in Nanung is a nullity. It is this delusion of absolute importance by the Kpatihi family in the chieftaincy of Nanung that triggered the current chieftaincy crisis in Nanung. Kpatihi Naa Ponadow having an exaggerated opinion of himself over and above that of the Bimbilla Naa Abarika Attah II, decided to summon him before the NRHC for exercising his appointing authority to elevate Naa Salifu DAWUNI from Bakpaba to Nakpa. When this came to light, he denied vehemently any knowledge of such action until the summons letter exposed him as the 1st petitioner and Lepuhi Naa Azuma as the 2nd Petitioner. Having under taken such an action against the Paramount chief and lost, he was banned from performing enskinment rites at the palace by the late Naa Abarika Attah II. This explains why under this current chieftaincy turmoil the Kpatihi family and for that matter Azindow have taken and continue to take every unorthodox means to scuttle the chieftaincy bid of Nakpa Naa Salifu DAWUNI. This is because having filed a suit against the Naa Abarika and Nakpa Naa Salifu Dawuni and both the NRHC and NHC ruled against them, and for Naa Abarika Attah and Nakpa Naa Salifu DAWUNI (refer to NRHC Nakpa verdict, 1993). They naturally see their relevance being totally diminished within the chieftaincy cycles should Naa Salifu Dawuni be confirmed as the Bimbilla Naa. So, let nobody be deceived that they are fighting for Mr. Andani. They are in fact using him as a convenient conduit to reinstate their own relevance having messed themselves up. Indeed, that is why the current chieftaincy crisis is a matter of life and death for them.
Otherwise they are fully aware deep down their hearts that elevating Mr. Andani from just an ordinary Prince to the paramountcy was not proper. In this regard they were prepared to lie and to justify their action by citing very weird unrelated and inapplicable examples in Nanung history to justify their fraudulent act. That you can elevate a Prince who had no title by simply adopting the name Kampakuya Naa from Dagbon and on the basis of which he was enskinned the Bimbilla Naa by Azindow, at a time he Azindow had no title. A non-titled fellow conferring a whole paramountcy title on a non-titled Prince. The biggest drama ever staged in the history of Nanung. Azindow and his fellow conspirators are fully aware that there are no skin titles in Nanung as kampakuya Naa, Vo Naa, Boling Naa, that exists for the taking. They know that they are only adopted names that Regents who do not have any known title at the time of the deaths of their fathers adopt to preside over the land until a Substantive Paramount chief is enskinned. Mr. Andani was never a regent so on what basis was he given an adopted title of Kampakuya Naa and subsequently enskinned as a Bimbilla Naa. That singular action hurriedly undertaken by this gang of criminally minded kingmakers whose conscience were bought, is an admission that their action of making a non-titled Prince a paramount chief was unusual and improper. Unfortunately, our respected northern regional house of chiefs who should have seen through the antics of these dishonest people with criminal intent, decided to uphold and support this action to fester. Yes, shamefully and embarrassingly they decided so sell their conscience for the Devils money, by ruling in their favour. In this process they decided to pick and choose to pass a much skewed verdict. While they found it convenient to pooh-pooh, the relief that Juo Naa was the Sole person who select the Bimbilla Naa as the Head of the kingmakers, they did not find it convenient to pooh-pooh the claims that Kpatihi Naa is solely the person who enrobes chiefs and without whom the chieftaincy titled conferred on someone is null and void. Is this not very ridiculous? The power of enskinment is with the Paramount chief, and enrobing a Chief is just one activity to confirm appointment given to any chief by the Paramount chief. So, why should our respected house of chiefs elevate the enrobement power over that of enskinment power of the Paramount chiefs? Yet these are supposed to be honourable and dignified men. May Allah have mercy on us.
It is important to let the reading public know that, Judicial committees of the various houses of chiefs in the country are quasi-judicial bodies that are given adjudication functions in matters of chieftaincy because it is believed that they have in-depth knowledge of the traditions, customs and cultural practices that are peculiar to each of the traditional areas within their respective jurisdictions. In this regard in sitting in judgment over matters relating to chieftaincy disputes, they are expected to bring their knowledge of the traditions, customs and cultural practices relating to each of the traditional areas to inform how they conduct the adjudication process and not strictly adopting all the procedures and processes used in our main stream courts or to rely whose presentation of facts was consistent or coherent even though inherent in the presentation are facts that cannot be verified or established. This is to
ensure fairness and justice in passing judgment. In this sitting of the judicial committee of the Northern regional house of chiefs, it appeared they had very little or no knowledge at all about the peculiar customary practices relating to chieftaincy succession in Nanung. This is because in passing the verdict, the Northern regional house of chiefs cited several case laws that were applicable to other traditional areas mostly in the Akan jurisdictions to back the conclusions they arrived at in the 2012 verdict. The Judicial Committee’s action raises questions in the minds of critical observers, whether it was in line with law or it was a deliberate and conscious action to circumvent the course of justice and to twist the verdict in favour of Mr. Andani Dassana? This is absurd!
Some of the conclusions that were reached in the judgment include among others that: (1) Majority of the kingmakers routed for Mr. Andani and minority of the kingmakers for Naa Salifu DAWUNI, and that it was in-line with modern democratic principles. Conveniently forgetting that in our respective traditional jurisdictions in the Northern region. Selection of chiefs are not arrived at by the process of voting. If that was the case, Bakpaba Naa DAWUNI, in the historic contest for the paramountcy after the death of Naa Natogmah Attah, would have been chosen over Naa Dassana, who was at Nakpa, because majority of the kingmakers were in favour of Bakpab Naa. Naa Dassana was favoured on account of the fact that the Nakpa skin title was higher than the Bakpaba skin title in our hierarchy of chieftaincy titles in Nanung. So, if Nakpa was considered higher and above Bagbaba, what logic does it make, to rate someone who had no recognisable title at all, over a Nakpa Naa. In other traditional jurisdictions it does not matter because they do not have that hierarchy of titles that the Nanung traditional area clearly defined for itself. That is why under the customary law of Ghana every customary practice is considered peculiar to the area that it serves. In some of the Akan areas and in Sandema traditional area some form of voting takes place in selecting chiefs using a defined electoral college. That is not the case in Nanung. (2) The ruling by the house of chiefs, also concluded that Mr Andani Dassana was selected by Nzo Fusheini Balga who they concluded was the head of the family of Gbugmayili gate and that Juo Naa was not a member of the Gbugmayili gate and could not have chosen Naa Salifu DAWUNI. That is absurd and highly erroneous, because in Nanung the duty of selecting who becomes the paramount chief is not the head of family and there is no evidence on record that any of the Paramount chiefs who have ascended the throne was selected by the head of the family. Indeed, in Nanung that duty is carried out by an independent institution of Kingmakers who are headed by the Juo Naa. In this instance the house of chiefs conveniently cited case laws from Akan areas where the role of the family heads is key to back their judgment. This is obviously very disingenuous. (3) They concluded also in the judgment that if Kpatihi Naa does not enrobe a Chief his chieftaincy is null and void – suggesting that Kpatihi Naa even had powers over the Paramount chief. That is unacceptable, particularly when in their ruling on the same issue in the 1993 Nakpa ruling, it declined to grant that relief. (4) To legitimatise the illegitimate and unilateral action by Azindow who was not the Kpatihi Naa at the time he performed the enskinment rites to enskin Mr Andani Dassana, they decided to confer the title of an acting regent of the deceased Kpatihi Naa Ponadow on Azindow. This is absurd because in the traditions of the north it is not brothers who become regents but rather sons and the house of chiefs are very much aware of this fact. It is this and many more bizarre conclusions that was reached by the northern regional house of chiefs by forcefully and disingenuously citing unrelated customary practices of other traditional areas that do not have universal application, that leaves all right-thinking people not in doubt that their judgment was heavily corrupted and compromised. It is even more ridiculous that the lawyer of Mr Andani Dassana in his submissions, emphatically concluded that customary practices of Dagbon was peculiar to Nanung. That cannot be true because even though the two ethnic groups have a lot of things in common because of the close association they have with each other in terms of language and culture, there are certain customary practices that are unique and exclusive to each of them.
It is also significant to recall that when Kpatihi Naa Ponadow sued Naa Abarika and Nakpa Naa Salifu Dawuni seeking this very relief that it is only the kpatihi who has sole duty of enrobement and without which any enrobement done on directives of the Paramount chief, the northern regional house chiefs chaired by Yuyoo Rana, refused to grant that relief, on account of the fact that enrobement rites performed on chiefs is a delegated function and that in the event that the Kpatihi or whoever is delegated to perform any such function as dictated by the Paramount chief refuses or declines to do so , he can re-delegate it to anyone to perform that function .Under cross examination in the 1993 Nakpa ruling, the following ensued when Kpatihi Naa Ponadow was cross examined. Question: Is it true that both the Kpatihi Naa and the Worikpan Naa are agents of Bimbilla Naa who assist him in carrying out his customary duties? Answer: That is correct. Question: And all elders of the Bimbilla Naa cannot start functioning unless so requested by the Bimbilla Naa. Answer: That is correct. Question: The Bimbilla Naa is the only one who knows what functions are to be performed by which elder. Answer: That is correct. “The inference this committee draws from the pieces of evidence alluded to in the preceding paragraphs is that the office of the Kpatihi Naa is not a sine qua non institution for the purpose of a valid enrobement of a newly appointed chief in Nanung. We find the office of the Kpatihi as a supplementary traditional institution that assist the Paramount chief in the enskinment of chiefs and that the institution can be dispensed with at the will of the Paramount chief of Bimbilla. Our finding is buttressed by the evidence on record that for reasons satisfactory to the Paramount chief of Bimbilla Naa Pienkpaa, the office of Kpatihi was effectively abolished whilst the enskinment of Chiefs was carried out and so on and so on. “So if this ruling is on record and has not been reversed by any other ruling, why should the same chairman who presided over this judgment again turn around to empower the kpatihi Naa in the 2012 ruling? This obvious volume of contradictions and many more is the reason why it is being pursued at Supreme Court and in sha Allah the truth will emerge to restore the dignity and sanctity of the chieftaincy institution in Nanung.
As a matter of fact, under contemporary trends in the dispensation of justice, Nyab Azindow will have recused himself or forced to recuse himself in sitting in judgment over who qualifies to be the Bimbilla Naa. It is essentially the case because of the conflict of interest situation that arises. It was Kpatihi Naa Ponadow who filed a lawsuit against the eligibility of Nakpa Naa Salifu DAWUNI to occupy the Nakpa skin and lost in the trial. In that regard, he would do everything within his might to exact his pound of flesh if the same person or his successor is sitting in judgment over that same person. That is why Nyab Azindow has thrown caution to the wind and in collaboration with other likeminded people promoted the bid of a PRINCE who had no known chieftaincy title and, in the process, have plunged the kingdom into chaos, damn the consequences. Our houses of chiefs who had every opportunity to have corrected this misdirection of Nanung chieftaincy decided to uphold it despite the reckless lies that were peddled at the hearing in Tamale. For instance, in order to sound consistent with their claim that great-grandsons were not qualified to ascend the throne of Bimbilla, they insisted in their submissions that Dakpam Naa Bukali and Nakpa Naa Attah were side stepped from ascending the paramountcy even though Dakpam Naa Bukali was at Dakpam and Nakpa Naa Attah was at Nakpa, because they were great grandsons. What then are the facts?
The facts of this in the history of Nanung is that Dakpam Naa Bukali was not a great grandson as alluded to in the submission but was the direct first son (Regent) of Bimbilla Naa Pienkpaa and Naa Salifu Kurli who eventually became a Paramount of Bimbilla was his younger brother. So, if he was disqualified for being great grandson, as alleged, how could his younger brother ascend to the throne? You see, truth is like a cork in water, no matter how you sink it, it will come to the top. Indeed, it was he who decided on his own volition based on principles personal to himself, not to ascend the paramountcy when it was the turn for Dakpam to move to the paramountcy. This was because of similar developments like what is happening today. It is reported that when Bakpaba Naa Iddisah waged an attack on Bimbilla Naa Yakubu Gampliga and murdered him in the process, both the Gbugmayili and Bangyili gates marshalled forces and fought and killed him. It was after this that Dakpam Naa Bukali was to move to take over since it was the turn of Bangyili to succeed. Historical narrations available indicate that it nearly created some misunderstanding between Bangyili and Gbugmayili because the Gbugmayili gate taught they should be allowed to continue the reign since the death of Naa Yakubu Gampliga was not natural. But that did not find favour with Bangyili and finally understanding prevailed. It was at that material moment that Dakpam Naa Bukali was to takeover, but he declined on grounds that he was not interested in inheriting burnt skins. That was how Naa Abalsi (Naa Wahu) came from Chamba to become the paramount chief of Bimbilla. Nakpa Naa Attah on the other hand was the direct son of Naa SHERU and not a great grandson son as alleged. He too was bypassed by Bakpaba Naa Haruna under very exceptional circumstance. According to oral literature, that all chiefs were assembled in Bimbilla waiting for the colonial commissioner to issue a symbol of recognition and authority to the next Paramount chief of Bimbilla, who was Nakpa Naa Attah. But for some strange reasons Nakpa Naa Attah did not arrive early for the ceremony. So, when the commissioner was about to depart he asked to know who was next to Nakpa Naa Attah in the hierarchy. Bakpaba Naa Haruna stood up as the next in the hierarchy and he handed over the symbol of authority as the Bimbilla Naa to him. Shortly after the departure of the Commissioner, Nakpa Naa Attah arrived at the grounds Bakpaba Naa Haruna came forward and handed over the symbol of authority to him since it was his turn. Nakpa Attah took a deep breath and a sign of satisfaction for the respect and recognition given to him.
He told Bakpaba Naa Haruna that it was in God’s design that he should be the paramount chief and extended his support. So, with this background information, if Nyab Azindow and his team of conspirators can subvert this fact of history just to justify their position and to usurp the throne for an over ambitious Prince, is there any wonder that they are leaving this ugly legacy of division, bitterness, vengeance and rancour for the people of Nanung? Today in Nanung very close family ties are broken, marriages are either broken or the bonding in marriages are getting weaker, suspicion and deep-seated hatred among otherwise very good friends are common and every side of the divide have evil wishes for each other. The situation in Nanung showcases a pathetic scenario. Any invasion by an enemy force will simply be a walk over. So certainly, we are a tribe that is potentially threatened by the danger of extinction. Indeed, we are an endangered species all in the name of power struggle driven by the ambition of an over ambitious Prince, supported by his collaborators and leaving behind for Nanung, a very ugly legacy.
Today both sides in the dispute are referring to an impending Supreme Court ruling as if that will bring finality to the crises. We hope and pray that it does. Otherwise the excesses each party to the dispute has visited on each other over this period is so engraved in the subconscious minds of every citizen of Nanung in such a manner that one wonders if things will ever be the same in Nanung again. It is largely in doubt whether our once cherished and respected chieftaincy institution that has largely been bastardized and debased by greed and selfishness will ever come alive again. But Allah who has the power to turn very difficult moments in once life into happy moments
Order than that, it is obvious that in this long battle for supremacy, we are all losers in the long run no matter which side eventually win the verdict at the Supreme Court that is almost about to be delivered. The trauma we have gone through as a kingdom, will require a very serious psycho -social therapy to restore us back to normalcy. These apprehensions and desperation among the populace notwithstanding, it is our prayer to Allah to restore to us the peace and the brotherly love we once enjoyed as one People.
May Allah shower his endless mercies on the people of Nanung and the departed souls rest in peace.
By: Fusheini Yakubu,
11Th February, 2018
Bimbilla Lung-Naa Alhaj Abdulai, oral literature source, 2008
CV of Nakpa-Naa Alhaj Salifu Dawuni, 1993
Chieftaincy Matters, Areas of Research Northern Region
Fusheini Yakubu, History of the Gbewaa States, Part I New Edition, 2013
Fusheini Yakubu, The Verdict of Bimbilla Chieftaincy, Right or Wrong, 2015
Ola Rotimi Novel, The Gods are not to be Blame
Peter Skalnik, Pluralism of Political Culture in Nanung, 1992
The Judicial Committee of Nanumba Traditional Council “Gumah Commission Report”, 2003
The Judicial Committee of the Northern Regional House of Chiefs Judgment of the Bimbilla Chieftaincy Case on 13th March, 2012
The Chieftaincy Tribunal of the National House of Chiefs Appeal Court, Kumasi sitting on Wednesday 22nd November, 1995
The Chieftaincy Tribunal of the National House of Chiefs Appeal Court, Kumasi sitting on Thursday 12th February, 1998
The Judicial Committee of the National House of Chiefs Judgment of the Bimbilla Chieftaincy Case on 8th October, 2014