THE PALACE: A TRADITION SET UP TO EMBARASS ITSELF?
By Issifu Seidu Kudus Gbeadese
(A disappointed Imam from the Palace)
The strength of a people is undoubtedly woven around their identity; and the identity is their culture, traditions and most importantly some age-old myths that can’t be contested on the grounds of science, evolution and discoveries. Sadly, my kindred, my landlords, my royals have decided to sell my identity by setting up our tradition to be adulterated by greedy, self-seeking chiefs, their political counterparts and some agents around the palace.
Let me start off by congratulating my Dagbon brethren for holding their culture and traditions to their chest. After 17 long years of chieftaincy misunderstandings, you people came out stronger than before. You have shown to the world that, your culture, customs and traditions hold you together, and that you won’t waive them or sell them for anything. And thank you for loving President Mahama as your adopted son. I salute you!
Ten years ago, our King, Jakpa Sulemana Tuntumba Boresa I was installed the Overlord of the Gonja Kingdom. A year later, when the King decided to usher his kingship into the hands of the ancestors, he called all sons and daughters of the Kingdom to his first year anniversary. Coincidentally, one of the most successful sons of Gonjaland was then the Vice President of the Republic of Ghana. What a blessing is it was!
Somethings are better kept in the closet for history and times such as these. During this Anniversary celebration, the Vice President then, H.E John Mahama, took charge of the celebration. With his brother, Ibrahim Mahama, every dime that went into the celebration was taken care of.
H.E John Mahama respected and still respect the culture and traditions of Gonja. As a royal himself, he didn’t see the need to paint a traditionally colorful Damba cum one year anniversary of his father with his party Paraphenalia. Even the people he called to lead the team to ensure the successful anniversary were not his party members but renowned Gonja royals and princesses who matter in the affairs of Gonja.
Fast forward, the King is 10 years on the throne. With the presence of some greedy agents around the him and the Palace, the Kingdom is setting itself to be embarrassed in the eyes of the World. The King is indeed naked, weak and helpless, not because he’s a coward but because some crooks have tied his hands while using his title and name to build their stocks. To some of them, the chieftaincy conflicts in Gonjaland today are a breeding grounds to not only embarrass the King and the Kingdom, but to build their wealth and power as well.
Here was a peaceful Kingdom that got praised internationally for its succession structure, culture diversity and peaceful coexistence. In the middle of nowhere, some so called power brokers, self-seeking politicians and greedy agents emerged to destroy and sell the kingdom for power, wealth and influence. They’ve succeeded in weakening the traditional structure, crowded out the voices of reason, set aside laid down customs and waived the tenets of the beautiful culture for their own selfish end. In a Kingdom where peripheral powers are stronger than the central power which is supposed to be the embodiment of the people, be rest assured that the said Kingdom is set for doom.
Yesterday, 14th November, 2020, marked the climax of the 10th Anniversary and grand Damba of the King. Before the day, the Gonja Traditional Council issued a five-point communique. In this communique, points 2 and 3 direct that, the durbar was non partisan and that no political party paraphenalia will be entertained. Point 3 specifically states the punitive measures that will be meted out to any political party or individual who will violate the orders of the council and the King.
Sadly, this is the first of its kind; that a communique will be issued to admonish all participants of such a big program from painting it with political party colors. What is it that the GTC knew or what has it suspected for which reason the communique was issued? Well, the GTC has an opportunity to absolve itself from that well staged NPP constituency cum regional campaign launch by cracking the whip as their own caution statement directs. Was this communique issued as a smokescreen? Was the GTC and stakeholders in the palace aware that the NPP had planned to use their girls dressed in Samuel Jinapor’s branded T shirts to serve as ushers and other specific duties?
To be plain and straight, the whole program was set to embarrass H.E John Mahama. First was the banner that was printed and shared. The planning committee and the GTC didn’t see the need to add the picture of H.E John Mahama to it as an invited guests, a former President and mostly importantly a royal from the Palace. His invite was as ordinary as any other invited guests. Even when he sent his representative, he wasn’t recognized as was planned. What a shame!
In order to show to the world how much we can sell our own blood for empty applause, the NPP led by their regional chairman, their Parliamentary Candidate for Damongo Constituency, Samuel Jinapor and other party big men, mobilized, trained and set their people across the region to mass up at the durbar grounds to hoot at John Mahama upon his arrival. In fact, they communicated to Akuffo-Addo to be on standby, so they will confirm the participation of John Mahama. Their agenda was to embarrass John Mahama at the instance of Akuffo-Addo. They first arranged 30 VIP buses to bus their people from across Gonjaland to the durbar grounds, but ended up with 12 and other mini buses because John Mahama himself wasn’t coming.
Any wonder the representative of H.E John Mahama, Alhaji Gilbert Iddi was denied the opportunity to make a statement on behalf of John Mahama? Any wonder even some of the ladies who displayed the “traditional big TZ” were mostly in Samuel Jinapor’s branded T shirts? What if the NDC, the biggest party in Gonjaland, had equally charged up with the party paraphenalia?
Out of respect for the tradition and due to the peaceful nature of the NDC, the party called on all its members not to wear party colors to the program. It is not the case the NDC couldn’t do triple or what the NPP did, but we just respect our King and the people of Gonjaland at large. What the NPP did yesterday to please Akufo-Addo does not show that they control Gonjaland, it only shows how far they can go to destroy their own culture and traditions for their paymasters. Shame!
It was a day of shame for the Gonja Kingdom. We have become a laughing stock to our neighbors who respected and held us up for our brevity and respect for tradition in times past. These are same agents who have set a path to embarrass the King at all times. They are taking his old age as a weakness to abuse him and his title. They have silently taken decisions in the name of the King at his blindside. They have on countless times usurp his powers and abuse same for their selfish purposes.
Can this happen in the Manhyia Palace where NPP was born? Can the NPP wear their party colors to Manhyia even if Otumfour and the Palace do not issue a caution? Can this happen at the Gbewa Palace at the instance of the Yaa Naa? Can this happen in Navrongo at the durbar of the Navro Pio? Why Gonjaland? Are we this cheap and weak?
A land that worships ill-gotten wealth will live to bite its own tongue. The way the Kingdom is treating President Mahama today will live to hunt any politician who will seek our support in future. You do this and then turn around to expect him to put you first in his agenda? Do you expect the Dagombas, Frafras, Bonos, Ewes, Gas, Fantes and others to hold President Mahama in high esteem, die for him, and in the end stand aside for you in Gonjaland to take over?
Mention John Mahama in a bad light in Dagbon and my Dagomba brothers and sisters are up to devour your helpless flesh. Give Mahama to the Ewes and they will worship him with all their might. But, mention Mahama in Bole and hear the naked insults from people who look like insult. Come to my own Damongo where John Mahama is born and those who insult and vilify him are the real Gonjas while the settlers and other tribes love him unconditionally. When John Mahama lost in 2016, it was in Damongo constituency people celebrated in the whole of Northern Ghana. Is it a curse?
I said this before and I will say it again…nobody has asked all Gonjas to be NDC because of John Mahama, after all, all Ewes are not NDC and not all Akyems or Ashantes are NPP. We just must be cautious of how we show our hatred for our own to the outsiders. And we ought to watch the way we vilify our own and ready to be the first to lead the charge against him. It doesn’t show how matured or Democratic we are, but how wicked, hypocritical and weak we are as a people.
The second coming of John Mahama will be interesting. Let everyone carry his own cross. We shall practice same democracy we are asked to practice today. We shall not engage in tribal politics, because just as it is bad today, it will surely be bad tomorrow. If we don’t practice tribal politics in times of voting, we can’t practice same in times of sharing the national cake.
“If you want to stab a Gonja Royal, put the dagger in the hands of another royal from the same gate”….Kudus, 2020