Currently, in Ghana, we have a few traditional rulers I know of who are ascribed title king and even acknowledged as such formerly. The Okyehene,
Currently, in Ghana, we have a few traditional rulers I know of who are ascribed title king and even acknowledged as such formerly. The Okyehene, Asantehene and Dagbonaa are the only ones who readily come to mind.
[ads1]Are they supposed to be called kings? Are they any less powerful if they are no longer called Kings?
Last week, there was an argument as to whether there is a King in Ghana and to be specific if the Asantehene qualifies as a king or not.
As usual, instead of capitalising on the opportunity to educate and inform the public, people started getting emotional and blew the tribal whistle needlessly in typical Ghanaian fashion.
Kweku Baako has been vilified and threatened because he holds a view contrary to those who believe that the Asantehene is indeed a King.
There however comes a time when opinions must be pushed into the trashcan so that facts can establish the truth. This is the time.
In this piece, we are looking at the issue as dispassionately as possible so kindly deflate your tribal passion and read this piece with an open-minded. Put aside your tribal card and let us look at the issues with the sole objective of learning and not to in any way belittle or over-magnify any traditional leader.
King: The male ruler of an independent state, especially one who inherits the position by right of birth. (Oxford Dictionary)
Chief: A leader or ruler of a people or clan. (Oxford Dictionary)
By the Oxford dictionary’s definition, a King heads an independent state. He is not under any other head of state within his jurisdiction. Every part of Ghana is by law under the President of Ghana. Every single traditional leader in this country calls on the government of the day and his appointees to provide solutions to their problems because they control the TAX. Kings take TAXES. No part of Ghana is independent and self-sufficient on its own in this contest. Even the natural resources in areas ruled by the traditional leaders is the property of the central government and the people of Ghana.
Chiefs rule a group of people who are just a fraction of the whole. The whole is the nation, the tribe or ethnic group is just a portion of it. In view of this, the chief is under the one appointed to manage the whole and that is the Head of State and Government. This is why countries that practice the hybrid Monarchy and Democracy usually ascribe the Head of State role to the King/Queen and Head of Government to elected or appointed politicians.
What do we have in Ghana
Ghana as a nation is made up of people of different ethnic and tribal background. Prior to becoming a nation, that is Gold Coast and later Ghana, these tribes and ethnic groups were independent Kingdoms and Empires that existed in isolation from each other. The Asante Kingdom/Empire, The Fante Kingdom, Mamprusi Kingdom all existed as independent states under their respective Kings.
The moment these Kingdoms decided to be brought under the nation of Ghana, they lost their independence and their Kings lost the power to function as such.
In view of this, the title of is alien to in today Ghana. Having a King in Ghana will be same as undermining President of Ghana and his appointees.
This is why today, Akyems do not look to the Okyehene for security, the head of security in Eastern Region is the Eastern Regional Minister, the MMDA heads head their respective assemblies. No Chief is looked upon to provide security, infrastructure and what have you because we have all placed our destiny in the hands of political leadership. Currently, our traditional rulers are looked upon to ensure that the culture and heritage of their people aren’t lost to modernity, they play ceremonial roles and use their roles to attract development to their area.
When you see a politician bow to a traditional ruler, the motivation is almost always votes because by their respective officers, every Chief, for instance, is under the regional minister of his region.
In view of this, for the purpose of public education, it must be established that Ghana hasn’t a king.
Indeed, we do have some great traditional leaders of note who are internationally revered and given same treatment as kings and Queens.
It is not about the size, it is not about the wealth: it is about the independence of his jurisdiction that makes a traditional ruler a King
People argue that Chief as a title was given to our traditional leaders by the colonial government to make them appear of lower rank compared to the Queen/King of UK. This is a baseless argument in the sense that the Asante King, prior to joining the Gold Coast was recognised not as a Chief but a King. All the Kingdoms that decided to join the Gold Coast lost their Kingdom status because they gave up their independence to be part of the collective.
If he is the King, he is the head of the whole, if there’s the head of the whole, he can’t be a King.
This is why no part of our constitution recognises the title King. The official website of the Ministry of Chieftaincy recognises our highest ranked Traditional Rulers as Paramount Chief. The Asante Region alone has 67 paramount chiefs with the head of them all being the Asantehene. A paramount Chief can still be under a paramount chief and it doesn’t matter how many. It is only when a people become independent that they can have a king.
In view of this, Nana AkuffoAddo is our King if we practised a monarchy, there can’t be a king under a Head of State. This doesn’t undermine any traditional leader, it is just the fact as it is: I respect my chief than another person’s King. I am proud of how the Asantis have branded their chieftaincy institution.
The strength of the Asantes and the worldwide reverence for the Otumfour isn’t down to the title on him but their rich history, culture and the unity that has since God knows when been the hallmark of the Ashantes. Unity they say is strength and nothing epitomises that than the Asantes.
The Ghanaian must however have the clarity of mind as to what a King and a Chief means regardless of what he choses to call his traditional leader.
Back to the question
Has Ghana a king? Not anymore