Political Anthropology of History: The Case of Nanun, Northern Ghana

Political Anthropology of History: The Case of Nanun, Northern Ghana
Author: Skalník, Peter
Journal: Social Evolution & History. Volume 13, Number 2 / September 2014

Petr Skalník
University of Hradec Králové, University of Wroclaw


History in Africa is largely anthropological, that is based on ethnography and oral traditions. But increasingly the written/published texts compete with first hand testimonies. In effect, interest groups and individual people re-interpret, re-construct or directly falsify the past by using references to the published material irrespective of its merit. Thus, the Nanumba of the chiefdom of Nanuŋ construct their pre-colonial independence even though the tiny Nanuŋ was hardly fully independent, while the Konkomba who are the twentieth century settlers in Nanuŋ argue that they were autochthons there. The contests between different versions of history take place among the educated ethnic elites. The ordinary subjects/citizens do not necessarily share the competing opinions of the elites. They may continue to adhere to the non-ideologized oral traditions or, in dependence on proximity to the elites, repeat uncritically the politically correct version of their (ethno-)history.


History, or rather historiography, is never identical with what really happened. It is a construction from the documents available at the time of writing. In Africa, history is to a considerable extent anthropological, based on ethnographic fieldnotes, films, photos and especially oral traditions. The life work of Michel Izard testifies to it brilliantly. He proceeded from the overview of the history of Mossi Kingdoms (Izard 1970) via the overall analysis of the historical opposition between ‘people of power’ and ‘people of earth’ (Idem 1985) to the historical anthropological reconstruction of the kingdoms of Yatenga (Idem 1992) and Moogo (Idem 2003). Izard's work is based on his systematic collection of oral traditions including genealogies and very broad study of published and unpublished works by others. Written documents of local origin are not yet used by Izard because they were non-existent for the period of origins he studied.

However, written documents are also available at an increasing scale for the period of colonial and especially post-colonial periods. Characteristically, such printed or typed, sometimes also handwritten, documents acquire for the elite members of local societies a special status as if they matter more than personal testimonies or fieldwork data. This I connect with the hegemony of the West which in Africa suppressed oral sources in favour of the written ones (Goody 1968, 1977).

On the one hand, the interest groups such as youth associations led by people literate in European languages and sometimes with connections to researchers, politicians or missionaries, manipulate the findings of scholars to their advantage. They select what suits them and politicise the research results to such an extent that the authors of those research findings may feel quite embarrassed. On the other hand, the same people produce documents in which they selectively refer to scientific research and then use them in public and legal debates to further their interests in the conflicts over land, autochthony and succession to offices.

My own long-term research in the chiefdom of Nanuŋ in Northern Ghana revealed that as the conflict developed between the main interest groups, that is the Nanumba and the Konkomba, the representatives of both ethnic groups make use of my and other researchers' published material, but for opposite political purposes. Thus, anthropologists and historians appear in the awkward position similar to those scientists who came with new theories or invented new technologies that were then used in developing weapons of mass destruction. As researchers we can only point out the cases of use and abuse of our analyses. The aim of this article is to show on the case of two documents issued prior to 1994 war that manipulation of research data by ethnic leaders is one of the most important tools in the hands of those who plan revision of status quo and therefore prepare revenge and war. The reader will thus get a glance at the ‘paper’ origins of the 1994 war in Northern Ghana.

I have mentioned elsewhere that various armed conflicts in Northern Ghana were of different origin but what they had in common was that they were local and were not aimed at the integrity of the modern state (Skalník 2013). The circumstances under which the bloody conflict of 1994 broke out are closely related to the changes in Ghana following the return to civilian rule early in 1993. Return to political pluralism and parliament democracy as if kick-starts the dormant claims and grievances while the state is reluctant to use force to squash revengeful attempts to subvert local status quo.

Konkomba petition of 1993

Usually one reads about ‘Guinea Fowl War’ that started in Nakpayili market south of Bimbilla in Nanuŋ on 1 February 1994 (cf. Brukum 2001). Could the quarrel over the price of a guinea fowl between a Konkomba seller and a Nanumba buyer be enough for an armed conflict which shook the whole Northern Region? Of course, not. As with all such conflicts it is crucial to distinguish between the real causes and mere pretexts. Whereas the causes are deeper and often reaching to a remote past, pretexts or immediate ‘causes’ are shallow and grow out of circumstances. The article shows that the main grievance was that which the Konkomba had against the Dagomba and not the grievance felt by the Konkomba in Nanuŋ. Whereas in Dagboŋ the demography was in favour of the Dagbamba, in Nanuŋ the numerical strengths of the Konkomba exceeded those of the Nanumba significantly. This very fact of demography facilitated an open conflict. But before that the Konkomba in Dagboŋ chose first to petition the Northern Regional House of Chiefs and the Ya Naa himself. When it appeared that the Dagomba were not prepared to give support to Konkomba aspirations, then the outright war was indeed the most likely outcome. Let us now present and analyze the Konkomba petition.

The ‘Petition of chiefs, elders and the youth of Konkomba Land to the National House of Chiefs for the creation of paramount stool [sic!] for Konkomba land to be known as Ukpakpabur’, was dated 29 June 1993 and signed by eight ‘chiefs’ (bor, ubor) headed by Uchabobor Borwan Kwadin IV, as well as three ‘opinion leaders’ including Kenneth Wujangi, the perennial president of the Konkomba Youth Association (KOYA) who played a crucial role already in the 1981 conflict. The petition has 25 points with the help of which the authors argue for an autonomous Konkomba paramount chiefdom. Among the points profile the numerical strength of the Konkomba, their cultural difference from other northern chiefly groups, their purported assertion that they inhabited the upper Oti River basin for three centuries and that they occupy 90 per cent of the Saboba/Chereponi District where the seat of their new paramountcy should be (specifically in Saboba).

The petition states that the Konkomba are second ‘in terms of tribal numerical strength’ in the Northern Region. This assertion is supported by reference to the population census of Ghana from 1960 which was the last census that reflected ethnic divisions in the section called ‘Tribal Analysis’. The Konkomba, according to that last ethnic census, were more numerous than the Gonja, Nanumba and Mamprusi. Further reference is to the NORRIP's report on the Northern Region of 1983 (NORRIP Technical Unit 1984). The petition stresses that ‘linguistically and culturally, we are different from the Dagombas, the nanumbas, the Gonjas and the mamprusis who dominate traditional politics of the Northern Region’ (authentic spelling left unchanged – P.S.). Very controversially the petition stated that ‘as early as the seventeenth century we were already inhabiting the entire Oti basin stretching from the Northern tip of the Northern Region to Northern part of the present Volta Region’. This is not fully supported by facts. The oral traditions collected by, for example, David Tait seem to support the claim that the Konkomba occupied the Oti Plain for ‘some four hundred years’ (Tait 1958: 167) but not as a corporate ethnic group but as individual ‘tribes’ speaking various dialects. There was no Konkomba ethnic group or nation until anthropologists, missionaries and educated youth created it as an imagined community. Petitioners suggested that ‘our traditional home now covers 90 per cent of the present Saboba/Chereponi District Assembly which has Saboba the seat of our traditional authority as its capital’. This also requires comment because references to history do not take into account the then very sparse population. Only recent demographic explosion is responsible for the emergence of a ‘traditional home’.

Perhaps, most controversial is the statement that ‘Konkombas were forcefully put under either Dagomba traditional authority or that of the Mamprusi, Gonjas and Nanumbas by the apostles of the Policy of indirect rule, and wrongly described as stateless people without chiefs or central authority’. This is, of course, a misnomer because the policy of indirect rule was devised not on the basis of professional anthropological research but data collected by administrators such as Rattray who collected data about chiefs in the North (Duncan-Johnstone and Blair 1932; Rattray 1932; Tamakloe 1931; cf. Levtzion 1968; Arhin 1985). Was the definition of chiefship wrong or based on prejudice? Again, historically, until the colonial rule was introduced in today's Northern Ghana, the only encounter between Dagboŋ as a chiefdom and the ancestors of the present-day Konkomba took place in eastern part of the chiefdom where today is Dagboŋ's capital of Yendi and further to the east.

Quite daringly, the Konkomba petition asserts that ‘from time immemorial, the Konkombas have always been ruled by a chief or a traditional authority beginning from the head of family to the Head of clan and Headchief of the clan’. According to the petition, the Konkomba traditional term ‘ubor’ corresponds to the term ‘Na’, ‘Naba’, ‘Pio’, ‘Nana’ or ‘Togbe’ of other Ghanaian chiefdoms. Even the most detailed recent monograph on Konkomba political aspirations does not operate with the term ubor otherwise than denoting clan headman. The author of that book, Benjamin Talton, clearly admits that ‘truly centralized’ were only Dagomba, Nanumba, Gonja, and Wala (Talton 2010: 16) whom he also labels 'historically centralized communities' (Ibid.: 2). The Konkomba petitioners suggested that ‘because of the wrong notion that Konkombas were members of a Chiefless society the British sponsors of the policy of indirect rule decided to place all the so-called chiefless societies including the Konkombas under one or the other of the societies with chiefs in the Northern Region so as to make their rule over the Region less expensive and restrictive’. This assertion is also incorrect because the lack of centralization among most of the 30 ethnic groups in the North automatically led the colonizers to look for partners among those who had centralized chieftaincy systems ready for harnessing into cheaper form of colonialism, that is indirect rule. Moreover, there was no need to place non-centralized groups under the chiefs because most of them were already included into existing chiefdoms.

Talton mentions that scholars erroneously labelled non-centralized societies chiefless. But for the Konkomba he cannot offer more than uninkpel who was/is ‘oldest village inhabitant or clan member’ (Talton 2010: 16). This certainly does not make chief, who is a hereditary ruler tracing the title for generations back. The petition claims that the ‘four tribes were elevated to the Status of paramountcy by the British’. This statement is unfair because the ‘historically centralized’ means not only pre-colonial existence but also centralization of a number of lesser chieftaincies under a paramount chief.

Referring to the opinion of ‘all political and traditional observers in the country’ the petitioners called for change of the system whereby four chiefdoms rule the rest in the North. Here I would suggest that the result of colonial and especially post-colonial developments has been emancipation of at least newly formed elites among historically non-centralized groups such as the Konkomba. The problem, however, is the centralization as such. Why do the non-centralized groups or rather their elites put so much weight on their recognition as centralized chiefdoms. Is not non-centralization an advantage? It was certainly an advantage for the emergence of elites among the non-centralized whose access to modern education and training was not hampered by the chiefs in centralized polities.

Then the petition introduces the term ‘traditional independence’ and argues that to the ‘tribes who had been denied traditional Independence’, the Ghanaian independence of 1957 was meaningless. The right of these tribes including the Konkomba ‘to live in a clearly defined traditional area of their own’ should be recognized. The petition believes that granting ‘traditional independence’ to the Konkomba and other tribes would harm none of the recognized chieftaincies and is not aimed against any ethnic group. It will encourage the development of each ethnic identity, and promote co-operation, trust and peaceful coexistence among the northern tribes.

The term ‘traditional independence’ is new in the discourse on chieftaincy in Northern Ghana. It reveals the most recent yearnings of the elites of non-centralized groups. If granted to all 25-odd such groups, the neo-traditional map of Northern Ghana would radically change. Viewing the valid constitution of Ghana, the lands vested in centralized paramountcies would have to be partitioned on end, with the need to delimit countless boundaries. If disagreements would arise about boundaries between new paramountcies, there might be clashes, dead, need to arbitrate by higher traditional instances, state courts, and police supervision. Most importantly, the creation of a considerable number of new paramount chieftaincies would contradict both the constitution and the traditional order received from the past. If interventions into chieftaincy by the colonial and post-colonial state were detrimental to this original institution then the radical change demanded by non-centralized groups would introduce complete havoc.

The petition also reminds of the fact that there have been more than 20 paramountcies in the Volta Region which is four times smaller than the Northern Region while Ashanti Region counts over 30 paramountcies and that recently twelve chiefs of the Dagarti ethnic group were elevated to the paramount status in the Upper West Region. These may be true statements but the mentioned paramountcies existed as a fact of history or were created artificially by the colonial power. Promotions into paramountcy such as those that took place among the Dagarti is based on the existence of chiefs before this promotion. Among the Konkomba or other non-centralized groups creation of paramount chieftaincy would first require existence of autonomous chiefs and most importantly consent of hitherto existing paramount chieftaincies with the loss of lands. The latter is hardly imaginable.

The Konkomba petition was referred back to the authors with the suggestion that the Ya Naa, paramount chief of Dagboŋ, should first see it. The version sent to the Ya Naa was dated October 10 and sent on October 19, 1993. The text is identical with the original petition except the point 4 about the Konkomba settlement of the entire Oti basin since the seventeenth century which was omitted. It appears that both versions reached the Ya Naa. He received the first version on 2 August and answered it on 22 October 1993 after having met some Konkomba elders and found that they stick to their demands.

Ya Naa's reply

In his eloquent and often sarcastic 13 pages reply of the 22nd October, 1993 the Ya Naa first refuted the Konkomba claim that they were the second largest ‘tribe’ in the Ghanaian North. He argues that if they were so numerous they would have more than two members of parliament.

It is indeed ridiculous and absured /sic!/ that the Konkombas who claim to be second to the Dagombas in numerical strength in the Northern Region should have only two Konkombas in Parliament when the Northern Region has 22 MPs? Have their own people to vote for them? Or have the Konkombas been denied the right of one man, one vote and the rule by the majority in Ghana? Or are the petitioners out to pull the wool over the eyes of every one including Chiefs and Ministers of State? If lying easily comes to the petitioners, or lying is their stock of trade, that should not be a licence to hookwing the whole world in matters a lie detector is not required to establish the truth. We can positively state that in Dagbon the Konkombas are not many enough to form a Parliamentary Constituency or an Administrative District.

Then the Dagboŋ's paramount proceeded to show that even within Saboba/Chereponi district the Konkomba did not occupy more than 20 per cent of the district's surface and did not surpass 25 per cent of population. He concluded that the Konkomba in their own Saboba area were ‘too few to be constituted into any organization unit be it parliamentary constituency, or an Administrative District or a Traditional Council area’ and share a district with other ethnic groups such as ‘Bimoba, Dagombas, Nagbibas, Chekosis, Nafebas, Gbimbas and Konkombas’ who together made up the population of only 62,000 in 1984.

The Ya Naa also stated that petitioners ‘falsely or ignorantly’ claimed that the Konkomba were forcibly put under the authority of Dagomba, Mamprusi, Gonja, and Nanumba. He confirms that

the description of the Konkombas by the British ‘as stateless peoples without chiefs or central authority’ is nothing but the truth. If the Konkombas are denying that they are stateless, then which is their state? Where is it? If they are denying the fact that they have no chiefs who centrally control them, where are those chiefs? The petitioners cannot deny that the headmen they recognise today as their chiefs are Saboba-Na, Nafeba-Na, Sanguli-Lana and Nambil-Lana were appointed only a few years ago by Sunson-Na an appointee of the Ya-Na.

That indeed the Konkomba are stateless people among whom ‘the institution of Chieftaincy was unknown’...‘until recent times when the Dagombas introduced it to them’ is supported by a quote from ‘Professor’ David Tait who allegedly admitted that under the ‘British rule the Dagomba Chiefs have appointed Konkomba sub-chiefs in the Konkomba area’. The Ya Naa hastens to add that those ‘sub-chiefs are of very little importance for the most part, unless they are also elders’. ‘A Konkomba chief is known as such only to the Dagomba royal chief in whose chiefdom he holds office’. A Konkomba chief known as Kaliba Naa is an exception in that he ‘lives to some extent like a Dagomba in that he dresses like one, keeps a horse and wears the type of medicines prepared and sold by Dagomba Mallams. But like other Konkomba Chiefs, he has little authority among his own people. The important men are still the elders’.

It is worthwhile to quote a whole paragraph in the Ya Naa's letter on page 4:

It is agreed by all political scientists, anthropologists, and historians that the Konkomba are among the aucefuloss /sic!/ societies. They have neither chiefs nor central authority. Professor David Tait who made an extensive study of the Konkombas and is an authority on the Konkomba includes them in his book entitled ‘Tribes without Rulers’. The Konkombas are a normadic /sic!/ tribe who move from place to place looking for fertile land to farm. Their presence in Mamprugu, Ngbannya, and Nanun is very recent... In short the institution of Chieftaincy is unknown to the Konkomba traditions and custom.

Scientific authority is invoked in the attempt to prove the standpoint of the Ya Naa. The point is not whether it is true that the Konkomba had no chiefs (certainly they are not recognized as such by either state authority or anthropologists, not mentioning the chiefs), but rather that findings of anthropologists and other social scientists are politicized to such an extent that eventually a war breaks out and hundreds if not thousands die in it.

Among the Konkomba, argued the Ya Naa, the important men were still the elders. For example, the Saboba Naa, appointed by the Ya Naa in 1989, had to go to the elders if he wanted to discuss with them any administrative problem. This would be unthinkable in Dagboŋ, remarks the Ya Naa. The latter argues that the Saboba Naa who is virtually only a headman cannot become a paramount chief ‘unless a chiefly family is created by law and a new class of King-makers is put in place by Government’. But this is not the case as the institution of chieftaincy was met by the British and recognised by them. The various constitutions of the independent Ghana also only recognized chieftaincy as based on the customary law.1 The Ya Naa further explains that

The British at no time forcibly put the Konkombas under the rule of the Dagombas. The Dagombas lived with some Konkombas many years before the advent of the white man in Northern Ghana. The British could not forcibly have put the Konkombas under Nanun or Ngbanya. Konkombas only settled there long after the establishment of indirect rule in Northern Ghana. In Mamprugu the Konkombas who were there at the advent of the white man were so few and insignificant that ‘the apostles of indirect rule’ took no notice of them.

The Konkomba, according to the Ya Naa, lived with some Dagbamba before the British came and settled in Nanuŋ and Ngbanya (Gonja) long after the Indirect Rule was established. Therefore, they could not be put by the British under the rule of the chiefly people.

The Ya Naa refers to the constitutions of Ghana, namely article 153 of 1969 constitution, article 177 of 1979 constitution and article 270 of 1992 constitution that stipulate that only chieftaincies established by customary law are recognized by the state. No constitution allows for creation of chiefs or traditional councils. He added that the paramount chiefs of Dagboŋ, Mamprugu, Ngbanya and Nanuŋ were not created by the British because they existed before. Actually, the Ya Naa directly asserts that his title and the titles of paramount chiefs to the north and south of Dagboŋ, that is the Nayiri and the Bimbilla Naa,

came into being at the establishment of Dagbon, Mamprugu and Nanun in the 15th Century. The yagbung-wura came into being when Ngbanya or Gonja state was established by Nde-wura Jakpa. The British did nothing more than recognise their existence and their traditional areas in this 20th century when they established State Councils which were changed to Traditional Councils in 1961.

Interestingly enough, the ‘15th century’ was apparently taken over from Fage's writings (Fage 1955, 1964) and a chapter by Wilks (1976) where it is not supported by any hard facts. This does not take away the ancient character of the three Mole-Dagbane speaking chiefdoms but again shows the unreliable written/printed authority of texts written by the Europeans and eagerly taken over by those Ghanaians involved in political struggle.

The Ya Naa attacks vehemently the Konkomba concept of ‘traditional independence’. He rejects the comparison of ‘traditional independence’ with the independence of Ghana. According to him, Ghana was granted independence by the British who came from far away and returned to their country. The Konkomba case is different:

The Konkombas came from Togo and settled on our land. If they no longer want to be part of our establishment, then they have to go back home. They cannot be given any land in Dagbon to establish a second home in addition to their home in Togo.

By way of reference to the findings of Alhassan Committee of 1978 and Pogucki's survey of land tenure in customary law in the protectorate of the Northern Territories who did not find any allodial titles of the Konkomba, the Ya Naa rejects the claim of the Konkomba that they had any land in Ghana and any political district there:

The Konkombas have no land. They live on Dagomba land with Dagombas. The Konkombas and Dagombas are mixed up on the same land. No land of Dagbon can be taken and given to Konkomba to establish their Ukpakpabur. … In my view, the history of the people and the political realities on the ground at the time of the advent of the British determined and still determine the establishment of traditional councils in the three regions of the North viz. Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions.

Ya Naa also mentioned that the district that they claim as their own is inhabited by a number of other ethnic groups as well. According to the Ya Naa, the difference of culture and language is not ‘a valid ground for the creation of a paramount Chief or the establishment of a Traditional Council. ...Also it is not the size of a region that is used as a measuring rod for the creation of Paramountcies and traditional councils in the Region’. This explains the fact that Ashanti Region where people speak the same language has over 30 paramountcies and the relatively small Volta Region contains over 20 of them.

The Ya Naa attacked the assertion of the petitioners that the Konkomba inhabited the entire Oti basin since the seventeenth century. He says that this assertion is untrue:

We may ask, where were the Mamprusis, Dagombas and Nanumbas who are occupying the area now? What happened and the Konkombas no longer inhabit the entire Oti Basin? ...The truth is that the Dagombas were occupying the entire territory of Mamprugu, Dagbon, Nanun (including the Oti River Basin) before Na-Gbewa and his offspring came during the 13th century and conquered them and divided the areas into Mamprugu, Dagbon and Nanun. By the year 1416 according to Tamakloe the Chieftaincies of Sunson, Demon, Sabali and Yelizoli which are within the Oti River basin had been established by Na-Nyagsi and Na-Sitobu.

The Ya Naa again refers to David Tait, this time to his posthumous book The Konkomba of Northern Ghana (Tait 1961). By calculation of ten years per paramount chief Tait comes to the conclusion that the Dagomba invasion of eastern Dagboŋ took place early in the sixteenth century (Tait 1961: 4). Tamakloe's calculations were based on the hypothetical average lengths of rule of each Ya Naa. The Ya Naa concluded:

The fact that the Konkomba migration from Togo to Ghana might have occurred in recent times can be found in the population census figures for the year 1920. In that year Konkombas in the mandated territory of the Gold Coast (that is the whole area the Konkombas claim to be theirs) were only six thousand five hundred and sixty-two (6,562).

The Ya Naa admits that the Konkomba ‘may have heavy populations now in Nanun, Mamprugu and Ngbanya but their history in the three traditional areas is less than 60 years old’.

The Ya Naa concluded his letter with the unambiguous statement.

The Institution of Chieftaincy is neither a Youth Club nor a Youth Association. Chieftaincy in Ghana is a heritage given to us by history and tradition. It is not an institution created by statute law or by the whimsical wishes of a Youth Association. It is not every one in Ghana who is a Chief or who can be a Chief. I find it strange that it is Konkomba Youth Association which is not part of the Institution of Chieftaincy that sent to me the request for a Paramountcy. The request and the procedure followed by the Petitioners show that were the demand to be granted, the institution of Chieftaincy which has a long history and tradition in Dagbon in particular and Ghana in general will degenerate into a Youth Club or Association and lose the respect given to it by the people of this country.

It is the view of the Dagomba Traditional Council that nobody should bastardise Chieftaincy or participate in the bastardisation of the institution of Chieftaincy in Ghana. It is our proud heritage and must remain so. It is institution our forefathers established which European Colonisers accepted as good and we have entrenched it in all our Constitutions.

The Ya Naa mentioned that only three petitioners are chiefs (within the Dagboŋ system). He wonders ‘How do people who do not belong to this time-honoured institution make a demand for the High office of a Paramount Stool/Skin. Chiefship of even the lowest level cannot be given to anybody who demands it’. Besides, according to him, 70 per cent of petitioners are illiterate and thus they may even not know the contents of the petition of which they pose as authors. The Ya Naa recalls that the four of the petitioners summoned before him on 25 September, 1993 confirmed that they did not know the contents of the petition. He adds that there is no ‘Konkomba land’ in Dagbon: ‘one cannot find land measuring up to five square miles on which Konkombas alone live’. Finally, the Ya Naa wrote that he assured the Saboba Naa (Konkomba) ‘that should they route an application solely for a paramountcy through the proper channels the Dagomba Traditional Council will not be prejudiced in its recommendations... But the petition as it stands ought to be dismissed. And I recommend so’. The letter was sent to the President of the National House of Chiefs in Kumasi through the Northern Regional House of Chiefs in Tamale, copies sent to the President of the Republic of Ghana, the Presidential Adviser on Chieftaincy Affairs, the Regional Minister in Tamale, the Nayiri, the Yagbun-Wura and the Bimbilla Naa, but to no Konkomba body or person who were behind the petition.


The two documents discussed above were both written before the war. They testify to the fact that at stake was not so much the modern ethnic and political emancipation of the Konkomba but rather the recognition of their right to land and chieftaincy which is closely connected with it. The argumentation of both sides in the conflict relies heavily on the findings of independent researchers, outsiders to the parties. The producers of the written documents needed these references to legitimate their assertions and claims. But it is not really the scientific evidence that matters but the political goal of the writers. Historical evidence, even if quite scanty, is not only distorted if needed, it becomes a kind of handmaiden of political aims. The so devastating war of 1994 eventually ended in the Kumasi Peace Accord, which recognized the status quo but encouraged both sides to accept that they were ‘brothers in development’.


1 See, for example, Constitution of the Republic of Ghana 1992, Chapter 22, Paragraph 277: ‘chief’ means a person, who, hailing from the appropriate family and lineage, has been validly nominated, elected or selected and enstooled, enskinned or installed as a chief or queen mother in accordance with the relevant customary law and usage.


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