Mon, Jun

Savannah Region: A push for proper land demarcation or a fruitless struggle for a regional capital?

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It’s been roughly 10 days today since Gonjaland went into the 27th December referenda and came out successfully. But fast forward, we have started to experience some light bruises as groups are emerging from East, West, North and Central in a struggle for the location of the Regional Capital.

Written By Issifu Seidu Kudus Gbeadese - I would like to begin by extending my warmest congratulations to the people of the Savannah Region (Gonjaland) for their utmost show of oneness and seriousness from the days when this struggle started until when the last ballot was casted. The chiefs, Politicians (appointed and elected), Gonjaland Youth Association, Political Parties, Civil Society Organizations, the Youth and all those who committed themselves in realizing this dream of our forebears. I pray that this show of love and oneness will reflect in the real sense of our everyday engagements as a people.

Gonjaland is blessed beyond measure. With a land area of 36,783sq.kms which is larger than three regions combined; The total land area of Greater Accra (4,540.59sq.km), Upper East (8,818.59sq.kms) and Upper West (18,476.59sq.kms) which is (31,835.77sq.kms) is still less than the total land area of Gonjaland. So, if land area were the only factor in carving out regions, Gonjaland would have been qualified to be divided into three separate regions. So how do we consolidate this blessing? Land is a powerful weapon and that we must use to advance our course since our population isn’t enough to sustain any substantial demand such as seeking for a region. So, are we able to manage this land?

It’s been roughly 10 days today since Gonjaland went into the 27th December referenda and came out successfully. But fast forward, we have started to experience some light bruises as groups are emerging from East, West, North and Central in a struggle for the location of the Regional Capital. The East (Kpembe Traditional Area) is advancing very cogent arguments as well as those in the West (Bole, Damongo etc.). The Central (Buipe) has very viable arguments too. As much as these arguments come to accentuate democratic practice in Ghana and Gonjaland in particular, they equally seem to weaken the bond amongst the people on the land and particularly stifle the exercise of traditional authority. I wish we all bow out and leave this to the key stakeholders with the traditional authorities leading the way since they played about 70% of the role in this whole exercise of seeking for a region.

Planning should be the next step after the elections; we must all come together and engage experts from Gonjaland to fashion out a framework that will guide our steps going forward. But can we do all these if we don’t do the basics? Can we do all these when we still have basic intra and inter land disputes.

By now, we should be soliciting opinions and guidelines from our land experts to start a process of re-demarcation of Gonjaland to reclaim “lost lands” and protect our boundaries. Let’s not bury our necks when issues of Mankpan and Buipe are outstanding and gradually taking shape to explode in the near future. Are we going to continue fighting for a Regional Capital for the East or West when Buipe Traditional Area still has issues with Kusawgu Traditional Area in respect of Fufulso Junction? What about Busunuwura and Wasipe? What about Bolewura and Kongwura? These are but a few internal land disputes which are all potential flash points waiting to explode in the future. Please don’t pretend you are not aware of this. I am a Kamara, so I am not so much afraid to say it as my forefathers use to say it to Ndewura and offered their prayers against any ills.

In all of these, we still have very outstanding inter boundary issues in the Wasipe and Tolon scenario. We grew up to hear stories about the lands inside Lamashegu (a Suburb of modern day Tamale). We heard that was the boundary where Kusawguwura controlled, is it the case today? Do we know where our imaginary boundary is in that stretch? Are we not interested? Don’t we know it’s a case in waiting for generations to come and suffer? Well, I am just a Kamara on a land under the care of Busunuwura. As we write these fairy tales and adducing solid evidences to back the case for a regional capital, we still have Kpandai to deal with? Is it part of Gonjaland? Do we have a chief there? Is the land managed by us (Gonjaland)? Are we not interested in it any longer? Or something is happening that some of us are not aware of? Well, I am still that Kamara without formal locus in decision making in the Jakpa palace.

History is mostly oral and substantially subjective, but be that as it may, we were told by Gonjaland Historians that Yeji, Atebobu, Kintampo, Ejura and a larger portion of Northern Brong Ahafo are part of Gonjaland. Today, can we even boast of the “Ndempo” land stretching from Lasenikura through Kadelso to Babatokuma? Are we not losing our grips on those lands? Is siting a Regional Capital more important to both the East and West than losing part of our lands due to negligence and greed? What about our boundary around Nyoli in the Kong Traditional Area? I am just asking questions and not seeking to provoke anybody.

Away from land boundaries and re-demarcation, can we for once be sincere and honest to our traditional authorities and Politicians to get out of their “selfish shells” and fashion out a peace roadmap for our chieftaincy institution? I heard Damongo is earmarked for a regional capital and if that is the case, what is the Gonja Traditional Council doing to get the two feuding families in Damongo to smoke a peace pipe and get a once peaceful town working? What is the guarantee that if the regional capital is sited in Damongo, this time bomb won’t explode and scare away potential investors? Today, Kafaba which is supposed to be the arbiter (where the hat of Ndewura Jakpa is housed) is in serious crisis. Brothers sucked the blood of other brothers in Kafaba and that bloodshed is still haunting and would still haunt Gonjaland. Not a prophecy, not a prayer and not a curse, just some forward postulations. Bole is in a dungeon...no debate. Some homegrown businesses are folding up in Bole. Young but active men and women are forced to sleep before 6pm. Bole is sitting on a time bomb today, once there was bloodshed. Who will forgive the other? Do we value a regional capital to the loss of human lives all in the name of chieftaincy titles? These are the very issues that should engage our energies than this clamor for a regional capital.

Ndewura Jakpa was not just a superior and fearless warrior but a strategic diplomat. I learnt from history that, most of his conquests were not bloody, but out of diplomatic settlements. Today, out of this diplomacy, Gonjaland is surrounded by other sister tribes. From West to East, we have sister tribes we share a lot with. We intermarry, we share cultural values, we share same social facilities. One of the softest perception that is killing the longstanding relationship with these sister tribes is” STEREOTYPE”.

Aside the visible sectionalism where some traditional areas see themselves as superior and more Gonja than others, the stereotype against these sister tribes is gradually weakening our bond. This has shown its face on the just ended referendum. Let’s get back to the drawing board and get our basics right. Let’s get our culture and tradition up and working according to the laid down conventions. Let’s respect our traditional authorities and their decisions. Let the traditional authorities also take decisions according to the voices of the masses and not secluded to the few affluent people closer to the powers.

In the midst of all these, if we get a workable plan, get our boundaries re-demarcated, get our peace roadmap to assist in settling our chieftaincy related disputes out of court, try to minimize our self-style stereotype, even if the regional capital is sited in Laribanga where we have only one Area Council building, nothing would be lost. The two feuding families in Damongo should show leadership by subjecting themselves to a peace deal in order to give Damongo that shine. Gonjaland Traditional Council and the competing interests in the Damongo feud should take the case out of court and settle same according to our traditional conventions. Likewise, the two factions in Bole, same as Sonyon, Kafaba, etc. The interest of the entire land should suffice over any other personal parochial interest. This is the time to fight for Gonjaland and not fight for individual gates and families. Gonjaland can develop faster than any of the other 5 regions created. But we can only do this if we recognize everybody and all stakeholders as we take off.

I am still that lone Kamara voice on the mountains of Laribanga.


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