African News

The Ga Mantse Goes to Accra

30 May 2007 at 05:09 | 1073 views

Kofi Akosah-Sarpong looks at the newly installed Ga Mantse, Nii Tackie Tawiah III, king of Ghana’s Ga ethnic group, attempts to work with the overburdened Accra Metropolitan Assembly to tackle developmental problems


By Kofi- Akosa-Sarpong, Ottawa.

For some time now, as its population grew and rural-urban migration soared, the City of Accra, Ghana’s capital city, is experiencing rising developmental problems. While indigenes complain of the central government appropriating their ancestral lands for official state duties without any compensation, the city managers, Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), have been riddled with worsening sanitation problems.

Indeed, the Ga ethnic group and other Ghanaians have been wondering how to solve the sanitation problems of the City of Accra. Prominent Ga intellectuals like Dr. Daniel Tetteh Osabu-Kle, a former Greater Accra Regional Minister and a political scientist at Canada’s Carleton University, have suggested that the unused Ga traditional rulers, like most traditional rulers in Ghana, should be cycled and be brought in, as part of the human resources management of AMA, to help solve the city’s mounting problems.

It is in this rising consciousness that the newly installed Ga Mantse (King of the Ga ethnic group), Nii Tackie Tawiah III(photo), is warming up to what he describes as the City of Accra’s sanitation situation exhibiting the “pain” of the degradation “of the city of his ancestors.”

In the spirit of Ghanaian/African values of communalism, the King is “going to muster his subordinate chiefs to support the AMA in salvaging the face of the city which today is anything but decent.” Like other city managers of Ghana’s cities, AMA has not reflected authentically the environment it operates in, for long blinded by the huge traditional human resources waiting to be tapped for development.

King Nii Tackie Tawiah III’s new thinking indicates a new turn in the development process of not only Ghana’s Greater Accra Region but also the entire country, where traditional institutions, with their rich potency and experiences, are being appropriated in the larger progress of Ghana - from the local to the regional to the national.

For long, attempts to build up Ghana, as a development project, have not been holistic, the ruling neo-liberal values not mixing proportionately with the local indigenous values as other ex-colonies such as South Korea, Japan, Malaysia and Vietnam have done.

For the better part of Ghana’s 50 years of corporate existence, either way, the neo-liberal structures have not gone to the traditional institutions and vice versa. Now for the first time in the climate of the growing calls for the hybridization of indigenous values with neo-liberal ones, as part of the broader re-tooling of indigenous cultural-developmental continuity, the traditional is going to the neo-liberal - King Nii Tackie Tawiah III is going to the Accra Metropolitan Assembly to help solve one of its irritating developmental problems - sanitation.

The King’s complaining of the degradation of the Ga ancestral lands is instructive. In the African cultural context, you don’t debase your ancestral properties such as rivers, beaches, lakes and lands as the sanitation situation in the City of Accra shows. African culture extols balance between man and the environment in the development process. This is in contrast to the neo-liberal paradigm of anthropocentrism, where man dominates the environment to the exclusion of other entities. Pretty much of the environmental problems we are facing today are because of the dominant anthropocentric practices.

Such views may be at the forefront of King Nii Tackie Tawiah III plans. The reasons for the King amassing the traditional will to go to AMA to help in its sanitation problems have both historical and structural implications. During colonial rule the British used traditional institutions in governance, post-independent Ghanaian elites did not. Ghana’s first president, Kwame Nkrumah, marginalised the traditional rulers. Now they are back in state governance.