Traditional leadership in Ghana is very important though it is in crises. The crises have arisen from various angles, it started in Nkrumah’s days whereby he didn’t want traditional centres of power and so sidelined those he felt were not in their camp. There are crises arising from our political leadership coming from different sources of authority than the traditional sources hence we have a parallel authority. Then there is another source of the crises whereby people are now being appointed as traditional leaders because of their achievement in the non-traditional sector. Then of course traditional leadership is hereditary and hereditary leadership has its strengths and weaknesses.
Again for me as a Christian one of the biggest challenges is the fact that our chieftaincy is link to our ancestral worship and idolatry. That makes it almost impossible for really committed Christians to be involved in that we haven’t been able to separate the religion of the chieftaincy from the leadership position of the chieftaincy. So the chief is also supposed to be the spiritual leader and everything else and people don’t realize that it is a weakening factor. As a result there is a spiritual crisis which is quite difficult to handle because it is not only a leadership institution but a spiritual institution.
Disputes in Ghana are not handled by the court; they are handled by our traditional leadership. It also plays such an important role in regulating land and land sales. These crises have to be resolved because Ghanaians identify with their traditional leaders more than with their political leaders.
What is the way forward, we need an institute of chieftaincy training for the capacity we cannot take for granted. If you are capable of leading in the modern society there must be an institution that trains in leadership, in strategic thinking, in management, in mobilizing people etc.
I believe the national house of chiefs and the government should make sure that the issues are well demarcated so that we reduce this chieftaincy conflict and build into it the fact that if you are born a royal it doesn’t make you a king and because you need a minimum qualification apart from being born a royal.
I personally think that there must be a national imposition, am using the word imposition regarding land use and land sales which at the same time does not franchise the chiefs and national land to be sold and handled haphazardly. I think that instead of the national level being used in trying to control chieftaincy, the chiefs should use the national machineries to strengthen the chieftaincy.
We must look at how we can modernize the chieftaincy institution without destroying the traditional strength; removing its weakness without destroying it. I think that the judiciary is talking about alternative dispute dissolution this is something they should involve the chiefs because that is what they do. I believe that they have a master of an important role in an alternative dispute dissolution they can take about 90% of all the cases out of the court and resolve them and for which the chiefs and people must be rewarded appropriately.
We should streamline the few things about the chieftaincy institutions because it is our heritage which can be transformed. So I wish there will be a transformation of our traditional leadership be it at the regional level, district level, town level and so on.
The training is important that people especially the paramount chiefs and divisional chiefs in addition to the traditional exercise, must go through about three months training to equip them in building their capacities.