Before the coming of Europeans, Africans (Ghana) had her own style of leadership. These leaders were unique in terms of administering the day-to-day affairs of their kingdom. Those days, one of the paramount aims of every king was to protect or expand his kingdom against the colonial masters or other ethnic groups.
Democracy, which everybody thinks emerged from elsewhere, was and is still being practiced in Ghana’s traditional leadership. The only difference between the traditional style of democracy and that of the western type is the fact that, in the case of western style, there are periodic elections to change or maintain leaders based on their output of work. In regards to the traditional type, any traditional ruler can be relieved of his position through customary means if the king is too autocratic or despotic , had no respect for his elders or engage in acts that are unacceptable in the society. Moreover, a king can also abdicate on his own accord for some reasons. So far as a king is able to satisfy all the laid down conditions of the kingship and the society, he can rule till he dies. Kings in Ghana don’t rule alone. They rule with Queen mothers whose role in the administration of the kingdom or the community is highly relevant, since they are actively involved in the selection, coronation and destoolment of a king.
As I stated in the first paragraph, one of the main aims of a king those days, was to fight battles to protect and expand his territories. Also, he together with his divisional, provincial and other members of his cabinets to preserve the rich culture of his kingdom.
However, in this 21st century, their duties have taken different dimensions. They are still engaged in war but this time around, not a war against humanity. The role of Ghanaian king(African king) is to wage wars against poverty and disunity among members of the society. Also, they are bent on promoting quality education, health, and other factors that can make the lives of his people comfortable.
Growing up in typical traditional setting, traditional rulers used to organize monthly clean- up exercises to get rid of filth in the various communities. Failure to participate without any tangible reasons would attract a fine. Those days(1990s,when I used to witness those events), people participated with all their hearts and no one ever missed it. One man missed it and when he was summoned to the Palace, he took to his heels and never came back. Hence, the society can never thrive without the immeasurable role of our traditional rulers.
In the area of education, most of our Honourable traditional rulers(kings) are striving very hard to bring literacy to the doorsteps of every household. Some of them have literally built schools, partly sponsored building of schools by the government and set up scholarship funds to cater for the brilliant but needy students. Such initiatives by our respectable traditional rulers have contributed immensely to the development of education in Ghana. This feat could not have been achieved alone in Ghana without the effort of our traditional authorities.
As Africans, we are identified by our rich cultural heritage. The non existence of our traditional authorities would have slowly sent most of our rich cultures into wild extinction. As the leader, he together with his other members of his authority pave the way for ordinary citizens to fully keep the culture of the territory alive.
Not only do our kings ensure the development of the socio-economic status of the people, the authorities also perform judicial functions. They try cases along members of the society. This is similar to the orthodox judicial system but the difference is that in the traditional setting, you are your own lawyer. The king, who is also the chief judge, gives final verdict. At times, if resolution of issues does not make any headway at the lowest level, it’s then referred to the highest ruler in the traditional authority for final arbitration.
This has really assisted the judiciary as one of the three arms of government in Ghana by lessening their burden. Unlike the traditional judicial system, cases at the ordinary court takes a very long time for final resolution.
Finally, our traditional rulers enforce by laws within their jurisdiction. Some of the laws that governed his people in the ancient times are still in existence and therefore, run concurrently with the laws of Ghana’s constitution. However, most of the laws at the traditional level are within the framework of the constitution. Most of these bylaws focus on morality among the youth and so on. The prominent among them is laying a curse on a fellow man. When you are summoned to the Palace, you could be fined because it’s a taboo to curse a fellow man. Also some customary practices that are not observed by ordinary citizens would end in a serious trouble for such persons. For instance making noise while there is a ban on noisemaking.
Our traditional authorities are a blessing to the country Ghana because they are the original landlords or owners of the country. Therefore, the government of Ghana should delegate some of its roles to them in the area of case adjudication because justice in our normal courts are mostly delayed and perverted.
Long live our traditional rulers Long live Ghana
OSEI PREMPEH AGYEMAN