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Concluding Observations: King Tackie Tawiah Memorial Lectures by Nii Armah Josiah-Aryeh

                                                            CONCLUDING OBSERVATIONS
The future belongs to those who plan for it; the good plan takes account both of the present and the past. If we remember not the works and toils of our fathers we have no claim ourselves to be remembered in history, and if we recognize not the defects in the present we would not be stirred into improvement. Our goal is to build the best society there is for our progeny and their compatriots.
It is often said by our fathers that one ought to look back in order to look into the future; the path-maker does not notice the crookedness of the way he plots (gbe-dzelor enaa esee). We have in the foregoing Lectures cast a constant light on the institutions and traditions of our forefathers and discovered that there is a lot in what they created which might still be of benefit to us in today’s world. However, some might argue that the examination of the past is sterile if it does not yield lessons for the future. Therefore it seems appropriate that in concluding this series of Lectures we use the lessons of the past to light up the future.
It is emphasised that the various suggestions put forward here and the programmes advocated on their behalf embrace all peoples, Ghanaian and non-Ghanaian, within the Greater Accra and adjoining regions; they call for the building of social and other infrastructures on the basis of cultural commonality. They also call for equality of treatment of people in a manner that opens up opportunities and vistas for both indigenous peoples and those whose lot has brought them within the ambit of traditions developed by our forefathers; for as we say, ablekuma aba kuma wó (“may strangers be added unto us”). Social and economic failure affect all inhabitants of the region; concentrations of disadvantage need to be tackled irrespective of inhabitants. It is not sufficient to “fire-fight” social and economic problems after they have emerged and taken hold; it is much wiser to plan against their occurrence. Traditional functionaries and their advisors must have the political guts to initiate programmes, particularly for disadvantaged peoples.

A new basis of national renewal is required to take advantage of the tremendous recent expansion of scientific and engineering knowledge and to prepare the youth for the more complex and diverse occupational structures of the present day. How are the people under examination to arrange their affairs to take advantage of the possibilities of the twenty-first century and beyond? I am sure this would be a matter which would have warmed the heart of King Tackie Tawiah himself greatly if he were to observe from the netherworld below his subjects and well-wishers gather together and engage in discussions for the improvement of the Gá-Dangme people.
Even the most cursory trawl through the past of the Gá-Dangme and kindred peoples suggests a need for a systematic approach to their future development. The inexorable consequences of industrialisation, urbanisation and total participation, perforce, in the modern world include a direct challenge on the culture of indigenous peoples and the imperative for such peoples to adjust their social organisation to take advantage of modernity. The apparent reluctance of the Gá-Dangme, hitherto, to face up to the implications of their urban condition is arguably the major failure of the traditional system. However, the problems involved are not insoluble.
Focusing on a number of strategic areas might stem the current dereliction of the ancestral settlements. Education, housing, traditional banking, commerce, institutional reform, and urban co-operatives constitute a core of areas which if reformed, might provide a motor for the true economic empowerment of the urbanised. Education is by far the most critical area for development. To create an urban environment and economy comparable to any in the world requires extensive secondary educational facilities. Arguably past State provision for secondary education in the greater Accra region has been less than the national average.
Apart from Achimota School which was set up as a national institution only one or two other secondary schools in the region have been set up by the government. Accra Academy, Accra High School, Ebenezer Secondary, Odorgonno Secondary, St Mary’s Secondary, to name a few, were either set up through private enterprise or by religious organisations. Old educational infrastructures have failed to gain State support; the Salem secondary institutions of Osu, La, and Teshi have fallen into dereliction. Also, excellent missionary educational facilities at Abokobi have remained resource-starved. Significantly, there has been no secondary educational facility of renown for girls in the region; and no scholarships are targeted at the urban poor.
If future inequalities and attendant social tensions are to be avoided these matters need addressing urgently. Wide swathes of poverty exist even in Accra: Bukom, Chorkor, Teshi, Nima, Sukura, etc. The need for accessible secondary education is even greater in the Dangme and Gá rural areas. The ethics of the Good Society demands that the requirements of the inhabitants of these areas should not be left out of account in planning regional planning. Secondary educational facilities actually located in such suburbs would provide pathways for the progeny of the poor and the unemployed, with beneficial consequences for the larger society. In addition, at least four excellent girls secondary schools would be required for Accra, Tema, Krobo and Ada.
Furthermore, it is suggested that the various towns and quarters set up immediately their own secondary, to augment government effort. Such schools would serve at centres of cohesion, transmitting traditional knowledge and custom to succeeding generations in a rapidly changing urban environment. It is necessary that the secondary schools also serve as teacher training colleges to shape the minds of those who would in future bear the responsibility of disseminating knowledge to other young people in the region and across Ghana. The establishment of local Community Development Trusts, charged with utilising the annual Homowo too and other revenues to local development could spearhead the establishment of new secondary schools. This would, in turn, require institutionalised patterns of cooperation and trust between traditional leaders and their peoples.
That Accra faces a shortage of housing is an understatement, and that the housing problem is worst in the ancestral settlements is a notorious fact. To date no proposal has been put forward by anyone of consequence as to how the deplorable housing conditions are to be improved; it seems to be a topic that has been deliberately kept out of mind. But it has the makings of a problem that might, in the long run, take spectral form and haunt those who pay lip service to social justice in our society and play on the conscience of policy-makers.
The housing problem can only be properly appreciated in the context of the loss of land rights by urban peoples; the problem is two-fold. Extensive land-grabbing by the government has left indigenous peoples with severely curtailed acreages and, in the case of Accra Central, a total loss of land. Simultaneously, migrants to urban areas lose rights to land in their areas of origin without gaining compensatory interests in land in urban areas save through purchase. To understand the problems of land and housing one must consider land purely as a commodity transferred almost solely via the cash nexus. Without the compensatory intervention of central government, the impoverished, the marginalised and increasingly the uneducated, whether indigene or migrant, are left without the basic right of housing. For the indigene there is a delicious irony in the official customary law position that all stool-subjects may acquire unoccupied stool land by settlement; the fact of the matter is that few indigenes today acquire land in Accra without the payment of cash. The greater part of stool lands have been appropriated by the government, and the best-situated currently acquired by the well-heeled through allocation by the Lands Commission.
What is more, the urban citizen is unable to exploit the land except by sale or lease. There is no evidence that ground rent on land allocated by government is utilised, as it should, for the improvement of the urban environment and the provision of social and educational facilities. The conditions of acquisition of appropriated lands, including the right of reversion to the original owners in case of relinquishment of State interest, seem to be continually flouted.
The plight of women should constitute a central part of any solution to the problems of the urban environment. With the majority of women unable to obtain the proficiencies and technologies necessary for participation at the highest levels of the modern economy, they had hitherto been largely restricted to retailing and food distribution. This, in a society where they can except no hand-outs from government. Market women have, however, been treated with extreme insensitivity in the formulation of government policy. While the central authorities have been quick to exact taxes from women they never hesitate to blame them for various economic ills.[1] Much can be done to empower women through the resuscitation of benevolent and small-scale saving societies. Perhaps, a first-rate girls’ secondary and sixth form school is also required.
The post-independence struggle, led by the UGCC and subsequently the CPP, was focused in Accra; major political events this century have equally been centred in Accra. However, as the century has progressed the Gá-Dangme contribution to national affairs has become less and less. Not all the reasons for these can be entirely attributed to outside causes; we have frequently been less than enthusiastic about helping our own and improving the urban and peri-urban environment. The way we are headed calls for collective deliberation of our condition. The Greater Accra region has changed so radically that some have complained of the possible loss of Gá-Dangme identity.
The untapped talents of our peoples await opportunities that should lead to a decent and prosperous society. Economic opportunities interrelate with health and educational infrastructure and their concomitant increase in the life-chances of the poorest. An educated people and good leadership are the roots of a decent society.
Many assumptions of good governance are being increasingly shattered; pauperism holds sway in the heart of Accra and the old Dangme settlements; for the majority in such areas a decent education is merely a dream, only grinding and relentlessly poverty beckons. In the hearts of those in whose veins course the same blood as the blood of the poor and the afflicted a genuine concern has grown. Yet systematic under-education remains the trend; for since the early 1960s public sector, primary education in the Region has been characterised by daily half-day attendance at school. This has created a lacuna which successive governments have never seen fit to fix. We suggest that the solution now lies in the hands of traditional authorities and public-spirited individuals.
Given the range of problems set out in the foregoing pages and the solutions advocated in their behalf it is contended that what is needed is not merely  dzielor manche “King-deliverer”, one who is fully attuned to the needs of his people, feels their pain, responds to their cries and plans for their future, but much more critically a group of dzieloi agyinafoi, a committed group of advisors who set out to find solutions, and to seek out deliverers not only in the ranks of rulers but also from amongst the ruled. It is significant that King Tackie Tawiah was himself influenced by native merchants, including the Clelands and Bannermans; and through them, he appeared to have developed a passion for education among the youth. An alliance of the educated and the traditional hierarchy is needed once more. Once bodies of advisors drawn, amongst others, from the intelligentsia and the business classes, have fully taken their place and institutionalised themselves we can boldly say: “Let the future unfold!”
With the challenge so urgent the intellectual classes may well have to increasingly participate in the formulation of strategies and policies to produce real change in our society. Above all a compelling vision of the future is required; a vision which can best be handed down to succeeding generations through community-based schools.
The agenda for the future should be shaped by the need to foster Gá-Dangme unity and could be based on the following considerations.
First, there is a need for economic regeneration of the Royal Quarter of Kinka and surrounding areas, including Bukom Square, Jamestown and the Salaga market. Such an effort could be organised around the tourist potential of the local forts, the Salaga market and the Jamestown harbour. This can be followed or accompanied by similar regeneration efforts within the major Gá-Dangme towns as well as in selected villages. As already indicated, an essential part of such regeneration programme should the provision of educational facilities, possibly organised around the traditional quarter system, with each quarter running its own secondary school as a mechanism for passing on its traditions and contributing to the national educational effort. A regenerated Royal Quarter of Accra should also attract kente-weavers, goldsmiths and makers of Nungua-style coffins to the old quarter. We suggest further that much of the old quarter should be cobbled and designated a no-traffic zone. The facades of the old family houses could be enhanced and preserved as obtains in many European cities. It will thus develop into a semi-sacred site, preserving perpetually the roots and identity of the Gá-Dangme clans.
Secondly, it is suggested that a common burial site for Gá-Dangme chiefs and dignitaries to be known as Tabilona or Hero’s Acre be located on the battlefields at Katamanso. Similarly, a common palace could be built at Katamanso or nearby Dodowa for the royal households of the Gá-Dangme monarchs together with a King’s Palace School for the youth.
Within Accra, Bukom Square could be adopted as the national shrine of the Gá-Dangme; the remains of past Gá-Dangme kings could be re-interred at Bukom which, we suggest, should be redeveloped and paved along the lines of Trafalgar Square in London. It is known that the remains of past Gá kings were buried on the site of Amuginaa and its adjoining palace. Indeed, King Tackie Tawiah I was the first Gá king to be buried in a mausoleum outside the palace. Seven lions should be mounted around the Square to represent the major Gá-Dangme leaders of the past, and a hall built at one end of the Square for the annual Panmonaa of the Gá-Dangme peoples.
We call, finally, for the establishment forthwith of a King’s Fund to raise money for the award of scholarships to deserving students and those in need. This could be implemented together with plans for a City Sixth Form College to enhance the number of urban youth entering the universities.
Much water has passed under the bridge since this work was conceived; it has had a rather rapid period of gestation, about four months in all, but within this period my mind, as well as those of others around me, has been focused on the problems of the urban African condition. Events in Ghana suggest that not much can be expected from government by way of regeneration and improvement of the urban environment and the tackling of the problems of the people. On the other hand, we detect an increasing resolve among individuals, disillusioned by the present inaction, to join with others in effecting change. The mechanisms and finances for such action are yet to be worked out; there is no shortage of expertise in the relevant areas. What is required is the formation of appropriate corporate and other vehicles for the undertakings involved.
The problems facing the Ghanaian urban dweller are many. There will be no help from any quarter. The state can only supplement and augment what we ourselves initiate. In many ways, the trends we have described in the foregoing pages should present an opportunity and not a threat. A prosperous and self-sustaining society demands a citizenry that continually works towards the regeneration of blighted communities. To stand by unconcerned is to deny our own humanity. We ought to be human and compassionate enough to extend a helping hand to the less fortunate, and we should be sufficiently culturally-aware to respond to the task at hand. These call for qualities of civility and generosity which are not lacking in our community.

                                                                        List of Kings of Accra
Nii Ayi Kushi –
Nii Ayitey –
Nii Armah –
Owura Mampong Okai _
Queen Dode Akaibi –
Nii Okaikoi –
Nii Ashangmo –
Nii Ayi –
Nii Ayikuma Teiko Ba –
Nii Ofori Tibo –
Nii Tetteh Ahinakwa –
Nii Teiko Tsuru –
Nii Saba Osepre –
Nii Amugi –
Nii Kuja Okai –
Nii Adama Akuruja –
Nii Tackie Kome I –
Nii Ofori Gakpo –
Nii Yaote –
Nii Tackie Tawiah I –
Nii Tackie Oblie I –
Nii Tackie Yarboi –
Nii Tackie Oblie II –
Nii Tackie Tawiah II –
Nii Tackie Kome II –
Nii Amugi –

  1. Accra, Dutch Town or Kinka

Abia Tackie, King Paramount; Akwetey Krobosaki, Akotia Owosika, Dodu Nyan, chiefs; Ashare, linguist.
Anan Patu, Kofi Abra, grandees or counsellors; Ankrah, Kwatei Kojo, Tetteh Tsuru, influential grandees; Amon nyemi Koi, Ahenkwa Soro, Sako Ayi, Asere Oku, Mensah Akotokro, Nyan Abodiamo, Dshan, Oto Din, Otam, grandees.
Adade Akwa, Pobi Asawa, Tetteh Koi, Tetteh Okodsheatuo, Noetey Opangoro, Ankonu, Okai Awua, Kwate Koi, Nikoi Tsuru, Kojo Saul, Lartey Koi, Abuma, Koi Moni, Mensah Brebre, Ayi Kokosaki, Ati, Dodu, Donko, headmen.
Anan Osei, Kofi Ahene, Ashon Mankata, Anan Osipeanya, Otutu, Mensah Amasu, Tetteh, Akwetey Omununkum, Ayi Kakai, Mensah, Okai, Amasa Oseko, Ayikuma, Kwatelai, Owu, Kotei, Mensah Commodore, Ayiku, Lamtei, Korantshi, Otu, captain.

  1. Akra, Jamestown (Enleshi)

Ahuma, king; Amane, chief (mankralo); Akwetey, linguist.
Ato, Kpakpo Barema, Sempe Mensah, Adshin Owuakoa, Adama Pataku, Kwashie Kojo, Armah Odebreku, Ashare, grandees.
Ayikoi, Afara Kakaba and 6 others, headmen.
Mensah, Kofi, Akoi, Kpakpo, Klote nyemi Mensah, Akwetey Otuakote

  1. Akra, Christiansborg (Osu)

Nortei Dowuona, king; Tetteh Ashong, chief, (mankralo), Fotey, Alata chief; Koi Boadu, linguist.
Akwetey Agbedeko, Noe Dwetri, Adukoi, Notei Kokroko, Omabo Nortey, Ofem, Abose Kwao, Nortey Koranteng, Laryea, Adom, Atakora Tetteh, Adenkum, Kwamena Kuma, Akoko, Agboba, Bosa, Anum, Adu Hammer, grandees.
Kwate Okai, Notei Warakataka, Yaw Miafo, Ashong Akwadshansa, Nortey Olo, Naku, Noi Ohusogro, Omabo Okoi, Lamtei Nukpa, Amantara Adote, Sewa Koma, Saba Akem, Adotei Twi, Noe Osoro, Tei Badu, Kojo Saul, Tetteh Kutei, Notei Odua, Nortey Kasakokrodo, Apo, Koi Foi, Nzo, Sewa Kwaoshi, Kojo Baka, Odoi Ati, headmen.
Abiashi, Martey Akoto, Akwetey Asoa, Lamtey, Narh, Tetteh Commodore, Notei Nyantshi, Notei Mintimirim, Obodai, Saka Ankam, Otuafo, Saba Bonsu, Kwamena Adam, captains.

  1. Akra, Labadi (La)

Saki, king; Adsha, chief; Boi Osekre, linguist.
Ashirifi Tieko, Odartey Twi Akwa, Okpoti Omununkum, Ako Nam, Okpoti Kwatshe, Akwetey Dadeadu, Akuete Ntshere, Boi Osokrono, Dshani Ako Oseko, Odotei Opereko, Amoa Okromansa, Awua, Sai Kojo, Ashiakoi Densu, Botwe Asakara, Sodsha Oblim, Tetteh Fantshe, grandees.
Ala Koko, Ayi Anafo, Anan Apiakai, Lartey Odankwa, Tetteh Tekpo, Sodsha Kwaw Osoro, Mahama Kofi, Togbo Abebrense, Koi Wom’oye, Togbo Danso, Koi Fio, Obodai Agbove, Odotei Ofosu, Anyetei Sewansan, Togbo Tekoasere, Adu Opete, Anyetei Atensua, headmen
Maley Osokorono, Owuo Opententum, Awetey Asoa, Gbagbe Osraman, Akuete, Botwe Sareso, captains

  1. Akra, Teshi

Ofori Shadsho, king; Kru Din, chief; Ablo Adshei, linguist.
Akposo, Brebo, Okan Kape, Sowa Huti, Sowa Kopa, Akwetey Sum, Sowa Obransemyeode, Adshetey Boapem, Dshani, Afutu, Odai Sa, Boi Boi, Ashai Akoto, Sowa Adenkum, grandees.
Panto Ampim, Boi Owusu, Koi Mensah, Koi Tia, Tetteh Anai, Mensah Kuma, Mensah Otshirifienam, Ayiku, Ante, Laryea Oseko, Sowa Adu, headmen.
Laryea, Boi Boi, Okai Botwe, Abete Kuma, Tosu Okromansa, Mensah Kuma, Sowa Omununkum. Botwe Akposoi, Kole Saso, captains.

  1. Akra, Nungua

Okre, king; Bolabi, chief (mankralo); Bortey Adshetri, linguist.
Okai (Akai), Akoi, Botei, Borketey Tshetshenya, Koi Kuma, Borketey Kowuankra, grandees.
Bortei Agbeteko, Otu, Bortelabi, captains.

  1. Akra, Tema

Larbi Shiashiabo, king; Adshiete Obredshuma, chief (mankralo); Ashitey Kwaku Twe, linguist.
Tetteh Nam, Nartey Holu, Ashikoi Nukpa, Akron Adra, Lartey Otru, Osabu, Ashitey Kwadshobo, Okoto, Tetteh Tsuru, grandees.
Ashitey Nukpa, Adshei Katakiti, Tetteh Bediako.
Saki, king; Nortei Bediako, chief (mankralo); Tetteh Akem, chief; Tetteh Otu, Tei Tokli, linguists.
Nortei Nuamono, Noe Adshieze, Nortei Owuadom, Noe Osono, Noe, Akpem Agbeyivo, Obobi, Nortei Konu, Osabu Agamo.
Prampram (Gbugbla)
Tetteh Waka, king; Nartei, chief (mankralo); Numo Fiesu, linguist.
Nartey Okukruboo, Nartey Okodsheboo, Osa Aniam, Abe Nukpa, Abe Gbeke, Kpabi Ablokutu, Tshawe Okro, Padi Adu, grandees.
Kwamli Kuma, Mensah Nam, Nartey Adoa, Nartey Atifiyeden, Otu Abli, Tetteh Ofli, Nageiti, Nartey Klenmeti, Aryeh Okraku, Tei Gbagbladsha, Martey Adi, Tetteh Tshwadaban, headmen.
Doku Mansro, Lartey, Osabu Fiesu, Tettey Osraman, Tetteh Tshwako, Tei, Mama Ohoyeden, Awure,
Tei Doku, king; Kano Atiapa, chief (mankralo); Apetepetshi, linguist.
Shantshe Amano, Afum Okanfra, Mano Ohoyefe, Blebo Okitashi, Odiakosem, Otshwi Titriku, Duamo Tutuani, Shan Mronsa, Tetteh Woretshwam, Okru Bonsu, Tettey Otsheremaku, grandees.
Bonsu Obohyen, Boakoafo, Narh Adu Bamfro, Tetteh Okodsheatuo, Kweitey Agbadshi, Gbli Adshowu, Mensah Togbo.
Adshohu Kitikri, king; Akude Kuntu, chief (mankralo); Annor, linguist.
Osabu Totime, Amedehoho, Tettey Ga, Narh Wonkawose, 3 others, grandees.
Osraman, Saki, Otumfoo, captains.
                                                                                Krobo, Yilo

Osibe, king; Tetteh Osoro, linguist; Obu, captain.
                                                                              Krobo, Manya
Muala Okumsro, king.
Otu Adshina, king; Dshabako, chief and captain; Nyako Geli, linguist.
Krako, larweh Gbeto, Mate Aba, Mate Akplatshe, Mate Kaka, Tetteh Kpokploto, Narh Akra, Tekute, grandees.
Nagai, king; Tei Dshahene, chief (mankralo); Osabutey Okomfa, linguist.
Okomfa Badu, Natenwa, Otu, Omli, Abobi, Ankam, Esi, Atekpo, grandees.
Mahama Apeko, Aboano Sisimienu, Akrofi, captains.
Otu, chief; Nii Nsaki, Agyampofo, captains.


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Lawson, R.M., “The Transition of Ghanaian Fishing from a Primitive to a                     Mechanised Industry”, Transaction of the Historical Society of                 Ghana, Vol. 9 (1968), pp. 90-104

Manoukian, D., Akan and Ga-Adangme Peoples, London: International African                  Institute 1950

Morrison, M.K.C., Ethnicity and Political Integration: The Case of Asanti,                  Ghana, Syracuse: Foreign and Comparative Studies/African Series               1982

Odonkor, S.S. (trans.), Odonkor, T.H., “The Rise of the Krobos”, (circa 1910),                 unpublished, preserved in the Institute of African Studies,                  University of Ghana

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Robertson, C.C., “The Death of Makola and other Tragedies: Male Strategies                  Against a Female-Dominated Distribution Network”, Paper                      Presented at Canadian Association for African Studies Meetings:                 Toronto May 1982

Robertson, C.C., Sharing the Same Bowl, Bloomington: Indiana University Press               1984

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Sprigge, R.G.S., “Eweland’s Adangme: An Enquiry into an Oral Tradition”,                  Transactions of the Historical Society of Ghana, Vol. 10 (1969),               pp. 87-128

Sprigge, R.G.S., “The Geographical Limits of Eweland”, Transactions of the                Historical Society of Ghana, Vol. 12 (1971), pp. 101-102

Talbot, P.A., The Peoples of Southern Nigeria, London: Crown Agents for the               Colonies 1926

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Zimmermann, A Grammatical Sketch of the Akra or Ga Language, Stuttgart: Basel               Missionary Society 1858

    [1]C.C. Robertson, “The Death of Makola and other Tragedies: Male Strategies Against a Female-Dominated Distribution Network” Toronto 1982.
    [2]This list is based on the list produced by Reindorf showing showing the “leaders or influential men and officers engaged in the battle at Dodowa or Akantamansu”. See Reindorf 1895, pp. 347-353. By “headman” or chieftain Reindorf meant a member of the akwashong; and where no office was mentioned beside a name he suggested that the word captain may be implied (ibid. p. 347).

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The Matters Arising blog is a collection of thought-provoking, thought-leadership pieces sprinkled with some blue-sky thinking on pertinent issues affecting African communities both in the diaspora and at home. It includes articles on culture, politics, social and economic advancement, diversity and inclusion, community cohesion topics. It is also a repository of the political history of Ghana, traditions of the Gadagme people of Ghana, and the Pan-African politics of Kwame Nkrumah. Read, enjoy, like, share, and join!


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