Ghanaian chiefs

The Traditional Authorities define and ascertain who a chief is or who qualifies to be a Chief. Like Kings and War Lords who conquered and invaded kingdoms and ruled them, the Chiefs’ roles are not so different, however, in executing those duties they need to be diligent and very careful in their exercise of Authority.

The Chieftaincy Institution is regarded as one of the most hailed and respected institutions found in the corridors of our communities and the entire country at large. It is an Institution to which all people pay allegiance and homage, and accord with the needed respect.

Back in history and before the arrival of the Europeans, the Chiefs were the main characters that facilitated and played the lead role in the development of the community and fostered unity both within their jurisdiction and beyond.

Chiefs in the Community settle disputes and differences between individuals, they represent their communities whenever there are gatherings and ensure that the needs and desires of the people are met. These and many other duties as required by the Chiefs are undertaken to ensure meaningful living .

The Traditional Authorities that set up the Chieftaincy system make sure the reputation of their Kinsmen are not downplayed; always upholding and preserving their integrity irrespective of the situation in which they find themselves.

The 1992 constitution of the Republic of Ghana also spells out the roles and functions of the chiefs and Traditional rulers as pertains in the traditional set up and this paved way for the establishment and enactment of the National House of Chiefs.

This constitutional body directs and offers advice to the government when the need arises but must play an impartial role in its delivery in order not to contradict themselves.

Chapter (22) , clause 277 of the Constitution state categorically that “a person qualifies to be a Chief if He hails from the appropriate family and lineage and has been validly nominated, elected or selected and enstooled, enskinned or installed in accordance with the relevant customs and traditions. ”
It adds from clause 276 subsection (1) of the same chapter that ” He shall not take part in active partisan politics, and any Chief wishing to do so and seeking election to Parliament shall abdicate his stool or relinquish his post.”
It further adds from subsection(2) that “But shall be appointed to serve any Public office for which He otherwise qualified and deserve as such.”

These roles and functions of the traditional rulers seem to go a different way and sway from its core mandates in which it was established in our current and modern democratic era; where Chiefs of today support political institutions , serving as PRO and mouth piece for Political institutions and even arranging and hosting political rallies for them , which goes contrary to the law.

The dignity and respect for them has rotten to the core, and now politicians use them as a machinery to win political powers , thereby rendering their noble office needless and powerless.

The current system of our political dispensation has brought all these hitches, where a Chief accepts or rejects a party for campaigning on it traditional grounds.
This has also paved way for Politicians to decide which development goes to a particular area.

Some even go to the extent of collecting monies, parcels and cars from politicians in the name of helping them to come to or retain power.
For this, many developmental projects within a particular Chief’s Jurisdiction have been made redundant , becoming white elephant.

In addressing this canker,
Civil societies, Organized groups and many Concerned Citizens have on numerous occasions added their voices to this menace and have attempted to redirect the Authorities on the right path but all have proven futile and waves in vain.

Unless our Traditional Authorities restructure, specify and reinkindle our Chieftaincy system, they will continue to lose the honour and respect they are seeing. It will go to the extent that no one will accord them the needed respect, and they will be used as a doormat.

Filed By : KOBINA NYAMEKYE | Apt News Ghana

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Joe Bright Nyarko Journalist/Communication Researcher. Environment & Sustainability Advocate. Managing Editor of, a non-profit news portal with bias towards environment and sustainability issues, rural development policies and gender & inequality.