Gonja traditional area warns gov’t over splitting of northern region
THE GONJA Traditional Council and the Gonjaland Youth Association of Ghana (representing the Chiefs and people of Gonja Traditional Area) have vowed to fiercely resist any attempt by the ruling government to include any portion or “even an inch of their lands to the yet to be created Eastern Corridor Region out of the Northern Region”.
According to the Gonja people, they were neither against the creation of a new region out of the present Northern Region nor where the capital of that region would be sited since it aims at accelerating the socio-economic development of the North.
However, they issued a strong warning to the ruling government not to make any mistake to demarcate even a small piece of the Gonja traditional lands and add it to the proposed Eastern Corridor region, since that could lead to serious conflict.
The Gonja people have gathered from intelligence that the creation of an Eastern Corridor region would take away the East Gonja (Salaga and Kpembe) and Kpandai Districts of Gonjaland and add to Yendi, Chereponi, Saboba, Zabzugu, Tatale-Sanguli, Nanumba South, Nanumba North, West Mamprusi and East Mamprusi among others to form a Region with the capital at Yendi.
But the rest of Gonjaland would still remain part of the existing northern region with the capital at Tamale. Speaking to the Media at his Palace in Buipe after a closed door meeting with the National Executives of the Gonjaland Youth Association of Ghana, Buipewura Abdulai Mahama Jinapor II maintained that there would be serious confusion in the Gonja traditional setup if any of their subjects (people) were added to the new region and forced to pay allegiance to new traditional authorities or unfamiliar culture and tradition.
This decision was arrived at when the Gonjaland Youth Association Executives who were on a serious mission to ascertain the position of the Gonja Traditional Council on the subject matter (creation of new region), first paid a courtesy call on the Overlord of Gonjaland, Yagbonwura Tuntumba Bore Essa I who then referred them to Buipewura Abdulai Mahama Jinapor II who is also the Vice President of the Gonja Traditional Council for the passage of this resolution of not allowing any of the Gonja communities to be taken away.
Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in his 2016 manifesto promised to create at least four new regions out of the existing 10 regions of Ghana, of which the Northern Region was also mentioned as one of the potential regions to be divided.
The Gonja Traditional Council recalled some of the conflicts that had arisen out of previous attempts by previous governments to demarcate certain traditional boundaries and that of Gonjaland.
“When the Brong Ahafo Region was created by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, several Gonja communities and lands were added to them and as at now there is still confusion. There was another attempt by Flight Lt Jerry John Rawlings military regime to add Bole to the Upper West Region when that region was being created but for the stiff resistance from our chiefs and people,” he said.
The Chief continued: “Even in spite of our resistance, some parts of Gonjaland including Kandia were still added to the Upper West Region and till today there is still confusion there. Because they are aliens there now, they don’t know which tradition they belong to. So if some of our chiefs and their subjects are taken to that Eastern Corridor Region, they cannot comfortably live because they cannot claim to be independent Gonjas and they cannot also say that they will not pay allegiance to the traditional authorities in that region, so definitely there will be serious confusion over there.”
Buipewura Jinapor II therefore cautioned the government to be cautious about the creation of the new regions in Ghana and respect the various traditional boundaries and authorities to avoid needless conflicts.
The Buipe Chief who called for the right and necessary engagements to precede the creation of the new regions with the right traditional authorities and key stakeholders, also pleaded with Ghanaians not to read any politics into the actions of the Gonjas and allow the right things to be done in the interest of peace and development.
The General Secretary and the National Treasurer of the Gonjaland Youth Association of Ghana, Mohammed A. Adams and Lawyer Mohammed Amin Osman respectively proposed that a horizontal division of the present Northern region would be the best for all.
According to them, the Northern Region already have four Kingdoms; Ya-na for Dagombas, Na-yiri for Mamprusis, Yagbonwura for Gonjas and Bimbilla-Na for Nanumbas and so therefore there should be two Kings in each of the regions to be created from Northern Region.
They were of the view that if the Gonjaland which is large enough to become a separate region on its own is not permissible, then the government could demarcate the region in such a way that Dagombas and Mamprusis should go on one side and Gonjas and Nanumbas on the other side.
The creation of the new Eastern Corridor Region with the capital in Yendi would mean that the two regional capitals would be in Dagomba land (Yendi and Tamale) which would not also fair to the other ethnic groups in the region.
But the horizontal demarcation would rather spare the anxieties because the capitals of the two regions would not be in a town of an ethnic group that already has a capital town; and it would also allow each of the groups to maintain their traditions and culture distinctively.
However, the Gonja Traditional Council and the Gonjaland Youth Association pledged their support to the government for the creation of a new region out of the northern region with the right approach and understanding.
The National Executives of the Gonjaland Youth Association who visited the Yagbonwura and the Buipewura palaces included; Mr. Osman Mahama, national 1st vice chairman, Hon. Alijata Haruna, 2nd vice chairperson, Mr. Dramani Issahaku, national organiser, Mr. Mohammed A. Adams, general secretary, lawyer Mohammed Amin Osman, national treasurer and Mr. Kwasi Lampo, deputy national organiser.