By Salisu Be-Awuribe
A FOCUS ON THE YAGBONG ROYAL SUCCESSION. -PART ONE.
1. The Tuluwe Paramountcy is an independent Traditional Area of Gonjaland subservient to only the Command and Control of the Yagbonwura, the King and Overlord of Gonjaland. Same as Wasipe, Kpembi, Kong, Bole, Kandia and Kusawgu.
2. The Tuluwe Traditional Area stretches from the Eastern Parts of Central Gonja to the West of it through to West Gonja and to some extent, Sawla and Bole Districts of the Savannah Region and to the Kintampo North Municipality in the Bono East Region. It has a huge land mass but less populous as compared to its counterparts.
3. The Tuluwe Paramountcy is one of the Seven (7) Paramountcies eligible to ascend to the Yagbon Throne in the event of a Vacancy.
4. The Occupant of Wasipe Skins, the Wasipewa is regarded as the Eldest or First Customary Son of the Yagbonwura. He is followed by the Kpembiwura, Paramount Chief of Kpembi in the East Gonja District, Kongwura Paramount Chief of KONG traditional Area in the Sawla Tuna Kalba District, Bolewura, Paramount Chief of the Bole Traditional Area in the Bole District, Kandiawura, Paramount Chief of Kandia Traditional Area in the Wa West District of Upper West Region, Tuluwewura, Paramount Chief of Tuluwe Traditional Area and the Kusawguwura, Paramount Chief of the Kusawgu Traditional Area in the Central Gonja District, regarded as the pampered last customary Child of the Yagbonwura and who behaves as such in the Court of the Yagbonwura. The Kusawguwura completes the cycle of 7 Royal Paramountcies eligible to ascend to the Yagbon Skins in the event of a Vacancy.
5. A sitting Yagbonwura has two sets of Children and Grandchildren; the Customary Children and Grandchildren and the Biological Children and Grandchildren. The Biological Children and grandchildren strictly speaking have no role in the affairs of the Gonja State. It is the Customary Children and grandchildren who have. He is supported by a Large Council of Elders who are all Paramount Chiefs led by the Sonyongwura, Paramount Chief of the Sonyong Traditional Arear in the Bole District and other colleagues of his and a large retinue of Traditional Servants who together constitute his cabinet.
6. For some historical reasons beyond the scope of this writeup, the occupants of Kong and Kandia have been banned from ascending further to Yagbon leaving only 5 Customary Children who have a hallowed custom of rotation amongst them. The 5 in order of seniority and per the cyclical rotation are the Paramount Chiefs of the following Traditional Areas: 1. Wasipe( Daboya), 2. Kpembi 3. Bole 4. Tuluwe and 5.Kusawgu.
7. Each of these Paramountcies have mentoring Divisional Skins next to them. A successful occupant of any of these mentoring Divisional Skins like the Bundawura of Tuluwe area, become the next in line to the Paramountcy of Tuluwe if he is still eligible for elevation to a higher Title to the exclusion of all others. The same applies to all other Paramountcies in Gonjaland.
7. Two types of Eligibility; that for selection to begin the Chieftaincy enterprise and that for elevation after a successful occupation of a lower mentoring Title to a higher title.
8. Eligibility to any of the Paramountcies must be through the divisional mentoring title(s)/ Skin which in turn must be through a succeeding Gate in order of the Rotation of gates within the Tradirional Area( inter or intra gate).
9. A gate in this context is a family or Clan unit comprising of Royals to a skin( Title). The gates to a Skin or title rotates amongst themselves in a defined order. In some instances, there are sub gates within a gate which rotate the titles to themselves when vacancies are created within their gate or when their gate is eligible to fill a certain title.
10. In the unlikely event that an occupant of a Paramountcy can not ascend to a higher Title if it was their turn, it passes on to the next Paramountcy in the strict and hallowed order of rotation with a promise to revert at anytime the said ineligible conditions are abated.
11. Ineligibility necessitating an inability to be elevated to a higher title may be temporal or permanent. It may also be Legal or Customary. It is temporal if the conditions will abate in the lifetime of the said occupant of the Paramount Skin, usually a medical condition such as Stroke or temporal visual impairment. It is permanent if the said disabling condition will never go away until the individual Chief expires. In such a case, the said individual Chief will not be deskinned but rather stay on the same Title but without Promotion whatsoever. He will not be demoted either.
12. The cycle of rotation will however be halted at anytime that a new abled and eligible person occupies the hitherto Paramount Skin which was inevitably bypassed to which the Former Expired Chief did occupy and an opportunity present itself for an elevation of a Paramountcy to the Throne of Yagbong. This is an equitable principle our forebears expounded.
13. Elegibility to Chieftaincy in Gonja is hereditary. It is not acquired by the wealth or social status of an individual. However, in times of crises, a brave display of Patriotism in favour of the Gonja State may put someone out for recognition and honour and this may be done by the creation of a Title for that person whose descendants will forever be eligible to occupy the said title or a gift of a sort or further still an exemption of him or his descendants from performing certain Customary obligations owed to Chiefs or to the kingdom. If a royal, he may obtain comrponised promotions to higher titles if they become vacant. Otherwise, you may either inherit or be eligible to the title materilinially or patrilinialy.
14. An individual occupying or eligible to occupy a title to the exclusion of all others even without any hindrance may decide to defer his ambition to others equally qualified. It is not mandatory to take up a Chieftaincy title or to ask for elevation to a higher title in Gonjaland when it is due. But when you are due but you dont put in your bid despite being the obvious, you cant blame anyone for they bypassing you. This explains the reasons why when a title is vacant in Gonja, even when everyone is aware that the next person to ascend to it is Mr ‘A’, Mr ‘B’ or ‘C’ who are equality qualified in the absence or disinterest of Mr ‘A’ may make a default application or bid to the appointing authority. Though refusal to put in a bid is rare, it does happens nevertheless. A typical case was what the Late Yagbonwura Bawa Doshi and the Late Yagnonwura Bore-Nyinche demonstrated which I will explain later.
15. So the Order of Rotation of the Yagbong Throne as things stand now is i) Wasipe( Daboya)ii) Kpembiiii) Boleiv) Tuluwev) Kusawgu. Kusawgu completes the cycle in the ordinary scheme of Rotation for Wasipe to begin again.
However, like I have indicated earlier, if any occupant of the Skins whose turn it is to occupy is incapacitated, it moves to the next eligible Skin. The title of Yagbong is akin to a grandfather Title. It is only sons who can grow to become grandfathers. So a grandson cannot transmogrify to a grandfather without being made a father . It means that a divisional Chief must first become a Paramount Chief in this current nomenclature before he could be eligible to Yagbong.
PRACTICAL HISTORY OF THE OPERATIONS OF THE RULES.
After the Yapei Conference in the 1930’s where it was agreed for Wasipe to ascend to Yagbong, being the eldest of the ‘Sons’ of Yagbon, Yagbonwura Awushi Ewuntomah of Daboya was the first from Daboya to occupy the throne. The capital was relocated from Nyange to Damongo. The last occupant of the Throne from its previous Head Quarters of Nyange before its movement to Damongo was Yagbonwura Singbung Lanyo Soale Iddi from Kusawgu.
Yagbonwura Ewuntomah therefore begun the order of recent Rotation at a new Capital Damongo.
The next in line to have succeeded him per the order of rotation should have been Kpembiwura. However, before his demise, the then occupant of Kpembi, Kpembiwura Ababio was indisposed as a result of ill health. He suffered from a condition which naturally disqualified him to ascend to the Yagbong. The turn of Kpembi to produce a Yagbonwura was therefore bypassed to Bole in the person of Bolewura Abutu Mahama who became Yagbonwura Kurabaso Abutu Mahama.
However, the skip was corrected back to Kpembi after the Kpembiwura Ababio predeceased Yagbonwura Kurabaso. At that time, Kpembi had a Chief who was eligible for Promotion. He was Kpembiwura J.A Braimah who became Yagbonwura Timu. This restored the rotation to the Status quo ante.
After the Expiration of Yagbonwura Timu, the Yagbon Throne resumed it’s natural order of Rotation this time round to Tuluwe in the person of Tuluwera Kanyiri who became Yagbonwura Kanyiti.
After Yagbonwura Kanyiti of Tuluwe, the Throne moved to Kusawgu in the normal scheme of things to complete the 5 Routes of Rotation. This time round it fell on the lot of Kusawguwura Gbankulso Jakpa Iddi who became Yagbonwura Be-Awuribe Jakpa Iddi.
The cycle begun from Wasipe again after the Expiration of YAGBONWURA Be-Awuribe to Wasipewura Tikpiri as Yagbonwura Aliadengi Tikpiri.
When the Late Yagbonwura Aliadengi Tikpiri of Blessed Memory ascended to Yagbong through the Wasipe route, becoming the second Wasipewura to ascend to the throne after the legendary Yagbonwura Awushi Ewuntomah’s Long reign, and per the order of Seniority of the Eligible Yagbong Gates, Kpembi was the next in line to the exclusion of all others. This was the immediate post recovery period of the Northern Conflicts where Gonjaland participated and the theatre of operations was within the Kpembi Traditional Area with few embers of the flames of war yet to be doused.
The Late Yagbonwura Bawa Doshi, though advanced in Age, exercise good Judgment and leadership and deferred his personal ambition to his customary ‘Younger Brother’, Yagbonwura Bore-Nyinche Sarfo, them Bolewura Sarfo to rise above him to the throne of Yagbong. A very Rare display of Selfless Leadeship. But as History will have it, Yagbonwura Borenyinche predeceased the then Kpembiwura Bawa Doshi, paving way for him to ascend to the throne he earlier defered to his “younger brother’.
Naturally, after Bole occupies the Throne, Tuluwe is next in line. The then Tuluwewura Efin-Nnase never challenged or asserted his right to the Yagbon Throne after the Death of the Bore-Nyinche from Bole as the Rotation order demands and never also alleged that Kpembiwura Bawa Doshi has exhausted his opportunity after he earlier deferred to his brother, the then Bolewura. Instead, he allowed Yagbonwura Bawa Doshi to put in his bid without Challenge. This was another display of great leadership and understanding in the Gonja Kingdom.
Before Yagbowura Bawa Doshi of Kpembi will expire from the surface of the earth to allow for the normal resumption of the hallowed rotation to Tuluwe, the occupant of Tuluwe had also become incapacitated. So when Yagbon became vacant after the Death of Yagbonwura Bawa Doshi, Tuluwewura Efin-Nnase who was incapacitated could not take the mantle of the Yagbong leadership. So the lot fell on his Customary ‘Young brother’ next in line in the person of Kusawguwura Tuntumba Sulemana Jakpa to rise to Yagbon in March, 2010 as Yagbonwura Tuntumba Boressa Sulemana Jakpa, the current occupant of the Throne. By virtue of the fact that Tuluwe couldn’t ascend when it was their time, they are those next in line if at that time, there is an occupant of Tuluwe who is capable of ascending to the Throne.
It is this understanding which makes SUCCESSION to the Yagbon Throne, peaceful, seamless and incident free at all times.
CHALLENGES. Succession to the Kingship of Yagbon is settled, well grounded and predictable. Succession to the other Paramountcies in Gonjaland are to a larger extent settled, predictable and relatively peaceful but for some few glitches, which with the necessary genuine engagements can also be resolved without hitches.
The remaining problems are the other titles at Divisional, Sub Divisional and other Roles below the divisions. There are many grey areas to be easily exploited, abused, misused and manipulated. These are the areas which require a deeper engagement, consultations, Codification and amiable resolutions of all the nudges.
These therefore require deliberate actions aimed at straightening and smoothening the rough edges usually in times of peace before disputes erupts. The Traditional Council will therefore need the support of all more especially the Ministry of Chieftaincy and Culture, the academia, research and Governance institutions, the security councils, Youth groups and Civil Society to succeed. Procrastination is not a best friend on this situation. The time to act is now.