Members of the Sakpare or Kamagtey Clan of the Gonja Kingdom (Savannah Region) who are the custodians of Islam and Gonja Imamate have petitioned the King and Overlord of Gonja Yagbonwura Bii-Kunuto Jewu Soale (I) for the acclamation of the Yagbon Imam, Sheikh Kassim Abdulai as the legitimate Chief Imam of the Savannah Region in accordance with undisputed Gonja customs.
Gonja Sakpare Imams, Islamic Clerics, Academicians, Professionals and so on converged in Buipe in the Central Gonja District of the Savannah Region for prayers and for a Gonja Sakpare Conference on Monday 23rd May, 2023.
The Gonja Sakpares first converged at Old Buipe to offer prayers for peace, unity, prosperity in the Gonja Kingdom at the premises of the Mausoleum of the Founder of the Gonja Kingdom Ndewura Jakpa as well as the tomb of Fatigi Morukpe, an Islamic spiritual companion of Ndewura Ndewura Jakpa and the founder of Gonja Imamate.
The Gonja Sakpares led by the Yagbon Imam and other Imams and Elders from various towns across Gonja also had a Conference at the Central Gonja District Assembly Hall at Buipe to discuss issues confronting Sakpares. They discussed the Wasipe (Daboya) Imamship issue, the Sawla Imamship Issue and the Mpaha Imamship Issue.
The Gonja Sakpares also discussed a petition on the Savannah Regional Chief Imam issue and after the Conference, Alhaji Sumaila Mahama (Somawura) who is the head of the Sakpare Clan in the Wasipe Traditional Area of Gonja presented the Communique indicating that the Savannah Region is not different from Gonjaland and the entire region is under the authority of Gonja and before the region was created, Gonjaland already has the Yagbon Imam as it’s state Imam and the custodian of Islam in the state.
He said it is difficult to delineate Gonja Chieftaincy structure from its Islamic structures and so Imamship per the Gonja tradition is hereditary and that is why the Yagbonwura and each divisional Chief of Gonja is given a Sapkare Imam for the smooth running of the state.
Alhaji Sumaila said; “It is only the lineage of the founder of the Gonja Kingdom Ndewura Jakpa that become Chiefs and so we Sakpares who are the custodians of Islam in Gonja have unanimously selected the Yagbon Imam (Supreme Chief Imam of Gonjaland/Savannah Region and the Custodian of Gonja Islamic Spirituality) as the legitimate Savannah Regional Chief Imam”.
The head of the Gonja Sakpare Clan of Wasipe Traditional Area of Gonja further said the formation of the Gonja state was synonymous with the introduction of Islam and that the Sakpare Imamate of Gonja was founded by Fatigi- Morukpe (an Islamic Jurist).
Alhaji Sumaila also said the religion of Islam was established in the Gonja Kingdom as far back as the 17th Century and Islam has been articulated in the Gonja societies and was made a state religion through the creation of the Sakpare Imamate.
The Gonja Sakpares stated in their petition that;
“So long as Gonjaland remains Savannah region, every Yagbon Imam should be the automatic Imam of the region just as every Yagbonwura is the automatic President of the Savannah regional house of Chiefs and that using the Yagbon Imam as Savannah Region Chief Imam will solve many issues in future because there are already existing Islamic Traditional processes in place to elect a Chief Imam for Yagbon and the processes have withstood the test of time”.
It said; ” Your majesty and revered chiefs of our Kingdom, the historical establishment of the Imamate in Gonja kingdom is inextricably linked with the establishment of the Kingdom itself and one cannot exist without the other. As matter of historical record, the role of Fati Morukpe in establishing the Gonja Kingdom is well documented”.
The petition added; “The kingdom as presently constituted is conterminous with the Savannah Region, with the Yagonwura as King and Overlord as well as the President of the Regional House of Chiefs. It must be pointed out that the Gonja kingdom long existed with its established institutions and traditional protocols before the creation of the Savannah Region. In other words, before the formal proclamation of the entity called ‘Savannah Region’ the region already existed in all material respects with relevant intuitions, including a president of the traditional council and the Yagbon Imam. It is therefore anomalous to purport to appoint another Savannah Regional Chief Imam”.
According to the petition; ” The Yagbon Imam who is the appointed Imam of the Overlord of the Kingdom is the spiritual head of all Muslims in the Kingdom (region) and his position cannot be subordinated to any other Imam in the Gonja kingdom. The appointment of the Yagbon Imam is subject to established traditional protocols which have been in place since the days of our forebears in the 17th Century”.
The petition by Gonja Sakpares also said; “It would also be necessary at this point to draw the attention of the Royal estate of the Gonja state under the lordship of the Yagbonwura (King and Overlord of Gonja), that any act of undermining the legitimacy of the Yagbon Imam and taking the Savannah Regional Chief Imamship out from the Sakpare clan of Gonja will mean a fragmented Gonja tradition, a tradition which will not be complete without the Gonja Sakpare Imamate. This is because the founders of the Gonja state demonstrated their desire for Islam that was not just moderate and meaningful to their spiritual aspirations, but also one that is practical and relevant to their worldview and culture, hence the Sakpare imamate of Gonja state”.
Some appointments were made ro assist the Yagbon Imam in the performance of his duties.
An Elder of the Sakpare Clan from Bole Alhaji Malik Yussif was appointed as the Special Aide to the Yagbon Imam while Mr Jamal Mohammed from the was appointed as the Secretary of the Yagbon Imam.
The General Manager of Nkilgi Fm Mahama Haruna was appointed as the Spokesperson of the Yagbon Imam.
The Conference also resolved that a Sakpare Executive Council made of two Representatives from all Traditional Areas in Gonja and under the Chairmanship of Alhaji Sumaila Mahama (Somawura) who is the head of the Sakpare Clan in the Wasipe Traditional Area of Gonja, be formed.
The Imams and Elders of the Gonja Sakpare Clan that signed the petition include the Buipe Chief Imam Alhaji Seidu Saaka, Wasipe Chief Imam Alhaji Sumaila Mahama (Somawura), Kpembe Chief Imam Mallam Mumuni Tikpiri, Bole Chief Imam, Bole Chief Imam Alhaji Iddrisu Mohammed and Tuluwe Chief Imam Mallam Shaibu Sulemana.
Others were Busunu Jamiu Imam Mallam Iddrisu Isshahaku; Sakpa Imam Mallam Salue Mumuni, Damongo Head of Sakpare Clan Mallam Sumani Moro, an Elder of Sakpare Clan at Mpaha Alhaji Iddrisu Alhassan, an Elder of Sakpares in Sawla Mallam Asumah Sulemana and an Elder of Sakpare Clan at Mankango Alhaji Awudu.