The paramount chief of Bole Traditional Area in the Savannah Region, Bolewura Safo Kutuge Feso (I), has called for calm and moderation between Gonjas and the people of Banda in the Bono region after the enskinment of a Gonja chief at Dokokyina, a small farming and ‘galamsey’ community within the Bui Dam catchment area, sparked a territorial dispute between the two friendly neighbours.
On Wednesday, May 1, 2019, the Banda traditional council, opinion leaders and youth held a combative press conference at Banda Ahenkro in the Banda district, and expressed anger as they accused Gonjas of attempting a land grab and cautioned of an outbreak of communal violence if government does not intervene immediately.
Kwansiafamu Oseadeeyo Barima Kofi Anim Anyan Hantali, the Abremponhene of Banda Traditional Area, had claimed the Bandas are the original land owners of the Bui Dam Site and its upstream settlements but that, they were forced out of the area during the Bui Power Project.
Oseadeeyo Barima Hantali had said, since the movement of the Banda people, Gonjas from Bole were rebuilding settlements and laying claims to the area as part of their jurisdiction.
The Abremponhene reportedly added that the Black Volta is the boundary between Bono and Gonjaland and that it was mind boggling why Gonjas should attempt to re-draw the boundary, by moving to occupy abandoned settlements of the Bandas and now claiming ownership.
The Bandas had also accused Gonjas of carrying out large scale illegal mining near the Bui Dam Site and issued ultimatum to government to force them out of the place to save the Dam and also to avoid communal clashes between the tribes.
In response, the Bolewura said, he found the press conference by the Bandas threatening to attack Gonjas as a “betrayal” of the longstanding relationship between the two traditional areas, calling on the chiefs and people of Banda to be more concerned with unity than division and reminding them of the uncontested “well documented warrior status of Gonjas”.
Bolewura insisted emphatically that, communities, such as: Dokokyina, Gbabiape, Sindi, Dablakura and Ntereso – around and near the Bui Dam, have from time immemorial been governed and ruled by Paramount Chief of Bole Traditional Area, therefore he did no wrong, as chief of Bole, by enskinning a chief to communities under his control.
He said, though Dokochina (Gonja spelling) partly lies within the Game Reserve claimed by the government of Ghana for the preservation of animals and vegetation, the area still fell under the Bole Traditional Area, and that the area, by custom and tradition, lies within his confines, for which he has the right and authority to enskin chiefs in the area.
Bolewura’s message was contained in a press statement read at his palace in Bole on Friday, May 10, and attended by all chiefs and youth across the Bole Traditional Area.
The statement said further that, Dokochina has been under the traditional control of Gonjas in Bole and that Bandas were only allowed to settle for “mutual participation and benefit of the area after they came to Bole with traditional drinks and cola to appeal, “consequent upon the fertility of the land for farming purposes”.
The Bolewura accused some “few irate and ambitious youth of Banda and Bole of conniving to invite war between Gonjas and Bandas for “selfish interest”.
“Indeed and in truth there is no wolf”, the statement said, “the current happenings is an arrangement between some youth of Bole and Banda to serve their selfish interest. The Bandas have been our allies for long and under no circumstance would we use violence as a tool for solving issues”.
“We are at all times at peace with Bandas and all these false alarms should be discarded”, the chief added.
The Bolewura ended by calling for a round-table dialogue to immediately avert escalation of the misunderstanding, inviting his counterparts in Banda to also commit to peace.
“I wish to further add that the issue at stake is purely a traditional and customary matter which can be amicably settled without the hands of the police or government. I also wish to state that no peace is being disturbed or threatened and that chief Muniru Adams remain the legitimate chief of Dokochina and has assumed responsibility as the traditional ruler of the community”.
The press briefing was attended by top chiefs, such as, Mankumawura, Tunawura, Mandariwu, and opinion and religious leaders in the Bole Traditional Area.
The new chief of Dokochina also spoke at the event. He said, he received massive reception when he was led into the community and cautioned the youth to eschew actions that would jeopardize peace in the area. – Eliasu Tanko