Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Greater Accra’s Oldest Chief
- NENE NARTEH KANOR II
By: ALFRED T. LARNYOH
At the ripe age of 95, few people will accord him the ability to remember, read and conjecture events, but all these are defied by Nene Narteh Kanor II, Chief of Kpone-Bawaleshie and the longest reigning Chief in the Greater Accra Region. And more of these are still in him even at this age.
“I am certainly not going to live to see the next 50 years whose name might even be changed”! So I have to give back to society what it had given me.
Born on July 14, 1912, at Abuabipom near Dodowa, young Narteh, later called Kubutse-Narteh, took to his father’s calling as a farmer after schooling at Osu Salem up to middle school form three (Standard Three).
He was so adept in the lands around him and the entire area that after a long hunting and faming activity, he was unanimously selected to succeed his late uncle Nene Nartey Otu I, as Chief of Kpone-Bawaleshie.
I called at his humble palace after 51 years on the throne and in the spirit of the Jubilee, asked him to offer a message for a more peaceful co-existence among the people of his area.
He revealed that he had been a farmer and hunter all his life, specializing in cash crops, maize, yam and vegetables.
“My major pastime is to watch animals, ants and reptiles and I have learnt a lot from their behaviours – mainly tolerance”.
He believes that law courts never settle disputes especially chieftaincy disputes.
“Very few people have the time to delve into the genesis of disputes but ready to pass judgement on disputes”.
Why this is so is that there are no documents that contestants can refer to, in time of need, he referred.
“Then again, the trend which gives more rise to tension is that bribery has taken the better part of chieftaincy succession. So much so that the installation of a new chief is “harvest” time for the kingmakers who are themselves divided over the right person to occupy the stool, depending on the lenses of the kingmakers”.
So Nene Kanor II affirms that until the canker of monetary considerations is removed from the sidelines, some unqualified persons could be occupying some stools.
“Unfortunately, some political parties meddle in chieftaincy affairs and this compounds the matter – hence the number of chieftaincy disputes in the Greater Accra Area and elsewhere”.
He traced the handling of chieftaincy disputes from the houses of chiefs and observed that the major roles of the houses of chiefs to keep the peace and help development go on have been relegated to the background and other ancillary parts raised to the forefront.
“We used to have the (JPC) which embraced Chiefs from the Eastern, Volta, Western and Central Regions but later the Eastern Region was carved up of the Greater Accra Region and now we have the Greater Accra Regional House of Chiefs to settle disputes and develop the area”.
The days when opinions of the elderly,
… had long been eroded
“Disrespect for the views of the elderly had led to the situation where co-operation has gone to the dogs such that disputes are settled on how much contestants have paid to kingmakers”, he bemoaned.
Nene Kanor believes that “the days when opinions of the elderly, as far as customs, history and traditions were concerned, had long been eroded with pecuniary superiority taking the lead. This alone more than anything else has been the main factor in making settlement of disputes on chieftaincy matters more difficult to manage”, he asserted.
More especially, he recounts that the sort of political party in power has a great impact on chieftaincy affairs of particular areas of the country.
On the Ghana@50 celebrations, he cautioned that nobody should try any negative moves to disturb the celebrations, because “It is for all of us especially as few people will live to see the nest 50 years”.
He stated that he would best be remembered when observers of civil society and chiefdom analysed his beliefs and aspirations, “especially the sort of stress I tried to remove in the ‘distortions’ of my area”.
The people of Kpone-Bawaleshie occupied the present area through victories in wars (annexations) and mainly outright purchases of the lands from their Akuapim neighbours.
Documents (credible) are available to show how the lands were purchased during World Wars I & II.
Nene Kanor finally wished the Ga-Dangmes would refrain from chieftaincy disputes by respecting “lineage” procedures and completely abstain from using money to “buy” stools.
“Happy Jubilee to everybody”, he offered joyously.
Daily Graphic - Wednesday, March 21, 2007. Pages: 15 and 33