Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Brong Ahafo, the nations, food basket
The creation of the region, which, was formerly part of Western Ashanti, came about after a long struggle between the British Colonial Authorities and the indigenous people and later with the Convention People’s Party (CPP) government, which finally endorsed the independence of the region on April 4, 1959.
Earlier there had been some stiff differences between the Brong and Ashanti Chiefs, which led to the formation of a political movement in 1951 called the Brong-Akyempim Federation (B.K.F.) by the Brong states of Techiman, Dormaa, New Drobo, Odumase, Abease and Suma.
These states were later joined by Bechem, Sunyani and Berekum, to demand a separate and Independent Traditional Council – the Brong Traditional Council Independent of the Asanteman Council, which until 1950, was known as the Ashanti Confederacy Council
In June 1951, the CPP government set up a committee, under the chairmanship of Nene Azu Martey Koley, the Konor of Manya Krobo to examine the differences between the Brong and Ashanti Chiefs and consider measures that would restore unity.
The committee’s report was released in March 1955 and the then Prime Minister of the Gold Coast, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, informed the Legislative Assembly of the various petitions received from the Brong-Akyempim Council, formerly known as B.K.F. seeking independence from the Asanteman Council.
The government then promised to consider those petitions, also put forth its desire to establish a development committee for the Brong Area, and to examine the case for the establishment of two administrative regions for the Ashantis.
However, the establishment of the two administrative regions for Ashanti did not materialize immediately because the then British Constitutional Advisor, Sri Fredrick Bourne, was not in favour of the proposal and had advised against it because according to him it was a comparatively small area to be considered as a region and secondly, local opinion about the subject, was not unanimous.
Eventually however, in March 1959, a Minister of Justice and Local Government, Mr. A.E.A. Ofori-Atta, introduced the Brong-Ahafo Bill in Parliament and after series of debate, the region was created on April 4, 1959.
Location and Boundaries
The region shares boundaries with the Northern Region, Ashantis and Western on the south, the Eastern and Volta on the Southeast and East respectively as well as the Republic of La Cote D’ Ivoire to west.
Brong Ahafo is considered to be the largest region of Ghana, in terms of land mass, with a territorial size of 39,557.08 square kilometers. According to the 2000 population census, the region has a population of about 1,824,827, with an average growth rate of 3.1 per cent and an economically active portion of 45 per cent representing the 15 to 65 age bracket.
Sunyani is the capital of the region, which has two municipal administrative areas and 17 Districts assemblies. The municipalities are the Sunyani and Techiman while the administrative districts comprise Asutifi, Asunafo North and South, Tano North and South, Jaman North and South, Kintampo North and South, Berekum, Dormaa, Wenchi, Tain, Pru, Atebubu/Amantin, Nkoranza and Sene.
Akan is the lingua franca; however there are two main ethnic groups namely the Brongs and Ahafos with other minority groups such as the Nafana of Sampa, Kulongo of Seikwa and Badu, the Moo/Degha, Libby of Banda as well as the Nehumuru of Atebubu and Sene.
The region can boast of over 44 paramount chiefs and five divisional councils, which constitute the Brong Ahafo Regional House of Chiefs. The people celebrate various festivals. The people of Techiman and Wenchi celebrate the Apoo, the Dormaa the Kwafi while the Wangara in Kintampo celebrate the Kurubi festival.
The region lies at the heart of Ghana within longitude 0oo 15n/E-3oo 7n W and latitude 6oo 30/N-8oo 45nN. It is noted for its absolute peace and loving kindness of the people. It is considered to be the food basket of Ghana.
Has independence undermined or developed it?
There is no gainsaying that the carving of the region out of the then Western Ashanti has tremendously and remarkably helped in the overall development of the Brong Ahafo Region.
The region can boast of a very
good road network
And as the Brong Ahafo Regional Minister, Ignatius Baffour-Awuah put it, the government of the CPP created the region to make it autonomous so as to ease administration and also to help foster the development of the area.
He said “certainly everybody wants independence and by the creation of the region, decision-making has been faster as opposed to the previous instance where there was a very large number of people to be administered by central point of authority”.
The Minister also noted that “if you reduce the size of something it makes it more manageable and now the region can comparatively boast of the very good road network owing to its independent status”.
Mr. Bafour-Awuah noted that the towns in the region had grown larger, and developed because the people recognized the need for them to contribute towards the development of their own backyard and paid glowing tributes to farmers in the region whose contributions had brought about the expansion of the towns in the region.
He observed that even though there were no big industrial establishments in the region it could still boast of a few which were doing well and offering employment to the teeming youth in the region.
He mentioned some of them as ABST, Oti Yeboah, Mim Scanstyle and Ayum Forest Product, Taysec and Nsemere quarries.
Currently, he pointed out, the establishment of the Ahafo mine project by Newmont Ghana Gold Limited was a big boost to the effective development of Brong Ahafo as an independent entity in particular and the country as a whole.
Mr. Baffour-Awuah admitted that even though there were pockets of chieftaincy disputes in the region there was no doubt that the area enjoyed absolute peace, tranquility and harmony, which were pre-requisites for effective development.
The Regional Minister urged the youth not to hesitate to venture into businesses of their own as it was necessary to take risks and be adventurous by going into business.
For his part, Nana Kwadwo Kwakey, the Deputy Brong Ahafo Regional Minister, described the creation of the region from Western Ashanti as a decentralization process, which had been very beneficial to the people.
At the moment, he said, both resident and non-resident citizens of the region showed more commitment in making decisions towards the development of the region and that there had been greater efficiency in determining priority areas for the development of the region.
A cursory look at the various municipalities and districts in the region reveals very great tourism potential in the Brong Ahafo Region.
The major attractions of the region include the Techiman Central market, which is reputed to be the biggest in Ghana, the Sacred Fishponds in the River Tano and Bono Manso Slave Market in the Techiman municipality, the Tano Boase Sacred Grove, Christo Boase Catholic Monastery and the Buoyem Bats Sanctuary also in the Techiman area.
In the Nkoranza District there is the popular monkey sanctuary known as the famous Buabeng-Fiema Monkey Sanctuary where one could come across black and white Colobus and the Mona Monkeys and the Pinihini Amovi Caves, near Fiema which according to legends some ancestors emerged from numerous holes to this earth.
The Kintampo District in the home of waterfalls and is of critical geographical importance. There are what are popularly know as the Kintampo and Fuller falls as well as the Kintampo Slave Market.
There is also the famous Kwaku Fri shrine
at Nwoase in the Wenchi District
There is also the famous Kwaku Fri shrine at Nwoase in the Wenchi District and the Busia Mausoleum where the remains of the Prime Minister of the Second Republic of Ghana, Dr. Kofi Abrefa Busia were interred.
In the Jaman and Berekum Districts there are attractions such as the Colonial Officer’s Mausoleum at Sampa, the mass graves for Black Slaves, which were captured by the forces of Samori and Babatu at Jinijini as well as the new found Nichiraa Waterfalls in the Wenchi District and the Tano Sacred Grove at Tuobodom.
A Senior Resource Officer of the Ghana Tourist Board (GTB), Mr. Joseph Appiagyei, expressed concern about the deplorable road network leading to the various tourist sites in the region and therefore called on the government, as a matter of urgency, to develop the road network.
Besides, Mr. Appiagyei appealed to the District Assemblies and the government to invest in all the eco-tourism sites so as to attract more visitors and thereby generate revenue for the assemblies and the central government.
Daily Graphic - Wednesday, March 14, 2007 Page 15,16 and 33