Saturday, May 5, 2007
THE MAKING OF A KING
… As Peter Nanfuri sits on Jirapa skin
On July 23, 2005, Peter Tenganabang Nanfuri, retired Inspector-General of Police, was enskinned Paramount Chief of the Jirapa Traditional Area at a private ceremony with only the kingmakers and a few traditional leaders present.
On Saturday, April 28, 2007, the new traditional head was officially presented to the world as Naa Ansoleh Ganaa II at a grand coronation ceremony that attracted a huge crowd to the Naa Yelpoe Park at Jirapa in the Upper West Region.
The 64-year-old retired police officer is the great grandson of Naa Ansoleh Ganaa I, the first chief to be appointed by the British colonial administration in the then North – Western Gold Coast.
With a detachment of the Police Band from Sunyani rendering authentic highlife music and various traditional groups from the Upper West performing, as well as an Akan group doing the adowa and kete, the coronation was a sight to behold.
Representatives from politics, business and tradition were on hand to make the occasion, chaired by Nandom Naa Pollan Chiore, grand.
At the outskirts and in town, banners announcing the crowning ceremony and the general merry-making as various cultural groups performed on approaching the venue, told the story of a great event ahead. It did not disappoint. All invited guests were seated before the new chief was ushered in with several gun salutes and women praise-singers in full voice.
When Naa Ansoleh Ganaa II took his seat resplendent in a white flowing northern dress, the function began with the traditional pouring of libation.
In Akan custom, one man performs the ceremony by pointing the glass with hard liquor to the skies before pouring the contents to the ground. The incantation as he poured the drinks is to invite the ancestors of the land to ensure a successful ceremony without mishaps.
The Jirapa episode involved four men. One held a calabash with liquid, another sat by reciting incantations, while two others by his side joined in with a chorus.
I am told in this part of Ghana, libation is poured either with pito or water.
After the pouring of libation, Naa Pollan Chiore, Nandom Naa, invited traditional leaders in the paramountcy to robe the new chief.
They clothed him in the traditional agbada and decorated him with a medal, after which dignitaries including Vice-President Aliu Mahama, who was the Guest of Honour, went in to congratulate the new chief.
Naa Chiore expressed the hope that Naa Ganaa would take measures to ensure that all vacant skins in the paramouncy were occupied.
He congratulated Naa Ganaa on his new role and hoped that he would use the same diplomacy that made him one of the most outstanding leaders of the Police Service in Ghana, to unify the people and help develop the area universally acknowledged as one of the most deprived communities in the country.
He said Naa Ganaa had started on a positive note by ensuring that five our of the eight skins in the area were occupied and prayed that good health and longer life would enable him to fill the others and lead the people towards development.
Vice-President Mahama brought greeting to the chiefs and people of the traditional area on behalf of President John Agyegum Kufour, the government and the people of Ghana.
Praising the new chief as “one of the most brilliant security officers this nation has ever produced”, Alhaji Aliu Mahama said government was responding to the various needs of the community in many ways.
For instance, pipe-borne water project for Jirapa under the first phase of the Small Town Water System has been completed at a cost of ¢5.4 billion. Piina and Ullo, both towns in the traditional area, would benefit under the second phase.
He said 199 bore-holes have been drilled and are operational at a cost of ¢12 billion, in addition to 20 KVIP, six institutional toilets, 27 three-unit classroom blocks and 12 teachers’ quarters for first-cycle schools in the district.
He announced that the Jirapa Secondary School was being upgrading to a model school while a library, a dormitory block and an assembly hall were being provided for the St. =Francis Girls Secondary School.
According to the Vice-President, a new Nurses Training College was nearing completion at Jirapa at a cost of ¢5.3 billion, while a modern theatre and an administrative block were under construction at the St. Joseph Hospital also at Jirapa.
“Government is investing in the health infrastructure here to make the people healthy and productive so as to alleviate poverty. It is therefore heart-warming to learn that the Mutual Health Insurance Scheme in this district has registered 50,000 people out of a population of 107,000 thereby giving it a coverage of 47 per cent, the best in the Upper West Region”, he said.
He talked about the construction of dams and de-silting of existing dams costing billions of cedis to the tax payer, and prayed that the new chief would rally his people to improve on their lot.
Alhaji Mahama said the fact that the law courts were packed with chieftaincy cases indicated that all was not well with the institution and invited traditional rulers throughout the country to “redeem and repair the dented image” of the institution.
The Member of Parliament for Jirapa, Edward Salia invited the people to forge ahead in unity suggesting that the time had come for the people of the north to vie for the leadership of the nation.
He praised Naa Ganaa as someone who did a lot to help improve on the lot of some of them and assured him of the people’s willingness to answer his call at all times. “We are always a call away”, he stressed and prayed that “the chief we have out-doored today will live long”.
In his inaugural speech, Naa Ganaa said his main goal was to attract investment to the area and to improve on the economic wellbeing of his people.
Consequently, he intends to help create civic awareness on how to maintain a healthy atmosphere for development. He would, in concert with elders of the society, reform traditional practices, ban indiscriminate setting of bush fires and cutting down of trees (especially the ‘dawadawa’ and shea-butter trees) and encourage the replanting of trees of economic value. Bush hunting would come under control in his domain.
The former Inspector-General of Police told the gathering that henceforth, every child of school-going age should be in the classroom, saying that a committee of headsmen would be formed to go from house to house to ensure that children were in school.
He announced the establishment of a Best School and Teacher’s Award Scheme to encourage sound teaching practices and said teachers who failed to report to the classroom would face sanctions.
Naa Ganaa said drilling of bore-holes for water for drinking and irrigation would be paramount under his reign, while sanitation rules would be enforced.
He invited the District Assembly to work with the traditional authority to achieve the Millennium Goals and Poverty Reduction Strategies in the area and help reduce migration to the south.
“We should not always wait for handouts. We should work to uplift the lives of the people”, he said cheered on by his people.
The Times Weekend - Saturday, May 5, 2007 Page: 14