Ga Mantse office situated in Ga Mashie in the heart of the capital, Accra is no stranger to internecine conflict with regard to ascension to the throne. But recent double installations and attacks against factions supporting various candidates to the office of Ga Mantse has been quite shameful. It looks as if the Ga people have no serious customary, traditional and cultural codes in picking a rightful heir to occupy the high office of Ga Mantse.
Just last week Dr Kelvin Tackie, was installed as the new and fifth Ga Mantse with the titled Nii Tackie Teiko Tsuru II, since the death of Boni Nii Amugi II in December 2004.
Nii Teiko Tsuru II`s installation went on despite the fact that one Mr. George Tackie Abia had been installed as Ga Mantse Boni Tackie Adama Latse II since 11 June 2011. Thus, the attempt by the Ga factions of king-makers close to Nii Adama Latse II led by the Dzasetse of the Ga Paramount Stool, Nii Yaote Oto Ga II to pooh pooh the installation of Nii Teiko Tsuru II as the genuine Ga Mantse at a press conference was nearly turned to blood-bath between Adama Latse and Teiko Tsuru supporters had it not been the timely intervention of the police.
Politicization of the Ga Mantse stool
The near blood bath incident at Ga Mashie did not come as surprise to many observers of Ga Mashie`s protracted kingship conflict. The trouble spots are the Ga Mantse and Gbese Mantse stool positions which has been for the past 13 years been linked with political terms of the two major political parties, New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC). Factions in the Ga traditional chieftaincy in Ga Mashie and Gbese who have interest in the kingship of these two stools have linked themselves with political parties.
Following the death of Boni Nii Amugi II in December 2004, a 30-year protracted dispute between the two royal families of Ga Mashie, Amugi We and Teiko We, was finally resolved at a ceremony held at Modza We, Ga Mashie in 2004. The venerable and wise sage of the most powerful and senior Ga deity, Nai Wulomo Nuumo Tetteh initiated the reconciliation of the two families to pave the way for the selection and installation of a new Ga Mantse.
Luckily, both Nii Okai Mensah III and Nii Akropong, heads of Amugi We and TeikoTsuru accepted NuumoTetteh`s peaceful arbitration and they made vows on behalf of their gates to abide by the tenets of the reconciliation. Subsequently, Nii Tetteh Ashong IV, head of the Ga Stool (SeiTse) also made a call for the withdrawal of all chieftaincy cases pending before the courts for amicable settlement by the Ga Traditional Council.
Dr Jo Blankson`s installation under Kufuor-led NPP administration and George Tackie Abia`s protest and usurpation
The resolution of the conflict brought peace in Ga Mashie polity. Dr Jo Blankson was selected and installed as the Ga Mantse, King Tackie Tawiah III under heavy security under the administration of President John Agyekum Kufuor`s led-NPP administration. King Tackie Tawiah III was never recognised by Ga Mashie factions led by Dzasetse Nii Oto Ga II and his then heir-candidate, George Tackie Abia. King Tawiah III was accused of being an impostor who had used the powers-that-be to ascend the Ga Mantse stool, because his royal ancestry to the Ga Mantse stool was matrilineal, and therefore, in contravention of existing Ga kingship ascension tradition which is based on patrilineal system. Opposition NDC press, especially Radio Gold, at the time was heavily used as propaganda conveyor-belt to attack King Tackie Tawiah III and the ruling NPP which was accused of shielding him.
Stanley Nii Adjiri-Blankson, who had blood relation with Jo Blankson and the then Mayor of Accra, Shiekh Ibrahim Cudjoe Quaye, the then Greater Accra Regional Minister and other high ranking members of the NPP with Ga connections were accused of supporting illegal installation of King Tackie Tawiah III.
Taking the law into their own hand, Dzasetse Oto-Ga II and his faction went ahead to secretly install Tackie Abia as the new Ga Mantse, Boni Tackie Adama Latse II. Thus, under ex-president Kufuor`s administration there were two Ga Mantsemɛi (kings) who ruled over Accra. This aberration of Ga polity having two Mantsemɛi went on because Kufuor`s government decided not to intervene in the case but to allow the recognized constitutional body, the National House of Chiefs (NHC) to handle the case. This non-interference by Kufuor`s administration, though it was a right decision, but it gave oxygen to Adama Latse`s faction to usurp the power of Mantse Tackie Tawiah who had been accepted by the Greater Accra Regional House Chiefs, even though he was not gazetted.
Mills-led NDC administration, Tackie Tawiah`s fall and Adama Latse`s superiority
As a result when the NDC`s late Professor John Evans Fiifi Atta Panyin Mills won the 2008 elections against the NPP, Adama Latse II and his factions who had tucked their apron strings to the NDC party were emboldened. They assembled a group of “thugs” and “bandits” wielding offensive weapons such as AK 47 assault rifles, machetes and cudgels to forcefully enter the stool house of the Ga Mantse to sack him from the premises in the situation akin to palace coup d`tat.
King Tackie Tawiah`s attempt on 6 July 2011 to get the Accra Fast Track High Court through his lawyer, Nii Ayikoi Otoo to get Adama Latse II and his supporters such as Yaya Addy, Emmanuel Tackie-Yaotey a.k.a. Nii Yaotey Oto-Ga, Nii Amarkai, Asere Dzasetse, Thomas Okai, Gbese Mantse, Nuumo Ogboamey and David Tackie Commey to be restrained and penalized could not help, as the security agencies refused to take action.
This situation caused the then President of the NHC, Wulugu Naba Pugansoa Naa Professor John S. Nabila to intimate that Ga Traditional Area had been given a bad image to the chieftaincy institution in the country. In his words: “What is going on in Accra is highly unacceptable, since this is the seat of government, with all the foreign missions,” he stressed, “We are fortunate that what is happening in the Ga Traditional Area does not directly affect other areas such as La, Tema, Osu, Nungua, James Town, Teshie and Ngleshie and we call on chiefs in those areas to join forces in helping to find a lasting solution to the crisis.”
Unfortunately, Prof Nabila`s advice fell on deaf ears. Personal interests, greed and political affiliations hold sway. Adama Latse continued to parade around as legitimate Ga Mantse with the support of Thomas Okai (former Hearts of Oak football team Chairman) who had also used similar coup d` tat modus operandi to topple his opponent, Nii Okaidja III of Gbese to emerge as rival Gbese Mantse with stool name, Nii Ayibonte.
Thus, the duo, Adama Latse and Ayibonte ably supported by the state security apparatus reigned as legitimate Mantsemɛi of Ga state and Gbeseakutso (quarter) during the Mills era and first years of John Mahama`s administration without challenge, and successfully caused their rivals to flee town to their hibernation in England. It was in London that Ga Mantse Tackie Tawiah III died and was buried there, because Adama Latse and his buddy, Ayibonte were keen on averting any attempt to give him kingship burial in Ga State. King Tackie Adama Latse II exploited his political advantages with the NDC to get the National House to accept him into office as the Ga Mantse and registered his name in the National House of Chiefs as Ga Mantse on 24 April 2015.
John Mahama`s era and Adama Latse`s face-to-face with two new oppositions
Just as Adama Latse II was having unchallenged epiphany as the Ga Mantse, two more royals, Nii Ayitey Canada (who died last year) and Nii Tackie Obli II, the current claimant, emerged on the scene. The two were selected by their ruling houses and installed as Ga Mantsemɛito challenge his legitimacy. Fortunately for Adama Latse II, his friend Gbese Mantse Ayibonte had serious connection with John Mahama`s government than the Prof. Mills.
Ayibonte used the security apparatus of the NDC regime to push the two claimants to the periphery to ensure Adama Latse`s kingship legitimacy in the Ga polity. To further consolidate their political legitimacy in Accra, Ayibonte openly engaged in partisan politics and made serious political statements in support of John Mahama`s candidature. Indeed, in one occasion he openly told Gamɛi and the entire world that if the then candidate Akufo Addo wins the elections he will abdicate his Gbese stool.
Whilst Adama Latse and his henchman, Ayibonte were freely enjoying the political thrills and security support offered to them by the state, a new powerful claimant to the Ga Mantse stool, Dr Kelvin Tackie emerged. He was quickly installed as Ga Mantse Nii Tackie Teiko Tsuru II. His education and the peaceful installation generated serious debate in the media as his presence, minus the death of Nii Ayitey Canada still made Ga Mantse stool as the only traditional area in Ghana with three rival chiefs all claiming legitimacy.
Unfortunately for Adama Latse II, the NDC administration which could have used their security apparatus to cower down Nii Teiko Tsuru II were very busy fighting the electoral battle of their lives against the then opposition NPP.
Akufo Addo-led NPP, Nii Teiko Tsuru`s ceremonial installation, Adama Latse`s wailings and the future of Ga state
The current ceremonial installation of Nii Teiko Tsuru II as the authentic and legitimate Ga Mantse under Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo-led NPP government is a serious blow to the Adama Latse factions in the Ga Mantse tussle.
For Adama Latse, his only power base was to ensure his legitimacy as a president of Ga Traditional Council, and induction into the National House of Chiefs. This is because his backbone, Nii Ayibonte, Gbese Mantse has lost serious political clout. Ayibonte himself is in serious quandary and probably very scared of what the supporters of Nii Okaidja III whom he staged coup d`tat to chase away from town will also do to him.
Available information from the grapevine suggests that Nii Okaidja II has touched down from his base in England and possible take-over of Gbese stool from Ayibonte is likely to take place. No one in Ghana is walking on an eggshell and worried of losing his manhood to what he crave most in life than Nii Ayibonte. His nemesis has also found him, he has probably seen the writings of the laws of karma on the wall, and is either preparing to fight any attempted take-over of his stool with his last NDC remnants of bandits and thugs or appeal to the public sympathy.
This situation that Nii Ayibonte finds himself weakens Adama Latse`s position as the Ga Mantse from a powerful claimant to one of an inconsequential Ga Mantse rivals. He is now as weak as his rival Nii Tackie Oblie. This reflected in how the supporters of King Teiko Tsuru attacked the press conference organized by supporters of King Adama Latse, led by Nii Oto Ga II leading to serious rampage until King Teiko Tsuru emerged to calm tempers. This shows that there is a new boss in town and that is Nii Teiko Tsuru II.
Another incident which has also weakened Adama Latse`s position further was the recent decision by the acting President of the Ga Traditional Council and the Otublohum Mantse, Nii Dodoo Nsaki II, asking the Greater Accra Regional House of Chiefs to reverse the induction of Nii Adama Latse as the Ga Mantse into its fold. Nii Nsarki had contended that “the legitimacy of Nii Latse Adama as Ga Mantse is still a subject pending before the court, and so his induction into the Greater Accra Regional House of Chiefs is null and void.” This is complete technical knock out to Adama Latse and his factions.
It is therefore no surprise that Adama Latse`s supporters led by Nii Oto Ga, who had previously benefited immensely from the powerful people in the NDC, is now attributing the chieftaincy crisis in the Ga State to political interference by some persons in government. What is even laughable is his holier-than-thou statement that: “The Ga Stool knows no political colour and we would want that position to be respected by the NPP government and its operatives. We want the NPP government to respect the Ga Stool, the Ga State and the Ga people…It appears that the NPP government at any time it assumes power interferes with the installation of the Ga Mantse and determines who should be the Ga Mantse.”
As usual, and in line with his propagandist show during Kufuor`s era where he was ably supported by the Radio Gold when he maligned Adjiri Blankson, he (Nii Yaote Oto Ga) is back with accusation that the Greater Accra Regional Minister, Mr. Ishmael Ashitey, Nii Adjiri-Blankson, a member of the Council of State, and Mr. Lord Commey, the Director of Operations at the Flagstaff House, as those who had hands in the installation of Dr Kelvin Tackie as the new Ga Mantse.
In as much as one may condemn these state officials in meddling in Ga affairs if the accusations were true, Nii Oto Ga has no moral and customary right to criticize anyone. He was the first person who utilized NDC government to install his favourite, at that time equity was not his friend and surely political interference was good for him. As a Chinua Achebe stated, a man who brought ant-infested faggots to the house must not complain if lizards start to visit him.
Oto Ga fighting on Adama Latse`s corner insists, “We are law-abiding. We are not lawless. We believe in the operation of the rule of law. We fought Dr Jo Blankson and succeeded. We will fight Dr Kelvin Tackie and his collaborators and we will succeed.” What he forget was that their new opponent, Dr Tackie is making his claim with his patrilineal side and unlike, Jo Blankson, he is making his claim under different NPP regime. Factions must move to the court to seek redress to ascertain the rightful Ga Mantse in Accra. Politicians must stay away from Ga Mantse brouhaha but must also not allow factions to use their thugs and bandits to attack others like what the NDC government allowed both Adama Latse and his friend, Ayibonte to perpetrate against their rivals.
I also endorse the move by the Member of Parliament for the Odododiodio Constituency, Nii Lante Vanderpiuye to use the Accra parliamentary Caucus to seek for peace in the area.