Tuobodom Chieftaincy Conflict in Ghana: A Review and Analysis of Media Reports

Article excerpt

Foreword

The inspiration for this paper came out of an effort to use interactive methods to teach an undergraduate course in conflict and conflict resolution at the tertiary level. In a technologically under-resourced environment in which the traditional lecture holds sway, I wanted to tailor a course that would give students the conflict analysis and management skills they needed in a relaxed classroom environment. I wanted to be able to engage their interest, and also motivate them to work. I had a class of 28 students, a class size that was well suited to facilitate interactive learning. From the onset, we rearranged the seats in the lecture room to form a circle. With that action, I established my role as a facilitator of learning and not as a lecturer who knows everything. Discussions formed the basis of lectures, and group work and presentations became regular features.

In the course of the semester an opportunity to examine a conflict presented itself. A conflict situation involving traditional leaders in the Brong Ahafo and Ashanti regions escalated and received wide media coverage, and I guided the students in an attempt to conduct an analysis of the conflict as it was reported in the media, from March 5 to April 5, 2010; utilizing the conflict analysis methods and theories we had discussed in class. They worked in small groups to execute the task which turned out to be a success. The students' enthusiasm and commitment encouraged me to suggest the idea that the entire class should develop the analysis further into an academic article. After lengthy discussions on the benefits and challenges of the task, the class decided to accept the offer. The students recognized that an added benefit would be the enhancement of their writing and research skills and negotiated for the article to be considered as an aspect of their final examination. The class discussed the format of the article and worked in small groups on the different sections of the article. The entire group willingly met several times outside official lecture hours to discuss the work, sacrificing many Saturday mornings, thus, the paper that follows is the result of our collaborative effort.

This article offers a platform for the students to demonstrate the knowledge and skills acquired in the discipline of conflict and conflict management. Through the use of theories and methods of analysis discussed in class, this paper aims at analyzing the conflict as reported in the Ghanaian media which begins by giving a short outline of the Tuobodom conflict. Then we attempt to identify the stakeholders in the conflict. Next, we attempt to locate our analysis in a theoretical context by showing how the frustration-aggression and structural conflict theories can be employed in explaining this specific conflict. We then showcase our knowledge of conflict analysis methods by our use of the Onion/Doughnut Method and Attitude, Behaviour and Context (ABC) methodologies, and finally we discuss our findings.

The Chieftaincy Institution in Ghana

Long before the advent of colonialism, Ghanaians had their own systems of political administration. These can be grouped into two broad categories--the centralized and the acephalous (non-centralised) systems. Whereas the centralized system constitutes "the concentration of political power in the hands of a single ruler (a centralized authority) with an administrative machinery or a bureaucracy" (Abotchie 2006: 171), the acephalous communities are stateless societies. They are otherwise called egalitarian or non-stratified societies. Societies like the Konkomba, the Bimoba, the Basaari, the Chamba, the Zantasi, the Talensi, and the Lo-Dagaaba, all in Ghana, are acephalous. As a centralized form of administration, the chieftaincy institution has been the embodiment of political power in pre-colonial, colonial and post colonial times. Notable among the ethnic groups that practice this system are the Akan (the largest ethnic group in Ghana, hence some of the Akan groups include: Asante, Bono, Akyem, Agona, Akuapem, Adansi, Fante, Nzema and the Kwawu), the Ga, the Adangme, the Ewe and many dynastic kingdoms of northern Ghana, especially, the Gonja, the Dagomba (Dagbon), Mamprusi and Wala (Nukunya: 2003). …