Ethnicity and the Making of History in Northern Ghana

By Carola Lentz | Go to book overview

8
‘THE TIME WHEN POLITICS CAME’:
PARTY POLITICS AND LOCAL CONFLICT

In January 1955 Prime Minister Kwame Nkrumah visited Lawra District. The welcome organised by the British Government Agent was to be the last opportunity for many years to come that Confederacy chiefs would meet peacefully. A delegation of elders sent by the Lawra Naa whose son was serving the oppositional NPP in Parliament presented its concerns that Lawra District CPP activists could ‘give the Prime Minister a vociferous welcome as Life Chairman of the Party’. Yet the CPP district executive kept its promise ‘that they would do nothing to detract from the dignity of the Prime Minister’s visit’ so that the ‘meeting between the Prime Minister and the Lawra-Na went off well.’1

Shortly after this visit, however, the already problematic relations between the Nandom Naa and the Lambussie Kuoro, as well as those between the Nandom Naa and the Lawra Naa, grew increasingly tense. Not only did old conflicts over territorial boundaries and the entitlement to tax revenues resurface, but an attempt was also made to oust the Nandom Naa – which in turn intensified Nandom’s desire to secede from the Lawra Confederacy. The fronts between divisional chiefs hardened so that the Regional Secretary in Tamale advised his successor to get used to the idea of the dissolution of the Lawra Confederacy, which had from the outset been an ‘artificial creation’ anyway.2 In fact, the Lawra Confederacy State Council was dissolved in 1960 and split into four independent local councils in 1962 – Lawra, Jirapa, Nandom and Lambussie. Lawra Naa J. A. Karbo could but respond with resignation: ‘The Lawra Confederacy days are gone and gone forever’.3

This time of conflict during the 1950s and early 1960s is locally remembered as ‘the time when politics came’, ‘politics’ referring here to party politics. While the inhabitants of Lawra District did not view Ghana’s independence to be a decisive historical break, ‘the time when politics came’ marked a profound shift, in which all the long-standing local political rifts discussed in previous chapters became charged with party politics. The instrumentalisation was mutual: parties – particularly the CPP – took advantage of local political tensions to gain a foothold, while local litigants looked to party friends in the regional and national arena for support in

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Ethnicity and the Making of History in Northern Ghana
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Maps and Plates vi
  • Preface vii
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - The North-West in the Nineteenth Century 14
  • 2 - The Introduction of Chieftaincy 33
  • 3 - The Discursive Creation of Ethnicity 72
  • 4 - The Lawra Confederacy Native Authority 104
  • 5 - Labour Migration, Home-Ties and Ethnicity 138
  • 6 - ‘Light over the Volta’- The Mission of the White Fathers 153
  • 7 - Decolonisation and Local Government Reform 175
  • 8 - ‘The Time When Politics Came’- Party Politics and Local Conflict 199
  • 9 - Ethnic Movements and Special-Interest Politics 228
  • 10 - The Cultural Work of Ethnicity 252
  • Epilogue 275
  • Notes 280
  • Abbreviations 322
  • Glossary 323
  • Divisional (Paramount) Chiefs of Lawra District 324
  • References 325
  • Index 337
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