From Concerned Youth of Wasipe

Few months ago, one Mamprugu-enskinned (Aminu Iddi) “chief” of Lukuli made some claims regarding the ownership of Lukuli, one of the many Mamprusi-settler villages in the North Gonja District of the Savannah Region.

The essence of these claims is that, Lukuli belongs to the Mamprusi people because it has always been inhabited by Mamprusis and not Gonjas.

Depending on what informed his claims, they are to be considered laughable or mischievous. Laughable because those claims may be borne out of his ignorance and his God father Soo Naba with regards to the historical ownership of Lukuli and other surrounding villages by the Gonja people.

Mischievous because he may be aware that Lukuli and its surrounding lands belong to Gonjas, but nonetheless wants to stir up trouble in pursuit of parochial interests.

Whatever the reasons for their claims may be, they must not be taken lightly by regional and national authorities, particularly law enforcement agencies. This is because their claims and actions are a threat to peace in Lukuli and North Gonja at large.

This write-up seeks to achieve two (2) objectives.

Firstly, it is an earnest appeal to the powers that be to call the imposter (Aminu Iddi) and his God father Soo Naba threatening peace to order and to put in place measures to prevent any similar schemes in future.

Secondly, it serves to set the records straight regarding the ownership of Lukuli by the people of Gonja; a short historical lesson, if you like, to all who are interested in this matter, especially the imposters parading themselves as the Chief and owners of Lukuli.

So, let the lesson begin.

Historically, most of the lands on which Tampulmas and Mamprusis are settled, including Izesi, Mankarigu, Kpatarigu, Sakpala, Zanwara, Nanguruma, Mugu, Kukua (Kikarpe) and other communities now under Moaduri, belonged to the Gonja people.

These settler communities paid royalties to Gonjas in return for permission to settle on or use the land for economic activities.

Payment of royalties was practiced across Ghana, and this arrangement between Gonjas and settler communities was not an exception. It was in view of this that the Mankariguwura banned the Kpatarigu community from farming in Kpatarigu and its surrounding areas after the latter refused to pay royalties to the Gonja people.

Following this ban, the Kpatarigu community called on the Wun- Naaba to intervene on their behalf. The Wun- Naaba in turn approached the Nayiri for help on this matter.

In a clear acknowledgement of the fact that Kpatarigu belonged to Gonjaland, the Nayiri wrote a letter pleading with the Wasipewura to grant permission to the Kpatarigu community to continue farming on his lands. The Nayiri added in the letter that the Kpatarigu community will resume payment of the customary royalties to Gonjas, which at that time was 4 pounds annually. This correspondence still exists as we speak today.

Agitations with regards to ownership of some of these lands emerged during the erstwhile colonial administration. The then colonial administration made several unsuccessful attempts to resolve these persistent agitations, including stakeholder meetings in Daboya and Yapei, both of which yielded no results.

Eventually, it was resolved that these communities be split into two parts in order for peace to reign in the area.

This division was done in the form of a straight line, placing some of the communities on one side of the linear division and others on the right.

Having split the communities into two, the communities on either side of the line were given the opportunity to choose which land they wish to belong to; Gonjaland or Mamprugu land.

Communities such as Sagya, Bugsa, Zeipe, Mankarigu, Sakpala all the way to Sakpege 1&2 and Bombo choose to be part of Gonjaland, whereas Nanguruma, Mugu, Zanwara, Izesi, Kukua (Kikarpe) etc. chose to belong to Mamprugu land.

Indeed, the communities which were divided into two and made to choose where to belong to were very satisfied with this solution to the agitations in the area, so much so that they named it in the Mamprusi language as “Vuu mŋaya”, to wit “the noise is over.”

It must be emphasised that, it was in accordance with the “Vuu mŋaya” arrangement that Kpatarigu became a part of Mamprugu Land. By this same arrangement, Sakpala from Gonjaland and Kpatarigu from Mamprugu land border each other.

These two communities are separated by a road. Therefore, all the lands encompassing Sakpala, Mankarigu, Lukuli, Sakpege Number 1, Sakpege Number 2, Mempeasem through to Bombo are part of Gonjaland.

Thanks to the “Vuu mŋaya” arrangement, the area has enjoyed peace for a relatively long time.

However, recent agitations have threatened and are still threatening this hard-earned peace. It all started when new Mamprusi settlers from Mamprugu land relocated to Sungbon (now called Mempeasem).

These newcomers opted to settle on the left-hand side of the road that divides the then Sungbon, with the indigenes (original settlers) remaining on the right-hand side of the road.

The new Mamprusi settlers named their side of the community Mempeasem (this name, Mempeasem, would over time phase out the original name for the community – Sungbon) since, according to them, they did not want any trouble.

However, they failed to walk the talk and their actions would prove otherwise because, led by a man called Azindo, they declared that their part of Sungbon belonged to Mamprugu land and not Gonjaland.

This mischief by the Mempeasem settlers continued unabated for a long time without any intervention by Gonjas.

Infrastructure, including schools and a clinic built by then West Gonja District Assembly in Mempeasem were destroyed by these settlers simply because they did not want to have anything to do with Gonjas. The people of Lukuli, having seen their counterparts in Mempeasem get away with their actions without any consequences, were emboldened.

They therefore decided to follow the latter’s footsteps. Only, they took it a step further, visiting unrest upon the area and threatening to corrupt surrounding communities.

Eventually, Gonjas thought enough was enough do, a delegation consisting of the late Kusawguwura Kunkarga, late Damongowura Lemu, Koŋiwura, Yagbonwura’s linguist, Alhaji Afuli, and other eminent Chiefs from Wasipe Traditional Area of Gonja were sent to Nayiri. The delegation was received by the Nayiri and many of his sub-chiefs at his palace.

Yagbonwura’s message to the Nayiri was simple: “the Mamprusi settlers in Gonjaland came to Gonjaland in pursuit of fertile lands for farming. Hence, they have been and are still permitted to farm without any interference on the part of Gonjas. However, those, who, contrary to their reason for relocating to Gonjaland, want to forment trouble and disturb the peace in Gonjaland can simply move elsewhere so that peace will reign in Gonjaland for, he, Yagbonwura, wants peace in Gonjaland.”

After delivering Yagbonwura’s message, Soo Naba, who was also present at the meeting replied them. According to him, the settlers in Lukuli are his people, and he cannot sit unconcerned while they suffer. Therefore, he intended enskinning a Chief for the people of Lukuli, who will come and settle in that community.

If this submission came as a surprise to the delegation, then what Nayiri said shocked them even more. The Nayiri, from whom the delegation expected an amicable solution to the precarious situation, instead said he was disappointed in Yagbonwura and his position on the matter, after all, Yagbonwura’s lands are his too.

Having heard this from Nayiri himself, the delegation left without further ado.

True to his words, Soo Naba went ahead to enskin a Chief for Lukuli shortly after he disclosed his intentions at the Nayiri’s Palace. The supposed Chief visited Lukuli and returned to Jang with the intention of preparing for his settlement in Lukuli.

Unfortunately, the said newly enskinned Chief died before he could return to Lukuli. This did not deter Soo Naba from enskinning a second Chief. Indeed, it is the second chief’s claims and actions that have attracted this write-up.

After his enskinment, the second so-called Lukuli Chief, just like the one who died, visited Lukuli and returned to Jang to prepare for his permanent stay in Lukuli. As the the fire festival approached, word reached the people of Daboya that the supposed new Chief of Lukuli was en route to Lukuli to celebrate the fire festival in his capacity as the traditional leader of Lukuli and its lands.

To avoid trouble, the people of Daboya reported the situation to the Savannah Regional Minister, who convened a Regional Security Council (REGSEC) meeting to look into the matter. REGSEC banned celebrations of any kind of the fire festival in Lukuli, Sakpege number 1 and number 2, as well as in Mempeasem.

The directive was clear; neither Gonjas, nor the Mamprusis or any other persons for that matter, were to celebrate the fire festival. According to the North Gonja District Assembly, 30 military men and 25 police officers were deployed to ensure that the ban was enforced. In compliance with the ban, people from Daboya, who had intended to go to Lukuli, restrained themselves.

However, in gross defiance of the ban, the so-called Chief of Lukuli and some of his people came out and celebrated the festival until around 3:00am the following day. This was after the peace officers had withdrawn to Mankarigu to sleep at around 10:00pm on the day of the fire festival.

The next day, following the violation of the Savannah Region REGSEC ban by the Mamprugu-eskinned “Chief” of Lukuli, the police returned to the said community.

Surprisingly, however, the Commander of the Police team deployed to Lukuli was spotted having a friendly chat with the “Chief”, who spearheaded the violation of the ban.

The Commander reportedly also received some calls, ostensibly from the Nayiri’s Palace or the office of the Vice President, through which he was given directives.

To our dismay, the “Chief” instead of being arrested, was advised to return to Jang. He left Lukuli as advised but returned about a week later, and summoned the people of Lukuli and Fulani settlers to pay royalties for him to buy amunitions according to reports. He remains a free man as we speak.

Events in and around Lukuli on and after the day of the fire festival have understandably raised suspicions that some powerful people in government may be behind or in support of these persistent provocations from the “Mamprugu enskinned chief” of Lukuli.

An imposter brazenly violates a whole REGSEC Ban right under the watch of 30 military men and 25 policemen, and following alleged instructions from Nayiri or Office of the Vice- President of Ghana to the police, receives a friendly pat on the back and still walks free today instead of being placed under arrest.

Why won’t we be suspicious? What would have happened if someone else, say the people of Daboya, had violated the ban? Could it be that the so-called Chief thinks he and the few people supporting him in that area are more powerful than the Savannah Regional Security Council?

Well, as a popular adage in Gonja suggests, when a blind man threatens to hit you with a stone, he might just have the stone already under his foot. This brings to mind a reported confiscation of about 40 AK 47 raffles that were found under a booth on a Yuntong bus which was heading from Accra to Walewale in May, 2019. Where are the weapons now? Are they still in the custody of the police, and if so, the people of Wasipe Traditonal Area are challenging the Ghana police service and the Vice-President President who is the Chairman of the Police Council to come out and prove to all Ghanaians beyond any shadow of doubt that they are still in their possession of those weapons and the current state of the case about the persons that were arrested.

Amidst these disturbances, the primary argument the so-called Lukuli Chief (Aminu Iddi) and his supporters have advanced is that their villages have been and still are predominantly Mamprusi communities, hence the lands occupied by these communities cannot be said to be part of Gonjaland.

Gonjas and the Wasipe Traditional Area in particular, on the other hand, are not against the fact that they are Mamprusis and see themselves as such. They are free to be whoever they want, that is their fundamental human right. However, the lands they occupy have belonged and still belong to Gonjas. They can therefore not forcefully appropriate these lands just because they feel they are not Gonjas.

Human beings are mobile creatures, whereas land is immobile. Anyone who feels they must live under Mamprusis are therefore free to relocate to lands that belong to Mamprusis, which, thankfully, are less than a kilometer away from Gonjaland (in the Sakpala area).

It must be reiterated that, Chiefs of Lukuli and the other communities of that area have always been Gonjas (enskinned by the Overlord of the area, the Wasipewura). The following is an inexhaustible list of chiefs of Lukuli (Lukuliwuras) arranged in no particular order with the corresponding Wasipewuras that enskinned them:

  1. Lukuli-wura Bakari, enskinned by Wasipewura Chinchako Mbemah.
  2. Lukuli-wura Sulemana, enskinned by Wasipewura Mahama Asafo.
  3. Lukuli-wura Mahama, enskinned by Wasipewura Mahama Asafo.
  4. Lukuli-wura Sumani alias Ceasar, enskinned by Wasipewura Takora Gbeadese.
  5. Lukuli-wura Mahama Haruna (current Lukuli-wura), enskinned by Wasipewura Mumuni Anyame kabasagya .

Conversely, at no point has there ever been a “Mamprugu- enskinned” Chief of Lukuli.

We challenge anyone who claims otherwise to produce proof to their claims.

The good people of Sakpala reminded the SoonNaba this historical fact when he sent word to them about his intentions to enskin a chief for them. This failed attempt to enskin a Mamprugu chief in Sakpala is very instructive for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, alongside the other facts mentioned above, the admission of the Sakpala people that there has never been a Mamprugu chief in that community further evidences that Lukuli is part of Gonjaland. Lukuli is not even on the border between Gonja and Mamprugu land. One has to pass a host of villages, including Mankarigu, to reach Lukuli. If Sakpala, a border community to Mamprugu, belongs to Gonjas, how can Lukuli which is located inland from the shared borders between Gonjaland and Mamprugu land belong to Mamprusis?

Secondly, what we are witnessing is a broad day light land grab attempt. It is tantamount to beating war drums and must be a cause for concern to all well-meaning Ghanaians.

Gonjas are a peace-loving people. They have been remarkably calm amidst these incessant provocations. They are by no means pushovers, however, and their current silence will transform into an explosion that cannot be contained if they are pushed beyond their limit.

Lastly, with the prevailing examples of commendable developmental strides Chieftaincy is making in some societies and Kingdoms in Ghana and other parts of African, a chief from a poor traditional area such as Jang must be busy learning on how to be an agent of development and not a beater of war drums. Whiles we are equally caught up in the potentially deadly war against COVID-19, poor road network and poverty, we cannot allow backward elements such as Aminu Iddi, the self acclaimed Chief of lukuli and Soo Naba to divide our ranks and render our front vulnerable to mass tribal attacks between Gonjas and Mamprusis.

We are herefore, by this write-up, urging the Overload of Gonja Traditional Council, Yagbonwura Tumtumba Boresa (II), the Overload of Mamprugu Traditional Council, Nayiri Naa Bohagu Mahami Abdulai, H.E the President, the Vice-President, the National Peace Council, the National Security Minister, the National Security Coordinator, the Regional Ministers for Savannah and North East, Members of Parliament (MP’s) for Daboya-Mankarigu and Yagba- Kubori Constitutuencies, District Chief Executives for North Gonja and Yagba-Moaduri and the Gonjaland Youth Association, to as a matter of urgency call Soo Naaba and those behind these provocations to order.

Authorities are further advised to put in place measures to prevent such unfortunate illegal actions in future. Anything short of this will compel the People of Wasipe (Daboya) and Gonjas in general to resist these land grab attempts by any means possible as the people of Wasipe (Daboya) being warriors by nature and training have in past acted with maturity and responsibility by not playing along with the alarmist, empty and war mongering voice of Soo Naaba Nantogmah Seidu without any fear and we will.

6th December, 2021