Chiefs in Post-Colonial Ghana: Exploring different elements of the identity, inequalities and conflicts nexus in the Northern Region

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By the mid-1990s Ghanaian ethnic groups were (re)discovering chieftaincy on a wide front and looking to traditional ‘chiefly’ structures as part of a move towards more extensive political indulgence. In this paper, the author examines the discussion of traditional authority in anthropological literature, examines the emerging political discourse on ‘chiefs’ within Ghana, and comments on its contemporary political significance. The author looks at the following: Konkombas, described here as “Bigmen” and traditional chiefs in post-colonial society, and contestable issues of land, marriages, extortions in traditional judicial courts, and ‘taxation’; as they impact the co-existence of the ethnic groups in the Northern Region of Ghana. It remains to be seen whether the clamour for traditional leadership by so-called ‘stateless’ groups, represents a permanent change in the nature of Ghana’s political system, or whether it is primarily philosophical and semantic in nature.
Chiefs, Ghana