The resiliency, legitimacy and relevance of Ghanaian traditional institutions in the socio-cultural, economic and political lives of Ghanaians are undisputable. As governments and the people seek to build democratic institutions, traditional rulers are advocating the need to recognize them as forces to reckon with, especially in the development of the nation. However in modern times, the rampant increase in cases related to land disputes, chieftaincy disputes and other forms of litigation have become the concern of many Ghanaians. Research reveals that traditional institutions have not kept pace with other political and social transformations.
This has often created a perspective of traditional institutions being old fashioned and have been under constant pressure to change. Historically traditional leaders have played and continue to play significant and diverse roles in our societies. Traditional leaders had combined the roles of the executive, legislature, judiciary and the military. More importantly, chiefs in the past led their people to war to defend, protect and extend territories. In contemporary times however, the nature of warfare for the chiefs has changed. Wars are no longer fought against external aggressors but against poverty and hunger, diseases, squalor, illiteracy, crime, injustice, environmental degradation, depletion of resources, greed, ignorance and disputes over lands, property, and kingship.
With this kind of paradigm shift in the functions of traditional leaders and chiefs, it has become absolutely necessary to provide the traditional leaders with training for good governance. This is particularly relevant in situations, where the functions and duties of elected representatives and traditional leaders are not harmonized. Conflicts and overlap of their activities and initiatives have become extremely detrimental to the development of national and local communities. Court rooms are filled with cases of chieftaincy disputes and conflicts in relation to land and property issues in the country. The use of land guards and other unacceptable individual means are now employed as measures to safeguard lands. All these issues stem from poor collaboration among traditional leaders, political activists and land sector agencies.
The ineffectiveness of the leadership at the helm of affairs in the traditional areas coupled with poor record keeping and documentation management has resulted in several negative repercussions that have bedeviled the development of communities. Pressures of political leaders and societal demands reflect the need for establishment of structures and systems for good governance in traditional areas. However, for seamless governance to materialize there is the need to train traditional leaders in their effective roles as leaders in this country.
For instance in August 2010, the research project by the University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA), in collaboration with KNUST and UNICAL on “Enhancing the Management of Natural Resources through the Empowerment of Traditional Leaders in the Oil and Gas Regions of Ghana towards Poverty Reduction” drew the attention to the fact that, most of the traditional leaders charged with the responsibility of managing land had little or no knowledge about land administration in general and records and documentation keeping in particular.
The provision of training in traditional leadership issues, land administration, conflict management, negotiation skills, records and documentation management is therefore imperative and will prepare these leaders to handle the plethora of millennium challenges facing their communities. For such training to be effective there is the need for regular and continuous training to better equip and address these varied issues.
The establishment of a traditional leadership centre at UPSA is therefore timely. This would provide the platform for an institutionalized training programme to be made available for traditional leaders that will enhance their capacity to lead and manage their resources effectively and sustainably. In this regard, the Otumfuo Centre for Traditional Leadership in UPSA will be launched with the theme, “traditional leadership and seamless governance”.
Among the objectives of the Centre will be empowering the traditional leaders to bring about constructive change necessary for development in their various communities. The modules to be discussed during the training include the following thematic areas of concern:
- Land Administration
- Strategic Leadership
- Documentation and Records management
- Conflict Management
- Financial Management
- People Management.
- Chieftaincy as an institution:
- Its role in a democratic dispensation
- Philosophical understandings
- Instruments of social cohesion
- Instruments of stability
- Its development role as an independent and complementary tool of development social reform and clarification and unification of customary law as a tool of national integration
The expected output and objectives associated with the proposed training would include the following:
- Equip traditional leaders with leadership skills that would enhance their ability to manage their communities and all the resources under their care.
- Afford traditional leaders the opportunity to network with fellow traditional leaders for collaboration and partnership for community development.
- Support the traditional leaders prepare strategic plans for their community development.
- Equip traditional leaders with marketable skills to prepare marketing plans to showcase their communities for investors and as tourist attractions.
- Support traditional leaders to develop and implement proper records and documentation management systems for effective land administration.
- Equip traditional leaders with conflict management skills to enable them handle all forms of disputes that are likely to arise.
- Provide leaders with negotiable and lobbying skills for effective cost-benefit analysis and sustainability of their community resources
- Support the implementation of financial management plans to generate revenue for community developmental projects.
- Provide the platform for traditional leaders to share their experiences which can be used as lessons learnt and benchmarks for other traditional areas.
- To provide a facility for the study of chieftaincy as an institution and its role in a democratic republic. It should emphasize its development role as an independent and complementary tool of development.
- The Centre would provide a facility for the study of the role of chieftaincy as an instrument of social cohesion and stability in a turbulent period. The cultural aspects of chieftaincy and its philosophical underpinnings would also be studied.
- The constitution of the republic of Ghana expects chiefs to be standard bearers of social reform and clarification and unification of customary law as a tool of national integration. These would be studied.
- The purely professional skills expected to emerge from training in the Centre would be made available to the staff supporting chieftaincy. Thus registrars, committee members and state secretaries would be admitted to the Centre for identified professional training in such areas as land management, documentation and records management and financial management. The collaboration of the National and Regional houses of chiefs would be sought to enable the Centre to be abreast with the latest thinking on traditional issues.
- The ministry of chieftaincy and traditional affairs would be approached for appropriate collaboration in training officers with responsibility for chieftaincy affairs.
It is intended that after the training, the University would publish the proceedings in a form of magazines as a contribution towards the enhancement of traditional leadership in Ghana.