Dateline – Thursday, 18 October, 2018. Time check– circa 1400 hours, I had just returned from court and I was taking it easy when one of my secretaries walked in leisurely and said almost as an afterthought: “Captain, you are sitting here relaxing and your people are killing each other…..” I missed a heartbeat.
“Naomi, what are you saying? War in Berekum?”
“It is in the news, Captain. On the radio…..”
After a few frantic phone calls, the picture became very clear.
In the days of yore, long before Christ was born Euripides had to run 42 kilometres to a village called Marathon to give news of victory in battle to the Greeks.
Today, let an incident take place and within hours, if not minutes, it will be “Breaking News” all over the world; thanks to constantly developing Information Technology.
A famous Nigerian writer, Chinua Achebe, made a profound statement in his book “Things Fall Apart”. He said: “Knowledge is like a goatskin bag. Everybody carries his own . . .”
Unlike mathematics where 3+3 is 6, all over the world, for all time, in the arts, NEWS (North, East, West, and South) is a different ball game. In order to get an authentic reliable account of what has happened, you need an innocent unbiased reporter – which in human terms is IMPOSSIBLE. Such a person comes ONLY many years after.
Many Ghanaians know me as a former MP for Berekum and a lawyer in Accra, but yes, even so, my mother is a Jaman royal, and my father is an Asante royal. So I am an interested party in what is happening at Jaman, except that I will try as a lawyer to be honest with the raw facts as I know them. If I get mistaken in the presentation of the issues, it is entirely natural because I am not perfect.
Our elders say that if you go to a village and the youth are throwing stones at you, ask the elders. If you see gunshots raging between two communities, ask HISTORY.
Until the beginning of the 17th century, the most predominant power in tropical West Africa was the AKWAMUS. Due to WAR, Akoram kept on losing their military night. A major royal base, who LOVED their nation, DOWOMAN (later corrupted to DOMAA migrated up country, first settled at what later became KUMASI and moved upwards to present day DOMAA.
The other faction who ABANDONED their nation, the GYAAMANS also moved up further north and later settled east of present day DOMAA. So, historically speaking, DOMAS and the GYAAMAUS are both AKWAMUS.
The Akwamus were WARLIKE people, extremely very troublesome and the biggest threat to the rise of Asanteman. Otumfuo Osei Bonsu, Asantehene, invaded Gyaman in 1828 in the Adinkra War and militarily subdued Gyaman with an imperial army of 200,000 soldiers drawn from all over the empire.
The war lasted three years, and before returning to Kumasi Otumfuo left a permanent military base at JAPEKROM as an Asante settlement to command the whole Gyaman.
One hundred years on, JAPEKROM with direct Asante support had become a major trade centre, administrative capital, with major offices, banks and schools. Japekrom was the hub of all Gyaman lands, exercising suzerainty over the principal Gyaman centres like Drobo, Dwenem, Suma and Sampa – over 200 villages.
The chief of Drobo, a very enterprising leader, felt that his people were living too far away from “civilization” so he came and asked for permission and was granted space to build NEW DROBO about two kilometres north of Japekrom.
With the advent of the struggle for independence, and the breakaway from Asante predominance, Drobo, Suma, Dwenem and Sampa angled seriously against Asante Confederacy, trying to assert their independence.
As a small boy growing up in Jinijini attending elementary school, Japekrom ranked equal with Berekum even though I heard that the Christian missionaries built a clinic at New Drobo and in 1968 they opened New Drobo Secondary School.
Then in the late 70’s, the chief of New Drobo died and they came for a Jinijini-born retired Army Major, Asiedu Teku, to become the new chief. Within two decades, this man completely transformed the small settlement, broad streets, lined by storey buildings, offices, banks, expanded hospital and indeed by all standards a city in the tropical forest.
As Drobo raced towards the pinnacle of development, Japekrom suffered terribly in having a weakling as the chief eventually ABDICATED his throne.
Not long after NPP came to power in 2001, Japekrom installed a new chief, NKONKONKYIA, a University Professor but it was too late. The glory of Japekrom had dimmed in favour of Drobo. The “New” had long disappeared.
The Supreme Court has given judgment that the land on which Drobo sits belongs to JAPEKROM, but so what? Does it mean Nana Drobohene should pay “rent” to Japekrom? Or the two should co-exist peacefully?
Reader, do you know Accra very well? Let me take you to Nima Roundabout, turn north, past the GOIL Filling Station, descend a small hill, cross a bridge, and you are at Accra New Town.
That is exactly what is happening TODAY between Japekrom and Drobo. If you do not know the area, you will think it is the same single community, but no; it is Asante that controlled Nkonkonkyia’s Japekrom and indigenous Gyaaman new settlers, DROBO.
Every year, when the people of Japekrom celebrate their annual festival, the royals travel to a river, MPUASU, to perform some rituals. In the olden days, vehicles were scarce so they walked and Mpuasu is outside Drobo. Over the years, it became more convenient going by cars.
On Wednesday, 17th October, 2018, Japekrom chiefs went as usual to Mpuasu by car, but when they got to Drobo, returning, in order to show that per Supreme Court Judgment the land is for them, the hot headed youths got down from their cars, chanting war songs, deliberately trying to provoke the Drobo people.
Daylight was about fading, and Drobo opened fire, killing the militant leader instantly and four people later. Reprisal killings took place in Japekrom and tension got out of control.
Soldiers and police reinforcements from the regional capital went to douse the fires, imposed dusk-to-dawn curfew, and slowly life is returning to normalcy.
What is the road map to peace?
In the days gone by, Otumfuo the Asantehene would have amassed an Imperial Army to march to Drobo to teach them a terrible lesson. Today, he cannot even send one soldier, but that does not mean the killers must go scot free. BNI and CID must move underground, identify all those who did the killings, arrest them and put them on trial for murder. Central government must put its foot down FIRMLY. No compromise!
Purely by accident of history, we find ourselves born somewhere living somewhere, with interesting parents. I have a very good friend, working in the office of the Vice President – he is Rev. Dr. Sam Frimpong. His father is from Konongo Ashanti and his mother from Amedzofe – is he Asante or Ewe?
When the imperial powers went to the Berlin Conference of 1884 they carved up Africa for themselves, and the British took over the Coast of West Africa at Cape Coast called “The Colony”, then Asante Empire, weakened by the abdication of Otumfuo Mensah Bonsu, and the “Northern Protectorate”.
We are now a NATION, with ONE Army, One Police, ONE President… Let us stop referring to ourselves as Ewes, Fantes, Dagombas, Brong, Asantes, Akuapem and so forth.
Look at me: an Asante father, Akwamu mother, born in Denkyira controlled JINIJINI, former MP for Asante controlled Berekum, married to Gloria, Ga Mantse royal lady, with four children. My last born is saving lives as a Medical Doctor at Tema General Hospital – is he a Ga? Brong? Asante? Or Akwamuman?
Doctor David Effah Dartey is a GHANAIAN – period!
By Nkrabeah Effah DarteyRead Full Story