Franz Kröger, Robert Asekabta and Kennedy Azantilow
Electing New Bulsa Chiefs (2021-2022)
When, due to the death of the incumbent chiefs, several chiefdoms became vacant in 2021, new elections were held in the following towns/villages:
Fumbisi: on November 15, 2021
Doninga: on November 25, 2021
Kadema: on March 22, 2022 (?)
Bachonga: on May 9, 2022
Before covering the individual elections, the criteria for candidacy should be summarised.
1. Qualifications for becoming a chief
by F. Kröger and Kennedy Azantilow
When I (F.K.) attended the election of a new Wiaga-naab on March 13, 1989, as an observer, I was surprised to see a candidate for this office who did not have any patrilineal ties to the previous chiefs. He did not even belong to the same section (Yisobsa) but came from Wiaga-Yimonsa. The Yimonsa candidate probably did not think he had much of a chance, but he received one third of all votes. I later learned that his candidacy was to uphold his lineage’s claim to the office of chief or, as it is phrased in Ghana, “to keep the gate open”. Ever since the deposition of the last Yimonsa chief, a representative from the Yimonsa lineage has run in each of the subsequent chief elections.
In the election of a new Sandemnaab (on July 17, 2012), I initially expected only descendants of Ayieta, Sandemnaab 1905-2012, to stand as candidates but then learned that grandsons and great-grandsons of Ayieta’s brothers – Anaankum, Ayikperuk, Ayi(e)paro and Agaampi – were also recognized as eligible candidates. Their common ancestor, who had been regarded as a chief, was Ateba, the father of the five sons listed above.
Regarding physical or mental infirmity as an impediment to candidacy, I learnt from informants that such deficiencies may disqualify a candidate but do not necessitate a compulsory resignation if they occur during one’s reign. (Sandemnaab Azantilow, for example, was blind in his last years in power.) When a new Sandemnaab was to be elected in 1912, two men applied for the office: the youthful and extremely tall Afoko and the elderly Anyieparo, who suffered from elephantiasis. The argument that the latter was not suitable for the office because of his physical handicap was put forward mainly by the British colonial rulers, while, according to the available sources, it was probably not considered an obstacle for the Bulsa since he received 25% of all the votes.
On November 15, 2021, Dr Kennedy Azantilow, the son of the incumbent Sandemnaab Azagsuk Azantilow II, posting in the Facebook group Buluk Kaniak, provided a list of criteria which, to his knowledge, are required for the election as a Bulsa chief.
1. The person must be a male.
2. The person must biologically belong to a royal lineage.
3. The person’s father or paternal uncle must either have been a chief or ran for the position of chief.
4. The person’s grandfather or great-grandfather or granduncle (i.e. the paternal uncle’s father) or great-granduncle must have been a chief.
To qualify under this criterion, there must not be a living member of the intervening generations between the person and his ancestor, by virtue of whom the person is seeking to be chief.
5. The person must be mature (i.e. past the age of a shepherd boy), have a farm, be married and, desirably, have one or more children.
6. The person must not be physically disabled.
7. The person must be of sound mental health.
8. The person must not have been convicted of a crime and must not have served a prison sentence for a criminal offence.
9. The person must be well-off (i.e. wealthy enough to command the respect of his subjects and to be able to take care of other people’s needs). A poor man cannot be a chief.
In the Facebook discussion that followed, the question was raised as to whether all the criteria listed are still up to date. To my knowledge, however, no member doubted that the listed qualifications were applied in chieftaincy elections.
2. Election of a new Fumbisi Chief
After the demise of Naab Clement Anyatuik Akanko and the conclusion of his funeral, the new election took place in Sandema on November 15, 2021.
The following candidates stood for election:
Richard Akantagriwen Akanko
Martin Alhassan Adjuik
Joseph Azekumjigi Adjuik
Henry Awontintemidii Ayeng
Caesar Abianab Akinkang
Roger Akantagriwen Abolimbisa
Richard Akantagriwen Akanko, son of the late chief and a former policeman, was elected with 426 votes.
The leading challenger, Hon. Roger A. Abolimbisa, deserves commendation for graciously saying, “I call him (Richard Akanko) my son, and I have no problem with him winning”. He is indeed a statesman who puts the collective good of Fumbisi above his personal interest (Inf. Dr. Kennedy Azantilow).
3. Election of a new Doninga Chief
(Source: Facebook, Kennedy Azantilow and Abakisi Akangagnang Lawrence, Nov. 2021)
Following Chief Anyayegabey Atong’s death and funeral, a new Doning-nab was elected and crowned in Sandema on November 26, 2021.
The contest started with four candidates. After mergers (i.e. when candidates with a low number of votes joined those with a higher number of votes), two contestants remained. Makarios Akanbianab Akanbong won the election with 159 votes over his challenger, John Awuudum Anangkpabil, who received 119 (110?) votes.
Makarios Akanbianab Akanbong was declared the winner, and shortly after the Sandem-naab crowned the Doning-nab with the red cap.
Chief Akanbianab is a diplomat and currently the Director of Legal Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Ghana. He served in Ghana’s missions abroad in South Africa, Benin and recently in China.
He grew up in Sandema and attended Ayieta Primary School, Sandema Middle Boarding School, Notre Dame Secondary School and Nandom Secondary School in Navrongo and Nandom respectively. He studied French at the University of Cape Coast and, later, law at the Ghana Law School. He is married to Margaret Bawa whose mother was a daughter of Nab Ayieta Azantilow.
4. Election of a new Kadema Chief
by Robert Asekabta
DATE : 21st March 2022
VENUE: Bulsa Traditional Council, Durbar Grounds
1) Hon. Vida Akansaalimwen Anab, Municipal Chief Executive, Sandema
2) Hon. Atebalie Azantilow, Queen Mother Sandema
3) Nab Francis Akanbegmi Asangalisa, Chuchuliga Nab
4) Nab Apagrimchang Nkrumah, Gbedema Nab
5) Isaac Ayeriwie Adangabe, Nansuing Nab, Kadema
6) Lydia Adangabe, Queen Mother, Kadema
1) Major Rtd Atinsiak Akanyaanueng Adangabe
2) Emos Amuuribadek Ayuekanbey Adangabe
3) Nesto Akanzabadek Adangabe
The election was officiated by the Sandem Nab, Nab Azagsuk Azantilow II. and supported by the Chuchuliga Nab, Nab Francis Akanbegmi Asangalisa and Nab Nkrumah Apagrimchang, Gbedema Nab. They were assisted by the Registrar of the Bulsa Traditional Council and the Sandem Nab’s secretary Mr. P. P. Apaabey
In his opening address the Sandem Nab advised the house owners from KADEMA and all others present to comport themselves when election begins so that by the end of the day KADEMA will have a chief.
The Sandem Nab revealed that on the 14th November, 2006, the day that the late Nab Dr. Azantilow Ayieta died, the late KADEMA Nab, Nab Akisibadek Adangabe had audience with him and when he got back he heard the Sandema Nab had passed on.
The three contestants were invited to step forward for the election to start. The Nansuing Nab for KADEMA, Isaac Ayeriwie Adangabe, was called upon to testify whether they were qualified to contest for the KADEMA stool. The Nansuing Nab mentioned that they were all qualified because they weree sons of the same yard (dabiak).
The contestants were then asked to sit in the scorching sun and dig holes in front of them to put in their contesting fees which was not fixed. The people who came with them were asked to support them. All men and women trooped in to support the contestants with money.
The house owners or landlords were asked to file behind the contestant they wanted. Before the end of this exercise Major Rtd Atinsiak Akanyaanueng Adangabe moved his supporters to merge with Mr. Emos Amuuribadek Ayuekanbey Adangabe, who virtually won with three hundred and one (301) votes to beat Mr. Nesto Akanzabadek Adangabe, the late chief’s son, who had one hundred and ninety three (193) votes
After the declaration of the votes Emos Amuuribadek Ayuekanbey Adangabe was invited by the Sandem Nab, who crowned him as KADEMA Nab by with a red Fez cap, which signifies that he is the chief of KADEMA.
After this ceremony he was powdered and carried shoulder high by his subjects amidst drumming and dancing.
5. Election of a new Bachongsa Chief (by Robert Asekabta)
DATE: 23rd November, 2021
VENUE: Bulsa Traditional Council
1) The Chuchuliga Nab, Nab Francis Akanbegmi Asangalisa
2) Gbedema Nab, Nab Nkrumah Apagrimchang
3) Elders of the Sandem Nab
4) Chiefs of the Sections in Sandema (Kanbonnalima)
5) Queen Mother, BACHONGSA
6) Regent BACHONGSA, Achinchangsa Aligchaab
1) Patrick Awaab Ajutie – Representative of the old chief’s house
2) Peter Apam Achana
The Sandem Nab supported by the Chuchuliga Nab and the Gbedema Nab asked the contestants to move forward.
The regent of BACHONGSA was asked to confirm whether the two contestants were qualified but before he finished saying that Mr. Peter Apam Achana was not qualified, a man by name Awaabil Aligchaab, sprang forward, and when he was allowed to talk he mentioned that Mr. Peter Apam Achana had been imprisoned in Kumasi for peddling with marijuana. Peter denied this and the Sandem Nab asked the police to handle the issue.
The election was there and then postponed until this matter was resolved.
In order to clear this bad record against him he went to the Police Depot in Accra to clear his name. He was cleared and he reported back to the Police in Sandema and after conferring with the Regional Police Command in Bolga he was proved right. The Sandema Nab was informed of this discovery.
Another attempt was made to elect a chief but it was equally postponed on the 10th March, 2022.
Once the issue of [the contestant] Mr. Peter Apam peddling with marijuana was solved all landlords/house owners were invited to Sandema on 10th March,2022 again for the election
Then there erupted a riot at the Traditional Council Office during the verification of the landlords present. Mr. Peter Apam alleged that he had sixty four (64) house owners supporting him and fifty two (52) house owners were supporting Patrick Awaab Ajutie. After some serious fighting between the supporters of the two sides they decided to report the case to the Sandem Nab who was waiting in his court to be given the green light to go to the durbar grounds.
Almost all presented the same case. The Sandem Nab therefore advised them that they should cooperate to make sure that the election became successful. They accepted his advise and moved back to the durbar grounds.
But the Registrar of the Bulsa Traditional Council and the committee put in place said that the number of houses registered were one hundred and seventeen (117) and that the same number was present.
The Sandem Nab finally arrived for the election and asked the contestants to move forward. But before they could start anything, Mr. Peter Apam Achana raised his hand and he was given a chance to talk.
He complained that the total number of houses present were one hundred and sixteen (116) instead of one hundred and seventeen (117). He also complained that one of his supporters, by name Kofi Achumboro, was kidnapped and prevented from coming to Sandema much more to participate in the election. Kofi’s wife and children were there to testify.
Peter Apam Achana said he reported to the Fumbisi police but there were no good results. He concluded that he was contesting in the election for the welfare of his subjects and suggested that the election was postponed. The committee that did the registration should come back to Bachongsa to register the houses in the face of everybody.
The Sandem Nab rejected this suggestion and said he would by all means conduct the elections.
But he was advised that the security of the state was going to be compromised and that the election should be postponed.
The election was postponed indefinitely and the Regent Mr. Achinchangsa Aligchaab was given the authority to take care of BACHONGSA until further notice.
Mr. Peter Apam Achana was charged two thousand cedis (GHC 2000.00).
On the 9th May, 2022 the people of BACHONGSA were reconvened in Sandema for the election of their chief. One of the contestants, Mr. Patrick Awaab Ajutie, was present, but Mr. Peter Apam Achana did not turn up for this ceremony.
He argued that they were asked to resolve the impass between the contestants but the impass between them was not resolved. Before May 9th, Mr. Peter Apam sent a delegation to the Sandem Nab protesting against the date mentioned for the election.
But the Sandem Nab did not give an ear to that but told the delegation to confer with the Municipal Chief Executive, Sandema, who will in turn bring them to the Sandem Nab. But the delegation rejected this order and left for Bachongsa.
It so happened that without Peter Apam on the 9th May 2022 the Sandem Nab crowned Mr. Patrick Awaab Ajutie as the chief of BACHONGSA. He was heavily powdered and left the durbar grounds amidst drumming and dancing. The following morning he reported to the Sandem Nab for permission to leave for Bachongsa.
At the durbar grounds the Sandem Nab announced that Mr. Peter Apam or his people had to pay the fine of GHC 2000.00 that was meted him at the last abortive election.
There was no answer from Peter Apam nor his supporters. The Sandem Nab then imposed a heavier ban. The ban was that the gate of Peter Apam was bared from contesting future elections of BACHONGSA chieftaincy until further notice.
He was cleared and he reported back to the Police in Sandema but after conferring with the Regional Police Command in Bolgatanga he was proved right. The Sandema Nab was informed of this discovery.
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