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Chief of Kotintaabig calls for nuanced approach to presidential interactions with chiefs

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The Chief of Kontibtaabig under the Sakote Traditional Area, Naab Bileehsong Lagwonht, is asking for a more nuanced conversation around the interactions that are expected to occur between traditional rulers and the president, particularly within public spaces.

Naab Lagwonht spoke to Mark Smith on A1 Radio’s Day Break Upper East Show today, May 2, 2024, about a release published by the Ministry for Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs, clarifying the President’s recent demand for chiefs to stand to greet him.

The Chief of Kotintaabig urged that while the conversation rages on, discussants must not lose sight of the importance to protect the sanctity and mystery that surrounds chieftaincy.

To help navigate the current situation, Naab Lagwonht suggested the direct involvement of community folks when heads of state have to interact with chiefs so that no party leaves feeling devalued.

“There should be community members leading visitors to the area. Those people should know the norms and customs within the area. They are supposed to guide the person [head of state],” he said.

The Chief explained that within some traditions, particularly in northern Ghana, “when you are greeting the chiefs, you don’t shake queenmothers’ hands. That is the norm.” It is for this reason heads of state, along with high-ranking government officials, must be guided on what traditions pertain to the specific locality they are visiting.

While tradition is paramount, Naab Lagwonht admitted that some chiefs “want to blend it with the modern system more or less, to make you [the visitor] feel at home, so they give you a hug and all that. But those things are not part of our culture.”

“When you go to Nayiri, you don’t even see the Nayiri’s face, let alone expect that the Nayiri will rise to receive you. That is the culture there. If you go to the Yaa Naa, how will you get to the Yaa Naa when his people are crowded around him? You would have to break through. When you get there, and the people are seated, do they rise? You raise your hand to greet everyone, but you want the chief to rise alone to greet you?”

He stressed, “it should not be mandatory.”

The Chief explained that while some chiefs, because of the cordial relationships with heads of state, may want to embrace to show reverence, it should not be demanded of any chief to do the same.

He called for extreme caution and restraint in dealing with the issue.

It would be recalled that the Chieftaincy Ministry, in a statement signed by Stephen Asamoah Boateng, explained that the demand for chiefs to rise was just in furtherance of tradition.

“In response to recent discussions regarding our traditional norm of showing respect by standing up to greet our President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the Ministry of Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs issues this statement to provide clarity on the matter. The tradition of showing respect for authority, deeply ingrained in Ghanaian culture, holds significant importance in fostering unity, order, and mutual respect within communities. As a symbol of this tradition, it is customary for individuals to stand when greeting elders, leaders, or persons of authority as a gesture of deference and reverence. This request for Chiefs to observe this tradition, especially at public events, stems from our commitment to upholding and preserving Ghanaian cultural values, including the principles of respect and hierarchy. It is important to note that the President’s position on this tradition is intended as a reaffirmation of cultural norms that underpin Ghanaian society,” portions of the statement read.

Source: A1Radioonline.com|101.1MHz|Mark Kwasi Ahumah Smith|Bolgatanga

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