Developing a just society based on equity and equal opportunities for all with respect for diversity.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Chiefs, Guns & Lots of Drumming!

This week team RAINS has been working hard; we havecontacted potential partners to assist with best practice farming workshops and we are now in discussions with, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, World Vision International and DeCo, which is huge progress for our Farming for Futures 'boy focussed' project; organised small scale fundraising events including a youth cinema day, to assist Dinani cultural group; visited our donor schools to give our “Students for Schooling” uniform collection boxes and finally got the ball rolling on developing media content for the RAINS website.

This week though, we have decided to write our blog about the chieftaincy system and our experience it so far.

Us visiting Central Lyceum school to deliver one of the uniform collection boxes.

Although Ghana is a democracy and the people elect their government, there is a separate system that runs in conjunction and holds a lot of power on a local level. The Chieftaincy system appears to act as second governing body to the government in so far as swaying the ways in which Ghanaian society acts.
Although the Ghanaian people seem altogether happy with this set up I wouldn't be giving you the full picture, if I was to portray the Chieftaincy system as a system that bears no flaws. In terms of gender equality one can scrutinise this system as there has never been a female Chief as it’s only passed down through the male line of the family. Then of course there is the general scrutiny to be made of the hierarchical and undemocratic nature of the Chieftaincy system as a whole. On the other hand however, there are significant positives of this Chieftaincy system. The chiefs are prized by the local people as being a beacon for upholding traditions. From our experience, Ghanaian's feel that tradition and culture is perhaps under threat and they feel that the chiefs do well to ensure it continues to have a key role to play in their communities. In terms of development, if you have the support of the local chief then he can help by mobilising the people behind your project.  In addition to this, chiefs do a lot of work in their local communities especially (as we have seen first hand) for the youth, to help keep them off the streets and causing trouble when an authority figure is perhaps not present. 

Chief Anusa in his traditional clothing.
Chief Anusa of Lamashagu has been extremely helpful to International Service by helping us to work with Dinani cultural group to educate youths on contraception. The Dinani cultural group was established by Chief Anusa with help from RAINS, it helps to teach unprivileged children discipline as well as providing them with some rather impressive dancing and drumming skills.

Our attempt at dancing with the Dinani group (notice how all of us are in completely the wrong direction)!

Last weekend we were invited to the Damba festival by Chief Anusa where we were his 'guests of honour'. The Damba festival is an annual event which celebrates the birth of The Prophet Mohammed and (as expected) it has a typical Ghanaian twist of traditional drumming and dancing as well as the parading of all the local chiefs. On the main day of the festival there was such a huge crowd that it was impossible to follow Chief Anusa to the palace as originally intended but just being part of the energy filled crowd was an experience in itself.

One of the ceremonial gun shots at the Damba festival.

Despite the idea of the Chieftancy system being alien to us we have thoroughly enjoyed our time here with Anusa. We have found him to be very welcoming and willing to help us integrate, as well as generally a very interesting person. We have seen first hand the positive impacts chiefs as a whole can have on the local community and we are certainly very excited to be working with him.

Charlie and Johanna. 

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