Folks since my article about the Abeka Pentecost incident, I have received several calls, most of which are threats from a number of people of Ga origin across the World.
The nature of the responses I got on my article, and the nature of insults and threats that came in since yesterday largely point to the fact that my article was misconstrued and received on the wrong footing.
Last night, I had the opportunity to speak with the Asafoatsehene or the Leader of the Ga Asafoatse Nii Nseni for over 2 hours when he reached out to me upon being prompted to my article and we both admitted it was the best conversation we have had on this issue.
I had took my time to take the Asafoatsehene through a brief history on cultural sustainability and preservation and he also took his time to take me through a number of the things the Ga Traditional Council has done in respect of this annual ban on noise making.
First of all, let me clarify this once and for all, the intention of my article was in no way meant to ridicule or demean or attack Ga customs and traditions and I knew it could be misconstrued so I stressed that several times in my article.
I have enormous respect for the Ga customs and traditions and its people, I in nowhere in my article insinuated that Gas should abandon their treasured customs far from that, the spin being put on my article is largely based on a number of occurrences that has put a strain on the enforcement of Ga customs and traditions in the capital and that’s understandable so I can’t fault anybody.
The reality is that the Ga Traditional Council over the years have attempted to enforce a traditional customs among a population in Accra largely foreigners who have absolutely no understanding of Ga customs and traditions and the Gas themselves have done a poor job in the sensitization of even their own indigenes let alone the foreigners who have settled here.
You see I can understand when it comes to cultural and traditional issues people are afraid to talk about it openly due to its sensitive nature but if the Gas so cherish their customs and traditions and wants to preserve it beyond the current generation of residents who are largely foreigners then they must be willing to hear the hard truth, take some criticisms in good faith and work around it instead of being antagonistic.
And yesterday I drew the Asafoatse’s attention to the British Monarchy and how they reinvented themselves during the First World War to preserve the monarchy that was near collapse at the time.
The British Monarchy was not Windsor all the time, they were called Saxe-Coburg Gotha, traditional German root names because the British Monarchs are of native German ancestry.
That period was a period of annexations of monarchies to Republics and the British Monarchy was under serious pressure from British Nationalists, at the same time the Germans have raided airstrikes in Britain killing several people a number of them infants and here the British people were in a time of National grief under a monarchy of German descent and a German branded name.
King George immediately realized that the monarchy’s German name was a threat to their very existence and if the monarchy was going to survive in the midst this brutal German assault, they had to do something to renew their acceptability among the British people who were at the very detached from the monarchy.
They employed the best brands experts at the time who recommended a change in the identity of the British Monarchy as the first step, remove every trace of German attachments from their names and brand and attempt to bridge the gap between the monarchy and the people and open themselves up a bit more for the people to understand what the monarchy is about.
This is how the Saxe-Coburg Gotha became Windsor, The House of Windsor and this single rebranding is what saved and preserved the British monarchy and its customs in an era which saw a number of monarchies fall around the World.
My point is anytime a custom or a tradition is under threat due to disobedience, criticisms and others, the best response has never been reprisal attacks, threats and insults, the British Monarchy went to the far extent of changing their own names, the entire identity of the Monarchy just to preserve it.
I am not saying the Ga Traditional Council should change their names or anything, I am only saying there’s a huge gap between the people living in Accra and the acceptability of a number of their customs and in the Capital where foreigners are trooping in by the second, the public education and sensitization gap cannot be left to widen the more.
Again they have a responsibility to carry the people along and endear themselves to the growing number of foreigners who are now part and parcel of the kingdom whether they like it or not.
Again they must be willing to make some very crucial compromises to attract interest and acceptability in their traditions and yesterday the Asafoatse drew my attention to a number of the interventions they have made, I would encourage them to do even more.
We love customs and traditions, they are our identity as a people but it’s not enough to forcefully enforce a custom today when there’s no strategy to preserve it for tomorrow, then we are only wasting our time.
The Asafoatse told me yesterday that according to Ga customs when the Teshie Wulormor is coming, no one can follow him, it is their tradition they used to enforce strictly previously but now they can’t largely enforce this custom, especially in a place like Teshie whose population has skyrocketed over time, it’s just not practicable and so now the Teshie Wulormor has resorted to travel or go out only during the nights.
This is a practical example of the existential threat that currently exists for Ga customs and traditions and anyone who draws their attention to such existential threat is not their enemy or someone who hates their custom and traditions, that person is their friend and you can only work along with all of them to navigate around these existential threats for your own sustainability as a people.
I still remain a key advocate not just for Ga customs and traditions but all traditions in Ghana but there must a strategy for the preservation of these customs and traditions beyond our lifetime; threats, antagonism and reprisals are not going to cut it only working to carry the people along would and we all have that responsibility to change the narrative.
I sincerely wish the Ga Traditional Council and its people well in this endeavor!!
Executive Director, ASEPA