Jakpa palace
Jakpa palace

Gonja skin succession offers lessons

Once again, the Gonja Kingdom is in the news for all the right reasons after peacefully and seamlessly selecting a new Yagbonwura.


The kingmakers of the kingdom on Monday, February 27, 2013 announced the Paramount Chief of the Tuluwe Traditional Area, Tuluwewura Soale Mbema Borenyi, as the new Overlord after the performance of the funeral rites King, Yagbonwura Tuntumba Jakpa Boresa I.

In fact, the selection of Tuluwewura as the new Overlord did not come as a surprise because everybody, including children in Gonjaland, knew who was taking over the baton of leadership.

This is because the succession plan and customary rites of Gonjas are clear and sacred.

It details who becomes the next Yagbonwura. 

As a result, there has never been any dispute about the leadership of the Yagbon Skin over the years.

The kingdom has five royal gates for the selection of a Yagbonwura which rotates peacefully. They are the Bolewura, Kpembewura, Tuluwewura, Wasipewura and Kawsuguwura.  

The founder of the Gonja Kingdom, Sumaila Ndewura Jakpa, established a state with well-developed institutions and structures that marvelled even the colonialists on arrival in Gonja.  

Since the documentation of the succession plan in 1912, there has never been any dispute over the selection of a Yagbonwura, thanks to Sumaila Ndewura Jakpa and his progeny. 

Also, the 1930 constitution of the Gonja Kingdom has been able to withstand the test of time since its adoption, and it stipulates a healthy succession at all levels, especially the Yagbon gate.

In 2010, Parliament approved the customary laws on the line of succession of 11 traditional areas including the Gonja Traditional Area. The codification of the customary laws on succession provides the needed guiding principles to deal with chieftaincy of these traditional areas.

The key provisions of the instruments included succession and a system of inheritance, election or selection of candidates to stools and skins, kingmakers, destoolment or de-enskinment and autonomy of stools and skins in accordance with section 51 of the Chieftaincy Act 2008 (Act 759).

The law states: “Succession to the Yagbon Skin of the Gonja Traditional Area shall be by the patrilineal system of inheritance”.

It further states that succession to the Yagbon Skin of the Gonja Traditional Area shall be strictly rotatory among the chiefs of the five gates of the Gonja state - Wasipewura, Kpembewura, Bolewura, Tuluwewura and Kusawguwura in order of seniority.

Undoubtedly, this document has been phenomenal on the succession, election or selection of a candidate to the Yagbon Skin on the demise of a Yagbonwura.

In fact, many have touted the traditional organisation of the Gonja kingdom as one of the best in the country because of how it has been able to handle issues of succession peacefully over the years.

We at Daily Graphic will, therefore, like to commend the chiefs and people of Gonjaland for duly following the foundation laid down by their forebears.

Sadly, in spite of the key role the chieftaincy institution plays in the promotion of the country’s peace, development and democracy, it is still saddled with disputes and conflicts.

It is worrying that as a nation, we have lost many people, particularly the youth through chieftaincy conflicts over the years.

The Daily Graphic views this development as backward and an affront to peace, development and democracy – peace is priceless and should never be traded with cold hands under any circumstance.

Indeed, the Gonja Kingdom has shown class -it is our hope that other traditional areas and kingdoms will take a cue from that and co-operate with the National House of Chiefs to codify their lines of succession to make the chieftaincy institution an enviably tradition.


Conflicts and development are mutually exclusive, and as a nation, we cannot continue channelling resources meant for development into peacekeeping.

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