The chieftaincy institution has come a long way from the days when chiefs preoccupied themselves with waging wars of territorial expansion to now when they are better seen as agents of development.
Ghana’s history is replete with many of such ethnic wars that resulted in the loss of lives and the taking over of lands.
In the post-colonial era, however, traditional rulers do not only play critical roles in preserving the customs and traditions of their people but also expected to contribute to the expansion of the frontiers of democratic culture and the socio-economic development of their communities.
Yesterday, the Okyenhene, Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin, and the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II,. demonstrated that chieftaincy is an asset rather than a hindrance to the promotion of growth.
Otumfuo Osei Tutu, with a large entourage of paramount chiefs and other subjects, drove 132km from Kumasi to Kyebi as Special Guest at a durbar to mark the 75th anniversary of the death of Nana Sir Ofori Atta I, the founder of modern Akyem Abuakwa.
For years, the perception of a rift between the Ofori Panin Fie, the traditiional seat of Akyem Abuakwa, and the Manhyia Palace, the seat of the Asantehene, has gained roots.
The visit marked an epoch in the history of Asante-Akyem Abuakwa relations and the Daily Graphic salutes the two traditional rulers for that move. We believe that they are charting a path for many to follow.
Admittedly, the Asantes and Akyems had some unpleasant developements between them in the past; they fought battles of supremacy, one of which resulted in the killing of the founder of the Asante nation, Opemsuo Osei Tutu and another in which the chiefs of Akyem Abuakwa and Akyem Kotoku were killed.
With the passing of those dark days, there have been friendly exchanges between succeeding occupants of the Golden Stool and the Ofori Panin Stool. For example, Nana Sir Ofori Atta I is on record to have been a frontrunner in negotiations with the British colonial administration for the return of the Asantehene Prempeh I from exile in the Seychelles.
Okyenhene Osagyefuo Kuntunkununku also participated in a durbar held by Otumfuo Opoku Ware II in Kumasi, while Otumfuo Opoku Ware II also visited Kyebi. All these could, however, not convince many people that Asante and Akyem Abuakwa were living peacefully. Not even the recent visit of Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin to the Manhyia Palace could erase the perceived enmity between the two Akan groups.
With the Asantehene and the Okyenhene concretely clearing the way for what looks like a future of cordial relations and respect between the two traditional areas, the mantle now falls on their people to demonstrate to the world that what happened at Kyebi yesterday was not mere fanfare.
Equally, what happened at Kyebi should remind all other chiefs in the country that it is only in unity that they can fight the common enemy of poverty in their respective areas.
Regrettably, many of our chiefs are still embroiled in needless disputes which can be resolved peacefully without recourse to the courts and violence.
Regardless of the ethnic differences, Ghanaians are one people with the same values and aspirations.
The Daily Graphic believes that it is only when there is unity and peace that we can join forces to direct resources towards economic development.