Mamprugu’s ancient Royal Court for adjudication
Mamprugu, one of the oldest and most well-organised traditional Kingdoms in Ghana, has had a very cordial and intriguing relationship with the British dating back to the 19th century.
The story of Mamprugu cannot be told without mention of British influence, which spans commerce to colonisation.
There were bitter moments between them because, at a point, the colonial rulers tried to facilitate the extension of British jurisdiction into the area.
However, the bond between Mamprugu and the British is still cordial, like that of siblings.
To date, several material remains and monuments in the kingdom show the presence of the colonialists in the area.
One of such vestiges is the Mamprugu Royal Court building in Nalerigu, the traditional seat of the kingdom.
The court building is one of the ancient buildings in the north constructed during the British’s presence in the Mamprugu Kingdom, as part of the administrative structures of the British’s indirect rule system.
The ancient Royal Court building
Built around 1943 during the reign of Naa Soroo Abdulai, father of Naa Gamni Mahamadu Abdulai (the 32nd King of Mamprugu), the building was used to organise annual general meetings of the traditional council under British colonial authority.
It was also used for the adjudication of disputes by the Overlord of the kingdom and his council of elders.
It is located in the heart of the town, a few kilometres from the Nayiri’s Palace.
The building consists of two rooms for administrative staff and a big conference room for traditional council meetings.
There is also a dais where the king sits during a hearing.
Despite the significant purpose and fascinating history behind the structure, it is currently in a deplorable state and not fit for purpose.
Damaged portions of the Royal Court building
Portions of the roof have been ripped off by rainstorm while the inside is filled with rubbish, with ruminants and lunatics now using it for relaxation.
However, the offices attached to the building are still being used by the Mamprugu Traditional Council for administrative purposes.
Narrating the history behind the structure to the Daily Graphic, a Traditional Historian, Badigamsira Abdul-Majeed, said the Mamprugu Kingdom and the British government have had a good-standing relationship dating back to around 1898, during the reign of Naa Bariga Yamusah, the great-grandfather of the reigning Nayiri, Naa Bohagu Abdulai Mahami Sheriga.
He explained that during the era of the British indirect rule system, the facility used to be a court for the hearing of all cases and traditional gatherings.
"Chiefs from various parts of the kingdom used to attend meetings there, and to date, it is still used for both traditional and administrative purposes,” he said.
“That is the registry of the kingdom, so whenever a new chief is enskinned by the Nayiri, that's where he is registered” he stated.
Though he could not recall any landmark case as most of them were heard during the pre-colonial era, Mr Abdul-Majeed said the enskinment of the Nayiri was done at the Royal Court in January, 2004.
Meanwhile, the Overlord of the Mamprugu Kingdom, Naa Bohagu Abdulai Mahami Sheriga, has passionately appealed to the British High Commission, government and benevolent organisations to help renovate the facility or get a modern royal court for the kingdom.
He said the current structure was not befitting the royal court for the Mamprugu Kingdom, adding that the traditional council was currently holding its meetings in hotels and other rented apartments.