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Dagbon Peace, Reconciliation and Re-unification Initiative


2008-05-12 18:13:18
This article has been read 1291 times.

Fellow Dagombas,

Over the past years and months, I have watched with keen interest and hope, and sometimes, with frustration and disappointment, the Dagbon peace Roadmap, which is tirelessly worked on by the three members of the Committee of Eminent Kings – The Ashantehene - Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, The Yagbonwura – Naa Bawa Doshie, and The Nayiri – Naa Mahami Abdulai Bohagu. Inspite of the efforts made by these great Kings, thus far, a lasting peace still eludes the Dagbon State – The two royal families are unable to endorse a final peace agreement. What a big disappointment and shame! What exists in Dagbon today can best be described as relative calm or patchy peace because it cannot be boldly and proudly said to be permanent. In my view, what the Dagbon State needs is a lasting, permanent peace that would ensure security and an enabling environment for investment and meaningful development. I am optimistic that Dagbon can achieve this desired status if we, as a people, take a good look at our children in the eyes and ask ourselves the kind of Dagbon we want to bequeath onto them. Dagbon’s recent past notwithstanding, we should look to the future by finding a way to bury our differences today since we will continue to harm ourselves and our children if we clinch to the past.

On September 7, 2007, I presented to some key personalities of Dagbon, members of the Committee of Eminent Chiefs, President Kufuor and some members of his government the following proposed initiative for achieving lasting peace, reconciliation, and re-unification for the Dagbon State.

In my personal view, this proposed initiative (process) is an essential key to arriving at eternal peace in a peaceful manner. A great majority of the chiefs, youth, and key members/elite of the Abudu and Andani royal families welcomed this initiative. All members of the Committee of Eminent Chiefs were served with this document. Key members of the two royal families were served with this document. Relevant government representatives and agencies were furnished with this document as well. The Bolin-Lana as well as the Kampakuya-Naa were provided copies of the document. Preliminary diplomatic efforts were made to inform and convince all concerned in this traditional matter to consider the implementation of this proposal. The level of ‘buy-in’ of the proposal was encouraging as everyone was quite enthusiastic about the prospects of its implementation and the attendant reconciliation and re-unification thereof. Nevertheless, the hope for a final peace deal back in September 2007 kept this initiative in the closet. Since then, the Dagbon peace process has only stalled and stalled with no meaningful and concrete prospects of a final agreement – meanwhile, the members of the committee of eminent chiefs are getting more and more sick-and-tired of us (Dagombas) and our attitude, and it is time for us to ease things up for them.

This proposal aims to serve the interest of all Dagombas and the Dagbon State at large; not the parochial interest of a particular royal family. The basis of this proposed initiative is the strong conviction I hold that – a) we (Dagombas) are capable of sitting down together as brothers and sisters to iron out our differences through reasonable dialogue, b) lasting peace and genuine reconciliation can only come by as a result of our own goodwill initiative, c) we should ease the task of the Committee of Eminent Chiefs by resolving our differences among ourselves and reconciling first, and then go back to the Committee of Eminent Chiefs for their guidance to implement the roadmap to peace, and d) we (Dagombas) will choose peace and reconciliation in order to see to the development of Dagbon and the North as a whole; instead of insecurity and belligerency.

My hope is that Dagombas will take advantage of the availability of this initiative by implementing it sooner than later so that we can have lasting peace and reconciliation. This proposal serves as a template for Dagbon peace, reconciliation, and re-unification, which can be implemented, starting this month, (May 2008) – only the dates have to be rescheduled to suit the time.

Below is the document I sent out to the stakeholders back then - in September 2007:

……………………………………………………………………………………………

To All Dagombas, His Excellency – President Kufuor, and Their Royal Majesties – Members of the Otumfuo Mediation Committee of Eminent Chiefs

Fellow Dagombas/Your Excellency/Your Majesties,

Please take a good look at the following proposed initiative on Dagbon and see if it makes sense and can be implemented. If it does make sense to you, then please let us cooperate with each other on implementing it successfully.

Thank you.

DAGBON PEACE, RECONCILIATION AND RE-UNIFICATION INITIATIVE

Introduction and Brief Background

The Dagbon Peace and Re-unification Initiative (DPRI) is a proposal which aims at getting Dagombas to reconcile, re-unite, and make peace with each other for the benefit of developing the Dagomba Traditional Area (DTA).

For over 50 years now, Dagombas have been disunited because of chieftaincy issues and have therefore been unable to plan together as one people to develop the DTA. The lack of unified strategic consultation and efficacious planning by Dagombas, coupled with intermittent traditional violence and insecurity, has led to the relatively slow pace of development in the area. This seemingly interminable saga has taken its toll on ordinary Dagombas as it has led to a vicious cycle of poverty, regional economic stagnation, perpetual ignorance, mistrust, and, more often than not, cold-shoulder towards their compatriots.

The focus and aim of this initiative does not call for a rehash of the highlights of the recent elegiac history of Dagbon. Nevertheless, this does not mean that one is seeking to advertently gloss over our immediate past. In my humble view, and correct me if I am wrong, we, as a people, have to move on and look to the future; rather than the past, as painful as it may be. We have to embark on this move, for the sake of our people and for the future of Dagbon, and the entire region for that matter. Fifty years of disunity hasn’t helped Dagbon, and it wouldn’t make sense if we were to continue on the same path for another 50 years. We have to put the rancorous past behind us and, for once, re-unite and do positive things together as one people. We’ve got to do the right thing for Dagbon.


Purpose of the DPRI

The prime purpose of the DPRI is to rally all Dagombas towards the goal of promoting peace, reconciliation and re-unification with the view to planning the developmental path for Dagbon together as one people in order to enhance development of the DTA.

My sincere belief is that, if we can reconcile, once again, as one people, there is a possibility that we can begin talking to each other directly, and by that, find ways to sort out our recent past, bridge our differences, and iron out our difficulties. In short, what the DPRI aims at doing for Dagbon is to repair; not to break, to build; not to demolish, to unite; not to divide, to reprieve; not to rebuke, to develop; not to ruin, to encourage; not to despair, and to cherish; not to hate. Peace is the key prerequisite for development in any civilized society, and in the case of Dagbon, reconciliation and re-unification of all Dagombas is a necessary foundation for lasting peace. However, reconciliation and re-unification can not be achieved without the most important element/process: communication. Without effective and proper communication between the Abudu and the Andani royal families there cannot be reconciliation. With the initiation of communication, the following process flow is expected to take place: Effective and Proper Communication among Dagombas will lead to – Genuine Reconciliation of Abudu and Andani royal families, which will lead to – Re-unification of Dagombas, which will, in turn, lead to – Lasting Peace, and which then will lead to – Coordinated Planning and Investment Drive, which will also lead to – Accelerated Development of the DTA through socio-economic rejuvenation and sustenance, and which will ultimately lead to – Wealth Creation, Economic Growth, Self Reliance, and Prosperity.

The DPRI therefore entails a timeline and some relevant steps.

Time Line and Relevant Steps

Time Line

September 2007 (can be rescheduled to May 2008): - Send out a draft of the DPRI to key stakeholders and to seek feedback/comments that may be required to update the draft proposal. All sorts of views are welcome from people from the Abudu/Andani royal families and relevant government organs.
- Contact and appeal to notable nobilities to participate as leaders in the DPRI process. Three, four, or five renowned nobilities will be approached to form and serve on the Committee of Wise Elders. The duty of such a committee will be to lead the process of reconciliation up to the point of re-unification.
- Educate/Inform the people of Dagbon about the DPRI and acquisition of views on how to implement the initiative successfully.

October 2007 (can be rescheduled to June 2008): - Search for sponsors of the DPRI.

November 2007 (can be rescheduled to July 2008): - Preliminary meeting(s) to prepare for the actual round of Reconciliation meetings
First round of Reconciliation meetings
Second round of Reconciliation meetings

December 2007 (can be rescheduled to August 2008): - First round of Re-unification meetings
Second round of Re-unification meetings

January 2008 (can be rescheduled to September 2008): - Further round(s) of meetings, if necessary (Depending on the rate of progress made in previous sessions)
Mass education and dissemination of information about the
Implementation of the DPRI throughout Dagbon and beyond

February 2008 (can be rescheduled to October 2008): - Organization and preparation for the implementation of the DPRI

March 2008 (can be rescheduled to November 2008): - Final implementation of the DPRI


Relevant Steps

Step 1:

The DPRI will begin with a first round of meetings of selected elite from both the Abudu and the Andani Royal families in a location outside Dagbon. The location will be designated in due course. The first round of meetings will be preceded by preparatory round-table meetings and discussions by representatives of both royal families to agree on the agenda and a format for subsequent actual rounds of meetings. A few representatives from both royal houses will constitute the participants in the preparatory meetings. The preliminary round-table meetings will prepare the grounds for the main reconciliation and re-unification meetings. Twelve (12) members from each royal family will participate in the actual round of meetings. The objective of the first round of meetings will be to re-enforce the fact that the interest, future, and development of the greater DTA is larger than, and supersedes the diminutive interest of the individual royal factions. For that matter, the focus of the first round of meetings will be to stress on the need for a great deal of understanding and the indispensable need to take steps towards reconciliation. The expectation of the first round of meetings is a consensus on how the participants view the future and development of Dagbon vis-à-vis reconciliation of Dagombas. This round of meetings could last for two days, depending on the rate of convergence and progress.
A committee of Wise Elders will be set up to lead/chair the meetings. The committee of Wise Elders will compose of notable nobilities who are respected by all Dagombas. The committee of Wise Elders will set the agenda and the format of the meetings and will lead the DPRI process. Three, four, or five renowned nobilities will be approached to form and serve on the Committee of Wise Elders. The task of the committee will begin with the first step in the DPRI process and end with the implementation of the final step of the DPRI in March 2008 (can be rescheduled to November 2008).

Step 2:

If the expectations and objectives of the first round of meetings, as highlighted in step 1 above, are met, then the elite from each royal family will have the responsibility of meeting with the chiefs and elders from their royal families to inform, discuss, educate, convince them on the crucial issues of understanding, reconciliation, and the need to develop the greater DTA by moving on as one people. Feedback is expected from chiefs and elders of each royal family. It can take up to two weeks before a second meeting of the elite and a limited number of chiefs and elders from both royal families will take place. Six (6) chiefs and elders from each royal family together with the elite will form the participants in the second round of Dagbon Reconciliation meetings. The objective of the second round of meetings is to involve the chiefs and elders of each royal family in the understanding, reconciliation, and re-unification process. This round of meetings could go on for up to two days at a location outside Dagbon. The expected result of this round of meetings will be the attainment of common ground towards reconciliation and re-unification. The location of this round of meetings will be designated in due course by the Committee of Wise Elders.

Step 3:

Based on the achievements of the second round of meetings, as stated in step 2 above, a joint meeting of a larger representation of chiefs and elders from both royal families will take place in a location in Dagbon, but outside Tamale. The goal of the third round of meetings will be to heal wounds (exchange of emotions: apologies and acceptance thereof and forgiveness, vows of non-aggression, etc, as we have all hurt each other in the past), seal the process of reconciliation of Dagombas, and end the existing taciturnity and standoffishness among the royal families. This round of meetings could take a day or two. The Kuga-Naa, could play a vital role in this particular step as he could serve his traditional role of a neutral, unifying grandfather to both royal families and Dagombas for that matter. His Majesty the Kuga-Naa could bless the reconciliation and re-unification process by giving the elders of the Abudu and Andani families white cola nuts which would be broken in two and shared among members across the royal divide – a symbol of reconciliation in Dagbon culture.




Step 4:

This step will form the climax of the DPRI process. When step 3 is achieved, a round of grand meetings (rallies) of Dagombas from all walks of life, irrespective of royal or political affiliation, gender, religion, and age. We will rally as Dagombas, not as affiliates of any classification, because we are Dagombas first before any affiliations with the two royal gates (Abudu/Andani), political parties (CPP, NPP, NDC, and whatever).
We will rally in Tamale, the largest settlement of Dagombas in the DTA. We will come together on March (can be rescheduled to November) 25th, 26th and 27th 2008. The selection of these dates is more of a paradox than of a coincidence. These dates are critical in our history and we should transform them into a positive milestone.

On the first day, March (can be rescheduled to November) 25th, our traditional leaders and non-traditional leaders will speak to the people of Dagbon solely about how we can achieve lasting peace, re-unification, and reconciliation. No political speeches will be tolerated. No speeches championing the cause of Abuduyilli/Andaniyilli will be tolerated. The forum will not be for either political propaganda or Abuduyilli/Andaniyilli propaganda. The forum will be for Dagbon and for all Dagombas – trying to find means to forge on as one people and to develop the region, nothing more, nothing less. For that matter, all written presentations will be censored before they are presented and speakers will be entreated to exercise circumspect in their speeches. The major sponsors (commercial and non-commercial organizations) will also make presentations. The speeches will be preceded by mass religious prayers for our ancestors; for peace and unity; for current generations; and for the prosperity of Dagbon.
Soccer gala matches will follow the speeches on the first day, and will continue for the rest of the day and into the second day, with the two finalists facing up in the final match for the Dagbon Peace Cup on March (can be rescheduled to November) 27 th , 2008. Soccer teams from all over Dagbon – from Zabzugu to Tolon and from Diayelle to Tamale will participate. This will be an All-Dagombas tournament: youngsters affiliated with both royal families will participate in the tournament. The aim of the soccer event is to involve the youth of Dagbon in the peace, reconciliation, and re-unification process because they are the future of Dagbon. And soccer is known to be a powerful unifying tool. The soccer tournament will kick off with an exhibition match between former and current Real Tamale United (RTU) football club players.

On March (can be rescheduled to November) 26th, 2008 the soccer gala matches will continue amidst modern music from Dagbon modern musicians singing for Dagbon peace and re-unification. The voluntary services of these musicians will be solicited prior to the event. More speeches and presentations on achieving lasting peace, reconciliation, and re-unification may be made on this day. Again, this event is to involve the youth in the peace process and the road to Dagbon re-unification. The concert for peace and re-unification will bring the youth of both genders together as one people with a common destiny.

On March (can be rescheduled to November) 27th, 2008 there will be various displays of traditional drumming and dancing: takai, naabeggu, baamaaya, zhem, tora, gonje, jera, luah, dumbu, nyindoggu, kanbonwaa, tohawaa, and many more. Drumming and dancing groups from all over Dagbon and from both royal backgrounds will participate in the ceremony. We will be drumming and dancing as Dagombas and as one people, not as affiliates of any classification. This event is to involve Dagombas from all backgrounds: the young as well as the old; men as well as women in the peace and re-unification process. With this celebration Dagbon will be born to a new day and a new era of lasting Peace and Re-unification. The day will culminate to more speeches from Dagbon traditional leaders (chiefs), the soccer tournament final match, and the presentation of the Dagbon Peace Cup to the winning soccer team and the revelation of the agenda for direct talks among Dagombas on how to move the DTA forward as one people. The agenda will be set by an interim Dagbon re-unification and development committee.

Step 5:

Set up an interim Dagbon re-unification and development committee. The interim Dagbon re-unification and development committee shall be all-inclusive and shall encompass members/supporters of both the Abudu and Andani royal lineages. The task of the interim re-unification and development committee is to pick up from where the committee of Wise Elders would have left the Dagbon peace, reconciliation, and re-unification process, as well as, set the agenda for Dagbon’s development and coordinate the formation of a more permanent Dagbon development committee. Initiation of Direct Talks between the two royal families and among Dagombas towards perpetual peace will be managed and coordinated by the interim re-unification and development committee, and later, by the permanent Dagbon development committee. Members of the permanent Dagbon Development Committee shall be the lead members of Dagbon Development Sub-Committees that would cover the various sectors of the community: Education, Health, Agriculture, Industry, Trade, Culture & Chieftaincy, Sports & Tourism, Security & Welfare, Housing, Roads Networks & Communication, Youth Employment, Finance, Information & Media, among others.

Step 6:

This step involves the resolution of outstanding issues and dissolution of remaining roadblocks to timeless peace. By the time we get to this point, step 6, I am optimistic that we would have cultivated enough mutual trust for each other, established a good deal of credibility for ourselves, and proven our reliability and honesty. With this renewed sense of brotherliness and impeccable attitude, we will go to the Otumfuo Mediation Committee of Eminent Chiefs, by our own volition, hand-in-hand as one people, with smiles on our faces; not frowns, and tell the mediation committee of eminent chiefs that we (Dagombas) have reconciled, re-united, and are genuinely ready to proceed with our quest for lasting peace in Dagbon, so they should help us implement the remaining sections of the Dagbon peace roadmap.


IMPORTANT NOTE:

The DPRI is aimed at complementing and supplementing the efforts made by the Otumfuo Mediation Committee of Eminent Kings. Unequivocally, the initiative does not, in any way, form or nature, seek to undermine or substitute the efforts of the three great Kings. The DPRI is an exclusive, unique Dagbon initiative which should not be seen or misconstrued as usurping the role of the Otumfuo mediation committee which has made very significant progress in normalizing life in Dagbon. It should be abundantly clear to all that the focus of the DPRI is RECONCILIATION AND RE-UNIFICATION of Dagombas. Variably, the DPRI and the task of the Otumfuo Mediation Committee are mutually exclusive, but link to each other, in terms of goals, at the point of the final Dagbon Re-unification, thus step 6 of the DPRI process. The DPRI is therefore NOT a MEDIATION initiative - let there be no ambiguity about the aim of the DPRI.
Critically, the DPRI seeks to spur Dagombas to work together as one people in order to develop the DTA, because “time and tide waits for no man” and the DTA should not be allowed to continue in the ongoing socio-economic slumber forever while our people continue to wallow in the gallows of perpetual poverty, ignorance, and relative underdevelopment. It is high time we came together and moved on as one people, and the sooner we work at it the better for us.

Caution:

Implementing the DPRI requires genuine, total commitment and honesty from all Dagombas involved in the process. Half-hearted, partial commitment by any participant(s) will not yield the expected results. Further, the DPRI process should be based on truth, goodwill, optimism, enthusiasm, mutual respect, regard for Dagbon customs and traditions, compromise, and empathy, as well as sympathy for the ordinary, poor, disadvantaged Dagombas.

Organizing the Events:

An Organizing Committee will be set up to have sub-committees that will include among others:

Traditional drumming and dancing Committee
Soccer gala organizing Committee
Finance Committee
Welfare Committee
Transport and Logistics Committee
Housing Committee
Information/Media/Education Committee
Independent Audit Committee – to monitor/control the use of funds/accountability
Security Committee – The Regional Security Committee (REGSEC) should
be very much involved in the whole DPRI process

The Organizing Committee and its sub-committees will organize, coordinate, and manage the flow of activities before, during, and after the Dagbon Peace and Re-unification events.


Financing the DPRI

A rough estimate of the cost of implementing the DPRI is put at about five hundred million (500,000,000) old Ghana cedis or fifty thousand (50,000) new Ghana cedis. This conservative estimate excludes the cost of security and is not discounted at present value.

To implement the DPRI, the Organizing Committee will solicit financing from multiple sources including the following:

1. Dagombas (Individuals) living in Dagbon and outside Dagbon (Diaspora)

2. Commercial organizations sympathetic to the Dagbon Peace and Re-unification cause

3. Governmental organizations: Tamale Metropolitan Assembly, District Assemblies in Dagbon, among others

4. Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) sympathetic to the Dagbon Peace and Re-unification cause

5. Other sympathizers

A special DPRI Fund bank account will be opened by the Organizing Committee to run the financial affairs of the initiative

Securiy Arrangements

The REGSEC will be instrumental in this area since several traditional leaders and non-traditional personalities will be invited to the occasion. All activities should take place with the active and sincere participation of the REGSEC, which should demonstrate whole-hearted commitment, neutrality, and transparency to assure everyone involved in the process.

Food for thought:

If the DPRI is implemented successfully, there is a good chance that Dagbon will change for the better, the security situation will improve remarkably, and the financial burden the central government foots in keeping peace and security in Dagbon will reduce drastically, thus paving way for the resources to be channeled into other pressing projects. But more importantly, Dagombas will begin talking to each other directly, discussing and planning together the development of the DTA. Further, if the DPRI is implemented successfully, a more peaceful, conducive environment will be created for investment and development and the chieftaincy issue will become a diminished political theme. Moreover, there will be a higher degree of tolerance for political dissensions in our democratic dispensation, because certainly, hearts will soften, and understanding will improve.

We should realize that we (Dagombas) are all together in a “sinking ship” which is in the high waters and requires a prompt rescue and repair to save us from drowning. Those of us (Dagombas) who have the requisite know-how to repair the “sinking ship” do not have the requisite tools that can repair it. And those of us with the requisite tools do not have the requisite know-how to repair the “sinking ship.” And since none of us can swim ashore and there is no one to rescue us from drowning but ourselves, I think the best step we should take is cooperate with each other in order to repair the “sinking ship” and save ourselves from perishing. My very honest opinion is that a traditional issue requires a traditional approach, especially if we can initiate an acceptable solution ourselves, because to foist a settlement would likely result in a zero-sum game with one side feeling a sense of betrayal. Such tactics never worked in the past for us, hence let us try this new and different approach of reconciliation, re-unification, and cooperation in order to resolve our issues and to see to the socio-economic development of our area.

Declaration:

I solemnly declare, with my conscience guided by the truth contained in the Holy Quran, that I am presenting this proposed DPRI to the Good People of Dagbon heart-wholly and with the best of intentions for the benefit and furtherance of the people of the DTA, present and future, and that my wish is for the people of Dagbon to live in lasting peace and as a re-united people in order to bring about the badly needed development and progress for all our people - the development and future of Dagbon lies in our own hands; not in no one else’s. I make this declaration, with God being my witness, and I wish that current and future generations of Dagombas will bear witness that an unknown, mainstream Dagomba presented a proposal, the foregoing proposal, to Dagombas and the government of the day, for Dagbon PEACE, RECONCILIATION, and RE-UNIFICATION. Allah, witness my hand on this thankful day: Friday, September 7, 2007. Amen.

Peace for Dagbon!

Proposed by:

Natogmah Issahaku (Dagbon Peace, Re-unification, and Development Advocate)

Hails from Jisonaayilli, Tamale

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