I have been posting articles by E.A. Ammah, one of the foremost 20th century authorities on Ga culture and traditions over the past year. This article, written almost 50 years ago, puts the present wrangling on who must be the Ga King in better perspective for most of us and explains in part some of the difficulties facing the traditional leaders in modern day urbanised Ga.
I do not know what the contestants and the many chieftaincy ‘eaters’ agents would have made of this article if they had read it when it was first written, at the start of the late Boni Nii Amugi II reign in 1965. But i have learnt a lot reading it now and will welcome whatever comments that people would want to make on this blog.
Sixty Years of Ga Politics
By E. A. Ammah
The internal and external political struggles of the Ga people from the time that they left Nubia until they settled at their resting place of Ayawaso or Kplagon are unknown. Ga history in Ghana probably dates from the latter part of the thirteenth century (1275). Critical and comparative study of the history of Ghana suggests that if Ga people were not the first to arrive here, then they were among the first peoples who settled here in the 13th century. The names of the Ga sovereigns from 1275 until the time of Ayi Kushi are not known. Ayi Kushi is reputed to be the first Ga monarch at Kplagon.
Before discussing the past 60 years of Ga politics, we shall review briefly Ga political history from the time of King Ayi Kushi to the death of King Taki Tawia II. The dynastic name of the Ga kingdom is Tunma We. This House has provided the Ga kingdom with sovereigns down the centuries. It is a great credit to the elder statesmen of Tunma We that the Royal House has never changed.
Apart from aggressions from neighbouring tribes in which Ga was always victorious, the internal history of Ga is one of incessant political upheavals, well-calculated intrigues, and treachery of the highest order, which were contrived sometimes by different branches of the royal family and sometimes by people outside Tunma We.
The first known stool-dispute in Ga history was the attempt of the Asere to take the Ga throne by force which compelled King Ayi Kushi to retire to the place from whence he came (1452). We do not hear of any political turmoil until the reign of Manpong Okai. From the time of Mangpong Okai to that of his grandson King Ofori, the political upheavals were so intense and callous that three monarchs were tragically killed; they were King Mangpong Okai, his wife Queen Dode Akaibi, and his son King Okai Koi. After the sack of Great Accra at Ayawaso, King Ofori, the son of King Okai Koi, fled to the coast and established the capital on the coast at small Accra. King Ofori eventually went to Little Popo and established Tugba Dynasty there. It is important to state here that after the death of Mangpong Okai, one Dua Kwei championed the cause of the Royalists, he crowned Dode Akaibi; he acted after the queen’s death and enthroned King Okai Koi. But for this strong man and the intrepid Awutu elements in the royal courts, the infuriated terrorists might have put an end to Ga monarchy. The political history of Ga closed at Ayawaso with the migration of the remainder of the people to small Accra.
Among the significant political events which occurred after the Ga capital was moved to the coast and before the beginning of the twentieth century were the following: After the death of King Ayi a great constitutional change was made when a female line was introduced with the enthronement of Ayi Kuma Tieku Bah son of Mangpong Okai’s daughter Okaile (1700-1733). After the death of King Ofori, there were two claimants to the Ga stool, Okaidza and Tetteh Ahene Akwa; the latter was enstooled and reigned from 1740 to 1784. This action of the vigilant elders of Tunma We had a devastating effect in Ga; the Gbese area was founded, Tetteh Ahene Akwa took the original Ga ivory stool to Little Popo, and Princess Momo married a Nai priest which created Amugi We. In 1782, there were again two claimants to the Ga stool: Teiko Din and Teiko Tsuru; Teiko Tsuru was enthroned. A civil war (Agbungtse) broke out between James Town and Ussher Town in 1884. Taki Tawia closed the line of old Ga sovereigns (1482-1902).
King Taki Obili (1904-1918)
This one era in the history of Ga closed with the death of King Taki Tawia on July 2, 1902. A new era opened with the enstoolment of Nii Taki Obili, son of Arday and Aku and a member of Amugi We.
A constitutional rift between the council of regency of Tunma We, which was headed by Asafoatse Kodzo, and the Ga Mashi mantsemei preceded the enstoolment of Nii Taki Obili. The origin of the rift was Capt. Kodzo’s installation of Brimah as head of the Lagosian community resident in Accra. The mantsemei challenged the constitutional authority of the elders of Tunma We to appoint Brimah. The elders of the stool tacitly ignored the challenge as they considered that the mantsemei did not have any right to question the Dzase’s action. The matter, however, developed to such proportions that the mantsemei were not informed about the enstoolment of Nii Taki Obili which took place on January 25, 1904.
Government intervened and advised the Ga stool elders to see what could be done to enable the mantsemei to participate in the enstoolment. In the interests of peace, the Dzase invited the mantsemei a week later. Nii Taki Obili wearing his crown was led from the Stool Room by Nii Okai Mensah, who told the manstemei “nɔni mi fee lɛ, mifee (what I have done I have done), because of this crown unsuccessful wars have been waged against me.” He handed the king over to Nii Gbese, Nii Okaidza saying “Behold your king.” Then Nii Taki Obili administered the oath of allegiance and the mantsemei renewed their allegiance to the Ga stool. This closed the first political and constitutional crisis of the twentieth century which had been precipitated by the installation of a head of the Lagosian community resident in the Ga area.
From the very beginning of his reign, Nii Taki Obili had as his advisors men of every walk of life—shrewd politicians, expert statesmen, and wealthy men who had the welfare of the people at heart. The man responsible for his education was John Van der Puije; the men responsible for his education in political science were his advisors. Nii Taki Obili, being an intelligent young ruler, grew to be a great exponent of Ga customary law and a competent administrator. Thus with the assistance of his advisors,
Nii Taki Obili kept inviolate the enviable and unique political status of Ga, bequeathed to him by his forebears and he added glory to it with the passage of time.
The First Destoolment
The Ga constitution clearly states that the reins of government are in the hands of kings (mantsemei hiɛ amɛmang) and that the supreme will rests with the people (man dzi man). The people vindicated their power by various methods in preceding centuries, when they considered that a monarch had misbehaved. The people of this century, however, adopted destoolment from the Akans to check the sovereign who misbehaved. The first Ga ruler to endure this punishment was Nii Taki Obili.
Thus the sixty years of Ga politics began with the destoolment of Nii Taki Obili after 14 years of a glorious and memorable reign. The cause of the destoolment was that he mortgaged the Ga stool to a trading concern in 1918 with a view to shipping cocoa overseas. He did not consult the accredited members of the Ga Stool Royal Family. When the news of the transaction leaked out and the responsible elders sought audience with him on several occasions through the Abola mantse as demanded by common law, he flatly refused the requests. The mantsemei reported the result of their mission to the Dzase. The Dzase and the mantsemei held a series of meetings as to the appropriate next step. Finally they decided to destool him. The Dzase preferred charges against him. The Akwashong sat on Sakumo-tsoshishi and declared him destooled on August 10, 1918.
In December 1910, Nii Okai Mensah, the Ga Stool Father, died and on February 10, 1915, Ataa Ammah Sippley, head of the Royal Family passed away. The leadership of the Dzase fell on Kwaku Niri, who in 1918 destooled Nii Taki Obili.
To sum up, Nii Taki Obili was destooled, not because he mortgaged the Ga Stool, far from it, for some of the sovereigns before him (notably King Okai Koi) engaged in similar economic adventures, but because he was disobedient. The considered opinion of many was that he was ill-advised by Atta Tetteh Kwaku, an influential elder of the Abola Stool.
Nii Taki Yaoboi (1919-1929)
When Ataa Kwaku Niri died in October 1918, Kwatɔi Oshi (David Quartey) became head of the Ga Stool Royal Family. Here it is interesting to record that all communications as to the destoolment of Nii Taki Obili and the enstoolment of Nii Taki Yaoboi were conducted between the Dzase and the Government.
An important constitutional fact is that as common law provides, the Dzase, headed by Kwatɔi Oshi constituted the council of regency. Nii Gbese played a part in that hectic time, for he invited the Dzase to his palace and discussed the question of nominating a new candidate with them. The result of Nii Ayi Bonte’s commsultation with the Dzase on the question of a candidate was the nomination of Nii Yaoboi, son of Nii Okai Mensah and Aligbi, and grandson of King Yaote’s brother Yaoboi of Amugi We. When Yaoboi was elected, an influential Ga Mashi mantse suggested that the king-elect should be enstooled with the name Yaoboi, but as in the case of Obili, the Dzase objected and prefixed Taki to it. Nii Taki Yaoboi was enstooled by Nii Taki Nukpa, Nmaanmɔtsɛ, on Sunday, February 8, 1919.
The most wanton and callous upheaval in the sixty years of Ga politics dragged on in the turbulent reign of Nii Taki Yaoboi, defender of the Dzase’s right as custodians of the Ga Stool. The Asere people, long-noted for revenge–harassed King Ayi Kushi until he abdicated and retired whence he came, they betrayed King Okai Koi and Ga became prey of Akwamu for more than half a century—showed their revengeful colours. On February 24, 1922 they overtly attached Nii Taki Yaoboi at Bukon Square, because he had opposed their going to Okai Koi’s hill with flags bearing insinuative emblems.
The Second Destoolment
The Asere people nursed bitter grievances against Nii Taki Yaoboi. When Nii Taki Yaoboi agreed to a scheme for dredging the Korle Lagoon, the Asere people and others spread the false rumor that he had sold the lagoon. The people became infuriated and staged their first attempt to destool him. The attempts were so constant—four times—that the late Akilagpa Sawyerr aptly described them as “annual festivals.” The attempts failed, because Nii Kodzo Ababio, Nii Ayi Bonte, Dr. F. V. Kanka-Bruce, Lawyer Akilagpa Sawyerr and other prominent members of the Ratepayers Association supported him against the Mangbii Party of Hon. Kodzo Thompson. When his supporters joined the other camp, Nii Taki Yaoboi was finally destooled in 1929.
In 1925, Nii Taki Yaoboi received Edward Prince to Wales to the nation’s capital. When Nii Taki Yaoboi accepted the Native Jurisdiction Ordinance, Government then applied it to all areas in Ghana. In principle, the Ordinance upheld Ga status and leadership. Nii Taki Yaoboi was the last Ga sovereign to chair a meeting of Eastern Region Rulers. When Ataa Kwatei Oshi died in 1926, Nii Tetteh Kwei was installed as Ga Stool Dzasetse.
Nii Taki Obili (1933-1944)
The first occupant of the Gbese stool to act as Ga Mantse was Nii Okaidza, founder of Gbese Area (c. 1742). After his time, no occupant of the Gbese Stool acted until Nii Ayi Bonte, which was made possible by a sharp division within the Dzase. A faction of the Dzase that associated themselves with the destooling party hastened Nii Taki Yaoboi’s downfall. Without them Nii Taki Yaoboi’s destoolment could not have been effected. This factious group backed Nii Ayi Bonte. They conferred the office of Acting Ga Mantse on Nii Ayi Bonte, which has since formed part of Ga common law.
The Ga constitution is based on common or unwritten law. A feature in it is that the people do not have the right to nominate a candidate. Their right is to reject a nominated candidate. They do not have any right to prefer charges against a Ga Mantse. Before Nii Taki Yaoboi was destooled, Nii Tetteh Koi was destooled as Dzasetse and Akote Hammond was the Dzasetse who reinstated Nii Taki Obili in 1933.
Nii Taki Yaoboi’s faction opposed Nii Taki Obili’s reinstatement. Government referred the matter to the Joint Provincial Council at Dodowa. The Council went into the case thoroughly. Akote Hammond stood for Nii Taki Obili and Nii Tetteh Koi represented Nii Taki Yaoboi’s interests. The Joint Provincial Council decided that Nii Taki Obili was to be reinstated in accordance with Ga common law. This ended a great political crisis known as the “Dodowa Stool Dispute.”
The Third Destoolment
Nii Taki Obili began his second reign in 1934. Although he did his best in every sphere of human endeavor, the very Dzase that reinstated him suggested, on the pretext of his blindness, that he should appoint a regent to administer the affairs of the Area. When he refused, they destooled him for the second time in 1944. In the considered opinion of many students of the politics, he was innocent.
Nii Taki Tawia II (1944-47)
The row between Nii Taki Obili’s Dzase and Nii Taki Yaoboi’s faction grew from bad to worse. After the second destoolment of Nii Taki Obili, Nii Taki Yaoboi attempted to be reinstated, but all his movements were foiled by the Dzase of Nii Taki Obili, assisted by the Acting Ga Mantse, Nii Ayite Adjin. While the accredited father of the Ga stool was alive, Akote Hammond, the Dzasetse, and others installed Adjintse Tetteh, Oshi Ahene, Tetteh Ashong as members of the Dzase. In the course of time, Dzasetsɛ Akote Hammond died and Nii Tetteh Ashongwas elected Acting Ga Stool Dzasetse. With this dual office he enstooled Nii Taki Tawia II as Ga Mantse on July 16, 1944. In October 1944 Nii Teiko Abonua II (Dr. C. E. Reindorf) was installed Ga Dzasetse.
Nii Taki Tawia II countenanced neither stool dispute nor destoolment in any shape or form. In the three years of his reign there was no acute or turbulent political crisis in the Ga Area. He, therefore, was called “Ambassador of Peace.”
Nana Sir Ageyman Prempeh, Asantehene, visited him in 1946. The royal visit of the august Ashanti monarch renewed the ties of friendship woven between Ashanti and Ga in the time of King Tetteh Ahene Akwa (1740) but broken by Ga when they assisted the British Government in fighting Ashanti in Asamankau or Cape Coast War of 1824.
Nii Taki Tawia II, Ga ideal sovereign, died on December 23, 1947 in the prime of his glorious reign. He was born in 1906, the son of Ayidzaku and Bɔɔkɔ.
Nii Taki Kome II (1948-1961)
The Fourth Destoolment
If there was any Ga sovereign who was humble and obedient and of good character, that monarch was Nii Taki Yaoboi. Yet in spite of his unimpeachable virtues, he was the most harassed sovereign in the sixty years of Ga politics. Antithetically, if there was any Ga ruler who was very proud, cunning, arrogant, and uncooperative with his Dzase and his mantsemei, that mantse was Nii Taki Kome II. In the thirteen years of his reign, he harassed the Dzase and the mantsemei more than any other sovereign before him in the sixty years of Ga politics. Nii Taki Yaoboi was a humble man and Ga destooled him; Nii Taki Kome II began his reign with a policy of non-cooperation and Ga deposed him. What qualities in life do the Ga people expect of their leader? Truly did our wisemen warn that one should be circumspect in dealing with the Ga people (anyiɛɛ Ga sɛɛ, anyiɛɛ Ga hiɛ).
Nii Taki Kome II, son of Taki and Akworkor, was born in December 1897. The nomination of a candidate from Taki Kome We to fill the vacant post which had been created by the sudden death of Nii Taki Tawia II raised a complicated issue. Taki Kome We consists of three sub-houses—Lomoko, Naa Kɔle, and Ashamankaile. Lomoko gave two candidates, C. A. Lomoko and E. N. Lomoko (deceased), Naa Kɔle one, Ashaley Okee, and Ashamankaile two, Paul Tagoe and Tawia Broche (deceased). When votes were cast, C. A. Lomoko had the highest number, but the Dzasetse, Nii Teiko Abonua II, recommended E. N. Lomoko to the mantsemei through Nii Ayite Adjin, Gbese maƞtse, who had been removed from office as Acting Ga Mantse.
Apart from the stool dispute in the Dzase, Nii Ayite Adjin raised a national one. He failed in his attempt to reinstate Nii Taki Obili for the second time, because he did not have support from the mantsemei and the Dzase.
When Nii Ayite Adjin, Acting Ga Mantse, was deprived of his office, Nii Adjei Onanɔ, La mantse, became Acting Ga Mantse. He and the other mantsemei probed the complicated nominative issue and finally elected C. A. Lomoko, who was enstooled as Ga Mantse on October 24, 1948 under the stool name of Taki Kome II.
Nii Taki Kome II did not cooperate with his Dzase, particularly the Dzasetse. From the beginning of his reign he confronted and embarrassed the mantsemei with his policy of non-cooperation. Awutu seceded in his reign. He considered that he alone was intelligent; in fact he had intelligence, his only fault was that he did not adroitly use it. He removed the Dzasetse more than once. Finally in 1961 the mantsemei succeeded in destooling him. With all his faults, he embraced the C. P. P. movement and its founder Osageyfo, Father of the Nation, when most rulers opposed them.
After the Fourth Destoolment
Sixty years of Ga politics began with the enstoolment of Nii Taki Obili in February 1904. During the preceding interregnum, Capt. Kodzo was in charge. According to the following document signed by Governor Nathan, “Captain Kodzo had charge of the funeral customs of the late King Taki Tawia which were carried out in a fitting and proper manner. He takes an interest in cleanliness and order of the part of Ussher Town where under the Chief, he holds an official position. Feb. 4, 04. Signed M. Nathan.” This document has two-fold political significance: (a) the Dzase takes charge of the Ga Area and (b) they appoint one of themselves to be political head. During the period under discussion, Ataa Ammah Sippley was Dzasetse and Nii Okai Mensah was Father of the Stool. Ordinarily either of them should have taken charge, but they appointed a man with political status in Tunma We to act. Another case of historical interest is that when Ayikuma Teiku Bah was reigning, this Tetteh Ahene Akwa was captain, but when King Ofori Tibo died in 1739 Tetteh Ahene Akwa was enstooled king.
The political situation described in the preceding paragraph has bearing on the events that have taken place since the destoolment of Nii Taki Kome II. The present political crisis began when some political students of Amugi We, the house which was to provide the candidate for the vacant post, raised the question of eligibility and the place of Nii Tetteh Kwei, the Dzasetse in Nii Taki Yaoboi’s reign. They argued that female line pedigree does not occupy the Ga Stool and that since Nii Tetteh Kwei was a State Drummer, his grandson Seth Mensah Tetteh Quaye was not a legitimate candidate. But the moot point is how came a particular set of Nai people to be connected with Nii Okai Stool? The Amugi We view is that they had access to the Ga Stool through Momo, daughter of Tetteh Ahene Akwa. Knowing this historical fact and that Nii Tetteh Kwei belonged to Tunma Dynasty, the elders of Amugi We selected Seth Mensah Tetteh Quaye as their prospective candidate.
The nomination and election of Seth Mensah Tetteh Quaye were carried out as laid down by common law from the Akwashong to the Dzase through Nii Gbese and Nii Abola. The Dzase also performed the engagement custom and all the mantsemei and concerned wulomei in the Ga Area were informed about the date of the entoolment.
Late on the day of the enstoolment, however, the Dzasetse, Nii Teiko Abonua II, received a priority telegram, confirmed by a letter from the District Commissioner of Accra Central, to hold back the enstoolment ceremony. Nii Pesamaku III, the Acting President of the Ga Mashi Traditional Area, convened a meeting to which District Commissioner Bulley was invited to explain certain points in the telegram. The District Commissioner did not attend owing to ill health. The Dzase was also invited. At this special meeting the mantsemei resolved that the enstoolment ceremony should take place the next Saturday, Feb. 1963. The appointed day came; the enstoolment did not take place. The whole question was shelved.
Meanwhile, Nii Pesamaku III as head of the Ga Mashi Area approached the responsible Ministry and the late Nai Wulomo, Akwa Mensah, also contacted other responsible members of the Government with a view to removing the impediment, but they did not succeed.
The mantsemei then referred the matter to the Dzase. The Dzase handled the question effectively by approaching the Ministry of Justice. The result of the interview was the disclosure that a section of the Dzase (Amugi We) had challenged the constitutional validity of the election of Seth Mensah Tetteh Quaye. The Government, therefore, had handed the matter to Mr. Dowuona Hammond, then Minister of Education, and Mr. S. T. Provencal to determine. These two persons invited the Dzase to a meeting at the Ministries and disclosed Government’s opinion that a new candidate should be elected. The Government’s decision divided the Dzase into two factions and led to the present Stool dispute.
The Acting Dzasetse and a few followers favoured a new candidate, while Ataa Amui, the head of Amugi We, and the efficient and conscientious Secretary, Mr. Ashaley Okoe, stood for review of Government’s decision. At this point, the Dzasetse wavered and asked the mantse-elect Seth Mensah Tetteh Quaye to defend himself. Mr. Quaye put his defence clearly to Government; the defense petition was signed by the Dzase Secretary. In the course of time, Government acknowledged receipt of the able defense of the mantse-elect. The acknowledgement was a decisive turning point. Those who advocated a new candidate receded and blamed others for the divided Dzase. The Dzasetse’s wavering turned into hope and confidence; he, therefore, appealed to Government to ease the suspense concerning the enstoolment of Seth Mensah Tetteh Quaye. Unexpectedly, Mr. Dowunona Hammond and Mr. S. T. Provencal invited the Dzase to a meeting at Nii Pesamaku’s residence. At the meeting the two gentlemen reiterated their former opinion, but added that if the Dzase still supported Seth Mensah Tetteh Quaye, they would write to Government through Nii Gbese. Thus Ataa Amui and his followers triumphed.
Ataa Amui is responsible for the present Ga Stool dispute. When Seth Mensah Tetteh Quaye-’s petition was in the hands of Government, Ataa Amui, pressed by a section of Amugi We, selected Mr. S. O. Yartey as the new candidate if Government adhered to its expressed opinion. Although Ataa Amui’s action was questionable, it was expedient as a safeguard. As an expedient measure, the selection of Mr. S. O. Yartey did not infringe upon common law.
In course of time, the Dzasetse received a reply from Government that the election and enstoolment of a Traditional Ruler of an Area rested with the Dzase. This reply rolled the cloud of suspense away, and restored implicit faith in Government. Thereupon the Dzase instructed the Secretary Ashaley Okoe to convene a meeting of the Dzase to sense their views on the opinion expressed by Douwona Hammond and S. T. Provencal at the meeting at Nii Gbese’s residence.
The historic meeting met on May 2, 1964 at the Ga Mantse’s Palace under the presidency of the Acting Dzasetse. At the meeting Ashaley Okoe, the Secretary, moved that the Dzase should signify as to whether it still support Seth Mensah Tetteh Quaye, the Ga Mantse-elect. Addoquaye Pappoe seconded the motion. With the exception of one person, all the members present gave their solid support to the Ga Mantse-elect. Three persons, including the Acting Dzasetse, were commissioned to convey the deliberations of the meeting to the Dzasetse.
Upon the decisive consent of the Dzase, the Dzasetse applied for a drumming permit for the enstoolment day of Seth Mensah Tetteh Quaye. We thought peace and concord had removed the division in the Dzase, but it was a delusion. The opposing faction, led by the Acting Dzasetse, put up a rival candidate, Mr. S. O. Yartey. Thus for the second time the enstoolment ceremony of Seth Mensah Tetteh Quaye was frustrated and the third stool dispute in the sixty years of Ga politics began in earnest.
S. O. Yartey was simply selected. The Dzase had not nominated him; neither the mantsemei nor the Akwashong had elected him. In the considered opinion of many a constitutional student, the Acting Dzasetse’s overt support of the rival candidate was both a political muddle and subversive in character not only against the Dzasetse who had previously informed the Government through the Acting Ga Mantse of the full support of the Dzase but also against constituted authority, the Akwashong, themantsemei, and the Dzase of Tunma We dynasty.
The last sixty years of Ga politics comprises four destoolments and three stool disputes. During this period Amugi We reigned for 34 yearss: Nii Taki Obili 14 and 10 and Nii Yaoboi 10; Teiko Tsuru We for 3 years: Nii Taki Tawia II, and Taki Kome We for 13 years: Nii Taki Kome II. In all Tunma We reigned for 50 years, while the remaining ten years were shared between Gbese and La: Nii Ayi Bonte 4 years, Nii Ayite Adjin 1 year, Nii Pesamaku III 4 years, and Nii Adjei Onanɔ II, 1 year.
While sixty years of Ga politics witnessed a change in the Ga constitution, the change is not fundamental. After the destoolment of Nii Taki Kome II the Dzasetse ordered a change in the constitution: Teiko Tsuru We, Amugi We, and Taki Kome We should be changed to Akropong and Adzimangkese, respectively. His terms were that an appointed committee should explore the place of Akropong and that of Adzimangkese within Tunma We dynasty and report their findings. According to Teiko Tsuru We members, their House is Akropong, but some expressed the opinion that Amugi We is Akropong. Amugi We members, however, claimed that they hailed from Adzimangkese. Taki Kome We members proved with an evidential letter that Teiko Tsuru We and Taki Kome We formed Adzimangkese, but Teiko Tsuru We insisted that they alone form Akropong and Amugi maintained their attachment to Adzimangkese. During the discussion, the place of Piang was considered; Piang members said that Piang is connected with Amugi We. The ruling houses, therefore, were Adzimangkese comprising Teiko Tsuru We and Taki Kome We and Akropong consisting of Amugi We and Piang.
No one seems to know the origin of Akropong. All that is known is that it was the most senior House and that it was monarchy in origin, and that it was established in the reign of Ayikama Teiku Bah. About Adzimangkese, it is said that it was priesthood in origin and that it originated after the defeat ofAkwamu in 1733; the name having been given to Korkoi for her bavery in that war. Fortuneately or unfortuneately the names of the ruling houses were alterd to Akropong comprising Teiko Tsuru We and Piang and Adzimangkese made up of Amugi We and Taki Kome We. The head of Amugi We (Mr. Amui Mensah) was made head of Adzimangkese and the head of Taki Kome We (Mr. E. A. Ammah) was made deputy head. The head of Teiko Tsuru We (Prince Taki) was elevated to the headship of Akropong and Mr. Amponsah Ankrah was made deputy head.
This, in a nutshell, is the constitutional change—a copy of which was sent to Ga Traditional Area. In the new year of 1964, the Dzasetse gave a new term of reference that the terms Akropong and Adzimangkese do not reflect dignity on the Ga Stool. They should be changed to the original name of Tunma We dynasty. The matter is still under discussion.
There have been many stool disputes in Ga political history. However sharp the gravity of the upheaval was, the political crusade was conducted according to Ga common law as laid down long, long ago. The constitutional election of Seth Mensah Tetteh Quaye, which developed into the stool dispute between his followers led by Atta Amui head of Amugi We supported by Nii Teiko Abonua II and the faction of S. O. Yartey led by Tetteh Ashong II, Acting Dzasetse, infringed upon the fundamental constitution of the Ga people.
Never in the political history of Tunma We has a head of the Ga royal family played such political tactics as the present Dzasetsɛ who withdrew his support from Seth Mensah Tetteh Quaye, the mantse-elect by constituted authority. By this political mess, the Dzasetsɛ not only nullified the whole system of electing a Ga Mantse but also has set an unconstitutional precedent.
A corollary to the political confusion of the Dzasetse was the action of Ataa Amui Tsuru, head of Amugi We, who championed Seth Mensah Tetteh Quaye until September 1, 1964. The indecisive attitude of Nii Teiko Abonua II and Ataa Amui Tsuru made them unstable in their ways.
The New Ga Mantse
On Tuesday, September 1, 1964, Ataa Amui Tsuru selected S. O. Yartey. His candidacy was approved summarily by Nii Teiko Abonua II. Gbese Mantse recommended him to Government as Ga Mantse-elect. An attempt was made to enstool him, but a prominent member of the Dzase, Prince C. Tackie, then head of Akropong, foiled it and successfully appealed to the police to guard the palace. Thus the plot of the Dzasetse and the Acting Ga Mantse was frustrated.
The enstoolment question concerning the claims of the two candidates, Seth Mensah Tetteh Quaye and S. O. Yartey, was placed in the hands of the Government, and it was referred to the appropriate quarters to determine the issue. At long last the Commission of Inquiry recommended that both candidates should be rejected; the decision became effective, and the Dzasetse was accordingly informed with a suggestion to elect a new candidate.
Following the Government’s decision, Nii Teiko Abonua II asked Amugi We for a candidate for the third time. On Wednesday, November 4, 1964, the Dzase met at the Abose Okai residence of Ataa Amui Tsuru for that purpose. Ataa Amui Tsuru agreed to name their choice at the next meeting (11.11.64). In spite of the Government ruling, a section of Amugi We still supported Mr. S. O. Yartey. When Nii Pesamaku III, Gbese Mantse heard of the move of the Ga Stool electorate, he invited the Dzase to a meeting at his residence on Wednesday November 13, 1964. At this meeting the Gbese Mantse told the electorate that he did not know about the letter rejecting Seth Mensah Tetteh Quaye and S. O. Yartey; he, therefore, promised to inquire about the genuineness of the letter. Since a reply was not forthcoming, the electorate met on Friday November 20, 1964 and repeated their demand to Ataa Amui Tsuru. At a meeting of the electorate on Friday November 27, 1964 a letter was received from a faction of Amugi We stating that “On the 24th November 1964, Nii Amui, the head of Amugi We, summoned a meeting at about 4.30 p.m. Stool priest by virtue of his being a member of Amugi We family was present. The mantle fell on William Yaotey Tackie….” This situation created another stool dispute. The electorate severely reprimanded Ataa Amui Tsuru and requested him to reconcile the rising faction.
Meanwhile Amugi We presented the candidate of their choice, S. Yaoboi Yaotey, to the electorate on Monday November 30, 1964. Some members of the electorate accepted S. Y. Yaotey; a section of Teiko Tsuru We opposed it. When the electorate met on Thursday December 8, 1964, the reactionary elements created havoc and left the meeting. At a meeting on Friday Deceember 11, 1964 Amugi We faction confirmed their nomination of W. Y. Tackie with a letter dated December 10, 1964. Ataa Amui Tsuru, head of Amugi We, and Ataa Anum, the stool priest, were present “and after a serious discussion of the whole issue the mantle again fell on William Yaotey Tackie as successor to the vacant stool.” At this meeting the reactionary group within Akropong, Teiko Tsuru We, intensified their same attitude and the meeting broke off in disorder without prospect of another meeting. The reactionary element appeared to have gained their objective which was that failing the election of W. Y. Tackie, Teiko Tsuru We would provide a new candidate. There was a deadlock. What next?
Ataa E. A. Ammah took it upon himself to meet the Amugi faction at the late Nii Tetteh Quaye’s house (House no. D573/2 Amerley Laryea Street, Accra) on Wednesday December 16, 1964. Ataa Ammah pleaded for unity among Amugi We; while they seemed to appreciate his plea, they reiterated paragraph 3 of their letter dated December 10, 1964.
It was understood by all members present that in order to bring harmony into the family, it would be improper to elect, either Mr. S. O. Yartey’s son or Seth Tetteh Quaye’s son to occupy the stool since their nomination had been rejected by the Government.
Finally, they added that our case was in the hands of the Dzasetse and that we were awaiting his reply. That very evening Ataa Ammah reported the result of his self-imposed reconciliatory mission to the Dzase Otsame, Ofori Taki; he, in turn, informed the Acting Dzasetse who there and then instructed that a meeting should be convened on Saturday, December 19, 1964 at the residence of the Dzasetse. At the meeting which was held according to schedule, the majority of the electorate passed a resolution supporting S. Y. Yartey’s candidacy.
Hope, confidence, and enthusiasm marked the historic meeting on December 19, 1964. Before any further step was taken, however, the electors asked Ataa Amui Tsuru and Ataa Anum about their involvement in the nomination of Mr. William T. Tackie. In a letter dated 20th December 1964, R. M. Amui and Nii Anum cleared themselves by saying that the allegation that they took part on the nomination of Mr. W. Y. Tackie “is a deliberate fabrication, designed to implicate us in the unconstitutional strategy which aims at obstructing the Ga Stool Dzase electorate to perform their rightful duty.” Previously on 19th December 1964, the Dzasetse had addressed a letter to the Secretary of Amugi We faction in which he stated that the alleged nomination of Mr. W. Y. Tackie “is unconstitutional as the right to nominate and elect a Ga Mantse lies only with the Ga Stool Dzase electorate.” The letter further clarifies, “I, therefore, cannot find my way clear to give either my support or confirmation of your candidate.” Thus, the Dzasetse’s letter closed the third dispute within Amugi We and consolidated the election and facilitated the enstoolment of Mr. S. Y. Yartey.
Having cleared the hindrance, Amugi We section of the electorate formally presented Mr. S. Y. Yartey, Ga Mantse-designate, to Nii Teiko Anonua II, Dzasetse, and the other electorate on Wednesday 23rd December 1964. The reactionary electors (J. Blankson Lartey, W. A. Lawson, Addoquaye Pappoe, and J. A. Lartey of Teiko Tsuru We and Ashaley Okoe, the secretary of Taki Kome We) were not present. The Dzase named him Nii Taki Amugi II. On Thursday December 31 he was formally presented to Nii Abola, then on Monday January 4, 1965 he was presented to the Gbese Mantse according to custom with his stool name. Then on Thursday January 28, 1965, the Dzastse formally sent the engagement portion to the immediate family of the mantse-elect. On Saturday February 20, 1965, the rum indicated the date of the enstoolment ceremony was distributed to the mantsemei from Tema to Awutu.
The events which are pertaining to Amugi We providing a mantse conspire to suggest that they do not merit to provide a mantse for the Ga stool. A few days after the rum announcing the day of enstoolment, a constitutional rift developed between Gbese Mantse and Asere Mantse.
Although the Asere mantse accepted the notification rum in principle, he maintained that neither had he been informed that the first mantse-elect had been rejected by Government not had he known that a new Ga Mantse had been elected. For the purpose of political unity, the Acting Ga Mantse and two members of the Dzase (the Acting Dzasetse and the Dzase Otsame) met Nii Asere at Agbon and settled their differences.
On the eve of the enstoolment, Saturday 20th March 1965 the stool house was purified by the Acting Nai Wulomo, Numoo Yaoboi. When Nii Pesamaku III heard about the purification, he came and inquired why he had not been informed before the purification took place. At this point he coerced the priest of the Ga Stool, Nii Anum, and both of them entered the stool room and pour libation. No Gbese Mantse had ever done such a thing before for in theory on such an occasion the Gbese mantse does not have access to the stool room.
After the purification, the mantsemei began to arrive. The censing of the house took place at about 11:00 p.m. When the mantse-elect arrived at the royal palace at about 11:45, he was immediately taken into the stool room for the enstoolment ceremony. Usually the head of Amugi We hands the mantse-elect to the Dzasetse who, in turn, hands him to the stool father outside the stool room, but on this occasion it appears that this was done in the stool room, which is totally against custom.
Normally it is the oshiahene and three or four members of the Dzase that enter the stool room for the enstoolment ceremony, but on this occasion V. A. Lartey, head of Akropong, and R. A. Amugi, head of Adzimangkese, entered the stool room. Why Amponah Ankrah, deputy head of Akropong, was not allowed into the stool room beats the imagination. Before the enstoolment took place not only the Dzase but the Sakumo wulomo, Kole wulomo, and Naii Gbese entered the stool room. The stool room, therefore, became public. All these people were present when the actual enstoolment took place. Thus what was secret became public. Thus the holy place was desecrated land; the stool room became a public place. It appeared that the Acting Dzasetse connived the entry into the stool room of these persons who are barred from it by custom.
At midnight on March 21,, 1965, the various drums peeled forth their notes announcing that the mantse had been formally enstooled. We were reliably informed that after the swearing of the oath of allegiance between the stool father and the Ga Mantse, that for the first time in the history of the enstoolment of a Ga Mantse similar oaths were sworn between him and A. T. Lartey and R. M. Amui in the stool room. Why such a thing happened especially in the stool room, we cannot say. We believe that this was instructed by the Acting Dzasetse. It is unfortunate that such a thing happened during his tenure of his office; ultimately, the electors must share the blame.
After the enstoolment ceremony in the stool room, the Ga Mantse was brought into the hall where the mantsemei and others had gathered to receive their Ga Mantse. As soon as they entered, the Oshiahene called Nii Gbese and said, “Behold your king, behold your king.” At each announcement, Nii Gbese responded, “I receive him whole heartedly.” Then the oaths of allegiance began in earnest; they were sworn in the following order: Nii Gbese, Acting Nii Abola, Nii Asere, Acting Nii Akumadze, Nii Otublohun, and Akwashongtse. Why the last had missed the oath of allegiance earlier, we do not know. Never in the history of swearing the oath of allegiance has such a thing happened. This is contrary to established custom. Finally, it is painful to record that the pro-tem Acting Dzasetse, W. A. Lawson, was the last person to swear the oath of allegiance when he should have been the first preceding the mantsemei. This order of oath swearing was arranged by the Acting Dzasetse and deviated substantially from established custom.
Another point, which should be emphasized, is that except for his enstoolment the new Ga Manatse returned from the stool room as he went. He came without the crown, the afile on his wrist, and the necklace. Moreover, the name of the sword which he took was not announced to the public. In the opinion of many, the Ga Mantse was not customarily enstooled. Again we regret to record that such important omissions occurred in the time of Nii Tete Ashong, Oshiahene and Acting Dzasetse. He has set a precedent which we hope future generations will not assume to be consistent with custom, for from first to last we deviated from the established procedure of enstooling Ga Mantse. As matters stand, the Ga Mantse may appear at Amuginaa without his crown.
As we suggested, it appears that by their own actions Amugi We people are not fit to provide a mantse for the regal stool. From the beginning Amugi We gave the name of their nominee as Amugi and the Dzase prefixed the stool name Taki; his full stool name, therefore, was given as Nii Taki Amugi II. The stool name Taki, however, was dropped on the day of his enstoolment.
Such an omission implies that Amugi We does not respect the Dzase. If this point is not amiably settled, it will create a constitutional crisis which may hamper the new mantse’s reign, for some members of the Dzase have resolved not to cooperate with the new Ga Mantse until he assumes his full stool name. Unless this problem is resolved, the successful administration of the Ga Mantse will be effected and we regret that the new mantse will suffer the consequences of his House’s discourtesy.
As mentioned previously, the attitude of Nii Pesamaku III towards the Dzase from the election of Seth Mensah Tetteh Quaye to the enstoolment of Amugi II suggests that he does not have any regard for the Dzase and his demeanor suggests that what was said in Nii Tete Ahene Akwa’s time is applicable that “There are people in Abola but the people are not (mɔ yɛ mɔ bɛ).” When Nii Gbese sees the Dzase, his attitude suggests that the members of the Dzase are nonentities; we recall that on one occasion he said that “Nobility is sweet (Abla de yɛle ngɔɔ).”
Some of us regarded such an expression as uncalled for, for the members of the Ga Dzase symbolize the Ga Mantse’s office; such an expression, therefore, refers to the office of the Ga Mantse. We do not blame formally Nii Gbese, for the blame ultimately is due to the weakness of the Dzase. Only on the occasion of the distribution of drink to announce the enstooolment date of the Ga Mantse-elect did the Dzase thwart the Fabian attitude of Nii Gbese; had they consistently pursue such a policy earlier Nii Gbese might not have shown such disregard for the Dzase.
In summing up 60 years of Ga politics, we are bold to say that sixty years of politics began with a strong Ga Stool Dzase. This Dzase, composed of Nii Okai Mensah, Ataa Ammah Sippley, and others defied the onslaught of the Ga people particularly the Ga Mashi mantsemei. We regret to record that 60 years of Ga politics closes with the very weak Dzase of Nii Teiko Abonua II, Nii Tetteh Ashong III, and other members. The weakness of this Dzase was reflected at the enstoolment of Nii Taki Amugi II when all and sundry invaded the stool room. The events and circumstances surrounding the election and enstoolment o Nii Taki Amugi II suggest that the exalted position of the Ga stool became a toy in the hands of the Ga people, an unprecedented situation in the history of the Ga royal family.
 This document represents a unique insider’s perspective on Ga politics during the first sixty-odd years of the 20th century.E. A. Ammah wrote this article in 1965 some time between the enstoolment of Nii Taki Amugi II and his presentation to the Ga people at Amuginaa. In it Mr. Ammah chonicles the history of Ga kingship, especially during the first 60 years of the twentieth century. As head of one of the Ga royal houses like his father before him, Mr. Ammah was an active participant in the election of Nii Taki Amugi II.
As one of the foremost authorities on Ga society and culture, he was concerned by the ceremonial errors that he perceived in the enstoolment of the new Ga Mantse. Yet however fraught with dissention and missteps the beginning of Nii Taki Amugi II’s reign may have been, he served as Ga Mantse from 1965 until his death in 2004–longer than any other king in the twentieth century. (Note by Marion Kilson who attended the enstoolment ceremony of Nii Taki Amugi II with E. A. Ammah)