The Upper East Regional capital, Bolgatanga, has been calm and business-friendly for several months now since the last time a sunset attack left an old man dead, two young men wounded and some houses set on fire around the middle of 2017.
That old attack, believed to be linked to a disagreement between two separate camps loyal to two disputed “paramount chiefs” from Atulbabisi, drew stern-looking security forces to the streets of the capital and rekindled a distressing curfew the usually busy town had not seen in a very long time.
But just this last Sunday, a peaceful big party attracted members of seven royal fraternities, who track their roots to an ancestor called Abeka, to the Sacred Heart Catholic Social Centre in the regional capital.
The seven clans represented at the event were Anafobane, Atulbabisi, Badoobisi, Gmangabisi, Kulebisi, Porebisi and Waribisi.
One of the disputed “Paramount Chiefs of Bolgatanga”, Naba Abeka Nonge-Buuri Malitinga, graced the gathering, occupying a pre-eminent seat in front of an admiring crowd. With him at the high table was the Upper East Regional Chairman of the Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU), Godfred Abulbire, among other influential figures.
It was an all-smock party the organisers said was aimed at cultivating unity among the royal families and traditional landowners and promoting peace in the regional capital and its environs. It was such a record turnout the centre’s conference hall, which is about a mini-sized football field in capacity, could not hold the multitude. And it could not have been complete without the spicy foods, the assorted drinks, the breathy music, the go-getting dance moves and the graceful pleasantries to expect at such a grand get-together.
“We have done this (gathering) for the past eight years,” announced the GPRTU Chairman who was offered an ‘extra chair’ to chair the occasion.
“But certain obstacles prevented us from continuing. And today’s gathering is just meant to regenerate that spirit that brought us together when we had that gathering in that particular year. The main focus is to guide our youths, to develop our youths. No development can ever come out of violence, out of unstable situation,” he remarked as a cheering crowd hailed him by his household nickname, “Agod!”.
He added: “The Abeka generation has no difference. We are one. This gathering is not to celebrate any victory. We are only trying to bring our youths together for them to stay calm and to instil the spirit of togetherness in them. And it is not true that the people of Zuarungu are at loggerheads with the people of Bolgatanga. We have always made sure that any programme that has to happen within us, the Zuarungu and the Kumbosigo families must be present to complement the togetherness.”
Also at the high table was popular has-what-it-takes politician Madam Hilda Salifu, widely known as Madam Bolco, together with a delegate from the Zuarungu Chief’s Palace, a representative of traditional landowners (Tindamas) and some natives of Zorbisi (a suburb of Bolgatanga) who were introduced as descendants of Adongo, an elder brother to Abeka (the ancestor). Internationally acclaimed Catholic priest and native of Atulbabisi, Msgr. Roger Aboteyuure, expected to be in attendance but reportedly caught up elsewhere in some pressing Sunday’s church activities, sent a representative who gleefully donated a cash amount of Gh¢1,000 at the event on his behalf.
Endowment Fund Established for Needy Groups
Interacting with the media shortly after the fiesta, Naba Abeka Nonge-Buuri Malitinga outlined some of the plans his royal clan had put in place to support disadvantaged groups within his area.
“We already have some seed money and an account has been opened with the seed money. The gathering, apart from the fact that it was to foster unity among the royal families of Bolga and the Tindamas, was also an avenue for us to raise an additional fund and add it into the fund that we had already set up, which is the Bolgatanga Royal Endowment Fund.
“This endowment fund is going to cater for educational needs and job creation for the youths. Basically, at the gathering we had three core issues— foster unity, look towards the development of the Bolgatanga Traditional Area and to also contribute to help fund this Bolgatanga Royal Endowment Fund that we have created so that it can assist us cater for the cost of our education, especially students who have been able to pass their examinations but do not have the requisite funding to go further,” said Naba Abeka Nonge-Buuri Malitinga.
The endowment fund, according to him, also would cover artisans and farmers in need of financial aid to start up and expand their ventures.
Let’s Allow the Court to Determine Fate— Disputed Bolga Naba
The prolonged power struggle between the two royal factions is being settled by the Judiciary and the House of Chiefs to determine the rightful Paramount Chief of Bolgatanga. So, at present the traditional area has no gazetted paramount traditional ruler.
As part of his New Year message to the people of Bolgatanga, Naba Abeka Nonge-Buuri Malitinga stressed the need for all stakeholders to respect the rule of law and to see the peace and the development of the municipality as paramount.
“I’m praying that there should be long-lasting peace in Bolga, that we should all be our brother’s keeper. As the matters are in the court, we should allow the court to determine and conclude these matters. We should allow peace to prevail. Collectively we can all help develop Bolga,” he entreated.