A student questions a historian’s authority over Dagombas’ claims to lands in Dagbon

    A powerful rejoinder purported to have been written by a certain historian, and intended to crush one Mr. Kitinkawan’s exhibit “THE HISTORICAL CLAIMS AND THE POLITICS OF MISINFORMATION ABOUT KONKOMBAS IN GHANA” was sighted at the Northern Web Gh. The rejoinder, spotted on Tuesday, April 9, 2019, did not fail to calm the uneasiness created by Kitinkawan’s write-up, nor did it fail to provoke heated debate among Konkombas.
    The historian Mr. Abdul Razak Ayaashe is believed to have defused the Konkomba man’s claims over first settlers in Dagbon. But a provoked student, Mawandor Binyam, from the Seventh-day Adventist Valley View University (VVU), Ghana, has questioned Mr. Razak’s authority and claims respecting the subject.
    Below is Mr. Binyam’s exhibit:
    Written by:
    Mawandor Binyam
    Razak’s response to Kitinkawan’s write-up *”Historical Claims and the Politics of Misinformation about Konkombas in Ghana”* is a powerful exhibit that has made deep impressions on the mind and found its way into the hearts of many Konkombas and Dagombas, including me. It seeks to achieve two great objectives: *(1) to provoke and crystalize a sense of brotherliness devoid of bitter rivalry between Konkombas and Dagombas,* and *(2) to strip off the glory of Kitinkawan’s masterpiece through a reconstruction of history.* And I pray, believing that our brother’s persistent appeals for a cordial and peaceful co-existence characterized by a strict regard for mutual benefits will attract the attention and blessings of God, the Government of Ghana, Dagbon and Nkpakpaando. Razak’s diction in the write-up is a plus for him, and that everyone would acknowledge.
    But this is the trust of the whole matter that has provoked my response to Razak. It is significant to note that our brother’s *first objective is finely plaited as a bait to lure many a reader to cast their votes in favor of his second proposition.* To be sure, the rejoinder to Kintikawan’s exhibit will not fail to produce a depressant effect on the hasty reader. Yet when brought to a searching scrutiny and weighed in the balances by the careful reader, it will be discovered that our brother, Razak, merely bombarded a phantom ship. Irrespective of the unending applause the first objective produces, *the exhibit has serious weaknesses that leave much to be desired.* It is a daring thing to attempt at impeaching the truth!
    Though there are much more weaknesses than one would naturally expect from the *Razakan Thesis,* for want of space and time latitudes, I shall concern myself with only these necessary ones in the foregoing analyses.
    The thesis (1) distorts Kitinkawan’s motives; (2) contains inconsistencies and distortions of historical facts; (3) disregards authentic historical and anthropological evidence (Dagomba/Konkomba Conflict?); (4) contains the rhythms of war drums; (5) based on wrong premises and illogical conclusions; (6) has faulty reasoning over the first settlers controversy; (7) shows a shallow understanding on the question of paramountcy between Konkombas and Dagombas; (8) undermines the role of KOYA and KONSU in the fight for emancipation of Konkombas…
    Let’s take them in their turns.
    *(1) Distortion of Kitinkawan’s Motives:* Quite frankly, there is nothing in Kitinkawan’s write-up for any Konkomba or truth-loving Dagomba to disagree with. Razak’s arguments did nothing better than mangle the straight records in Mr Kitinkawan’s write-up. The thesis twists Kitinkawan’s motives and alleges that he beat war drums in his write-up. This punch on Kitinkawan’s personhood is without merit. The charge is unfair and represents a clandestine deviation from the gentleman’s masterpiece. But let Kitinkawan clear himself.
    *Kitinkawan:* “We must reclaim our birthright.”
    *Audience:* “‘Like seriously!’ What method(s) do you not suggest for Konkombas to employ to reclaim their birthright?”
    *Kitinkawan:* “Not through fighting.”
     *Audience:* “What? Wait a minute, tell us: ‘If you disapprove of Konkombas resorting to arms in the quest for their emancipation from Dagomba domination, what should they do to have their freedom?’
    *Kitinkawan:* “… rather through intellectual or academic one.”
    There you have it. And that’s a straight record! I shall show how Razak falls into the trap of war drums under the fourth (4th) item. Intellectual dishonesty is made manifest if Razak fails to acknowledge Kitinkawan’s resolve for peaceful dialogue between the two ethnic groups.
    *(2) Inconsistencies and Distortions of Verifiable Historical Facts:* When Kitinkawan remarked that “Hon. B. A. Fuseini in his contribution to parliamentary debate in the floor of the house concerning the 1994-95 Konkomba-Nanumba conflcits” argued that “Konkombas are aliens who migrated into Ghana from Togo and therefore do not have right to any land,” Razak was swift to state that the late MP’s attribution of Konkombas as aliens is unfounded. “It was a personal opinion he [the late Hon. Alhaji B. A. Fuseini] expressed which did not represent the view of Dagbon as a state,” says Razak. What! But it is these parliamentarians who influence law and policy. Are you suggesting that the Constitutional mandate given to the Dagbon Traditional Council respecting land ownership by Dagombas and the exercise of authority over Konkombas is influenced by forged history and is unfounded? But Razak, you and the former Member of Parliament, who represents Dagbon more than the other? Who expresses her opinions? Who has more authority here, the historian or the Member of Parliament?
    In fact, the mystery that puzzles every thinker is how Hon. Fuseini’s wrong attribution to Konkombas as aliens from Togo went unchallenged by Dagomba historians and the leadership of Dagbon, till his demise and remained so until provoked by Kitinkawan’s piece before Razak let the cat out of the bag to deliver Dagbon’s convictions regarding the matter. But the question is: What other forged histories could our historians be keeping under the carpet until another Kitinkawan’s write-up pushes them to the wall to tell the truth?
    *(3) The Disregard for Authentic Historical and Anthropological Evidence (Dagomba/Konkomba Conflict?):* I wonder what our brother refers to when he calls a certain conflict Dagomba/Konkomba conflict. But he clears the air with the date, 1994. So we can be certain that he is referring to the unfortunate horrendous bloodbath that occurred between Konkombas and Nanumbas.  You see, well versed historians and anthropologists either call it (a) the Guinea fowl war/conflict, or (b) the Konkomba-Nanumba war/conflict. And that is not without very good reason. First understand that, that battle had nothing to do with ethnic bow-to-gun confrontations between Konkombas and Dagombas. It was with our brothers the Nanumbas. And what we Konkombas longed for from the famous Dagbon was that it would have wielded its powers to demand a ceasefire. But alas Dagbon did the unimaginable. It united with neighbouring Gonjas to lean towards the Nanumbas because both felt that the ties that bound them with the Nanumbas were thicker than they applied to them and Konkombas. I strongly believe that Dagombas will agree with me that though Dagbon wielded so much power to have caused a ceasefire, it failed to execute its mediatorial role properly. The position Dagbon took is what confuses Konkombas when, today, Dagombas identify Konkombas as their brothers. We would have loved to have it so for all eternity, but the question is whether Dagbon truly sees merit in that. Let Dagbon answer the question.
    *(4) The Rhythm of War Drums:* I strongly believe that our brothers, the Dagombas would admit that we all least expected that the famous Razakan thesis will sound war drums. But Razak does the exact opposite. He scares Konkombas to accept subjugation saying *”any attempt to challenge the status quo or reverse it in the 21st century would not only backfire but would also throw almost the whole world and not only Ghana into serious chaos and anarchy.”* What anarchy? Isn’t this the rhythm of war drums? I strongly believe that Razak himself did this unintentionally, and we can pardon him for that. But did Dagbon own those territories by anarchy or by Constitutional merit? If by Constitutional warrant then it can be revoked peacefully without any resentment from Dagbon. *Abi?* And the territories redefined, just as the creation of new regions occurred!
    *(5) Wrong Premises and Illogical Conclusions:* Our brother’s arguments hang on several wrong premises. For instance, he argues that “it is impossible to change what took place more than 600 years ago in this 21st century.” The fact is, what Razak is trying to defend did not take place for more than a century ago. Konkombas have lived with our brothers, the Dagombas for over 600 years. And that is a fact. But ‘legitimate’ land ownership is of current origin and can be revoked through constitutional amendment.
    Again, he argues that “the battle for territories is over since centuries back, we are now in the era of battle for education, development, and economic prosperity.” Hahahahahahaha. My brother, let me be frank with you, this premise too is wrong. The battle over territories is not over, nor can it be. New regions are being created, and new nations are emerging every now and then. The object remains the same, but the means is the issue. What we all want changed is the way the battle is waged. And that is why Kitinkawan appeals to Konkombas to desist from bow-to-gun confrontations and to resort to education or ‘go intellectual’. But granted that the battle over territories is over, for the sake of argument, since you say that the 21st century battle is for education, development, and economic prosperity, what will Konkombas battle to develop? Where are the territories to develop?
    Last but not least on the question of premises is Razak’s implicit belief that peaceful co-existence and brotherliness will exist between Konkombas and Dagombas only when we live together under the umbrella of the Dagbon Traditional Council. He fears that there will be anarchy. But that is hardly true. Has Dagbon lost brotherliness with the Nanumbas since the later gained Paramountcies and a Traditional Council? Has she lost same with Gonjas and Mamprusis? Even distant Asantes will admit that they have not lost the sense of neighbourliness with Dagbon at all. Even nations that are oceans apart maintain healthy, peaceful solidarity among themselves through dialogue, socio-cultural values, policies, commerce and politico-religious beliefs. So there is no cause for alarm here, my brother.
    *(6) The First Settlers Controversy:* Where in Razak’s write-up did he defuse claims over first settlers? If that was his intention, he deviated from it because he attempted an utter impossibility. His arguments that land ownership by conquest are legitimate and irrevocable only throws dust into the eyes of the ignorant. Who conquered who? When? How? Where are the facts? Did not Razak expose the lies of some Members of Parliament which influence laws and policies? And do you think that when the truth becomes apparent to a nation that, in its anthem, prays for the help of God to *”resist oppressors’ rule with all our will and might forever more,”* those faulty constitutional provisions and policies will not be revoked? Better and favorable land ownership laws will emerge as when authorities consult authentic historical and anthropological evidence. It is just a matter of time. And that is Kitinkawan’s argument.
    Razak is silent on the question of first settlers. At best, the careful reader would admit that Razak does not want to admit that our brothers, the Dagombas came to meet Konkombas in what is known today as Eastern Dagbon. Objectivism and integrity, as far as intellectual debate is concerned, are not easy to come by. Writes Razak, “It is [1] *not too clear* the particular group of people Naa Nyagsi encountered during his [2] *war* of expansion [3] *around* Eastern Dagbon to present day Togo but his encounter with Konkombas cannot be ruled out.” (emphasis mine). What is Razak attempting to do here? To reconstruct history that Konkombas *were not in* the territory which later became known as Eastern Dagbon, that Naa Nyagsi only encountered them *around* Eastern Dagbon (i.e. in Togo). But let Razak refute his own assertions: “Dagombas who are familiar with the history of Konkombas would never hold the view that Konkombas are aliens from Togo.”
    Internal evidence suggests that our brother Razak is not familiar with the history of Konkombas. Historical truth is wanting in Razak’s arguments. To be sure, much of the things asserted as historical claims are but personal fabrications peddled as truth.
    Besides, it is asserted that Naa Nyagsi’s territorial expansion endeavors were not without war but there was no bloody encounter with the aborigines of those territories around Eastern Dagbon. But Kitinkawan’s write-up is iron-clad and fire-proofed with verifiable historical and anthropological evidence. It is not over dates, but over a substance which goes further beyond the scope of Razak’s historical knowledge to establish that present day Yendi was a Konkomba territory called Tchare (Charle) before Dagombas came into the picture. And this is not without anthropological backing! This is what Razak is hiding from the audience when he argues that “Yendi, Eastern Dagbon and *beyond* were already part of tha Naa Nyagsi’s Dagbon territory for over 130 years before Naa Titugri shifted the capital to Yendi.” (emphasis mine). I submit that it is not the question of reign of the Naas. There were too many of them in Razak’s modified history. In fact he got me confused by their names. Let’s ask Razak to furnish us with answers to some questions.
    *Audience:* “Some Dagomba historians say Konkombas are aliens from Togo. How true is that?”
    *Razak:* “Dagombas who are familiar with the history of Konkombas would never hold the view that Konkombas are aliens from Togo. The two tribes live [sic] together for centuries… before the … Togolana [sic] stuff.” Yes, *Togolana!*
    *Audience:* “Then why do Dagombas claim ownership of the entire territory in which they have lived with Konkombas for centuries prior to the advent of the Whiteman?”
    *Audience:* “The Dagombas lived with Konkombas for centuries in the Togolands.” That’s fine. “Did the two ethnic groups come holding each other’s hand to settle in those lands at the same time? Did Dagbon come along with Konkombas to serve the interests of Dagombas? The answer is obvious, an emphatic *’NO’*.
    *Audience:* Tell us, “Who came to meet the other then?” If Konkombas came to meet Dagombas, then Konkombas are aliens, but if the Dagombas came to meet Konkombas then Dagombas are aliens.”
    No historian will accept the former. And Razak knows that very well, except that he may attempt to distort the facts. And this calls for the question of the day: “If Dagombas claim that the Dagbon territory stretches into the two Togolands, and that Dagbon cries over the loss of not less than thirteen (13) communities to Today’s Republic of Togo, then how did it own those territories? And the answer is that Dagbon claims more than simply belongs to her!
    You say Konkombas and Dagombas have been destined by divine decree to live together as neighbours for centuries. And Konkombas have no territories? Eastern Dagbon territories were inhabited by Konkombas before any Dagombas set their feet here. It is that entire territory that Konkombas refer to as *Kikpakpaaŋ. And that is why Konkombas cannot stomach but have continually resisted oppression from Dagombas. We don’t have any problems living with Dagombas if that is what divine decree warrants, except that Dagombas want us to be under them, denying us our lands and rights to self-traditional governance.
    *(7) The Question of Paramountcy between Konkombas and Dagbon:* There are many, if not all at all, who think of Konkombas as a people who just have a natural penchant for waging war with other ethnic groups in our regions. And these ignore the fact that Konkombas are a people who prize hardwork, peace and dialogue above open bow-to-gun confrontations more than every other tribe in our territories. Is there any historical record that Konkombas fought with any ethnic group(s) to dispossess them of their lands? They had enough lands already.
    But Razak wonder’s why Kitinkawan laments that Konkombas have been denied paramountcy and argues that the late Yaa Naa *granted* two paramountcies to Konkombas decades ago. And that I strongly believe that such a feeling comes because of the inadequate information the historian has respecting the plight of Konkombas.
    One point that is certain and underscored by the cloud of researchers on the reasons for conflicts involving Konkombas in the North is that of Dagbon’s inflexibility respecting the acknowledgment of Konkombas as aborigines who qualify to have our Paramountcies, Lands and Traditional Council independent of the famous Dagbon Traditional Council. *A thousand paramountcies granted to Konkombas and have them still under the Dagbon Traditional Council will not offset the plight of Konkombas.* This resistance to the oppressive rule from Dagombas is inspired by our National Anthem. And it will not stop until we have our freedom or until mother Ghana stops singing the popular refrain: *”And help us to resist oppressors rule with all our will and might forever more.”* But here is a paradox that it is independent Ghana that has furnished the Dagbon Traditional Council with Constitutional merit over Konkombas respecting issues over land ownership and chieftaincy. And the wealth of evidence suggests that, much of the time, Dagbon wields this constitutional warrant only to her advantage, with little or no regard for mutual benefits with Konkombas.
    There are scores of historical evidence to this end that because of this Constitutional provision, Konkombas have made and still do make numerous appeals through peaceful dialogue to Dagbon for recognition. But the appeals and recommendations made to Dagbon and sometimes to the government respecting the plight of Konkombas fall on deaf ears.
    *(8) The Role of KOYA and KONSU in the Fight for Emancipation of Konkombas:* In fact, time and space will not allow me to do justice to this mighty subject. I apologize for any inconveniences resulting from my shortcomings in this respect. But my inability to go further only suggests that the*Razakan thesis* is riddled with weaknesses than we can stomach. However, irrespective of the wealth of weaknesses present in his historical claims, Razak still has my blessings as a brother. Did you get that?
    There is hope for Konkombas that a better day is coming when our struggles for emancipation from Dagbon will be over; a day when, together with our brothers, Dagombas, we shall sit on a common table to admire the beautiful recollections of how we both managed to go through this conundrum without bitter rivalry and bloodbaths. Positive attitudinal change among all the stakeholders (the government, the leadership and the youth of Dagbon, and those of Nkpakpaando) is what matters the most. Let peaceful dialogues intensify, then better relations, mutual satisfaction, and economic development will be the lot of our posterity. It is possible because heaven still rules in the affairs of men.
    Long Live Nkpakpaando! Long Live Dagbon!! Long Live Ghana!!!

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