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The pre-colonial political system of the Ga-Dangbe people of Ghana

 

                                                      (The Ga Mantse: King Tachie Teiko Tsuru II)

The pre-colonial political system of the Ga-Dangbe people of Ghana

The Ga-Dangbe people of Ghana are part of a wider Ga-Dangbe ethnic group occupying parts of the three West African countries of Ghana, Togo and Benin. In Ghana, currently, the Ga-Adangbe are mostly found in the Greater Accra and parts of the Eastern Region.

The Chief Priest (Wulomei)

Initially, the Ga-Adangbe did not have a centralized system of administration because the various Ga states were independent of each other. Political power was reposed in the Chief Priest or fetish priest (Wulomei). He was a representative of the priestly class. The Chief Priest had a lot of authority when it came to both civil and religious matters. Later, the political and religious power which was centred in the Wulomei (Chief Priest) was separated and the Paramount Chief, from then, now wielded the political power while the Wulomei continued to wield religious authority. However, he still had some form of influence in administrative matters.

The official functions of the Wulomei were to officiate public worship, calculate dates for Homowo, their annual festival, offer libations to their gods, perform purification ceremonies. He also interpreted the will of God to the people, prayed for the people. He advised them and dealt with cases where his own god had been mentioned.


The Paramount Chief (Ga-Mantse)

The six independent towns of Teshi, Nungua, Tema, La, Osu and Ga Mashi, all had a chief called Mantse. These chiefs were responsible for the administration of their respective towns. These six towns were organised into a paramountcy headed by the Ga Mantse or the Paramount Chief. The Paramount Chief was responsible for the civil and administrative matters in the entire paramountcy.

Town Chiefs

Each of the six towns was headed by a chief called Mantse. The Mantse was responsible for the running of the town under him. The town has a stool which was a symbol of authority. Though the towns were independent, their chiefs owed allegiance to the Paramount Chief.

Heads of Akutsei (quarters)

Each of the independent towns were further divided into quarters, called Akutso, the plural being Akutsei. The Akutsei were administered by a chief.  All the heads of the quarters or Akutsei were chiefs (Mantse) with the same rank as the Mantse of the towns. As a result, they also constituted part of the Ga paramountcy. The Paramount Chief comes from the Abola quarter or Akutso.

Heads of family (Wei)

The family is the fundamental level of the political structure of the Ga people. The families, which were patrilineal, were headed by elders and they were responsible for the affairs of the family.

The Adangbe people

The Adangbe, on the other hand, are constituted by seven groups, the peoples of Kpone, Ningo, Prampram, Krobo, Ada, Shai and Osu-Doku.

Like their brothers, the Ga people, they did not have chiefs or kings in the early stages. They were ruled by a theocracy. Their leaders were the priests. The institution of chieftaincy among the Dangbe was as a result of their interaction with other tribes.

The chieftaincy institution had been clearly established before the coming of the colonialists.

The paramount Chiefs

Each of the 7 groups has a paramountcy headed by the Paramount Chief. The chief has administrative jurisdiction over all the towns under the paramountcy. The chief in the various towns owe allegiance to the Paramount Chief.

Sub-chiefs

Each of the towns constituting the paramount area, was headed by a sub-chief who was responsible to the general welfare of the people.

Clan Heads

Several clans came together to constitute a town. There were clan heads who were in charge of the welfare of the clan members

Family heads

There are many families within each clan. These extended family structures were led by a family head known as the Head of Family. The head of family is responsible for the welfare and safety of the family members.  Misunderstandings and family disputes are brought before him for adjudication.

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