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A Research Work Carried out by the Upper West Regional Minister, Dr. Hafiz Bin Salih at the University for Development Studies has Revealed the ma causes of Wa’s Chieftaincy Conflicts.


From the data collected through interviews, Focus Group Discussions, survey and secondary sources, the perceived causes of the Wa Chieftaincy conflicts are analysed below.
7.1 Denial of the Naa Kpaaha Gate of the Right to the Wa skin The causes of the Wa chieftaincy conflict are varied as indicated by the data collected.

From the Focus Group discussions with participants from Yijihi, Jarri and Joyonhi gates, it came out in their separate sessions that, the persistent interest to occupy the Wa Naa skin by the Naa Kpaaha gate is the main cause of the Wa chieftaincy
conflict. In referring to the background behind the Kpaaha gate’s exclusion, a key informant explained that “at
this point, Kpaaha, a brother to Pelpuo married at an old age and it was believed that he could not impregnate a
woman; yet his wife was pregnant. The woman puts to bed a baby boy and the son was regarded as not being a
legitimate son (bastard). It is for this reason that the “so-called” Kpaaha gate has been denied the opportunity to
occupy the Wa Naa skin” (an interview with a key informant , 2nd May, 2016).
7.2 Exclusion of the Naa Kpaaha gate From the Waala Constitution of 1933
On the other hand, the participants in the FGD with the Naa Kpaaha gate revealed that the Waala constitution of
1933 was responsible for eradicating the guided primogeniture system and implementing the three-gate
rotational system. Consequently, only the Joyonhi, Jarri and Yijiihi gates were able to assert claims to the Wa
skin and were regarded the Wa Nabihi. To them, this injustice has been the main cause of the Wa chieftaincy
conflict. According to a participant in the FGD with the Naa Kpaaha gate, “the Kpaaha gate has long been
heavily involved in chieftaincy affairs. Not only did we own the right to the skin, but we also serve as custodians
of the Nabiihi war fetish and the Wa Namine’s (Wa Chiefs’) burial sites. We are also entrusted with taking care
of late Wa Namine’s widows as well as performing the musket-firing ceremony at the funerals of late Wa Namine at the princes’ residences in Fongu”.

The Waala constitution was a document put together by the British Colonial Administration to streamline the
chieftaincy institution of the Waala. On the 15th July, 1933, Wa Naa Pelpuo III signed the constitution presented by
the British Colonial Administration that approved the establishment of the Waala State Council. This constitution
was also signed by thirteen other chiefs, namely: Nadowli Naa, Bussie Naa, Daffiama Naa, Issa Naa, Kaleo Naa,
Kulbagu Naa, Funsi Naa, Kojokperi Naa, Wechiau Naa, Dorimon Naa, Sing Naa, Kperihi Naa and Busa Naa. It is
this document that the Naa Kpaaha gate refers to as the cause of the persistent Wa chieftaincy conflict because the
Naa Kpaaha gate was excluded from the list of the legitimate gates of the Wa royal skin. The Wa constitution of 1933 states that “ we, the undersigned chiefs and councillors of the Wala State Council do hereby agree that at present there are three gates in Wala i.e. Nabisi (sons or descendants of chiefs) viz: Busa, Pirisi and Sing and that
all are equal and succeed in turns to the Nalumship of Wala” (Wa Constitution,1933:3).

It is for certain that the traditional values of the Chieftaincy institution and the cultural values of the Waala people have been impinged by the British Colonial Administration’s actions in various ways, not least of all through their decision to implement a rotational system that was not adopted under the traditional chieftaincy system. Given this,
“a common conception is that even though the princes of Dinokpong of the Yijihi gate have not yet ascended to Wa
Naa level, they could legitimately assert their right to the Naalung if the opportunity presented itself. Over the five centuries in which the Naalung has been in existence amongst the Waala people, one or more Wa Namine have emerged from the Kpaaha gate. Thus, there is an overt indication that the patrilineal Waala have always considered seniority to be the determining factor in the ascension to Naalung” (an interview with a key informant, 2nd May,
It should be pointed out that “the Kpaaha gate’s situation is not the only such example of its kind; a Wa Naa was also presented by the Yijiihi gate’s Funsi Naa Jaga subsection almost five centuries after the establishment of the Waala Naalung.

Nonetheless, they were excluded from ascension to the Naang based on the perception that they lacked seniority and that they had not possessed any such seniority for many generations.

Eventually, seniority became irrelevant in the selection of the Wa Naa. Thus, in 1953, Wa Naa Seidu II was elected by an external
electoral college and appointed to the role. This was the first time a prince from the Funsi Naa jaga was made Wa Naa” (an interview with a key informant, 2nd May, 2016).

Other causes of the Wa chieftaincy conflicts came out from the responses from the questionnaires which were administered. Respondents were asked to state the causes of the Wa chieftaincy conflict and their responses are
captured in Table 2.


From Table 2, it was realised that 24.46% of the respondents mentioned disregard for traditional succession procedures as the cause of the Wa chieftaincy conflict. This finding reveals a mere neglect of existing succession procedures and contrary to report by the United Nations (2007) reports that traditional indigenous approaches
carry the potential for greater efficiency because they are tailored to each party’s needs. About 20.86% of the respondents said bribery and other influences was the cause of the Wa chieftaincy conflict.

Another 17.9% of the respondents mentioned the deliberate attempt of some of the gates to cross or side-step the other as the cause of the Wa chieftaincy conflict while 16.54% of the respondents stated that when the wrong person is chosen as the Wa Naa, it serves as a cause of the Wa chieftaincy conflict to reoccur.

Also, 9.35 percent of the respondents
stated that the involvement of the Government in the affairs of the chieftaincy institution is the cause of the Wa
chieftaincy conflict while 7.19 percent of the respondents revealed that the involvement of the Tendaana of Wa as the unilateral kingmaker of the Waala kingdom is the cause of the Wa chieftaincy conflict.

About 3.59 percent of the respondents indicated that the personality of the person chosen as chief is the cause of the Wa chieftaincy conflict.


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