Ghana has both a government system and a chieftancy system.
Solo has told us a lot about how the chieftancy system works and it’s really interesting.
Most towns have their own chief. The chief, who is adressed as Nana – meaning grandfather – is chosen out of 1 of the royal families.
The royal families are decendents from the first people who settled in a village, but only through the line of daughters.
Let’s say Herbert and I settle a new village.
Our family would than be the royal family and Eskil can become a chief. When he dies, Krister can become a chief. Otherwise one of the sons of Marthe or Bente will become the chief.
In that case, Marthe and Bente’s families will have to decide from which of their families the chief will come, the next chief in line will then normally come from the other family.
Sons of Eskil and Krister will never become chiefs, because it will only follow the female line.
So, hopefully Marthe and Bente would therefore give birth to both girls and boys, the boys could become chief, the girls would make sure the tradition can continue with their daughters and sons again!
Earlier years, the chief was chosen based on looks, nowadays (only this last generation) they’ve started to choose the chief based on education and connection. A big change!
Also, from one of these families a queen is chosen. The queen is not the wife of the chief, but one of the daughters from one of the royal families.
Quite a complicated system.
Anyway, this last Friday, we were invited to come meet the chief of Nsuatre, who they call Nsuatrehene. This chief is a professor, a smart man who speaks good English.
There were lots of people in the palace, and many groups who were visiting to address the chief, either to settle arguments (he is then the judge) or just to greet the chief.
We were there to greet him.
When it was our turn, we first had to shake hands with all other ‘chiefs’ (every family – the original 12 families in the village – has it’s chief, but only 3 families are royal) and the Nsuatrehene.
Then, we got seats in front of the throne. First, Solo greeted the Nsuatrehene and then my father greeted him and told him some things about the foundation.
Solo did a translation to Twi, but the Nsuatrehene answered in English, so we could all understand.
When we were finished he asked us if he could have a picture taken with our whole family and him :-)
Image the king or queen asking to have his/her picture taken with you… we totally felt like royal in there! Pretty cool.
The Nsuatrehene is sitting on his throne. In front of him are the 2 other chiefs from the royal families (the men in black holding something, right behind the soldiers with the swords). All the other men in black are the other (non royal) chiefs.
The lady sitting between Herbert and Eskil is the queen.