Tension is reportedly brewing at Yayaso in the Fanteakwa District of the Eastern Region, following the decision of the Begorohene to lease a large tract of land, which has been occupied by the Krobos for ages, to an investor to establish a mango plantation.
Whilst the Krobo farmers claim they have been paying royalties to the Begorohene, the latter has denied the claim and dared the people to produce receipts to substantiate their claim.
According to the tenants, their forefathers reached an agreement with the Begorohene to farm on the land over hundred years ago, and have been doing so without any harassment until recently.
According to report we carried yesterday, the Krobos have petitioned President Akufo-Addo to intervene in the matter to ensure peace in the area.
Though The Chronicle cannot confirm whether President Akufo-Addo has officially received the petition or not, we think this is a delicate issue that must be handled carefully. For the records, the President has no power to stop the people of Begoro claiming back their legitimate lands. The Krobo people themselves have admitted that the land does not belong them and that it is the property of the people of Begoro.
This means any attempt by the state to use monopoly of force for the Krobos to stay on the land could be disastrous. On the other hand, should the President sit down aloof and allow the Begoro people to use right of ownership to force the people out of the land, could also be dangerous. According to the Krobos, the land was given to their forefathers and that they have farmed on it for generations and cannot be forced out.
What has even made the situation more precarious is the fact that the President hails from the Akyem area, and forcing the Krobos out, no matter how legitimate it is, would feed into the National Democratic Congress (NDC) propaganda that when the New Patriotic Party (NPP) comes to power, all the Krobos would be driven from Akyem lands.
This is the reason why we think the President has a serious problem on hand to solve. We, nevertheless, believe that if all the parties to the dispute resort to dialogue, a middle ground could be found to deal with the situation.
Ghanaians from other regions have migrated to the Ashanti, Eastern, Western and Brong Ahafo regions to cultivate, mainly, cocoa farms. Though in some cases they pay royalties to the chiefs, it does not make these internal ‘migrants’ legitimate owners of the land.
The land still belongs to the local chiefs, and in Ashanti Region, Otumfuo Asantehene. All tenants are obliged to obey local rules and regulations. But in the case of the Krobos, The Chronicle remembers publishing a story about the way they reportedly refused to obey the Begoro traditional authorities, claiming they owed allegiance to the Krobo Paramount Chief and not that of Begoro.
A year or so down the line, the Begoro Chief and his elders are also telling the Krobos that they are the legitimate owners of the land being occupied by them, and that they have decided to lease out the land to an investor for mango cultivation.
But, no matter the crime these ‘Krobos’ have committed, they are still Ghanaians, and driving and depriving them of their source of livelihoods would not only create problem for them, but the entire nation.
This is the reason why The Chronicle is urging the Begorohene to temper justice with mercy and sit down with his settler farmers to find out how best they can pay royalties to him. Sacking people from land they have cultivated for years is not the best option, and we hope the Begorohene will change his stance on the issue.