Story from Isaac Akwetey-Okunor, Begoro
The seemingly tension and unfolding misunderstanding between Krobo settlers and the traditional leaders of Begoro in the Fanteakwa North District of the Eastern Region has taken a different dimension, as the former have vowed to fight with their blood.
This follows a decision by the Begorohene, Daasebre Awuah Kotoko II, who is also the Benkumhene of the Okyenhene, Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin, to lease a large tract of land, which has been occupied by the Krobos for ages, to an investor to establish a mango plantation.
The Chronicle gathered that the Krobos are not happy with the happenings, and have threatened that they will protect their lands by any means possible, including taking the laws into their own hands.
It could be recalled that your authoritative newspaper, The Chronicle, in its November 7, 2018 publication, carried a story under the headline “Krobos Run to President….over tension in land tenure at Begoro.”
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 a hundred years ago, and have been doing so without any harassment until recently.
They have, therefore, petitioned President Akufo-Addo to intervene in the matter to ensure peace in the area.
The petition, which is dated 30th October 2018, and signed by 16 Dade Matseme (sub chiefs) of Yayaso, reads: “Mr. President, we the Dade Matseme and elders of Yayaso and its environs wish to bring to your notice some harsh treatments being meted out to the Krobos occupying a stool land at Yayaso, a farming community in the Fanteakwa District, Eastern Region.
“A threat of ejection has been issued to us, demanding our expulsion from the land we have been occupying for the past one hundred years.
“The land, measuring about 3,510 acres, was acquired by our grandfathers, led by Numo Nartey Huno, in the early 1920s.
“Initially, our grandfather had wanted to buy the land from one Okyeame Akuffo from Begoro, but he did not agree to the request, but rather preferred to give out the land on sharing basis. Our grandfather, on his part, also objected and suggested lease on rental basis.
“Both parties, after deliberations, came to a compromise of releasing on rental, for which documents were prepared in 1973, during the reign of Nana Kwabena Annor as Begorohene. Since then, annual rents are being paid till date, and the land placed under the Akyem Stool Land
“Mr President, the idea of driving the Krobos from Akyem land emanated from the 1992 electioneering campaign in the Akyem/Krobo areas, when the National Democratic Congress (NDC) alluded that then flagbearer of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Professor Adu Boahen, an Akyem, when voted for, would evict the Krobos.
“The administration of presidents Jerry John Rawlings, John Agyekum Kufuor, Prof John Atta Mills and John Dramani Mahama passed without the threat being carried out.
“Mr President, as we speak now, herds of cattle have been sent to Yayaso and its environs, and are causing tremendous damage to food crops and other farm produce, as well as water bodies, to our embarrassment.
“Mr President, on the 3rd of October, 2018, the current Ankobeahene of Begoro came to Yayaso and stated categorically that our land has been sold to an investor, and that the cattle also belong to the Begorohene.
“Mr. President, we see that statement, and the consequent flooding of the area by Fulani herdsmen and their numerous cattle, as a calculated plan to forcefully drive away the Krobos from the land we have occupied for the past hundred years.
” Mr. President, we the Dade Matseme and the elders of Yayaso, together with all occupants of the land, are not happy about this development, because of deprivation of our livelihood.
“Mr. President, we are, therefore, afraid that chaos and unhealthy developments in the area might escalate into a confrontation between the Akyems and Krobos, who have been good neighbours and have co-existed for a long time.”
When The Chronicle contacted the Ankobeahene of Begoro, Nana Owiredu Agyarko Mintah, he admitted that the Krobos have been occupying the said stool land of 2,227 acres for years, but, however, challenged any of the occupiers of the land who claimed to be paying rent or any form of royalty to the stool to produce receipts.
According to him, the Chief of Begoro, Nana Awuah Kotoko, recently dispatched him to the stool land to inform the people farming there to cease, the reason being that the stool had released 400 acres of the land to an investor, and a further 81 acres to another person to embark on a mango plantation.
Nana Ankobeahene went on that due to the coming projects, no farmer on the stool land must engage in food or commercial crop farming. According to him, there is no bad blood between the Akyems and the Krobos.
To this, the Fanteakwa North and South District Security Committee (DISEC), on Monday, summoned a crunch meeting between the traditional leaders and the farmers to function out an arbitration process to nip the insecurity in the bud.
The meeting, which travelled late into the night, was deferred to December 19, 2018, because of the time, and the fact that the farmers have to travel some distance back to their respective communities.
Speaking to the paper shortly after the closed-door marathon meeting, John Tetteh Mensah, Assistant Dade Matseme and leader of the tenants, expressed grave reservations over the constitution of the people for the arbitration.
According to him, he has no faith in the two DCEs, the District Police Commander and other members who sat on the matter, since they are all Akyems and would be biased in their judgment.
He disclosed that if an amicable solution is not reached, they would put their blood on the line to protect what their forefathers have bestowed upon them.
But, the District Chief Executive for Fanteakwa South, Ntore Agyarbeng, has called on the Krobos to dispel any fears, since he would ensure that an amicable solution is reached.