Migrant Chiefs in Stranger Communities in Ghana and the Challenge of Inclusion into the Houses of Chiefs
Urbanization spearheaded migratory movements into Africa’s towns and cities while democratization provided migrants the social and political space to establish traditional authority in the form of migrant chieftaincy. This paper focuses on this type of chieftaincy variously called migrant chiefs, Zongo Chiefs, or stranger chiefs in settler communities, and the quest for these chiefs’ inclusion into the Houses of Chiefs structure, statutory bodies which are being are constitutionally guaranteed. Historical evidence point to the fact that both the colonial and postcolonial state have shown some level of tolerance to migrant chiefs in Ghana. Whilst political leaders such as the executive arm have given recognition to these chiefs at various levels including granting them a complete ministry, these chiefs still find it difficult to get included into the Houses of Chiefs. Using historical and anthropological material the paper provides the foundation of migrant chieftaincy in Ghana, whilst utilizing empirical data to analyze how migrants reinvent chieftaincy in the urban centres, and their attempts to incorporate such an institution into the Houses of Chiefs. The paper argues that, having the support of the political leaders of the state is not enough to guarantee migrant chiefs’ inclusion into the Houses of Chiefs, and that judicial and legislative policies are equally needed to facilitate the process of inclusion.
Keywords: Migration, Chief, Chieftaincy, Migrant Chiefs, Zongo