Naa Nandon Gomah, the Paramount Chief of the Wechiau Traditional Area in the Upper West Region has said the resurgence of armed robbery and cattle rustling are a canker that is causing fear and panic among the people in the district.
He said armed robberies were being carried out both at night and in broad daylight regardless of age, status and sex on the three main roads linking Wechiau to Wa, the regional capital, making travelling in recent times unsafe.
Naa Gomah raised these concerns at the maiden “Kaka” (Hippo) Festival of the chiefs and people of the Wechiau Traditional Area at the weekend.
He urged government to act swiftly to bring back sanity and security to the roads within the shortest possible time.
Naa Gomah also expressed worry about the influx of Fulani herdsmen and their cattle in the district, which he said was provocative and embarrassing to the chiefs in the area.
He warned that with the advent of the rains, those cattle owners and Fulani herdsmen should return to their respective communities with their cattle and return no more.
Naa Gomah said the presence of the herdsmen and their cattle was causing “bad blood” between traditional rulers and some of their subjects because of the destruction of their farms, water sources and the environment by the cattle and the herdsmen.
The Wechiau- Naa bemoaned the indiscriminate and wanton destruction of trees by people in the district for charcoal production, saying: “unless and until some interventions are put in place to minimise the trend, the district would soon experience desertification”.
He commended government for providing the area with development projects, but said, all the three major roads linking Wechiau to Wa was in deplorable condition and needed urgent improvement to help facilitate the movement of goods and services.
Dr. Mohammed Musheibu Alfa, the Deputy Upper West Regional Minister urged the people to eschew acrimony and strive for development.
“We as a people should learn to close our ranks in unity to champion a common destiny for our development”, he said.
The Deputy Minister noted that, no one individual could develop the area but through the collective efforts of all.
He said government alone could not provide all the developmental needs of the people and encouraged communities and traditional areas to initiate development projects.
He appealed to the traditional council to collaborate effectively with the Member of Parliament, the district assembly and other development partners for the development of the area.
The remembrance and the celebration of the “Kaka” (Hippo) festival was to show appreciation and give recognition to the animal for saving their ancestors from capture and the subsequent enslavement during the raids of Samouri and Babatu.
History has it that during the slave raids of Samouri and Babatu, the ancestors of Wechiau were escaping from the war but when they came to the Black Volta River it was flooded and they could not cross.
The chief priest then poured libation to the Gods, especially to the river god (Naamani) and suddenly a line of rocks appeared from one bank to the other and the people walked across the river on the rocks to escape the wrath and capture of the pursuing enemy.
Soon, the enemies also crossed in pursuit but when they got to the middle of the river, the rocks sank and they all got drowned in the river.
Apparently, the so-called lines of rocks were not rocks but a group of Hippopotamus. The rest of the enemies who were fortunate not to have gotten to the river where the incident occurred had no other option than to retreat.
The generations of the Toboh Chiele Clan abhors the killing of the Hippos for food.
The festival was on the theme: “Ancestral Survival and Development of the Wechiau Traditional Area”. GNA