Chieftaincy: An Anachronistic Institution within a Democratic Dispensation? The Case of a Traditional Political System in Ghana

  • Kwabena Kwabena Boateng
  • Stephen Afranie
Keywords: Chieftaincy, Anachronistic, Democratic, Social change, Traditionalism, Conservatism


Prior to colonial rule, governance in Africa rested on chiefs. However, colonialism and other currents of social change reduced the powers and functions of chiefs. Critics tagged the chieftaincy institution as anachronistic and even predicted its demise during the struggle for independence. However, chieftaincy has persisted after several years of Ghana’s independence. The paper specifically seeks to answer two fundamental questions: Is chieftaincy anachronistic? And, how relevant is chieftaincy in Ghana’s democratic dispensation. The paper is a desk review examining the instrumentality of the chieftaincy institution in the midst of a web of reputational challenges in contemporary Ghana. The study unearthed that the anachronistic label is pivoted on the undemocratic nature of chieftaincy institution and, chieftaincy and land disputes. Despite the above label, it was also found that chiefs are instrumental in conflict resolution, governance and administration, promotion of education and economic empowerment and performance of representational and diplomatic roles. Though people continue to perceive the chieftaincy institution as undemocratic, the institution has critical roles to play in contemporary Ghana. This paper recommends that studies should be conducted on how chiefs can be integrated into modern governance structures for them to contribute to national development.

Keywords: Chieftaincy, Anachronistic, Democratic, Social change, Traditionalism, Conservatism


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eISSN: 0855-6768