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A one-day sensitisation workshop for members of the Upper West Regional House of Chiefs (UWRHC) on the requirement to eliminate harmful traditional practices has taken place in Wa.

The workshop attracted all the 17 paramount chiefs in the region, as well as opinion leaders. It was organised by the Ministry of Chieftaincy and Traditional Affairs and sponsored by USAID.

The participants evaluated traditional customs and usages and assessed how best they could improve upon traditional practices in the region. Among the practices that came up for critical assessment were female genital mutilation, confinement of alleged witches and wizards and widowhood rites, which were prevalent in the region. 

The Minister of Chieftaincy and Traditional Affairs, Dr Henry Seidu Daanaa, said a number of customary practices needed to be improved to suit modern trends. He said practices that infringed upon human rights and the dignity of people needed to be either done away with or improved. 

He urged the participants to not have entrenched positions but be open in discussing customs and their practices, since they were changeable and must flow with modernity. 

A counsel for UWRHC
Dr Daanaa informed the gathering that the government had provided six regional houses of chiefs, including that of the Upper West with counsels. He said the counsels were to assist in solving problems facing the chieftaincy institution in the regions. The Upper West Region has 11 outstanding chieftaincy disputes. The dispute includes those in the Funsi, Pulima, Wellembelle, Nadowli and Bussie traditional areas.

Queenmothers association 
He called for the formation of a queenmothers association, describing it as a force to be reckoned with. He said queenmothers associations were thriving well in other regions of the country and that it was time the UWR also had its queenmothers coming together. 

“Now that queenmothers are given allowances, it is pertinent that they are also given a say in the nation-building process to give meaning to popular democracy.”

"Next time when I come to meet you, I expect to see queenmothers in order to have healthy deliberations with them," he said.

He promised that work on the Upper West Regional House of Chiefs (UWRHC) office building complex project, which was at the moment about 90 per cent complete but has stalled since 1999, would start again next year. 

Regional museum
Dr Seidu Daanaa recalled that Wa, Tumu and Lawra used to be transit routes during the era of the slave trade. Because of this, he said the ministry was planning with the Ministry of Tourism to open a regional museum in Wa where traditional artefacts would be displayed in order to promote tourism in the area. 

He urged the chiefs to trace the records for them to be restored for use in the proposed museum. 

The Gwollu Kuoro, Kuoro Kuri Buktie Limann IV, urged the house to continue to be united and participate fully in research programmes in the region in order to make the Upper West Region have its pride of place in the history of the country.   

Source: Daily Graphic

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