n Institute of African Studies Research Review - Politicization, elite manipulation, or institutional weaknesses? The search for alternative explanations to the Dagbon chieftaincy disputes in Northern Ghana

Volume 24, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0855-4412



Many explanations exist for the intractable Dagbon chieftaincy succession disputes. The most recent of these disputes in 2002 resulted in the death of the king (the Ya Na) of the kingdom and others. This paper has two sections. The first part takes a historical look at the origin of what have come to be known as the Abudus and the Andanis. The second part analyzes the course of events after the Supreme Court judgment in 1986 on the legal tussle between the Abudus and the Andanis, to March 27, 2002.

The position of this paper is two-fold. First, the failure of the founders of the Dagbon Kingdom to establish a regularized and patterned system of choosing a Ya Na explains the recurring nature of the Dagbon chieftaincy disputes, otherwise called the Yendi Skin Affairs. Secondly, the inability of the PNDC government to enforce the decisions reached and agreed upon, by both parties in the 1987 reconciliation between the Abudus and the Andanis, underlies the 2002 open conflict.

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