The Yoruba in Ghana are setting good examples with their traditional ruler leading the pace in sustaining their culture and living in harmony.
From outside, the one-storey building looks like several other buildings sprawling over the commercial hub of the city, the Makola International Market at Central Accra, Ghana. Originally known as Okaissey, the entire area has been taken over by itinerant traders.
However, the bold inscription on the entrance of this particular building indicates a very important place. “This is the Palace of Chief Brimah”, it reads. The very prestigious ruling dynasty of the Yoruba race in Ghana. It has a rich pedigree and influence that dates back to over two centuries. The throne has spanned over 200 years. The throne is nearly as old as the Yoruba people in the country. The founder was said to be an immigrant from Ilorin in present day Kwara State in Nigeria and was one of the early Nigerian settlers in Ghana. A very influential and wealthy business man in his days, he was said to be enstooled by the British Consul as Head of the Mohammedans.
The legacy has continued to live on and less than two years ago, the reigning monarch, Oba Alhaji Hamza Peregrino Brimah the 8th was installed chief. A small stairway at the back of the house takes you to the top floor. A red carpet from the stairway leads you directly into the palace. It might not be sprawling, but has the trappings of an ancient monarchy. It is draped in accoutrements befitting royalty. The room is covered by several stately settees. But one stands out. It is adorned in red and gold. This is the throne of the monarch.
The emblem of authority in the form of sword is conspicuously hanging on top of the throne. A high-ranking member of the Council of Elders later explained to Daily Trust on Sunday that the original staff of office, a gold sword handed over to Chief Brimah 1st by the Governor-General of the then Gold Coast has been deposited in the Bank of Ghana. Noticeable on the wall were several portraits of previous rulers. There were other landmark monuments displayed on the wall. Prominent among them was a portrait of a very old storey building constructed with wood. Daily Trust on Sunday gathered that it belonged to Chief Brimah 1st. The land currently hosts the General Post Office at Central Accra.
Indeed, the subjects forged a strong and unbreakable tie with their leader. The dynasty is synonymous with the Yoruba race. For instance, when in 2014, the people marked 200 years of their settlement in Ghana, the Chief Brimah’s legacy was celebrated alongside.
Chief Brimah is both the political and spiritual leader of the Yoruba people. This is exemplified in both his titles as Paramount Ruler of the Yoruba in Ghana and Seriki Mosulemi. The monarch oversees the affairs and welfare of the entire Yoruba people not only in the Greater Accra Region, but also spreading to all the other regions of the country. This responsibility also extends to areas of mediation and conciliation. Thus, whenever there was a conflict between Yoruba communities, it behoves on the royal father to intervene.
The monarch undertakes the political administration of his domain with the assistance of a Council of Elders, notably, Asiwaju, Alhaji Baba Musa, Otumba, Alhaji Billy Brimah, Alhaji Rasha Peregrino Brimah, Alhaji Rasak Brimah, Alhaji Sura Lawal and Alhaji Tunde Salami. These elders are also leaders of the various Yoruba communities in the Greater Accra Region and its environs.
Besides the Council of Elders at the centre, the monarch has sub-chiefs, who administer the provinces. They include the Chief of Kosoa, Ashaiman, Koforidua, Secondi, Tamale, Wa, Konogu and Kumasi, among others. The heads of the Yoruba communities in the 10 regions of the country bear allegiance to their supreme leader. These sub-chiefs regularly pay homage, according to commonly accepted culture of the Yoruba race in Nigeria.
The Asiwaju, Alhaji Musa, said through the counsel and exemplary lifestyle of the leadership of the monarch, the Yoruba people in Ghana have lived above board.
“You never heard Yoruba people mentioned among 419 kingpins, kidnappers, thieves and other criminals, who give Nigeria a bad name in this country. We are extremely grateful to them for the excellent training they have impacted in us,” he remarked.
Another member of the Council of Elders, Alhaji Rasaq Brimah, noted with pride that the Yoruba nation had become completely integrated into the system and was considered one of the tribes in the country.
“In 1958, when the first Speaker of the Parliament of Ghana, Mr. Quist, resigned on health grounds, the next Speaker of Parliament, a magistrate from one of the courts, was Mr. Akinwumi. Now, there is an Akinwumi family in this country. They are fully integrated in the society,” he posited.
Chief Brimah is also the spiritual leader of the Yoruba race in Ghana. Being Seriki Mosulemi, he is the head of Yoruba Muslims. Other people, who profess other faith are not alienated by him.
According to Asiwaju Alhaji Musa, “Being a democratic king, he does not discriminate against other forms of religions. He is the spiritual father of Muslims. He is also the leader of those, who worship other gods. So, whether they worship ‘Sango’, ‘Orunmila’, ‘Ogun’ and others, he accepts everyone and does not discriminate.”
It is a spectacle as the monarch and eminent council members are usually dressed in splendour and majesty, especially in Yoruba regalia and a matching cap made from asoke material and draped in beads. The scenario is every inch like the royal fathers from South West Nigeria.
Asiwaju Alhaji Musa, who is also the Governor-General of all the Yoruba communities in Ghana, explained that being away from home hasn’t robbed them of the essence of their cultural identity. He attributed it to the influence of their traditional ruler.
Also, Alhaji Rasak Brimah reflected on numerous cultural activities spearheaded by the palace. He described such extravaganzas as deep reflection of the unifying power of their traditional ruler.
“…The Yoruba still have links with their home land. They travel home for marriages and other social activities. There have been proposals for the establishment of a school. There is a plan to construct Odua House,” he noted.
He also said when there is any festivity, there is always a large crowd as people troop out just to see Yoruba colours and attire.
The Brimah dynasty has been recognized and accorded respect by successive administrations since the colonial days. Till date. He belongs to the Council of Chiefs in Ghana. He has been fully integrated into the fold of eminent Ghanaian traditional rulers. He also belongs to the Council of Muslim Chiefs in Accra by virtue of his title as the Seriki Mosulemi. Being a member of these eminent bodies, the Yoruba monarch is always mentioned and recognized at every independence day celebration in the country.
His relationship with his Ghanaian counterparts has been very cordial to the extent that during major festivals, there was regular exchange of gifts.
“Every year, the various chiefs slaughter cows and goats and send to all members. It is a sign that their relationship is good. It is also an expression of good intentions among them. There has never been a quarrel between us,” Asiwaju Alhaji Musa maintained.