There is a story that is commonly told of how powerful a certain Ghanaian traditional leader is, so much that not even the powers and authority vested in the country’s Head of State by the constitution can overshadow his, especially within that leader’s immediate jurisdiction.
In fact, if it is not far-fetched, it is believed that the subjects of this traditional leader are so loyal to the lineage, they would, on any day or at any time, go with the orders of their monarch than they would even with what a president says – even so, what the Bible commands.
But however true, overly-exaggerated or otherwise this might be, there is an undeniable fact too that not only does a person need to be in political office in Ghana to be able to wield the heftiness of power that can bring nations to their knees, literally.
In this GhanaWeb feature, we take a look at some personalities who are non-politicians, or not in political leadership but command as much or even more power than the regular politician.
For a number of these people too, it is worth noting that they have come to such levels of authority, general admiration and respect from many years of exemplary leadership that have not been particularly skewed towards only a certain group of persons.
The Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II
Enstooled as the 16th Asantehene on April 26, 1999, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II has grown to become one of the most respected people in authority in Ghana.
He is generally revered as a wise king whose maturity has endeared him to many because of how objective he has always been especially in the settling of disputes or when it means that he serves as a mediator.
With many years on the throne too, Otumfuo has successfully built strong relationships with all the Heads of State he has met, right down from the late Jerry John Rawlings to the incumbent Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
There is no doubt that he is a man whose power and authority is unmatched in this country.
Okyenhene, Amoatia Ofori Panin II
Still on the subject of traditional leaders with clouts that transcend their immediate jurisdictions, the king of Akyem Abuakwa, Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin, is next on our list.
On October 4, 1999, he ascended to the throne after the death of his predecessor, Osagyefo Kuntunkunuku II.
He became the 35th paramount chief to ascend to the stool and like Otumfuo, he has also endeared to the hearts of many Ghanaians over the period for his cross-tribal positions on many national issues and other equally relevant discussions in the country.
He has also been very active in the campaign to save, maintain and develop the environment and has gone on to initiate various programs and projects to execute those policy interests.
The Okyenhene established the Okyeman Environment Foundation (OEF) to manage environmental concerns in Akyem Abuakwa.
Chief Imam, Sheikh Osman Nuhu Sharubutu
Without much of an argument, the Chief Imam, Sheikh Osman Nuhu Sharubutu, is one of Ghana’s most iconic religious leaders, whose influence has lasted for many decades.
It could stem from the fact that he speaks little but still makes as much of an impact in the society, or just merely because of his unusually admirable high levels of tolerance for all, irrespective of political colour, tribe, race and even religious associations.
Being the first Chief Imam in Ghana, appointed in 1993 under the tenure of the late Jerry John Rawlings, Sheikh Nuhu Sharubutu, recently celebrated his 100th birthday.
Under him, Christians and Muslims have learned to live peaceably as has been seen with him severally worshipping in churches and attending many Christian events.
Archbishop Nicholas Duncan-Williams
Known as the father of the charismatic movement of Christianity in Ghana, Archbishop Nicholas Duncan-Williams is a man whose influence in the country cannot be counteracted.
Over the years, he has worked along with politicians from all divides, praying for and interceding for all of them, a trait that has earned him many plaudits in the country.
Archbishop Nicholas Duncan-Williams is also the Presiding Archbishop and General Overseer of the Action Chapel International (ACI), headquartered in Accra.
He founded the charismatic movement over 40 years ago, spreading into other parts of West Africa.
He is also the Founder and President of Prayer Summit International (PSI).
In 2017, the archbishop was named by the New African Magazine as one of “The 100 Most Influential Africans.”
Archbishop Nicholas Duncan-Williams became the first non-American to lead the prayer for the incoming President and Vice President of the United States during the inauguration of Donald Trump.
Togbe Afede XIV
One of the other powerful traditional authorities in Ghana is the Agbogbomefia of the Asogli State, Togbe Afede XIV.
He is a former President of the Volta Region House of Chiefs and a member of the Standing Committee of the Ghana National House of Chiefs.
Togbe Afede XIV is also an investment banker with more than 20 years of experience and is the Executive Chairman of World Trade Centre Accra.
He is also the Chairman of Accra Hearts of Oak Sporting Club, Ghana’s oldest football club, and a co-chairman of the domestic and regional carrier, Africa World Airlines Ltd.
Yaa Naa Abubakari Mahama II
While he is not the only traditional leader in the northern part of the country, the stool of the paramount chief of Dagbon has, for many decades, remained an office of great authority.
After the assassination of the former Yaa Naa Yakubu Andani II in 2002, it took many decades before a new one was installed.
Yaa Naa Abubakari Mahama II is the new Yaa Naa and by dint of occupying that office, he commands great power and influence across the country, even so among the peoples of the northern regions.
Sir Sam Esson Jonah
Far from politics, Sir Sam Jonah is a man whose comments usually generate national conversations, getting people in political offices to be on their toes.
Samuel Esson Jonah is a Ghanaian businessman, and the Executive Chairman of Jonah Capital, an equity fund based in Johannesburg, South Africa.
He is regarded one of Ghana’s richest people.
Sir Jonah was previously President of AngloGold Ashanti.