In January, 2007, I had the pleasure of travelling to Wa, in the Upper West region of Ghana. I had hoped to be able to photograph the ceremony in which the new paramount chief of the Wala, called the Wa Na, would be installed. However, this was not to be.
When I got to Wa, I found that there was a dispute over the succession to the previous Wa Na, Alhaji Yakubu Seidu Soale II, who died last September. A ceremony for installing the new Wa Na had been carried out the week before I arrived, but this was not agreed by several of the royal houses.
However, I had the pleasure of meeting many of the traditional leaders of the Wala, who agreed that I should photograph them. Observing several of their meetings, on both sides of this dispute, I was impressed by the seriousness and courtesy with which the issues were discussed, and the way in which traditional behaviour in these situations contributed to a civilised discussion.
It was evident that all sides wanted a peaceful resolution of the problem, and this would be in the interests of all the people of Wa. The traditional authority, festivals, the Wa Na's palace - all provide opportunities for presenting Wa in a positive light to visitors. A resolution of the problem would therefore be a source of prosperity for Wa, rather than creating anxiety about public safety.
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All text and graphics © Pat Bennett 1996-2007
photography by Pat Bennett at Alamy
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