Traditional chiefs, land and the politics of development: a case study of the Birim North District, Ghana

Ankisiba, Charles (2013) Traditional chiefs, land and the politics of development: a case study of the Birim North District, Ghana. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Currently there is a resurgence of the role of traditional chiefs in the development of sub-Saharan African countries. It has been proposed that African countries need to adopt more effective and pragmatic approaches, which are rooted in local societies and cultures and can therefore provide developmental outcomes. This thesis examines whether traditional chieftaincy in Ghana, which is a highly respected institution compared to other African countries can be effective and legitimate providers of public goods. This is done by analysing the way chiefs' exercise authority over community land and the revenue it produces.

The study analysed land management practices under chiefs’ authority and the dynamics of the politics of negotiating compensation for land and public goods. The main finding of the thesis is that investment in public goods might be facilitated by the development of multi-institutional arrangement that ensures collaboration among state and non-state institutions at the local level as a form of co-production for development. The implications of this arrangement on the political authority of chiefs at the local level are examined.

The thesis questions the notion that it is custom and tradition that makes leadership provided by chiefs effective, and argues that what matters for development is how legitimate traditional authority is exercised in practice. The main conclusions of the thesis are that: firstly, although chiefs’ are important traditional authorities in Ghana, they do not exercise political authority that is effective, as expected, for the development of local communities. There should therefore be caution in elevating traditional authority as the most effective legitimate form of locally rooted authority in Africa, given that Ghana is a country where chiefly authority is still extremely strong and respected. Attention should rather be focussed on the use of local cultural repertoires and multi-institutional collaborations, which have local problem-solving characteristics for development. Secondly, the thesis also provides evidence that shows how activities of mining companies potentially contribute to development of local communities. As a result there is the need to take a more nuanced view of how mining companies operate in Africa.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: Institute of Development Studies
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DT History of Africa > DT0470 West Africa. West Coast > DT0491 British West Africa > DT0509.97 Ghana (Gold Coast)
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races > HT0051 Human settlements. Communities
J Political Science > JQ Political institutions and public administration (Asia, Africa, Australia, Pacific Area, etc.) > JQ1870 Africa
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 11 Dec 2013 15:11
Last Modified: 17 Sep 2015 14:40

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