Local news is reporting that a man from BC, Eric Manu, is moving to Ghana to become a chief. His uncle died in 2013, and now it's his turn to lead the 6000-strong community in his home country.
“I had a call in July that the whole community—the elders of the land and my extended family—had appointed me to take the next role of chief of the community,” Manu told CBC.
In 2005, when I was living in Ghana, one of my friends there, an American exchange student, was offered a similar gig. He and I were visiting a small community for a weekend away from the city, and we were able to meet the chief. I don’t remember why we had such an honour.
The chief wasn't dressed lavishly. I do remember him wearing a cloth, with a striped kente design, wrapped around his body. He had some gold bangles around his wrists, I think. I don’t think he had a crown. He sat, quietly—reservedly—in a lawn chair.
I don’t think we talked directly with him; I think someone translated for us. At some point in the conversation, my friend was told that, if he wanted, he could become chief for a nearby village. My friend declined.
It was a disappointing decision, I thought, but an understandable one. It does not sound like an easy 9-5. Manu told Global News that his job includes overseeing political decisions for the village and settling disagreements between community members, such as land disputes. In addition to that, he told CTV News one of his priorities will be to motivate students to stay in the village to work. After working as a landscaper here in BC, he wants to encourage people to be happy working in the trades and not all migrate to the city in search of an office job.
Despite a similar job being offered to my American friend, Manu told CBC that his job was not a political appointment. “This is an inheritance, something that your ancestors and forefathers worked for and you have to continue. So you really have to be passionate."
He outlined some challenges he will have to face: "My dress code has to change, the way I talk has to change, I can't sit outside and eat, I can't sit outside and talk to people. It's a new role, it's a new life." True not just for him, but for his whole family. Manu is married to a Canadian woman and they have a 10-month-old son.
As for me, I was told I would never become a Ghanaian queen. I was too skinny. Dang.