Involve traditional leaders in fight against coronavirus – Togbe Afede

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Togbe Afede XIV, President of the National House of Chiefs has called on the government to involve traditional leaders in informing and educating the citizenry and ensuring compliance with directives and social-distancing protocols in the fight against COVID-19.

He commended Ghanaians for joining hands in the historic fight against the Coronavirus (COVID-19)  pandemic.

Togbe Afede XIV said: “We are in this battle together, against the invisible enemy. I am therefore calling for cooperation among all the actors, and, in particular, close collaboration between the government, our security agencies and traditional leaders in enforcing the government’s directives and required social distancing protocols.

“So far, there has been very little effort, if any, to involve the traditional leadership, who should be able to help, not only in ensuring compliance with directives and protocols but in informing and educating the people, among others”.

Togbe Afede XIV who is also the Agbogbomofia of the Asogli State  said this in a statement signed and copied to the media in Accra on Monday.

He said the COVID-19 was wreaking havoc across the world, and threatening, not only our way of life, but our very existence and commended the patriotism and gallantry of the country’s medical workers who are at the forefront of the fight, adding, “I believe, deep in my heart, that, together, we shall win this battle.”

The NHC President in his  statement said, he was saddened to read last Friday, April 10, about the clash between a police patrol team and a group of Ga traditionalists who had gone to the beach to offer rituals and prayers to ward off the deadly COVID-19.           “I wish to commend our chiefs and other traditional leaders for taking keen interest in the fight against COVID-19. But I also wish to remind all of us, as I did during my address to the National House of Chiefs on March 13, about the need to keep abreast with and abide by the prevention messages and directives issued by the government and health experts, and to educate our subjects accordingly, in order to stem the spread of the disease in our various communities”.

He said in a subsequent statement issued by the House, we reminded our chiefs that “the situation we are faced with is akin to war and it is our obligation to lead the fight”, and we called on all traditional leaders in the country to “rise up to the occasion to support the government’s efforts to fight the disease”.

“We also called for the suspension of all traditional festivities, and asked that rites that are associated with traditional festivals and traditional religious days, and special traditional prayers and rites to purify our communities, should be restricted to a few people, “taking into consideration the protocols and directives on social distancing”.

The NHC President said,  he was aware that some religious leaders have also had problems with the police who have the responsibility for enforcing the government’s directives and the required social distancing protocols.

“I wish to remind our traditional and religious leaders that prayers alone are not sufficient for a successful fight against the raging pandemic. So we must conduct our activities responsibly, so that we do not, inadvertently, aid the devil that we are all up in arms against”.      He said, similarly, while commending individuals and organisations who are distributing free food, “I would ask that they reexamine their methods so that they do not encourage anti-social distancing behaviour.”

The NHC President also seize the opportunity to remind those communities that are fighting against the location of COVID-19 isolation centres in their areas to think again, and remember that we are all potential victims.

“They should not forget that there are already located in their communities, hospitals that must treat COVID-19 patients. I recall that in my address during a presentation to the Ho Teaching and Ho Municipal Hospitals to aid the fight against COVID-19, I said, one of the most important lessons we can pick from our present predicament is the need to love one another, and be each other’s keeper, because we are all humans with the same vulnerabilities.”      He further seize the opportunity to call on all Ghanaians, to be united in this noble fight, and avoid politicizing COVID-19 issues.

A united effort, the Agbogbomofia of the Asogli State noted, demands that the national interest guides all our actions, and that political parties refrain from claiming ownership of ideas or taking credit for any successes.

“Finally, I want to ask that we all demonstrate true love for one another, respect the necessary social distancing and personal hygiene protocols, and make the most of this special Easter season, the kind of which we must never have again”.

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