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Crisis of Legitimacy: Secularisation and the Authority of Asante Traditional Rulers in Ghana’s Decentralization

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Ghana’s attempt at decentralization has brought into collision course two systems of governance because of the poor interface between traditional authorities and district assemblies, creating a crisis of legitimacy. Previous studies on this development situate the crisis on the existence of two legitimacies or dual governments. The paper theorizes this development around the tension between the sacred and the profane. It argues that the war of legitimacy arises because representation is differently understood by these two systems of governance. Using historical and phenomenological approaches, the paper observes that it is the religious basis of the chieftaincy institution as against the secular basis of decentralized institutions that is creating a tension between the sacred and the profane. It therefore concludes that secularization has created differentiation leading to polycentric sources of power making the traditional authorities lose their hegemony over people, land, and its resources. The traditional authorities in their attempt to claw back their lost power are using the sacred basis of their legitimacy to insist on their right to represent their communities.

Affiliations: 1: University of Cape Coast, Department of Religion and Human Values Cape Coast Ghana, Email:


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