In a ‘grand’ durbar, a Chinese man, Sun Qiang, was enstooled as Nkosuohene, which literary translates as ‘Development Chief’ in Kwahu-Abetifi, a town in the Eastern Region of Ghana.
According to face2faceafrica, the title ‘Nkosuohene’ is often given to non-royals, who could be politicians or tourists engaged in development. “The Nkosuohene title was created in 1985 by the late Asantehene, Otumfuo Opoku Ware II, “as a catalyst for development in Kumase [capital of Ghana’s Ashanti Region] and beyond,” Face2Face further explained on the meaning of the Chieftaincy title. In one of the pictures that went viral across social media platforms, Sun Qiang, who was given a traditional stool name — Barima Kofi Ayeboafothe – was seen being carried shoulder-high by the people of the traditional area.
However, the news was met with a wild outburst on social media, with Ghanaian netizens expressing mixed sentiments. The majority of the netizens disdainfully condemned the act citing concerns of ‘China’s gradually taking over the continent.’ Others also defended the enstoolment of Sun Qiang arguing that the Chinese man isn’t the first foreigner to have been traditionally recognized as a Chief in Ghana.
It Isn’t Unprecedented
Apart from Sun Qiang in Ghana, other Chinese expatriates have been given honorary Chieftaincy titles in Nigeria. In 2001, Hu Jieguo, was appointed a tribal chief for his contributions to local society. He is known to be the first Chinese expatriate to receive such an honor in Nigeria. In 2019, a Chinese businessman named Kong Tao was also made a Nigerian tribal chief for his contribution to infrastructure development in Africa. South China Morning Post reported that “Kong Tao, 34, was granted the title by the Emir of Jiwa district in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, last month, nine years after he was sent by his employer to the city as an assistant engineer responsible for a railway project.” It was also reported in the same year that “a Chinese businessman named Mike Zhang has been turbaned as a “chief” in the Kano State of northwestern Nigeria, designating him as the leader of his fellow compatriots in the region.”.
Li Manhu, an employee of the Nigerian branch of CGCOC Group, a state-owned overseas construction company, equally received the same honor from the Emir of Etung in southern Nigeria’s Cross River.
Should African traditional leaders continue to confer honorary chieftaincy titles on Chinese business expatriates? If not, what are some of the tangible and genuine reasons why Africans should be worried about this situation?