Chief Doli-Wura urges UN Forum on Indigenous Issues to ensure the protection of indigenous people

Chief Dr Zakaria Doli-Wura, Chairperson of the Africa Union Interfaith Dialogue Forum Steering Committee has called on members of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues to ensure that the rights of Indigenous Peoples are protected. This is to brighten their light of hope. 'let us commit to a brighter light that shines through the darkness our people live in. It is the hope that comes from the recognition of their inherent dignity and worth, a recognition that is long overdue. It is the hope that with each step forward, we can ensure we 'Leave No One Behind'. He urged the forum to reaffirm their commitment to stand in solidarity with Africa's indigenous peoples and pledge to work tirelessly to ensure that their rights were not just recognized but celebrated, and their voices amplified. Chief Doli-Wura made the remarks at the Twenty-Third Session of the High-Level Meeting of the United Nations (UN) Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues at the UN Headquarters in New York, USA. He proposed th at members of the forum consider and strengthen ongoing interventions in the areas of Legal Recognition and Land Rights, Cultural Preservation and Heritage, Capacity Building and Empowerment, Environmental Conservation and Partnerships and Dialogues in safeguarding and promoting the inclusion of the indigenous people in their everyday way of life. 'As we reflect on the importance of indigenous rights, let us reaffirm our commitment to upholding the principles of equality, justice, and respect for diversity. Together, let us work towards a future where the rights of indigenous peoples are fully recognized, protected, promoted, ensuring peace, prosperity, and dignity for all'. The Chairperson of the Africa Union Interfaith Dialogue Forum Steering Committe said, he had no doubt that members of the forum were Indigenous People and were the custodians of unique cultures, traditions, and knowledge systems valuable to the fabric of their societies. He noted that Africa, and particularly, Ghana, had successfully b een able to merge tradition with its adopted formal way of getting things done, especially the traditional rule alongside embedded in contemporary governance at all levels. Chief Doli-Wura is a Traditional Ruler of the Kusawgu Traditional Area in the Savannah Region of Ghana said Africa was the cradle of civilization and had been the continent that could be described as having kept its culture and traditions in post colonialism. He cited an example of being a practical evidence of that before the Forum, saying that, 'As the leader and representative of my people as an Indigenous Group, I represent my people at the Local Government's General Assembly, which is the highest decision making at that level and also on the Local Government's Planning Committee - thus giving us a voice to address our concerns.' Chief Doli-Wura said the arrangements allowed him as a Chief to adjudicate and resolve issues facing his people with fairness and justice and that the remarkable example of how Traditional Authorities, as c ustodians and core representatives of Indigenous Peoples had been integrated in governance and public administration in Ghana points to how we all can advance in practical terms, the rights of Indigenous Peoples. He said: 'Ghana's Chieftaincy Act, 2008 (Act 759) recognizes the leadership of Indigenous People and makes provisions for ensuring their rights to land as property is respected, ensuring compensation is paid for any acquisition by government or any entity, thereof. The Land Act, 2020 (Act 1036) further makes provision for the management of land issues in Ghana, including what we call Stool Lands (Lands for traditional authorities and Indigenous Peoples)'. He noted that in the heart of Africa, where the vibrant rhythms of diverse cultures intertwine, was the rich needlepoint of indigenous communities. 'From the ancient Berber villages nestled among the rugged peaks of the Atlas Mountains to the serene homesteads of the San people, whose ancestral songs echo across the vast expanse of the Kalahari D esert, these communities embody the soul of our continent. This should bring our attention to the role of Indigenous People in protecting our environments and pragmatically addressing Sustainable Development'. 'This is just one of the examples of environmental protection and sustainable development strategy we could adopt from Indigenous People. Let me add that, anyone who violated these rules was liable to be punished by the respective Traditional Ruler; and people obeyed'! Chief Doli-Wura said behind these examples of pragmatic approaches and customs of Indigenous People that inure to the benefit of society, the traditions and customs of Indigenous People had faced struggles, and were resilient. 'For generations, Indigenous People have faced the harsh realities of marginalization and displacement, their voices, often drowned out by the tumult of progress'. Source: Ghana News Agency