Prior to the contacts with the European merchants and the establishment of colonial rule, the art of governance in Africa in general and Ghana, in particular, rested on chiefs and their council of elders. The advent of colonialism and the impact of other currents of social change reduced the powers and functions of chiefs. Critics tagged the chieftaincy institution as anachronistic and even predicted its demise during the struggle for independence. However, the persistence of the chieftaincy institution after about sixty years of Ghana’s independence, is an attestation of the resilience and significance of the chieftaincy institution to national development. The paper examined the debates for and against the chieftaincy institution by investigating the (potential) significance of this institution within Ghana’s democratic dispensation. The research questions underlying the study favored the adoption of a qualitative research approach. Purposively, twelve key informants were sampled. Data was solicited through semi-structured in-depth interviews. Though critics advance the undemocratic nature of chieftaincy, chieftaincy and land disputes as potential factors to cause the demise of the institution, chiefs continue to perform significant roles. Chiefs are instrumental in conflict resolution to ensure peace and security, governance and administration, promotion of education and economic empowerment and perform representational and diplomatic roles. Future studies should consider how chiefs can be properly integrated into governmental structures in order to effectively contribute to national development.
Keywords: Anachronistic, Democratic, Social Change, Traditionalism, Conservatism