Nana Ampadu Okyere unites Pepease
Article: Samuel Kyei-Boateng
Chieftaincy is one of the most respected and dignified institutions in Ghana. Traditional rulers do not only wield a lot of power and influence in their areas of jurisdiction, but they also contribute to the development of those areas.
Until the inception of Western democratic system of governance in the country, chiefs were solely responsible for the overall administration of their traditional areas.
Even today, chiefs effectively control their communities by spearheading development programmes and promoting unity through arbitration in various eases. They only refer serious case such as those on first degree felony to the police or law courts for prosecution.
Sometimes chiefs withdraw assault, quarrelling fighting and other petty cases from the police stations and courts for arbitration in order to promote peace and unity in their traditional areas.
One particular chief who has played a major role in the socio-economical and cultural development of his traditional area is Nana Ampadu Okyere II, the chief of Pepease and Kyedomhene of the Kwahu Traditional Area in the Eastern Region.
Nana Ampadu Okyere, 96, is not only the oldest serving chief in the Kwahu Traditional Area, but also one of the oldest ruling chiefs in the country.
Nana Ampadu Okyere had eight wives at a time 56 children, 37 of whom are alive, 114 grand children and 32 great grand children.
Born at Pepease in 1914, Nana Ampadu Okyere, known in private life as Odehye Kwaku Oduro, was enstooled as the Pepeasehene on April 15, 1950 at the age of 36. He is the second of the 10 children and the second male child of his late father, Opanin Kwame Nyarko and the late mother, Eno Amma Otem, also known as Madam Amma Dappa, both of Pepease.
Even though the chief had no formal education, he learnt to read and write Twi with his peers privately. His father, who was a professional shoe maker, taught him the trade when they moved to Pakro in the Akuapem South District.
Nana Ampadu Okyere travelled extensively with his parents, who sojourned at Huhunya and Adeiso and later settled at Sadan and Obenedam, both in the Kwahu area, where they established cocoa farms.
He travelled to Nsawam in 1936 and put his trade as a shoe maker into practice. A year later, he moved to Akyem Oda to continue his trade. It was at Oda that Nana Ampadu Okyere was baptized into the Christian faith by Reverend Pastor Hall of the then Basel Mission, and also got married to his first wife, Madam Animaa.
While at Oda, Nana visited Agona Swedru on several occasions, saw the booming trade there, and therefore, settled in that town in 1939, just before the Second World War with his wife and their baby - Oduro Agyapong (a former Upper East Regional Director of Education).
In 1948, Nana Ampadu Okyere diversified his business activities and added trading to his shoe making profession by selling all types of goods.
Odehye Kwaku Oduro was unanimously selected and enstooled the chief of Pepease and Kyedomhene of the Kwahu Traditional Area by the king makers on April 15, 1950 to succeed his late uncle, Nana Owusu Mensah II. He was conferred the stool name of Nana Ampadu Okyre II after his great grand uncle, Nana Ampadu Okyere (Daadum), who led the Bretuo Clan of Tweenedurase Kwahu to settle at Pepease.
During their migration, the people settled under a great “Osanta” shady tree in a forest full of Opepea trees, hence the accolade “Santase Bretuo” and the name of the town – Pepease.
The new Pepeasehene subsequently swore the oath of allegiance to the Kwahu Omanhene, Nana Akuamoah Boateng I. He was, however, gazetted Okyere Ampadu II instead of Ampadu Okyere II, hence the confusion in name.
Having assumed his honourable position as the Pepeasehene and Kyidomhene of the Kwahu traditional are, Nana Ampadu Okyere had no choice but to stop his trading activities at Agona Swedru and moved to settle permanently at Pepease to mobilize his people to continue with the development of the town.
His first task as a chief was to clear the town of bushed interspersed among buildings by allocating such empty plots to would-be developers, who were ready to build. That operation did not go without resistance, but Nana was firm and held his grounds hence the neatly lied out streets and nice buildings seen in the town today. He also insisted that domestic animals should be penned to keep the town neat.
As should be expected, interested citizens took offence of such interference and objected to what they called arbitrary rule. Nana Ampadu Okyere was not perturbed by the reaction of a section of the people, but invited the chiefs and elders of his domain, notably, Twennedurase, Nteso, Nkwantanang, Sempoa and Hwewohoden and counselled them on the need to establish a strong unity and progressive Kyidom domain devoid of violence.
Nana Ampadu Okyere’s counselling yielded fruitful results and prosperity of the people in the kyidom division.
When he ascended the throne, Nana Ampadu Okyere observed that the only basic school in the town, the Presbyterian Primary School established in 1946, was only for boys, compelling the girls in the town to travel to Abetifi to attend school.
He took realistic measures to make the institution co-educational. In order to achieve that objective, a home science block was added to the school in 1951 to make it possible to admit girls.
Buildings were put up for the Local Authority Middle School to accommodate students graduating from the Catholic Primary School. Hithreto, the students had to compete with others from the Presbyterian Senior High School.
Nana Ampadu Okyere’s reign was the expansion of educational facilities at Pepease with the establishment of a Secondary / Technical School out of the local Roman Catholic continuation School. Currently, the town has tree day care centres.
As commercial activities began to spring up at Pepease, there was the need for a modern market so Nana impressed upon the Peperse community in Kumasi to undertake such a project and they responded by constructing a market complex in his honour.
Between 1972 and 1974, seven individual donors, namely, Nana Ampadu Okyere II, Opanin Kwame Afram, Opanin Kwasi Ansong, Ohenenana Kwaku Koranteng (Kumoh), Opanin Kwasi Braku and Oheneba Kwadwo Nkansah, contributed towards the construction of a health centre, which was inaugurated in February, 1974.
Other development projects provided in the town through the influence of Nana Ampadu Okyere include a modern Post Office, electricity supply, pipe borne water and a Bible College.
The Chief also encouraged his people to establish the Kwahu Rural Bank at Pepease in 1979, whose permanent structures were put up in the town in 2000. Currently, the bank has braches at Nkawkaw, Mpreaso and Bepong.
He has expanded the local palace by not only making it a compound house, but has also added a storey building to it to make it one of the most modern palaces in the country.
Nana Ampadu Okyere’s reign was blessed with patriotic citizens. Individuals and organizations contributed immensely towards the town’s development. One such individual was the late Mr. S. E Brenyah and his wife, who single-handedly built a modern library complex, a centre for arts and culture and a plaza at the centre of the town and donated all to the people.
One remarkable achievement of the chief is that he has striven to unite his people to such an extent that the area has not experienced any litigation during his reign.
In an interview, Nana Ampadu Okyere attributed the enviable feat to good governance, tolerance, open door administration and his excellent human relations with his sub-chiefs and subjects devoid of arbitrariness.
Asked how at 96, he is still strong, active and could move around he attributed his good health to good health and regular exercise of his body, adding that even though he was not a teetotaller, he did not drink alcohol excessively.
Nana Ampadu Okyere praised the current Kwaku Omanhene, Nana Akuamoah Boateng II, for ensuring peace, unity and stability in the entire Kwahu Traditional Area and urged other paramount chiefs to emulate his excellent administration.
He advised king makers to strive to install qualified people from the royal families as a measure of minimizing chieftaincy disputes in the country.
He appealed to the government to rehabilitate the deplorable Abetifi-Pepease main road and also assist in making the six-kilometre Pepease-Burkuruwa-Kwahu Tafo feeder road which he initiative construction 20 years ago, motorable.
Daily Graphic Page: 19 Thursday, December 2, 2010