OTUMFUO OSEI-TUTU II: BETWEEN A DECADE AND THE SILVER JUBILEE
By: Nana Subin Kankam Amaado II, Abesewahene
Time, which eventually catches up with every activity and brings it to the ultimate conclusion, is at play. The pomp and pageantry, the euphoria and the excitement which characterize the 10th anniversary celebration of Otumfuo Osei- Tutu II’s ascendancy to the Golden Stool have come and gone.
It is time for a sober reflection and evaluation on the activities of the immediate past, appreciating the present and to planning for a more beautiful development-oriented foreseeable future.
It will be unnecessary to belabor the point by recounting the numerous achievements and successes the great king has chalked up in the first decade of his rule in respect of poverty reduction, health, education etc.
Writers, social commentators as well as individual objective thinkers within and without the country have done justice to them over the days, especially in the three months preceding the eventful celebration and the evidence is solid and palpable for anyone who cares to see. Therefore, it can be said without doubt that Otumfuo Osei- Tutu II has set a precedent and a standard never released in the annals of chieftaincy as an institution in our contemporary times, in respect of traditionalism and socio-economic development.
When the event for the celebration of the anniversary was launched in the early days of the year and the subsequent programme of activities released, there was a feeling of fear and apprehension in respect of the realisation of some of the items on the programme. In fact, some of them seemed quite “ambitious” and needed a collaborative effort of the central government and the Manhyia Palace to effect their consummation.
Coming on the heels of a closely contested and tension –packed general election, which resulted in favour of a party perceived to be not too “comfortable” with the people of Ashanti, there was a premonition that the needed camaraderie will be hard to come by as the tendency to look at things from the ethno-political lenses seemed imminent, However, the whole celebration took a national character and the climate spirituality, cohesion and oneness needed for the success of such a great event was felt and eventually realized.
With guest seated to await the ultimate chief celebrant, Otuofuo Osei- Tutu II, sirens and motorcades announced the arrival of the Chief Executive Officer of the nation and his entourage. This was made up of the ‘who is who’ in Ghana, a lot of foreign dignitaries, including former Heads of State of some African countries, Diasporans, Europeans and the crème de la crème of the global community.
Otumfuo’s entry to the durbar grounds was uncharacteristically low key. But for the palanquin in which he rode and the hordes of people around him especially the “Ekyemfour” and the “Ntahara” heralding his majesty’s arrival and the ceremonial umbrellas (with their golden insignia perched on top) forming a large canopy about him, it could have been without much fanfare.
As soon as he arrived, the function took effect. A short but impressive ceremony, comprising speeches by the king and the President, as well as awards to the deserving personalities, both local and foreign, who have made their marks in Asanteman and by extension, the nation, Ghana. So the short impressive ceremony came to end and the President of Ghana and his entourage left the grounds.
Otumfuo then rose to greet and acknowledge his subjects who had filled the spacious Babayara Stadium to capacity. There and then did the spirituality, the charisma and the ultimacy of the king manifest itself?
With the Fontonfrom drummers beating to a frenzy and Otumfuo in his palanquin dancing majestically with a golden whisk in hand, the atmosphere became so charged that a spark of light could have set the whole place ablaze.
Subsequently, the chiefs started filing out in their order, all in agitation and the infectious power emanating from the Otumfuo’s aura.
Once again, Otumfuo has used his charm, charisma, diplomacy and power to bring the whole nation together. Barriers, both political and tribal, have been broken, and all Ghanaians brought together under one umbrella for a great event.
The first decade, with all its ramification and achievements culminating in the various workshops, fora, round-table discussions, hosted and addressed by world acclaimed leaders and strategic thinkers and the grand durbar, have all achieved their desired results to the glory of God and the advantage of mankind.
The organizers have done a wonderful job. A trail has been set by the one who has been the trailblazer in Ghana’s traditionalism and development over the past decade, setting a course and an agenda to be followed by key players and stakeholders in the institution.
What then is the way forward to such a high standard already set? Are there possibilities to excel more than already achieved?
Before one can go further to explore and attempt to conjecture the future, it might be prudent to go back to the remote past to understand what actually underpins the stupendous spirituality, which under-scores the Asante kingdom, kingship and its socio-cultural practices and has sustained it till today.
This 16th century kingdom was founded effectively by the great king Opemsuo Osei-Tutu I. He, by dint of hard work, wars of conquest and diplomacy, with the collaboration of his spiritual mentor and friend, Okomfo Anokye established the kingdom.
Legend has it that the golden stool was command from the heavens by Okomfo Anokye and it embodies the hopes, aspirations, unity and cohesiveness of the kingdom. The stool has survived various regime and vicissitudes and it is still potent. The unity, cohesion and spirituality underlining the body politic of the kingdom over 400 years of existence can be attributed to the Golden Stool. So as long as the custodians of the stool maintain its sacredness and originality, the Asante Kingdom, though modern and sophisticated in conformity with the ever-changing world dynamics, still retains its socio-cultural balance.
Another interesting thing about this write-up is the attempt to draw a parallel between the present King Osei- Tutu II and his great predecessor King Osei-Tutu I.
There are a lot of similarities between them and it is not coincidental that he bears his name.
Asantes has a great belief in life after death and reincarnation. One, therefore, cannot be entirely wrong from perspectives to suggest that King Osei-Tutu II is King Osei- Tutu I’s incarnation!
King Osei-Tutu I was called by God like the biblical Moses in the ancient time to take Asante out of political servitude.
Historically, Asantes, at a point in time, were ruled by the Denkyiras. Though a lot of machinations, both spiritual and physical, which time and space will not permit to explain and appreciate much in context, King Osei-Tutu I, with the spiritual help of Okmfo Anokye, defeated the Denkyiras in the war of Feiase, released Asantes of the “Denkyiras yoke” and went on to establish this great kingdom we are relishing today.
It cannot be wrong, therefore, in a similar vein to regard King Osei-Tutu II as having been equally called by God to help relieve his people of Asante and by extension of the socio- economic yoke around our necks in these contemporary times. This “God man-dated” responsibility he has tackled with much commitment and gusto. Like his predecessor who enjoyed much support from his brave subjects to embark on wars of conquest to actualize his vision to establish the kingdom, so will our modern King Osei-Tutu require the active involvement and support of all and sundry to realize his dream of eradicating poverty, ignorance and disease, since the criteria or the yardstick for measuring contemporary success is no longer wars of conquest, but the socio- economic development of the people of Asante and the nation as a whole.
The Otumfuo Educational Fund, which forms the bedrock of the academic and professional development of the people, should be highly embraced and contributed to by all. People must not take advantage of the king’s altruism and expect him to do everything single-handedly. The idea must be replicated in various traditional areas to lessen the pressure on the Otumfuo ‘s resources in order to shift focus and concentrate on other equally important and crucial areas such as poverty reduction to create more social and economic opportunities for that will radically change lives for the better.
Institutions, as well as business establishments, should come out and donate more generously in the form of corporate and individual social responsibilities to augment the king’s purse to undertake many projects within the next the 10 years and beyond.
Whereas the peak of Asante power, Otumfuo’s empire was even bigger than the present day Ghana, some may argue that the current political system has lessened the influence and power of the King considerably and his area of jurisdiction limited.
That notwithstanding, the nation must take advantage of his ‘Solomonic’ wisdom, look onto him for inspiration and direction to accelerate national development Otumfuo’s leadership qualities should encourage the country’s political leaders to collaborate closely without traditional authorities to achieve the needed socio- economic development for our people.
Daily Graphic Page: 9 Tuesday, December 1, 2009.