NEWS COMMENTARY ON ASANTEHENE’S 20TH ANNIVERSARY ON THE GOLDEN STOOL.
Some 20 years ago, the then Barima Kwaku Duah, who at the time was 49 years old, was enstooled in a colourful and extremely rich cultural event as the 16th Asantehene. Today, Ghanaians in particular and the entire world and are celebrating the Asantehene on his ascension onto the golden stool. He was traditionally named after one of the powerful and wise Asantehene. Hence, his stool name Otumfuo Osei Tutu II.
Within months into his enstoolment, he laid out plans to bring dramatic change to what he inherited. His popular saying “in the olden days, kings led people for war but today, we have to lead the people for development” became so much popular and well acclaimed. Sooner than later, the entire nation witnessed the establishment of the Otumfuo Educational Fund to provide assistance and support, to brilliant but needy pupils and students.
Today over 20,000 students at all levels of education around the country have benefitted from this enviable package, which has helped in changing the lives of many people especially in the rural areas. New school buildings have been built while a number of old and dilapidated ones have also been rehabilitated. Some schools in Ghana have received learning and teaching aid under the fund and teachers have also been encouraged and motivated through the provision of basic needs and teacher award scheme.
As the Chancellor of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, in the past 13 years, he has helped develop infrastructure and human resources for the enhancement of teaching, learning and training. In the health sector Otumfuo Osei Tutu has instituted a Health Fund to pursue basic health care plan to finance the reduction of maternal and infant mortality, glaucoma and other eye diseases. There is also the Serwaa Ampem AIDs Foundation for children under the leadership of his wife, Lady Julia to help children who have become victims of the HIV/AIDs. Otumfour Osei Tutu has indeed blended wisdom, education, knowledge and tradition to reshape the focus of chieftaincy not only in Ghana but also around the globe.
The Asantehene led eminent chiefs from Ghana to parade the rich culture of the country and the Ashantis in particular. He also engaged business groups in London in the UK and Atlanta in the US in 2003 at the first ever Ghana Trade and Investment Fair outside Ghana. Many traditional and political leaders have engaged the Asantehene to tap his expertise on effective leadership. The 69-year-old Asantehene has established a solid foundation for co-operation between tradition and modernism, by emphasising the need for tradition to redefine itself in a rapidly changing world without losing its essence. He has also positioned himself emphatically, to fight for development and peace.
Evidently, the past decade or so saw him ably strategising with some other eminent traditional leaders to bring an end to the Dagbon chieftaincy dispute resulting in the enskinment of a new Ya-Na. These and many other initiatives to promote peace among politicians, religious leaders, and many other groups are evident. Otumfuo Osei Tutu has brought peace and reconciliation to Asanteman by settling over five hundred chieftaincy and land disputes. One intriguing initiative towards peace in Ghana that the Asantehene has diplomatically and successfully perused over the years is his recent revelation that from the days of former President Jerry Rawlings to present day President Akufo-Addo, he had mediated behind closed doors sometimes on the eve of elections just for Ghana to have peace.
Recently, the Asantehene initiated a ten-year development plan estimated at $400 million to transform Kumasi into a modern industrial city. The primary objective is to create about 3,000 direct and 2,000 indirect jobs for the youth in the country. There will be a construction of a jute-processing factory at Sabin Akrofuom to promote cocoa, cashew nut and other related crops to grow the local economy. We can as a people on this occasion, reflect on how a refined chieftaincy institution could help propel Ghana for real socio-economic heights which have for some time now eluded us.
BY NANA SIFA TWUM, MEDIA AND COMMUNICATIONS CONSULTANT – LONDON- UK.