Osei Tutu II Marked 13 Years on the Golden Stool

Osei Tutu II Marked 13 Years on the Golden Stool

Manhyia — On April 26, 1999, Barima Kwaku Duah, the youngest son of Asantehemaa Nana Afua Kobi Serwaa Ampem II, was enstooled Asantehene under the stool name Osei Tutu II.

The choice of name itself was pregnant with meaning. The new King had a vision of re-living the moment when the nasal states of Asante chose to revolve around one dynamic leader.

After 13 years of leading the Asante Kingdom, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II has surpassed all imagination. Not only has he maintained Asante as one cohesive force, the Education and Health funds he has established have improved the fortunes of Asanteman, and touched the whole nation in a manner unimaginable in the history of chieftaincy.

Born Nana Kwaku Duah, he succeeded Otumfuo Opoku Ware II, who visited his ancestors in February of the same year. On Sunday, Otumfuo Osei Tutu celebrated the 13th anniversary of his occupation of the Golden Stool, with a grand Akwasidae ceremony at the forecourt of the Manhyia Palace in pomp and pageantry.

As is the norm on such occasions, culture and tradition were brought to the fore. Pomp and pageantry showcased Asante tradition and practice, and made a claim to the fact that the Kingdom of Asante is unique among equals.

Ashantis from various walks of life started converging at the palace very early. By 11:00 a.m., most of the space at the forecourt was occupied. With the month of May, being the beginning of the rainy season in most parts of the country, there was apprehension among the audience that the gathering of the clouds could signal that the rains might disturb the day’s proceedings.

But the heavens might have listened to the prayer of many, and allowed fairly good weather to envelope the proceedings.

It was an event for chiefs, and naturally, umbrellas of various colours and shapes dominated the durbar grounds. So were traditional sounds from the various drumming groups following their chiefs.

I am told that the celebration was mainly a Kumasi Traditional Council affair, and that was why very few Amanhene’s from the various traditional areas in Ashanti were present.

The first Omanhene to arrive was the Dompoasehene, Nana Adu Gyamfi, who, I am told, represented the Adansi Traditional Area at the durbar.

In traditional context, the Bantamahene is the very epitome of warfare within the Kumasi Traditional Area. For this matter, the occupant of the Bantama stool portrays a situation of seriousness.

As a result, the occupant always portrays a situation of mourning. He always has a gun for company at traditional events. When Bantamahene Nana Owusu Amankwatia VI arrived in mourning clothes, while all others were in their expensive kente cloths or traditional black and white signifying thanksgiving, it singled him out as the leader of the rearguard army.

The Guest of Honour, Igbinedion Esama of Benin State in Nigeria, a royal leader, who is also a businessman and philanthropist, took his position on the dais with political dignitaries and members of the diplomatic corp.

The Ashanti Regional Minister, Dr. Agyeman Manu, headed the official government delegation, which included the Mayor of Kumasi, Mr. Samuel Sarpong.

The opposition New Patriotic Party was adequately represented. The party was led by Party Chairman Jake Otanka Obestebi-Lamptey. There was Albert Kan-Dapaah, Member of Parliament for Afigya Sekyere West and Chairman of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee, and members of the Ashanti regional executive of the NPP.

The Convention People’s Party delegation was led by its chairperson, Madam Samiah Yaba Nkrumah.

Members of the clergy were there in their numbers – from the Catholic Church to the Protestant Methodist and Presbyterian churches – the men and woman of God were effectively represented.

With all chiefs accompanied by traditional drummers, the atmosphere was one of an entertaining gathering until the announcement of the arrival of Otumfuo Osei Tutu, when everybody rose in reverence of the occupant of the Golden Stool.

Necks were stretched in order for the large gathering to be abreast with the drama unfolding before their eyes.

Otumfuo’s royal retinue, as usual, was led by the Sumakwaahene, the traditional herbalist of the occupant of the Golden Stool, with one of his trusted aides carrying the traditional magic herbs.

Tradition has it that the powers of the herbs are meant to drive away any evil spirit intending to harm Otumfuo or any member of his entourage.

The retinue of courtiers had the Nsafoahene, the traditional keeper of the keys to the palace. It is a tradition that anytime Otumfuo is outside the palace, the Nsafoahene brings out all keys to all locks at the Palace to signify that the occupant of the palace is away.

Also in the entourage was the Mpaboahene, who carries along a number of native sandals meant for the King to change his footwear anytime it was appropriate to do so. In the rearguard were the traditional horn blowers, announcing the arrival of Otumfuo.

There was the Dweta Koduo, the traditional ornament said to contain a thousand of gold dust. In traditional terms, the occupant of the Golden Stool is not supposed to be in want. Gold dust is brought along on the King’s travels so that he could pay for anything he fancies.

Remember Mansa Kankan Musa of the ancient Mali Empire and his gold? According to historians, the ruler of the ancient Mali Empire took so much gold dust on his pilgrimage to Mecca in the 14th Century that the value of gold fell in the Arabian Kingdom.

Likewise, the Asantehene carries along what is considered a thousand gold dust to ensure that he can afford anything he fancies on his journey. The Dweta Kudo was proudly on display, ahead of Otumfuo riding in a palanquin to the durbar grounds.

Unlike on other occasions when Otumfuo danced enthusiastically into the durbar grounds, his entry on Sunday was a bit muted. It was difficult seeking the rational behind the change in mood.

An unofficial source told me that it could be connected to the fact that being the 13th Anniversary of the occupation of the Golden Stool, Otumfuo might have spent the early morning remembering royal ancestors, including his immediate predecessor, Otumfuo Opoku Ware II.

All the same, the large gathering had a lot to savour. Following Otumfuo was the Dwantoahene, a member of the Gyaase, before Ankobeahene, with his rearguard army providing security. There were the Atuntofuo, traditional warriors, each carrying guns used by deceased warrior chiefs of the Ashanti Kingdom.

After Otumfuo had taken his seat as the head of a horse shoe formation of chiefs and courtiers, the agitation of the crowd announced the arrival of the Asantehemaa, Nana Afua Kobi Serwa Ampem II, in a black limousine with registration number AS 1 Y.

The grand old lady, said to have passed her centenary celebration, enlightened the atmosphere by dancing gracefully to the Mfontomfrom and Kete drums, with Lady Julia, wife of the Asantehene, in attendance.

When it was time for the chiefs and people to pay homage to the Asantehene, who is also Chief of Kumasi, the Adehyie, members of the ruling Oyoko clan and considered very close to the Golden Stool, were the first to be called, followed by the Abrempong, chiefs in the Kumasi Traditional Council, who are not of the rank of Amanehene.

After royalty, men and women of politics and religion followed, then men and women of achievement, before the general public followed.

Before Otumfuo addressed the gathering, the Kumasi Cultural Centre, popularly known as Anokyekrom, put up some spectacular performances, tracing the link between the Asante Kingdom and its close allies. The Senya Dance, a fusion of Dagomba with Asante steps, drew the largest cheers.

As the drums beat and dancers took to the floor with the traditional whisk, the crowd roared for a piece of tradition that links the Dagomba chieftain to the Asante royal household. There was Sekyi drumming and dancing, which owes its origin to Fante folklore.

When Otumfuo took the mike, he told the gathering that Akwasidae was for stocktaking and remembrance of the ancestors.

He said Asante lands were the property of the chiefs and people, and if there should be any dispute, there were traditional means of resolving them.

He urged his people to embrace education as the key to emancipation, and charged his sub-chiefs not to renege on their commitment, to ensure the success of the Otumfuo Education Fund, promising that the fund would continue to cater for teachers in all the four corners of the nation.

Otumfuo Osei Tutu said the palace was exploring investment opportunities with all manner of investors from across the globe to transform Asanteman, and ensure that its citizens were not in want, either in job openings or in the development of the traditional area.

Being an election year, Otumfuo had a word of advice for politicians and the general populace. He said, in spite of few regrettable incidents that accompanied the biometric registration exercise, Ghana was standing tall in the comity of nations, and called on the citizens to ensure that the December poll ended peacefully.

He asked politicians to sell their manifesto to the people in peace and harmony. “That is what ultimately, is important and will move Ghana forward.”

He told Ghanaians that ultimately, only one out of the number of candidates offering to lead the nation would be elected as President of the Republic.

“Election is not war. Neither should it result in insults and name-calling,” he said. The traditional distribution of Schnapps by Otumfuo Osei Tutu II ended the proceedings, after which the Asantehene feted his guests.

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