King Tackie Tieko Tsuru II, Ga Matse, heartily welcoming Otumfuo Osie Tutu II Picture: DOUGLAS ANANE-FRIMPONG
King Tackie Tieko Tsuru II, Ga Matse, heartily welcoming Otumfuo Osie Tutu II Picture: DOUGLAS ANANE-FRIMPONG

When two kings met

I am quite a sucker for grand royalty and the glamour that comes with it, so I was quite disappointed I could not be in Accra over the weekend to witness the historic visit of the Asantehene to the Ga state, with all its trappings.


I had to be in Kumasi for a wedding – a claim which drew some mild snorts of amusement from more than a couple of my uppity Accra friends who believe funerals are the only social occasion for which one travels there.

I must admit that despite my mild irritation at their jab, it has been quite a while since I attended a wedding in Kumasi. On the other hand, I was there last month for a funeral. 

Birth of nations

A couple of centuries or so ago, our traditional societies were in a state of flux, with expansionist wars and alliances almost constantly taking place. In many cases, these were inevitable pangs of the birth of nations, and along with it almost ever-changing border demarcations.

Of course, this was not particular to present-day Ghana, or even Africa. Europe, Asia and the American continent have all had their fair share of these dynamics, with borders and social tectonic plates shifting on an almost routine basis.

Perhaps Africa’s unique perspective lay in the fact that along these evolving dynamics of the relationships came the colonial factor of European presence, by which they sought to drive further wedges among these societies for ‘divide and rule’ purposes, purely in the commercial interests of faraway London, Paris, Brussels or Lisbon, among others.

Ultimately, this culminated in the Berlin Conference of 1884-85 in Europe, where these powers literally and gleefully carved up Africa among themselves like a giant carcass, establishing artificial borders with no considerations  for the dynamics on the ground.

Thus, hitherto warring ethnic groups were corralled and hemmed in, as were societies that had nothing much to do with each other, and were simply expected to get along as one people.

On the other hand, these borders split entire communities along colonial lines so that family members ended up on one side or the other of these new borders and were expected to see themselves as citizens of different countries, and with it, as primarily Anglophones or Francophones.

In many cases these constituted perfect recipes for post-colonial bloody wars and instabilities on the continent, including secessions and attempted secessions as resentment in these new nation-states grew amidst ancient, latent rivalries and enmities.

Post-colonial unity

Despite the occasional post-colonial run-ins between Dr. Nkrumah’s government in particular and the chieftaincy institution, our chiefs have remained a firm part of our journey as a nation.

Fortunately we have not witnessed a descent into chaos as has been experienced by several other countries on the continent, even though we were very much a prime example of several hitherto separate and independent nations being cobbled together to form a modern state and thrive.

To that extent we have not done badly at all, even with occasional hiccups and flashpoints, and I think that our traditional rulers have been a key part of our success.

‘State visits’

Like several other high profile ‘state visits’ that have taken place in the past between our traditional leaders, the historic visit by the Asantehene to the Ga state is hugely significant in reminding us that despite whatever may have taken place in the past and our differences, we are essentially one people with a common destiny and that what unites us as a people far outweighs what divides us.

Today, most major towns of our various ethnic groups host huge numbers of other groups, who migrated several generations ago for purposes of commerce, trade and farming, among many others. Kumasi in particular is a case in point, with some migrant communities enjoying representation in the court of Manhyia.

Increasingly, inter-ethnic marriages and relationships are taking place, and the search for work and other prospects continue to draw people from all parts of the country to other parts.

Growing up in Tarkwa, a Wassa enclave in the Western Region where my father worked as a mining engineer, for instance, my classmates were from all over the country, their parents having equally migrated for work, whether as managers or labourers.

I am sure this multicultural experience is shared by many who grew up in our big towns and cities.

Agents of harmony

In the past, traditional leaders were expected to be key parts of the military adventurism, leading their people into expansionist wars, among several others. Today, in a post-colonial state where their powers are clipped and their roles are largely symbolic, they nonetheless remain important players, beyond the pomp and pageantry that characterise the institution on special occasions such as what took place over the weekend in the Ga state.

They must continue to do more to emphasise their relevance. They are expected to be drivers for peace and harmony, bringing our people together. May more of such visits and the resultant enduring friendships between our continue to be a part of our national fabric.


It is an example of the kind of soft power that every nation needs – the wet mortar that binds the bricks and eventually results in a formidable structure. Of course, in celebration of Asante-Ga friendship and brotherliness occasioned by the Asantehene’s visit, I found a perfect excuse for a glass of champagne on Sunday.

May I continue to find many more excuses with many more of such visits along the way. Piaw!

Rodney Nkrumah-Boateng,
Head, Communications & Public Affairs Unit,
Ministry of Energy.
E-mail: [email protected]

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