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Asantehene's exclusive with Graphic on 'a day in his life'

BY: Kwame Asare Boadu & George Ernest Asare
Otumfuo displays his ­­golf skills
Otumfuo displays his ­­golf skills

From the elaborately planned gardens of the Manhyia Palace, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II walked a two-man Graphic Online/Daily Graphic team to the stunning interior of his residence inside the palace on Saturday, April 13, 2019 to have a chat on 20 years of his reign.

For about an hour, the King spoke on a wide range of issues including chieftaincy, politics, conflicts, governance and his daily routine.

A day in his life

The position of Asantehene comes with huge responsibilities, and according to Otumfuo Osei Tutu, not a single day is a “free day.”

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Giving details on how he spends his day, Otumfuo Osei Tutu said his status as Asantehene did not allow him to do anything he liked, explaining that culture held centre stage in all that he did.

His movements and expected activities are strictly regimented and very little time is given for personal issues.

This is done to ensure the Asantehene does not step out of line.

So to get through a day’s schedule means the Asantehene has to adhere to time-tested cultural protocols and etiquette.This begins immediately he takes his bath.

His routine varies and all activities for the day have allocated times.

Gyase dictates

Responding to a question by Graphic Online/Daily Graphic team on who determines what he does, the Asantehene said his daily routine starts in the morning and it is determined by the Gyase Division and sometimes the Akyeame (linguists).

Gyase is a Twi word meaning kitchen. In the court of the Asantehene, the Gyase Division is closest to the King and is responsible for his wellbeing.

“From morning to evening, every activity I undertake must be sanctioned by the Gyase.

"So, my day is about culture, and rightly so because we are talking about the Asantehene who is the embodiment of Asante culture," he said.

Visitors who want to book appointments with the Asantehene route their requests through the Gyasehene who controls and oversees all visits.

"Once I finish with my bath in the morning, the Gyase will tell me what I am going to do for the day. It could be adjudication of cases, swearing of oaths by chiefs, meetings, courtesy calls on me or any other matter," he said.

These activities could travel up to 3p.m. and sometimes 5p.m.

But that will not be all for the day. In the evening, he attends to other people who may come to him with various issues seeking his assistance.

“Politicians, business people from not only Ghana but other parts of the world, chiefs and others come to me to seek advice and support on many issues, and I make sure I attend to everyone.

“Yes, I am Asantehene but I spread my activities to other areas not within my traditional jurisdiction because I want to see Ghana progress,” the Asantehene stated.

Rites

There comes the plethora of ceremonial rites which he has to perform almost daily.

On Tuesdays, he has to go to the stool house to "give food" to the stools.

On Wednesdays, the Asantehene attends to appointments with institutions/organisations and people. In the evenings of the day, he said he looked at land matters, especially those relating to leases.

Otumfuo unveiling a plaque to inaugurate Rattray Park in Kumasi

Thursdays and Fridays are also devoted to meetings with his chiefs.

"The only day that I have some time to attend to my family is Saturday, but even then people sometimes come to my residence for various reasons," he said.

He cannot put on any costume for any official function. His wardrobe is strictly controlled by the Gyasehene.

The Asantehene's Mpaboahene determines the type of Ahenema (native sandals) the King wears for official functions.

Otumfuo Osei Tutu said he also took time to attend to his courtiers and the over 300 Nhenkwaa (palace assistants).

As he stated, "the Ahenkwaa play key roles in the palace and I appreciate that so I attend to their needs and give them all the respect for what they do here. "

Sacrilegious

Otumfuo Osei Tutu indicated that it was a sacrilege to see him go his own way to do whatever he liked.

"The position of Asantehene is a sacred position and you cannot go contrary to the dictates of the Golden Stool," he posited.

According to him, when he ascended the Golden Stool, there was an attempt to stop him from playing golf, a sport he so loved which also kept him fit. 

"So it is only golf that I go out to play with some friends," he said.

And even when he goes out to play the game, he is accompanied by security personnel.

Service to humanity

Otumfuo Osei Tutu stated that leadership was about service and truthfulness backed by humility.

"That is what I have committed myself to every day over the last 20 years and wish I will continue to do," he said.

Although he sits on the Golden Stool, which comes with so much glory, he said he could not fathom how that glory could override the critical point of rendering the kind of service that would uplift the standards of living of the people.