Historic: Asantehene visits Kyebi

BY: Kwame Asare Boadu

The cordial relationship between the Manhyia Palace and the Ofori Panin Fie will be cemented when the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, makes a historic visit to Kyebi, the traditional capital of Akyem Abuakwa, today, August 23, 2018 at the invitation of the Okyenhene, Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin.

Otumfuo Osei Tutu, the 16th occupant of the Golden Stool, is visiting Kyebi as the Special Guest of Honour at the 75th anniversary of the death of a former Okyenhene, Nana Sir Ofori Atta, who is credited with the transformation of Akyem Abuakwa.

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A source at the Manhyia Palace told the Daily Graphic that the Asantehene was travelling with a huge delegation of about 100, including some paramount chiefs from the Ashanti and the Brong Ahafo regions.

Otumfuo and his host will ride in palanquins in what is expected to be an extraordinary traditional extravaganza.

Complexity


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One of the most complex conundrums that have lived with the country’s chieftaincy institution for centuries has been the perceived rivalry between the two traditional leaders.

The long-held rift dates back to over 300 years during the Asante Wars of Expansion, and was recently fuelled by public comment by the Asantehene, accusing some individuals close to President Nana Akufo-Addo of trying to bring the Golden stool into disrepute.

Although the intervention of the President saw the Okyenhene making a visit to the Manhyia Palace, some people saw it as mere window dressing.

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This explains why the visit of the Asantehene to Akyem Abuakwa is very significant.

Close watchers of our traditional institution, and even political and social commentators believe today’s visit will demonstrate what modern chieftaincy stands for - unity of purpose and development.

Pre-independence wars

The country’s pre- independence history from the 17th century was  occupied by the Asante wars of conquest vis-a-vis the British attempts to maintain its stranglehold on the colony.

The Founder of the Asante Kingdom, Opemsuo Osei Tutu (1700-1717), began the Asante wars but was unable to conquer the Akyem state, although his army had defeated the Akan states, including Wassa, Denkyira, Sefwi and Twifo.

Before Asante could push its forces to the coastal states with a target on the Fantes and Gas,  it had to take control of Akyem. So in 1717, Opemsuo Osei Tutu led an Asante force to attack the Akyem state but they were met with a fierce counter-attack which forced the Asante army to withdraw to Kumasi.

History has it that Opemsuo Osei Tutu was shot and killed by the Akyems while crossing the Pra River, accompanied by the Asante rear army.

The mantle fell on the then occupant of the Silver Stool in Asante, the Mamponghene, Nana Akuamoa Panin, to take charge of the Asante army until Opoku Ware I, also known as Opoku Ware Katakyie, ascended the Golden Stool in 1718 to lead the Asante army.

In 1742, Opoku Ware I led his dreaded army to attack Akyem Abuakwa and Akyem Kotoku and the chiefs of the two areas were killed by the Asantes, paving the way for the Asante army to launch an onslaught on the Ga and Fante states.

Pre-Amoatia era

It may not be for nothing that Otumfuo Osei Tutu II is going to Akyem Abuakwa to honour the late Nana Sir Ofori Atta.

Clearly, Asante and Akyem Abuakwa cannot be perpetual enemies even if that enmity existed.

Nana Ofori Atta visited Otumfuo Sir Osei Agyeman Prempeh II at the Manhyia Palace in the 1960s. Both of them were knighted by the British Monarch and were the two most powerful traditional rulers in the country then who rallied behind the National Liberation Movement to oppose the Convention People’s Party (CPP) in the fiery pre-independence and immediate post- independence political upheavals.

Later in 1985, the Okyenhene, Osagyefuo Kuntukunuku II, also attended a durbar by Otumfuo Opoku Ware II in Kumasi.

Okyenhene cherishes relationship

When he visited Kumasi, Osagyefuo Amoatia made a profound statement, emphasising that he cherished his relationship with the Asantehene.

“We do not want to remain just traditional rulers. Our country needs transformation, and we must encourage our people to take care of their own destiny,” the Okyenhene was reported to have said at a dinner hosted by Otumfuo Osei Tutu in his honour.

President Akufo-Addo,  who was also at the dinner, was also reported to have said he would continue to bring on board traditional rulers in the country’s development aspirations to facilitate socio-economic growth.

Otumfuo Osei Tutu is married to an Akyem, Lady Julia Osei Tutu.

Chieftaincy has come a long ways, and as Otumfuo Osei Tutu has repeatedly said,  chiefs today are not leading their peoples to fight their enemies in the physical sense, explaining that the fight is against their greatest enemies, which are poverty, ignorance and disease.