The atmosphere in and around the Manhyia Palace in Kumasi must be buzzing with much chit-chat and light-heartedness at the news that the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, is now to walk in the shadow of the slain Libyan leader, Col. Muammar al-Gaddafi as the “King of Kings” of Africa. He has been nominated to replace Gaddafi as the next chairman of the Kings and Sultans of Africa Forum.
The announcement on Otumfuo’s elevation was contained in a letter presented to him on Sunday as he celebrated the last Akwasidae of the year at the forecourt of the Manhyia Palace.
Presenting the letter, Togbui Amenya Fiti V, Paramount Chief of Aflao (who is an executive member of the Kings and Sultans of Africa Forum), said the decision was taken at a crisis meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, by the Forum members in October this year.
The Forum is made up of the so-called powerful and respected traditional leaders from different parts of the African continent such as King Monogo of Congo Brazzaville, Queen Best of Uganda, King Chikaya of Congo, King Bagidi of Benin, and King Agokoli of Tokoli in Benin), among others.
Certainly, this nomination has put the Asantehene in reckoning and will reinforce his status on the continent and beyond, some might say. Others may be wary of it and caution against anything rash that might bring in its sequel unpleasant developments for the Golden Stool or its occupant personally.
Should we congratulate the Otumfuo on this elevation or not? I hesitate to do so.
This Forum was shrouded in controversy right from birth. It was formed by Gaddafi as part of his personal agenda to push through his ideals of African unity, leading to the formation of the United States of Africa. We are privy to the furore that his coronation as the “King of Kings” provoked and how he sought to ram his agenda down the throats of political leaders on the continent, from which he reaped a harvest of hate and acrimony.
We all saw how only a handful of voices rose up in his defence when he faced the wrath of his opponents and NATO. Gaddafi bit off more than he could chew and ended up being choked to death by his own miscalculation.
Pursuing the agenda of the Forum was part of that miscalculation. With his death, one might think that the Forum would be allowed to die with him. But, no!!
Gaddafi was the first and life chairman of the group; but his assassination meant that the Forum was now acephalous. Its members might be frightened by its ability to endure and, therefore, needed to fill the huge vacuum in order to prevent the Forum from fading off the scene.
To most of us, the role of Gaddafi in the formation and financing of this Forum has certainly died with him. The kind of irresistible egoistic pursuit that drove him into corrupting these African chiefs and sultans into crowning him as the “King of Kings” was part of what led to his capture and assassination. He stubbornly pursued such self-glorifying agenda and dug himself deep into destruction.
With him gone, the balloon of self-constituted authority and self-congratulatory pronouncements should have been allowed to burst into smithereens of “good riddance”; but our chiefs think otherwise. They are up and organizing themselves to continue chasing the mirage that Gaddafi pointed them to and led them on. Such a futile adventure draws attention to itself as part of the problems reinforcing Africa’s plight.
For the Asantehene, this appointment may be a feather in a cap that he may not wear with ease or confidence. He has his plates full of trouble in his own backyard (the Kumawu chieftaincy dispute is still raging on, among other trouble spots in his domain). Accepting this new responsibility will shackle him and create more anxious moments than he needs. What will he gain by leading this Forum on a wild goose chase for “African Unity” and a “United States of Africa” that existed in Gaddafi’s nightmarish dreams?
As Chairman of the Committee of Eminent Chiefs tasked to resolve the Dagbon crisis, he hasn’t been able to complete that task. Dagbon is threatening to explode again. Of course, we don’t expect him to single-handedly solve these problems; but if he faithfully applies himself to the task, he can leave a lasting impression as a problem-solver.
He hasn’t so far done so and is only being vested with more responsibilities, probably only to have a tall list of “medals” to his credit. Like a reservoir of the kind of medallions that adorned the late Emperor Bokasa’s coat that was too heavy for him to wear and had to be carried alongside by a well-built military officer for public display, such responsibilities of the kind being thrust on him are designed to bog him down.
Otumfuo will be better off rejecting it than accepting it to add to his list of “medals” which will not bring him peace of mind or anything new to add to his status. Isn’t he already prominent enough to warrant no more exposure?
If the rationale behind this elevation is to get him to galvanize the Forum to pursue Gaddafi’s agenda, I can only wish him “Good luck” as he grapples with this tall order.
I will appeal to Otumfuo to humbly turndown this albatross and free himself from needless head-butting sessions that this Forum characterizes. In the first place, the Forum doesn’t have a good image. Its origin and mission are questionable. If the traditional rulers in Africa want to exert their influence on developments on the continent, they can do so through better means.
I urge Otumfuo to stay away from this heavily politicized talk-shop to free himself from future disdain and embarrassment. If he insists on serving in this new capacity, he should brace himself up for the negative backlash. Shouldn’t he be doing better things with his time and energy than leading a Forum that has no foundation in decency and morality?
To be continued…
By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor