By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Garden City, New York
In the past, I have lauded him when I thought that the lately much-maligned “King Solomon” was diligently about the sacred and progressive business of the people, such as when he led the Sino-Western initiative to empower Asante chiefs economically, by schooling and enskilling them with entrepreneurial skills and acumen. And when he has indiscreetly overstepped the bounds of protocol, as when he subtly and mischievously collaborated with the Mahama regime to unconscionably abort salutary democratic cultural praxis in the lead-up to Election 2012, with his infamously bogus Accra democracy and peace lecture, I have not hesitated to call him out on the same.
You see, many of us have always known that Otumfuo Osei-Tutu II is politically mischievous and meddlesome in ways that are not shrewdly diplomatic and do not enhance the dignity and integrity of the Great Osei-Tutu Stool. And sometimes, we even wonder why he decided to select the stool-name of the genius and progressive and “Akanistically” inclusive founder of Asanteman, Otumfuo Osei-Tutu I, who, by the way, also happens to be my direct ancestor by way of Akyem-Asiakwa, Dwaben, Barekese and Nkoranza, to speak much less about Dwaben-Adwuampong.
For the most part, we have respectfully held our tongues – and for my part, the ballpoint of my pen because we cherish the great cultural renown of Asanteman, one that is both practically and academically beyond dispute. We have also been fervently hoping, it tragically turns out, largely against hope, that Otumfuo Osei-Tutu II would in due course, and in good time, come around to recognizing the egregious errors of his ways and promptly repair the considerable damage His Majesty appears to have unjustifiably brought to bear on the history and dignity of not only Asanteman, but also the Greater-Akanman in general. For like it or hate it, the Asantehene is globally recognized as symbolizing the highest moral and cultural values of the Akan people and beyond.
The sad reality, though, is that perhaps because he did not have to mount any epic struggle and/or battle like his revered predecessors to afford himself the Great Osei-Tutu Stool, or Golden Stool, Barima Kwaku Duah (as he had been known in private life) tends to cavalierly take things for granted. He has tended to behave like a spoiled only child accidentally gifted the proverbial White Elephant for which he has both little value, and of which he clearly has little use.
Else, why would Otumfuo Osei-Tutu stoop so low as to host a partisanly private party at the Manhyia Palace to which only a handful of the most hardened political cynics of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), including the decidedly anti-Asante President John Dramani Mahama, would be in attendance, and then heartily dance with the latter to the most politically insensitive of Ghanaian musical lyrics – the infamous “Yenntie Obiara” by Mr. K. K. Fosu, alias Daddy Lumba?
And here, it ought to be promptly added that not very long ago, President Mahama was reported to have told a throng of Kumasi residents that they were so pathologically and congenitally ungrateful and anti-NDC that no matter what great deeds he does for them, the citizens of Asantemen would never appreciate the Gonja native and his government!
Clearly, but for the fortuitous leaking of a videotape of this most culturally and politically sickening affair by a Manhyia orderly who felt it to be imperative for Asanteman, and Ghanaians at large, to witness the lurid underbelly of the man duly and deliberately inducted to represent the ethos and conscience of Akanman to the world at large, Otumfuo Osei-Tutu II would still be riding high up in his gold-plated Apakankese or palanquin, proudly and colorfully parading as the essence of what it means to be both an Akan and a Ghanaian.
And by the way, does such orgiastic caricaturing of quintessential Akan identity have anything to do with the recently alleged $29 million renovation of the Kumasi Airport by the Mahama regime? In other words, is Otumfuo Osei-Tutu II this scandalously cheap?! The other day, for instance, at the commissioning of a real-estate project somewhere in the Obuasi-Bekwai vicinity, the Asantehene was widely reported to have said that he first and foremost represented the primary interests of Asanteman, in particular how to comfortably secure a fair share of the proverbial National Cake “for his people.” Good for you, Otumfuo Nana Aboagye!
So now tell us, why are your own chiefs not defending you? And, by the way, there was a scholarly man a half-century-plus ago called Nana Ahene-Mensah (Sintim-Aboagye), who was fast friends with Okyeamepanyin Baafuor Akoto, who used to dutifully serve as Otumfuo Sir Agyeman-Prempeh II’s chief scribe or private secretary. Well, that was my granduncle. I am an Asante-Mampong-born and Bompata-baptized Akyemkwaa, Owusu-Akyem Tenten Nana, and yet no less Asante than Your Royal Majesty. I just wanted you to know and appreciate this simple fact and humble advice. Asante is much, much more than the Asante Region, Otumfuo!