On 24 February 2014, at the Asanteman Council sitting intended for determining the relevance and effect of the invocation of the Asantehene’s Great Oath (Asantehene Ntamkesie) on Kumawuhemaa and her purported king-to-be, the true paramount royals of Kumawuman were teased. It was at this same sitting that the entire Asanteman chiefs present, shamefully and ignorantly declared their unanimous support for not only the candidate chosen by Kumawuhemaa, but also, approved of her method used to choose him.
I have decided to write about the chiefs individually, what they said, and how I evaluate their views in terms of intelligence and wisdom. With this in mind, I am today discussing one of the chiefs who in a teasing manner, made a derogatory analogy to buttress his contention in support of Kumawuhemaa.
Kumawuhemaa had boldly declared before the Asanteman Council, without mincing words, how she had given huge sums of money to the four living Kumawu kingmakers (Krontrehene – Ghc15, 000; Akwamuhene – Ghc10, 000; Nifahene – GHc10, 000; Gyasehene – GHc5, 000). Additionally, she had paid them a deposit of GHc7, 000 out of the GHc50, 000 extortion fee they had agreed on; a second phase of the bribery galore.
Kumawuhemaa initially alleged the first huge payments of money were in line with Ashanti law and custom pertaining to the election of a new chief. As the hearing progressed, one Michael, her elder sister’s son whispered something into her ears. She then told the Council the details about the payments which then, clearly became bribery, extortion and corruption intended to influence the kingmakers, probably.
Curiosity that kills the cat compelled me to do an extensive research work to ascertain the Asante customs in place relating to such gifts, bribery of course, in the event of electing a chief. I shall publish my findings at the appropriate time. However, no Asante custom guarantees or prescribes such huge advance payments or offer of gifts to electors. I don’t know how Kumawuhemaa came by that conclusion.
Back to the chief in question, when it was his turn to submit his views on whether or not Kumawuhemaa had correctly exercised her rights, applying traditional and customary rites in choosing her candidate, and also if the swearers of Asantehene Ntamkesie had been reckless, he expressed the following view. “Those people standing there (referring to the swearers of the oath – Kumawu Aduanahene Nana Sarfo Agyekum, alias Joe Fry; Ananangya Royal Family head – Nana Darkwah; Mr Osei Kwabena, alias Paa Agyei and Opanyin Krapa), think we would be voting; inviting Kwadwo Afari Gyan over to organise an election. And knowing they are four in number with Kumawuhemaa standing alone, Otumfuo would ask them to select a candidate of their choice for the Kumawu stool, because they have won. Let me tell them, when it comes to chieftaincy issues, our Asante traditional laws, custom and usage reign supreme. They are superior to even the Ghana Constitution. What Kumawuhemaa did was perfectly in line with tradition so Otumfuo should permit her candidate to be enthroned as Kumawuhene. They have recklessly sworn the Ntamkesie and have to be punished for that”
This chief under discussion continued talking, full of praise for Kumawuhemaa, the method she used to choose her candidate, imploring Otumfuo to resolve the Kumawu chieftaincy dispute the same day by confirming the candidacy of Kumawuhemaa’s choice to ensure his enthronement there and then.
I will not say everything that he said because he was purely exhibiting his ignorance of written laws regulating some of our Asante’s customs and traditions. If he was aware of such statutes which indeed, supersede the customs and traditions, he wouldn’t have bared his lack of knowledge about such issues the way he did.
For his information, Ghana Constitution, the Courts and any written law backed by the Constitution and Parliament, i.e. Chieftaincy Acts, far exceed our Asante custom and traditions in superiority.
Finally, can I ask cheekily if he is expecting a similar infamous “Atuguba verdict” to be pronounced on the Kumawu chieftaincy case that is now pending in court? No, I won’t. The fact that Atuguba for some selfish reasons emanating from unprofessionalism got it wrong does not mean that verdict should be an emulative precedent for all judges to follow.
Are the two underlying sayings or proverb of any significance to the chief in question? It will as well serve a lesson to the other chiefs when I come to discuss them with regards to their actions as demonstrated on same 24 February 2014 at the Asanteman Council meeting.
“A man’s ignorance is as much his private property, and as precious in his own eyes, as his family Bible —Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.” “A man with little learning is like the frog who thinks its puddle a great sea —Burmese proverb”
I respect the chieftaincy institution, but I can’t stand the corruptibility and ignorance of these modern day chiefs; the overseers of our customs and traditions and that very institution.
I hope the chief will never again tease anyone the way he did to the Kumawu elders if ever his views were sought on a case. If he does it again, it will be at his own peril; someone may write to castigate him. I have decided not to publish his name and town to avoid his incurrence of irredeemable embarrassment.