It has been two score years and yet I still vividly remember that day in 1999 as if it was only last year. It was a colourful ceremony never to be forgotten. Ashanti was writing a new history.
With pomp and circumstance, the skies of the Ashanti capital lit extra brighter that day and with thunderous acclamations from varied drums, some of us excitedly joined thousands in Kumasi to witness the enstoolment of Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, the sixteenth occupant of the Golden Stool. For some of us, it was the first time ever that we were witnessing such graceful and momentous occasion. I have since followed Otumfuo’s progress with keen interest.
That day of his outdooring, the radiance with which the new King of Ashanti sat in the state told the story of good things to come. And indeed, the best of things have continued to follow his reign till this day as he celebrates God’s immeasurable mercies upon him.
Twenty years on, Otumfuo Osei-Tutu II is not just sitting content with his family right as a royal and direct occupant of the Golden Stool but with some air of humility, calmness and yet bold and firm, he has worked tirelessly to preserve the dignity and respect of the Golden Stool. As he enters his twenty-first year of reign, he has openly subjected himself to review and has asked his chiefs to assess his performance within the period. Asking for peer or subordinate review could only come from a leader who is open to criticism and advice.
Peace and unity
The Asantehene has succeeded in holding the unity of the Ashanti kingdom together and has brought peace where there previously was none. It is said that since his reign, almost all the chieftaincy disputes that had piled up in Ashanti have been dealt with. He is said to have directly supervised the disputes that had thrown some paramountcies into chaos and ensured occupancy of stools that had been bones of contention for years.
And indeed, where peace thrives, development takes off. He has with a high sense of responsibility through a vision to build on what he inherited from his forefathers, he set up the Otumfuo Charity Foundation to drive education, health care and general development. No wonder some of his chiefs took a cue and have vigorously embarked on development projects in their areas.
For the last 20 years, the Asantehene has a lot to show about what a visionary leader can offer and actually commit to, not for himself, but for those they lead. He set himself an agenda as he swore the great oath on that 26thday of April 1999 at the Manhyia Palace to his ancestors.
His vows during his swearing-in was that with the gun handed over to him by his uncle, Otumfuo Opoku Ware II, the fifteenth occupant of the Stool, he was not going to let his people down, adding, “If I do not rule well, if I do not govern the state and protect you well as my forefathers did, I violate the great oath.”
True to his great oath, Otumfuo has not looked back. Through his visionary charity Foundation, many young needy citizens of the country, not necessarily of Ashanti origin, have benefitted from scholarships and other educational support to go through quality education that would provide them with a better future. Today, over 20,000 needy students are reported to have benefitted from Otumfuo’s Education Fund.
The Foundation identified a critical need of the youth of today and has actively promoted ICT training of the youth so as to stay abreast with the technological age. The Foundation has also focused on the valuable habit of reading in young children of school going age with the services of a mobile van library in various parts of Ashanti to promote the culture of reading at early ages
Health care and support have been on the agenda of the Otumfuo Charity Foundation. Support continues to be extended to HIV-Aids orphans to help them access quality health care. Developments in Kumasi have been of concern to the Ashanti King starting from his own backyard of Manhyia Palace where he has transformed the palace complex into a must-see attraction and tourist centre with a well-documented museum.
As he celebrates two score years on a throne that has the spirit of the people of Ashanti, one can only admire the zeal and valour with which the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei-Tutu II has carried out his developmental agenda to impact lives. We wish him well and hope his vision will lead kindly on. Congratulations Nana Otumfuo!