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Opinions Wed, 10 Mar 2010

Is Offinsohene Greater Than Otumfuo- The Asantehene?

My little knowledge about Asante history tells me that when all the chiefs of the Asante state gathered on a festive Friday, “fofie”, to choose their war leader, Okomfo Anokye commanded the Golden Stool from the skies and it descended on the laps of King Osei Tutu I. King Osei Tutu I was thus chosen as Asantehene and all powers were vested unto him to lead and control the affairs of Asante Nation with Kumasi as the capital. Since then, Asantehene has remained the supreme head and the custodian of Asante customs and traditions, including the Great Oath (Ntamkese Mmiensa).

All chiefs in Asante upon their enstoolment swear oath to him and therefore, has the power to destool when anyone of them flouts. The Golden Stool became the embodiment and spiritual force of the Asantes leading to official formation of the Asante Confederacy. No other Asante chief has power that supersedes that of Asantehene-Otumfuo. But what do we see today? Gone are the old days! Who dare you to joke and walk over the Great Oath of Asantehene (Ntamkese Mmiensa)? Today some paramount chiefs are trying to rise above Otumfuo-Asantehene. Special reference is being made to Offinsohene- Nana Wiafe Akenten III.

Just before the 2008 general elections in Ghana, it was reported that some black stools were stolen from Offinso Palace. The matter was reported to Otumfuo- the Asantehene. He subsequently gave a one month ultimatum to Offinsohene to bring the missing stools, since they are the spiritual unifying force of the people of Offinso in particular and the Asantes in general. It has been over a year now since Otumfuo gave that order. But nothing has happened? Is Otumfuo an effective king?

Now back to the big question. Is Offinsohene greater than Kotokohene? Owing to the way Otumfuo spoke to Offinsohene that day, people thought that he was going to act promptly. Some months later, an Offinso citizen invoked Otumfuo’s Great Oath (Ntamkese) on Offinsohene daring him not to sit in state and exercise powers as Offinsohene until the missing black stools were found. This took place at Manhyia Palace- the seat of Otumfuo- when he was about to settle cases. Even “Daily Guide” published this story. The necessary customs were performed, sheep slaughtered in affirmation, and Otumfuo was informed. Otumfuo thus, invited the man who invoked the Great Oath (Ntamkese) and listened to his reasons for swearing the oath. After that, Otumfuo promised to deal with the matter with fairness and impartiality. As all these were going on, Offinsohene could not challenge nor counteract it. As nothing was heard from Manhyia, the Abusuapanin of the Asona Royal family entered Offinso Palace when he was sitting in state and invoked the same Great Oath on Offinsohene and dared him to stop sitting in state until the case was called by Otumfuo. Again the necessary customs were performed and Otumfuo was informed. But Offinsohene ignored this Great Oath (Ntamkese) and walked over it again.

Thirdly, at Manhyia Palace while Offinsohene was defending himself of accusation of Bonking Sisters, this same Abusuapanin entered the premises of the Ashanti Regional House of Chiefs and invoked the Great Oath again on Offinsohene. It has been over nine months now and still nothing has been heard about it. The people of Kumawu should stop complaining because they were even lucky that their case had been called and heard by Otumfuo.

Information from a credible source reaching Offinso citizens is that Offinsohene has strong connections at the Manhyia Palace and that the case has been laid to rest. If this is not true, why has the case not been called by Otumfuo? The people of Offinso would like to know the following from Otumfuo that: Is he not the owner of the Great Oath (Ntamkese)? Is he not the owner of the Busummuru Sword? Is he not the head of the Asante Nation? Is Offinso not part of Asante Nation which he controls? Is there any chief in Asante who is superior to Otumfuo? Is Offinsohene as Omanhene whose powers are limited to Offinso District greater than that of Asantehene, the Otumfuo? Is Offinsohene above the laws and customs of Asante? Is Osei Tutu II- the present Asantehene different from Osei Tutu I- the first Asantehene? This is incredible and regrettable. Gone are the good old days! Akomko!

This reminds me of a story during the reign of Asantehene Nana Mensa Bonsu in the 1870’s who, on one Tuesday, arrested Nana Yaw Offeh- then Offinsohene- and imprisoned him for seven years, seven months, and seven days, for gross misconduct. He was released on a Tuesday. This added Tuesdays to Wednesdays and gave Offinso two taboo days. Citizens of Offinso are crying for justice! Can Otumfuo give fair judgment? The whole world is watching Otumfuo, if he continues to sit aloof for Offinsohene to render him powerless like a toothless old dog who barks without biting. Can someone joke with “Yaw Offeh Benada” in Offinso? Will Offinsohene agree to that?

This long silence of Asantehene makes Offinsohene continue bluffing and bragging to his numerous young girl-friends that the Asantehene Otumfuo can never destool him because he Otumfuo’s appeal (dwaatoa) passed through him before he got the nod as the occupant of the Golden Stool- Asantehene. And that if he tries to destool him, he, Offinsohene would not attend to Manhyia State sittings but rather choose to stay at Offinso and continue to reign as Offinsomanhene. My next question is: If he is untouchable then where is Atwima Takyimanhene? Otumfuo should be fair and impartial and stop this selective justice.

Again, Offinsohene continues to say that he trusts his juju powers and mallams and that they have killed the case to rest. Can Offinsohene charm and silence Otumfuo, the Asantehene? Where is Otumfuo’s Nsumankwaahene- Baffour Domfeh Gyeanbour?

Otumfuo should rise up because the first five years of his administration was more effective than what we are witnessing today. “When money speaks, the truth becomes silent“- Otumfuo, is this saying true and applicable to you who sits on the Golden Stool (Sikadwa Kofi)? Unbelievable! Justice delayed justice denied! “Asem be ba dabi.” We live to see!

Nana Kofi, Kumasi, Ghana.

Columnist: Kofi, Nana