A couple of years back, a biography of the now Ashanti King written by one Abena Ansaa-Adjei, was launched with the title “Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, King of Gold.”
The event was attended by the then President His Excellency John Agyekum Kuffour. This was a great initiative commended by the president himself. The main subject of the book, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, was present for this important occasion. On the need to have stories about our history, people of influence, to learn from them and walk their blazing trails so we can progress as a society and as a people, the Otumfuo spoke.
This article seeks to contribute its quota in that regard. This is a quest not just to dispense information but to stir in you, dear reader, a desire to learn from those ahead, capitalize on it and write your own story of impact and purpose.
Thus enter the ever renowned Ashanti King, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II.
Succession to the Stool
26 April 2021 would mark exactly a year since the 21-year celebration of the enstoolment of the Asantehene on the 26th of April, 1999. He was born with the name Nana Barima Kwaku Duah, after his paternal grandfather, Ohenenana Kwaku Duah (Brahyiahene, of Kantinkyiren in the Atwima district) on 6 May 1950. He is the sixteenth occupant of the Golden Stool. His stool name, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II is in direct succession to the 17th-century founder of the Ashanti Empire, Otumfuo Osei Tutu I.
He is the Chancellor of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST). He also serves as the Grand Patron of the Grand Lodge of Ghana, and the Sword Bearer of the United Grand Lodge of England.
He was born on 6 May 1950, the third son and youngest of the five children (three sons and two daughters) of Nana Afia Kobi Serwaa Ampem II, Asantehemaa (Queen-mother of the Ashanti) and Nana Kwame Boakye-Dankwa, from Kantinkyere in Ashanti (the Brehyia Duke of Asante). Nana Kwame Boakye-Dankwa died on 1 January 2002, in Kumasi, Ashanti.
His siblings include Nana Ama Konadu, the 14th Asantehemaa, Nana Konadu Yiadom III as well as the late Barima Kwabena Poku, Barima Akwasi Prempeh.
He was sent into the royal household of his uncle, Oheneba Mensah Bonsu, the Hiahene when he was about five years old to be trained as early preparation for his future role.
Otumfuo Osei Tutu II has six children with his beautiful wife, Lady Julia Osei Tutu.
Otumfuo Osei Tutu, Asantehene; Educational Pursuits
He had his elementary education in Kumasi. In 1964, he went on to the Sefwi Wiaso Secondary School where he obtained his ‘O’ Level. He also attended the Osei Kyeretwie Secondary School (OKESS) as part of his academic journey.
He studied accountancy studies at the now University of Professional Studies in Accra. He went on to enrol at the Polytechnic of North London (now London Metropolitan University), where he earned a Diploma in Management and Administration. He was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University at a ceremony at the Barbican Centre on 11 January 2006.
Otumfuo Osei Tutu, Asantehene; Work History
Between 1981 and 1985, he was a senior consultant at the Mutual of Omaha Insurance Company in Toronto, Canada.
He returned to London in 1985 and became the Personnel Officer at the HPCC Stonebridge Bus Garage Project, in the London Borough of Brent. He then founded his mortgage finance firm, Primoda Financial Services Limited, located on Kilburn High Road, North West London. He returned to his native land, Ghana, in 1989 to start a transport business, the Transpomech International (Ghana) Limited.
Otumfuo Osei Tutu, Asantehene; Endearing Achievements
Otumfuo Osei Tutu II is highly revered in the Asante territories (Ashanti Region and other parts of Ghana) and is often regarded as the first among equals of traditional rulers in Ghana.
In August 2019, he celebrated the Akwasidae with the Ghanaian community in the United Kingdom whilst on a short visit there. Dignitaries at the function included Paapa Owusu Ankomah, the Ghana High Commissioner to the United Kingdom.
In February 2020, he became the first person to receive the ‘Pillar of Peace Award’. This was in recognition of the effort that he put into restoring peace to the kingdom of Dagbon which spanned nearly two decades.
He is also the recipient of the 2019 CIMG President’s Special Award.
Otumfuo Osei Tutu, Asantehene; The Vision Of A Modern King
Otumfuo Osei Tutu is mostly heard expressing himself in his speeches with certain particular metaphors such as life is a battle, ideas are food, knowing is seeing, among others. These serve as basic structures upon which he stands projected as a man of insight, foresight and intelligence who perceives life from a unique point of view.
The rule of Otumfuo has been guided by a deep sense of commitment to engage the challenges of his times and generation. He has classified these challenges into five major categories, namely:
- Conflict Resolution
- Capacity-building for Traditional Leaders
By focusing on and making these five critical needs the centrepiece of his reign, Otumfoɔ Osei Tutu II converted the ‘weapons of war [of his forbearers] into instruments of development” (SKB Asante, 2012: 1102). Otumfoɔ has been consistent in advising his chiefs and queen mothers that, “chiefs do not go to war these days” and that the wars they are required to fight and win convincingly are “wars against illiteracy, disease, and poverty.”
In an emerging generation where tradition carries with it an ambience of primitiveness and colloquialism, the Asantehene and traditional rulers have had to face the challenge of adapting to and staying relevant in an ever-changing world. And this, through his leadership has been met with much ingenuity, calculation and diplomacy. His use of personal resources to establish socio-economic programs to complement the efforts of the government in facing the dualist challenge of urban and rural migration has been a feat worth making mention.
According to Otumfuo, as chiefs, they have “a duty to partner the governments of our time to bring solace to those members of our society who suffer wretched conditions of life and who daily find it difficult to meet their barest basic needs” (2012 Royal Diary). To accomplish his vision, Otumfuo has created foundations within the Asante Kingdom that benefit communities and individuals throughout Ghana.
The success of the Otumfuo Charitable Foundation has set a new benchmark for chiefs and the institution of chieftaincy in Ghana in particular, and Africa in general.
The Burden Of Strong And Fair Leadership
His ideals and convictions as a fair and just ruler are expressed in his fierce and firm approach to dealing with issues that seek to mar his vision for a better kingdom.
For instance, In June 2019, Osei Tutu II destooled two chiefs for various offences against the stool. In April 2018, the Atwimahene, Nana Antwi Agyei Brempong II was destooled by the Asantehene. He was found guilty of misuse of the Great Oath, flouting the monarch’s decrees about land administration and several other misdeeds. He was later pardoned and reinstated. In 2009 Nana Kofi Agyei Bi III, the chief of Atwimah was destooled for the fraudulent sale of land.
In 2015, Nana Mensah Bonsu chief of Pakyi Number One was destooled for inciting the youth to wreak havoc in the area.
As a king, he lives and interacts with his people daily and as a result, is in tune with the needs and challenges of the local environment, in addition to understanding the dynamics of different groups sharing a locality. Furthermore, he is better suited to understand the requisite expertise needed to satisfy those needs and in the process contribute significantly to poverty alleviation and reduction.
In his keynote address at the Norwegian-African Business Summit in Oslo, Norway (October 12, 2012), His Majesty encouraged participants not to abandon “our culture and traditions and surrender to everything foreign.” He further went on to say, “understanding our past and our culture which identifies us as a people is important for our self-confidence and that self-confidence is an indispensable prerequisite for our survival in the challenging new era.”
Otumfour Osei Tutu II has impacted the Ashanti Kingdom and beyond in his capacity as a king but even more importantly, from his ideals and character as an individual. The onus thus lies on us to take a lesson from this, that positions only serve as avenues and platforms to amplify who we are on the inside. If we are corrupted internally, the platforms we mount will only amplify it, and vice versa. Let this be our take-home lesson, that personal power is always better than positional power.