ASANTEMANSO FOREST UNDER SIEGE …As farmers cultivate cocoa, destroy trees
From Sebastian R. Freiku, Essumeja-Ash
Information is that portions of the Forest have been cultivated into cocoa farms by some indigene farmers.
The farmers, numbering about six, are said to be harvesting cocoa from the ventures in the Forest, meaning their intrusion has gone unnoticed over the years. The Ankobiahene, Nana Kwadwo Sani, who is the caretaker of the Forest, is said to have summoned the farmers involved before the Essumeja Traditional Council for questioning.
It is learnt, even though the practice is a taboo and a contravention of custom, no sanctions has been meted out to the offenders.
The Chronicle has gathered that the offenders are indigenes who are allocated farmlands at the fringes of the Forest but have dared to trespass into the forest. Besides the cocoa farms, it is reported that they are chopping wood from the forest too.
The Essumeja Traditional Council, under the acting presidency of Nana Ntim Banahene, the Krontihene of Essumeja Traditional Area, is yet to notify the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II about the invasion, as the elders of the town are tight lipped about the issue and would not dare to raise the issue with the Asante King.
Even though the issue is the talk of the town over the past few weeks, the Sanaahene, Nana Owusu Koko, who is privy to a series of Traditional Council meetings which ordered the slaughtering of sheep by the affected farmers to pacify the gods, has denied the desecration of the Forest.
Essumeja is the head of Benkum division of Asanteman Council. It has had no substantive chief since 2003, following the demise of Odeneho Oduro Numapau II.
On August 29, 2008, the Black Stool of Essumeja mysteriously got missing from the stool room and it is yet to be retrieved.
The eligibility of the queen mother is also in dispute and is being keenly contested before the Asanteman Council.
It is against these concerns that some Youth of the town have appealed to the Asantehene to take steps to stop further encroachment of the Forest by calling the stool elders to order and ensuring that a chief is installed to champion the development of the town and avoid the breach of tradition and custom at the expense of Asanteman.
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