By Sebastian R. Freiku .
On November 4, 1993, a 53-year-old timber merchant, Mr. Anthony K. Mensah, became Nana Wiafe Akenten III, Chief of Offinso, and by extension the Omanhene of the Offinso Traditional Area.
The timber merchant of Offin Timber and Construction Limited succeeded his uncle, Nana Wiafe Akenten II, who had reigned from 1946 to 1993.
The day marked the beginning of a new era for the Offinso Traditional Area. On the ascension of the throne, the Offinsohene, Nana Wiafe Akenten III, and his elders reinstituted the “Mmoaninko” festival in November 1995 to replace the “Mangyina” festival to bring into focus the wisdom, bravery and military genius of the ancestors of Offinsoman.
For the past 20 years, except 2010 and 2012, the chiefs and people of Offinso have been celebrating the Mmoaninko Festival every two years to commemorate the historical event that culminated in the people of Offinso acquiring their present large tract of land, with a programme of activities aimed at bringing together all citizens of Offinsoman, both home and abroad, to formulate programmes to unite and offer a platform for brainstorming towards the development of Offinsoman, and thus accelerate the pace of development in the area.
Twenty five years on, Offinsoman, under the leadership of Nana Wiafe Akenten III, who represents an epitome of the chieftaincy institution, has a success story to tell, and a legacy to show.
For six years, (from 1994 through 1995, 1996, 1997 and 1998 to 1999), Nana Wiafe Akenten III had the honour of acting in the capacity of Asantehene.
Nana Wiafe Akenten was Otumfuo’s representative when United States President, Bill Clinton, paid a historic visit to Ghana in March 1998. Again, the Offinsohene was honoured to have represented the Ashanti King when the late Sanni Abacha of Nigeria visited Ghana. He also
deputised for the Asantehene when Her Royal Highness Princess Anne visited Ghana.
In 2005, Nana Wiafe Akenten III, as a representative of the Asantehene, facilitated the amicable settlement of the ten-year-old chieftaincy dispute between the Obohene, Nana Yeboah Afari Obuogyan, and the Kwahu Traditional Council (KTC) at a reconciliation ceremony at Abetifi.
In 1998, he also represented the Ashanti Region at the National Festival of Arts and Culture (NAFAC) in Bolgatanga.
The Offinsohene is also privileged to have served on the Committee to resolve the Conflict between the Konkomba and Nanumba between (1994-September 2000), and also played a mediating role in the Rawlings-Arkaah impasse on behalf of the Asantehene in 1996.
It is on record that a dispute between the late Omanhene of Sefwi, Nana Nkuah Okumdum, and the Queenmother was also amicably resolved by the Offinsohene representing the Asantehene.
Nana Wiafe Akenten III also has the credit of leading the delegation from Worawora in the Volta Region to the Manhyia Palace early in the year 2000, following the declaration of the people of Worawora that they are Asantes, and, therefore, owe allegiance to the Golden Stool and its occupant, and that it is their customary duty to swear the oath of allegiance to the occupant of the Golden Stool.
Back to the seat of the Wiafe Akenten Stool, it was during his reign that Offinso attained Municipal status and a new Offinso North District Assembly created, with its capital at Akomadan under the Kufuor administration.
Through the instrumentality of Nana Wiafe Akenten III, a Paramedics and Emergency Care Training School has been established by the National Ambulance Service (NAS) at Nkenkasu to train Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTS).
Offinso town roads have been re-sealed and reshaped in a major facelift through a GH¢300,000 Urban Development Grant (UDG) by the John Mahama administration.
Other major infrastructural development projects in the Offinso Municipality under the Offinsomanhene’s reign, include the construction of an auditorium at the Offinso College of Education under the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) initiated by the Mahama administration, fire service station, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) office, and a court building he initiated but completed by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government.
He has also championed development by releasing land to the Edward Jones College of Technology (60 acres), proposed Dewalk Clinic (75 acres), Dominicans of the Catholic Church (50 acres), the SDA Hospital at Naamong, and CEPS at Sakamu, all for free to undertake various projects in the locality.
During this 25 year period, Nana Wiafe Akenten III has given the Offinso Palace a modern facelift with a fence, and embarked upon development projects, including the refurbishment of the Old Offinso Palace and the two houses at Adum in Kumasi belonging to the Wiafe Akenten Stool, as well as the construction of 50 stores from the chief’s own resources for the stool.
The Offinso Queenmother has been provided with a vehicle befitting her status and her palace renovated.
The Offinsohene has contributed GH¢900,000 towards Senior High Schools (SHS) at Nkenkasu, Afrancho and Akomadan through the Member of Parliament (MP) as well as donating to St. Jerome SHS at Abofour.
The Offinsohene is also said to have disbursed GH¢90,000 to the Odikro of Ayensua Kokoo; GH¢15,000 to Ayensua Fufuo, and GH¢10,000 to Andoe from proceeds of compensation paid by the water company for the Barekese catchment area.
He has donated 20 pieces of water closets and computers to the Offinso College of Education as his personal contribution, following the upgrade and facilitated the provision of a 45-seater bus to the Midwifery Unit of the St. Patrick Hospital at Maase.
So far, about 71 students have benefited from a scholarship scheme instituted by the Offinsohene.
In 2016, the Offinso Traditional Council, headed by Nana Wiafe Akenten III, took a giant step to keep its tradition alive by launching the Offinso State Book to showcase the tradition of the area.
The 2,280 page book, written in collaboration with Ghana States Book projects and the Offinso Traditional Council, contains all the history of Offinso, including tradition, religious, lands, schools, and all issues relating to Offinso.
Nana Wiafe Akenten is a farmer. He owns several acreages of cocoa, oil palm, cashew, oranges coconut, and mango and teak plantations. The Offinso Traditional Council has commended the Offinsohene, whose 25 years on the Wiafe Akenten stool coincided with the last edition and
observation of the Mmoaninko Festival in November 2018.
While the Member of Parliament for Offinso North, Collins Ntim, has hailed the Omanhene for his dedication and strong will, the Offinso Traditional Council has described Nana Wiafe Akenten III as “God fearing, visionary, and development oriented.”
The MP has eulogised the Offinsomanhene selfless, dedicated, dynamic, good mediator at resolving chieftaincy disputes and litigations and a counselor.
According to the MP, Nana Wiafe Akenten III is one of the few chiefs in the country who has decreed and ensured that no form of illegal mining is allowed in the Offinso Traditional area.
But, whatever the personal and singular efforts and level of development, Nana Wiafe Akenten III maintains he did it for God, the Golden Stool and Offinsoman.