The great achievements of Otumfuo Osei Tutu after 22 years on Golden Stool
The lizard which fell from the Iroko tree said if no one would praise him he would praise himself, says the adage.
But on Wednesday April 28, Ghanaians proved that they had indeed seen the tremendous work being done by the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, since he ascended the throne.
In response to that acknowledgement, many took to social media to pour out congratulatory messages to the King, as he marked 22 years on the throne.
Otumfuo Osei Tutu II (Barima Kwaku Duah) ascended the throne on April 26, 1999. History recounts that on that fateful day, thousands of people crowded the Manhyia palace grounds in pouring rain, as tribal drums proclaimed the new ruler of the Ashanti kingdom.
Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, a U.K-trained Accountant, sat three times on the golden stool shortly before 3 a.m, marking the final rite in more than 16 hours of intricate ceremonies to pass the royal seat of the Ashanti kingdom.
Dressed in bright-coloured kente cloth, the king set out Monday morning from his palace in Kumasi, the royal seat of the Ashanti kingdom, with 20 men in black waist-cloths, holding aloft his sedan chair.
They carried him to the small, royal neighborhood of Pampaso, for a series of secret rites that ended with his “enstoolment.”
According to tradition, the king, who changed into black mourning cloth and a leather cap sat three times on the renowned Golden Stool, a solid-gold seat believed to embody the soul of the Ashanti nation.
The Vice President, Dr Mahamadu Bawumia was among those who sent heart warming messages to the King. In a Twitter post, Mr Bawumia wrote: “Happy 22nd Anniversary to Otumfuo Osei Tutu on your ascension to the Golden Stool. You have been such a phenomenal leader! We appreciate your inspiration and coaching. May the coming days of your reign be even more fulfilling. We wish you best. Piaw Kotokohene.”
Indeed, Otumfuo has been a phenomenal leader since his ascension to the throne. Chieftaincy rule dwindled with the coming of the Europeans into Africa and the Gold Coast for that matter.During the Pre-colonial era, chiefs were the custodians of the land.
In local parlance, the chief is known as Odikro, meaning ‘the one who owns the community’.
As the owner, he is enjoined to protect and add value to the community. He does so through civic engagement with the local residents, mobilising the people for productive activities and efficiently using local resources.
However, with the arrival of the Europeans and introduction of formal education, which has transformed our governance system, the chieftaincy system saw a downward trend. The roles that most of the chiefs performed are now being carried out by the government.
However, Otumfuo Osei II is one of the traditional rulers who has given hope to the chieftaincy institution. His preservation and promotion of the Ashanti Kingdom and its culture has brought many from near and far to come and learn from him.
His phenomenal leadership could also be seen in how he has embedded modern concepts in his reign as a King.
Education, environmental preservation, maintenance of peace and security found deep roots in the reign of Otumfuo Osei Tutu II.
Investments in Education
As an academia himself, Otumfuo has demonstrated the importance he attaches to education by establishing the Otumfuo Education Find.This Fund was created with the intention of supporting students without discrimination.
Its main focus is to see a Ghana with proper human resources to speed up the country’s development.
As of 2019 – 301,980 students had received full scholarships and bursaries.They included 25,756 people who have received full scholarships to pursue education at various levels and 276,224 others who received some form of financial support ranging from bursaries for part payment of fees, accommodation, stationary, clothing, transportation and airfare, as well as admission examination fees.
Aside the financial support, the Asante King also introduced the Community Reading Challenge, which seeks to galvanise the dying reading habit among Ghanaian children.
Knowing that children need to learn in conducive environment, the King, under the Otumfuo Charity Foundation, has also made significant impact in the provision of infrastructural and educational materials.
As of 2019, about 780 schools throughout the country had benefited from the Foundation’s infrastructural development.
The support included 40 fully-completed six-classroom blocks and a teacher bungalow with support from the World Bank; roofing of 110 classrooms; renovations including cementing of floor, complete replacement of doors and windows, as well as the provision of 980,000 school desks to 198 schools across the country.
In addition, over 1,000,000 school children and 400 schools have benefited from the distribution of assorted educational materials including textbooks, exercise books, pens, erasers, computers, television sets, mathematical sets and reading books.
Teachers have also not been left out of this overwhelming human resource development as he set up the Otumfuo Teachers’ Award, an ingenuity where teachers across Ghana, who are exceptional in the discharge of their duties, are awarded.
The awards, instituted in 2009, sought to motivate and recognise the commitment of teachers and non-teaching staff of the Ghana Education Service who, in the course of their duty, go through challenging conditions but still make meaningful contributions towards teaching and learning. Every year100 teachers are awarded and as of 2019, 600 teachers from all the regions of the country had received awards.
Environment, Water and Sanitation
The health sector has also not been left out of the King’s quest to make significant impact in the lives of its subjects and that of Ghana as a whole.
Reports point to the fact that the Golden Stool Occupant has helped to improve healthcare delivery in the Ashanti Region.
With support from international partners, the King has supported many by digging mechanised borehole and toilet facilities for his subjects.
Lake Bosomtwe, the only natural lake in Ghana got some protection when it came under serious attack by the activities of deforestation.
According to reports, a private developer had felled and destroyed over 500 trees planted at Pipie, one of the 21 communities surrounding the lake, a situation authorities say is in sharp contrast to bye-laws of the local assembly and environmental agencies.
The king therefore made a historic visit to the site to send a message to the perpetrators of the act.
Consequently, during an Akawasidie celebration, he outlined plans to plant and manage 2.5 million trees around Lake Bosomtwe. The project is intended to span five years and it is in line with the Asantehene’s move to provide protection for water bodies in Asanteman. The landscape restoration intervention project will cover around 4,000 hectares.
Otumfuo at the time expressed the hope that the project would ultimately help contribute to improve the ecosystem, service provision, climate change mitigation and improved environmental consciousness among inhabitants of fringe communities around the Lake.
Peace and Security
Asantehene’s influence in promoting peace and security in the Ashanti Region and beyond over the past 20 years is flawless. On ascending the Golden Stool as the 16th Asantehene, Otumfuo’s early initiatives included an order to withdraw all chieftaincy disputes pending in court for settlement through the traditional and customary structures.
This spontaneously earned him the accolade ‘King Solomon’, in reminiscence of the Biblical wise King Solomon.
The chieftaincy disputes, in the early days of Otumfuo’s ascension, were not only a security threat but had led to the loss of lives and property among feuding communities.
The most remarkable of all is the recent end to the 17-year-old Dagbon chieftaincy dispute. Otumfuo led a committee of eminent chiefs to spearhead a peace process. They fashioned out a roadmap for attaining peace in Dagbon and they subsequently did.It earned him a lot of respect from international organisations, including the UNDP.
According to the UNDP, the restoration of peace in Dagbon removes a formidable obstacle to social cohesion and local stability and offers a unique opportunity to harness the full potential of the kingdom for the benefit of the people of Dagbon and Ghana.
It was also demonstrated Ghana’s capacity to resolve local level conflicts by government authorities and the acclaimed national peace architecture.
It is also a clear indication that through dialogue and non-violent means, Ghana’s globally well-regarded democracy can be further enhanced.
The organisation urged all stakeholders to continue the dialogue and consensus building to consolidate and sustain peace in Dagbon. We remain committed to facilitating continued efforts to further strengthen institutions for peace and conflict resolution and thus ensure the achievement of the process, UNDP said at the time
That aside, Otumfuo has also paid homage to the hometown of Komfo Anokye at Awukugua-Akwapim to cement the relationship between Ashanti and Awukugua-Akwapim.
He has also strengthened the traditional courts, which has seen other chiefs learning from the Great King,
The tourism industry has also not been left out. The industry has witnessed a tremendous boost since the ascension of Otimfuo onto the throne.
The acknowledgement of the works being done by Otumfuo has also earned him laurels from both international and local academic institutions. The Asantehene has bagged five Doctorate degrees from the University of Glasgow, University of London, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, University of Ghana andthe University of Cape Coast.