A HISTORICAL EVENT AT DWABEN

DWABEN is a place in Asante that enjoys one of the most fascinating histories in Ghana.

As one of the original amanto of Asante, it bears the name of both a state and its capital. 

Dwaben is also revered by all who know the internal politics of the traditional ruling system of Asante, because its ruling house is drawn from the same Oyoko  abusua (clan), as Otumfoᴐ the Asantehene.

Yet so fortuitous are the ironies of history that the Asante Nation suffered perhaps its most serious “rebellion” when a dispute arose between the Asantehene and the Dwabenhene over sovereignty The crisis led twice to the migration of a large chunk of the people of Dwaben from their homes. 

The fleeing Dwaben people were welcomed by the King of Akyem Abuakwa, who settled them in new towns on his land. The new townships were formed around Koforidua, which assumed the name of “New Juaben.” Settlements near Koforidua retained their old Asante names; hence we have, in the Eastern Region, such towns as Asᴐkᴐre, Afigyaase and so on, which have their counterparts in Asante. 

Of course, it is not pleasant to recall disputes that occurred ages ago, and therefore, one would have thought that historians – who are the repository of knowledge about past events – would, of all people, be the least favourite scholars in the eyes of the inhabitants of places that possess a “controversial” history. 

But the current ruler of Dwaben, Nana Otuo SerebourThe Second, appears to recognise that whereas the outbreak of disputes can bring bitterness, so also can the settlement of disputes bring the joy of reconciliation. 

Actually, history has put him in a particularly happy position, for whilst he rules Dwaben in Asante, his brother rules at Koforidua, in the Eastern Region, as the Paramount Chief (Omanhene) of New Juaben – a situation that is due entirely to the vagaries of past history. 

Now, whether consciously or not, Nana Otuo Serebour admires scholarship (he’s a graduate in electrical engineering at the University of Science and Technology, Kumasi.) So he and his elders have decided to honour Ghana’s foremost historian, the late Professor Albert Adu Boahen, by naming the most prominent “Square” in Dwaben town after him!

And – wait for it – they have invited no less a person than His Excellency the President of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo- Addo to commission the “ADU BOAHEN SQUARE “ at Dwaben town, today, 17 August 2021.

Professor Adu Boahen deserves the honour a thousand times, for has personal roots at Dwaben, although he was born at Osiem, in Akyem Abuakwa. Apart from his elucidating and authoritative reinterpretation, in his books, of the historical relationship between African countries and the European imperialists (for instance) he was the man who entered the arena of Ghanaian politics and fearlessly broke “the culture of silence” when our nation was under the rule of a military dictatorship headed by Flight-Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings. 

Prof Adu Boahen not only gave a series of lectures (later published as The Ghanaian Sphinx: The Contemporary History of Ghana 1972-1987) laying the blame for the “culture of silence” at the feet of the Rawlings regime (when Rawlings would much rather have placed the blame on the populace), but he also departed from the norm expected of the “other-worldly” intellectual, who is supposed  not to enter into active politics. 

Adu Boahen broke the pattern to ask the electorate to choose him as President over Rawlings! Most of his well-wishers thought he was doing something “foolhardy” and some actually expected him to lose his life in the process. He didn’t listen, however, and stood against Rawlings – to the amazement of many Ghanaians who only think of “stomach politics”! 

Admittedly, it was a very risky thing to do, since Rawlings and his supporters held all the cards – they were in charge of a military machine that had a monopoly over the use of force in the country. And they also, maintained unfettered control over the use of the country’s financial resources. 

The Adu Boahen camp lost the presidential election of 1992 to Rawlings, yes. But they did not withdraw into their shell but bravely exposed the electoral malpractices carried out on behalf of Rawlings. They did this in a booklet entitled “The Stolen Verdict”, which will eternally provide details of the tactics that can be used by a party that does not believe in democracy. In any case, it opened the eyes of the New Patriotic Party, and they were able to reverse their fortunes and win the election that brought them to power in 2000.

It must be regarded as apposite that the people of Dwaben have invited President Nana Akufo-Addo to commission the ADU BOAHEN SQUARE because Nana was the Campaign Manager of Professor Adu Boahen during the 1992 campaign. He therefore faced the same dangers as Prof. Boahen did. 

Isn’t it remarkable that a town like Dwaben, whose name immediately takes one’s mind back to history, should be one of the few towns in Ghana to recognise the value of scholarship to such an extent as to name a public square not after someone with bags of money, but someone with a mind infinitely enriched by history? 

That fact is also not an accident. For the current Omanhene of Dwabeng, Nana Otuo Serebour The Second, is an unusual chief: a graduate in electrical engineering of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. That also, no doubt, explains the fact that he is the Chairman of the Council of State.

Do electrical engineers always value historians? This one obviously does! It is his appreciation of the world of learning – outside of circuit diagrams and magnetic fields – that will be symbolised by the commissioning of the Albert Adu Boahen Square in his capital today! May more events marking the appreciation of excellence in our country, come in the wake of Dwaben’s example.

CAMERON DUODU

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