In the January, 1999, I was posted to the Ashanti Regional capital, Kumasi as the first ever, Ashanti Regional Correspondent for the then fast growing TV3 Network Limited now Media General. One year later, I was asked to take charge of the entire Northern Ghana, in respect of newsgathering for the first private free-on-air television station.
I was extremely happy for the posting chiefly due to the fact that, Management had recognised my hard work at Koforidua within a year in similar position and decided to handpick me among the lot to start newsgathering in the northern part of Ghana for the station. What a chance?
My excitement was as a result of going to work outside my home region for the very first time in my career and also in one of the prosperous regions in the country.
I had made some few visits to the royal land and the spiritual as well as the traditional home of the people of the region and even beyond., Manhyia Palace between January when I took office and February just to have some in death acquaintance. On February 26 in the same year, the then Asantehene passed away. A shocking news not only to the people of Ashanti but the indeed, the entire nation.
After the funeral rites and all other traditional protocols, there was the need for to get a successor. I remember very well that, in April the same year, the ‘aromatic’ speculations were felt all around. The emerged name was that of the 49-year-old boy of my alma mater. London Metropolitan University in the United Kingdom. Barima Kwaku Dua. In April he was named as the nest heir of the Golden Stool.
He was traditionally named after one of the powerful and wise kings of the Asante kingdom, Osei Tutu 1 who is believed to have founded the modem Asante kingdom. Hence his stool name Otumfuo Osei Tutu II.
he became the occupier of the Golden Stool, the symbol of extraordinarily traditional leadership emblem for the Asante Kingdom. Unlike the Osei Tutu 1 who led powerful kingdom warring to conquer several territories, the continuation now with the second Osei Tutu is to fight wars against commotion, poverty, illiteracy, injustice and underdevelopment and diseases.
Traditional and cultural rites were performed for him as the 16th Asantehene. I had the privilege of covering almost all the ceremonies of the coronation.
He was 49 then and now he is 70 The Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II is 70 years this week. How time flies. I have met and had intimate chats with him on a couple of times. I first met him on a personal level at his residence few months after he had ascended the Golden Stool, courtesy the then Chief Executive Officer of Kumasi Asante Kotoko Club, Mr. Herbert Mensah. The informal chat we had and the words of wisdom I heard in my years were a clear indication of a very good and positive omen for the good people of his kingdom and Ghana in general. Affable and loving as he is, he had invited me and some media personnel to have some discussions on a couple of occasions.
Soon after that, I travelled to the United Kingdom to further my education. In 2003, a Trade and Investment Institution, EXPO Africa contracted me to produce a marketing and communications strategy for the first ever trade and investment fair on Ghana in London.
Guess who I proposed in my strategy not only to pull the crowd which we needed badly as organiser, but importantly an institution that has the substance of culture and tradition to show. It was him, Otumfuo Osei Tutu 11. The choice was arguably the best in any such marketing strategy.
At the climax of the week long fair, which was a durbar to showcase the Ghanaian culture, the over ten thousand, capacity exhibition centre, Alexandra Palace located in north London was filled beyond capacity with thousands outside hours before the King and his entourage arrived.
Servicing also as the spokesman for the organisers, I had some difficulty in meeting the needs of the media, including all the top-class ones such as the BBC and the CNN, chiefly because they never stopped coming to me to find out what all they were seeing meant. They needed indeed to enquire because they had not seen one before and they may also not see it again. It was splendid, ecstatic, gorgeous, majestic, euphoric and spectacular.
I was not wrong to explain to them that Ghana has arguably the most beautiful chieftaincy tradition in the world, which most of them agreed. It was also the first of its kind around the entire globe, for such a great king to display his culture and tradition in such a grand, pomp and pageantry manner outside the shore of the land. That obviously accounted for the increasing number of tourists from around the globe to Ghana since then. The embodiment and epitome of culture and tradition, Otumfuo Osei Tutu made it all happened. The figures confirm this.
Similar event took place the following year in Atlanta in the United States. So, the intimacy continued to grow from strength to strength. I had the privilege to meet him in London during some of his private visits. I also covered some of his outings such as his historic meeting with the former Ga Mantes, King Tackie Tawiah III in London to discuss matters of national interest.
I was with him a couple of times he visited highly profiled individuals and government officials in the UK and addressed a number of august institutions such as the Chatham House.
Within weeks of his enstoolment, he laid out plans to bring a dramatic change within what he had inherited. His popular saying, “in the olden days, kings led their people for war but today, we have to lead the people for development” became so much popular and well acclaimed. The response from the people including those outside his kingdom was the showering on him the accolade “King Solomon”
Sooner than later, the entire nation witnessed the establishment of famous Otumfuo Educational Fund to provide assistance and support, to brilliant but needy school pupils and students. Today over 20 thousand students at all levels of education from around the country have benefitted from this enviable package, which has helped in changing the lives of many people in Ghana especially in the rural Ghana.
As the Chancellor of the Kumasi based university, The Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, for the past 13 years, he has helped in developing infrastructure and facilities as well as human resources for the enhancement of teaching, learning and training, he has built new school buildings and provided huge teaching, learning and training materials to enhance teaching and learning in the country.
Otumfuo Osei Tutu II has brought peace and reconciliation to his kingdom by settling over five hundred chieftaincy and land disputes earning him the accolade ‘King Solomon.’
One intriguing initiative towards peace in Ghana that the king had diplomatically and successfully perused over the years is about what he revealed recently that “from the days of Jerry Rawlings —John Kufuor to present day John Mahama — Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, he had mediated behind closed doors sometimes on the eve of elections just for Ghana to have peace.”
The father for all, is known widely to be fair, just but very firm. A philanthropist, there are hundreds of people especially children who look up to him for their daily bread, clothing and shelter.
Explosion of wisdom, peace, tranquillity, development and prosperity for his people have been the hallmark Happy birthday Your Royal Majesty,