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29.05.2020 Feature Article

The Akuapem Queen Mother’s Toothache – Inside Story

The Akuapem Queen Mother’s Toothache – Inside Story
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Sometime in 2016 or thereabout, the Okuapehene, Oseedeeyo Addo Dankwa II, died and the stool became vacant. About two years later, Ghanaians woke up one morning to hear the news that 'two chiefs' have been separately installed as Okuapehene.

How possible? In the President's own hometown?

Fortunately for me, my long-time military friend and now a client as his lawyer is the Banmuhene of Akuapem. He came to my office and I blasted him, “Nana, what is happening in Akuapem? I was in the Supreme Court when I heard their unanimous judgment that the right of the queen mother to nominate a successor she shares with no one!!!…..”

The Banmuhene replied, “Captain – I am sorry. In Akuapem, especially in Akropong (sic), IT IS DIFFERENT (emphasis mine). He then patiently explained to me that in Akropong, when the paramount chief or queen mother dies, the stool rotates among three different ruling houses – Nketiaa, Ama Ogyaa and Sakyibea – and that Kwame Nkrumah's CPP government passed an Executive Instrument in 1960 to give legal backing to this arrangement.

The Banmuhene continued that all the royals in Akropong understand this so well that now there is absolutely no controversy that the next king must come from Sakyibea House.

Now the custom is that when it is the turn of a ruling house to produce a king or queen mother, every ruling house has the most senior elderly female member, officially installed as such, called Abrewatia whose duty it is to make the nomination, send it to the queen mother who then acts as a conveyor belt to carry the name to the eleven Asona kingmakers (including herself) to accept or reject the nomination.

The Banmuhene further explained that even if the queen mother wants her own son to be the Okuapemhene, and is from a ruling house, whose turn it is to produce a nominee, the queen mother has to lobby the Abrewatia to nominate her own son for her to send same to the kingmakers!

I became so interested in this story that purely as a student of history, I wrote a feature article on the chieftaincy problem in Akuapem which was published in the Daily Graphic, Ghanaian Times and other media outlets.

Flowing from the publications a faction in the chieftaincy dispute came to engage me as a lawyer to take the matter to Court. I issued a petition on behalf of the Abrewatia of the Sakyibea Ruling House against the queen mother, then Asonahene, the purported newly installed chief and one other.

All I wanted was a declaration by the Judicial Committee of the Eastern Region House of Chiefs that in Akropong when the stool becomes vacant it is the Abrewatia and NOT the queen mother who makes the nomination.

Interesting enough, the queen mother picked my classmate at the Law Faculty, Legon, Ansah Asare, as her lawyer.

The case started in 2018 and travelled through the whole of 2019 and finally ended in 2020. Due to my indisposition, a junior in my office, Augustine Asarfo Adjei, handled the concluding stages.

Our case was simple.

Following the death of Nana Addo Danquah II, everybody in Akropong knew that it was the turn of Sakyibea Ruling House to install a chief. A series of consultations and shortlists were made in the Sakyibea Ruling House until the queen mother, Nana Dokua, on sick bed sent an official delegation, according to custom to the Sakyibea House for a nominee. Then she, the queen mother, died.

Very reliable sources say that very powerful 'authorities' recommended that the kingmakers should install Okuapenheme first before the queen mother, but for some strange reasons the advice was ignored, and the Abrewatia of Nketiaa Ruling House nominated her elder sister for acceptance and installation as Nana Afua Nketiaa O Buor II, queenmother of Akuapem.

She sent for the Abrewatia of Sakyibea Ruling House and held a series of detailed meetings with her, then out of the blue, she, the queen mother, together with only two of the kingmakers said they have installed a certain Akuffo as the Okuapemhene – how possible?

My learned friend Ansah Asare, rector of his own Mountcrest University, spent almost six months cross-examining the Abrewatia. I kept on telling him that I will butcher the queen mother when she takes the witness stand, and Ansah Asare swerved me – Her Majesty never testified.

It was a normal court trial with very interesting ups and downs. Maybe I should write a booklet on this case and readers will find it very interesting.

The judicial Committee of the Eastern Regional House of Chiefs was made up of Okotwaasuo Kantamanto Agyemang II (Akim Bosome) as the chairman, Nene Sukite of Krobo Odumasi and the newly installed Omanhene of Kwahu Traditional Area.

There were countless interlocutory applications, mainly by Ansah Asare. He won some and I also won some.

Most of the time, Nananom would say we will start sitting at exactly 10 o'clock in the morning, but invariably they always start at about half eleven or after twelve noon.

One morning I drove to Tema High Court for a ruling, when my lord started sitting I prayed for my case to be called – he said, “Captain let me take this small application before I give you my ruling on your appeal. What can I do but wait? Finally at 9:45, my case was called and what a long ruling – my appeal was dismissed against an armed robber. At exactly 10:30 I left Tema High Court for Koforidua.

Just as I left, a call came – Captain, where are you? The court is ready, waiting for you…..” I gave a diversionary answer, “I am at Adeiso.” I was driving myself, a powerful vehicle Toyota Land Cruiser, breaking all driving regulations, hazard blaring, full headlights – I got to Koforidua at exactly 11:30 am – the courtroom was empty! I later heard that a panel member was on his way to the airport to catch a flight to USA so they could not wait. I won the ruling that morning but because I was not there, no costs were awarded for me.

One day just as I got to the House of Chiefs, some three people rushed to my car, “Captain, please don't enter the hall by the main entrance …. Please we beg you….”

I burst out laughing. Why? I demanded.

But to appease them, I parked the car elsewhere and used a side entrance. Oh, Akuapem case!

Among the kingmakers in council is a retired military intelligence soldier who was their chief strategist. Fortunately, the judgment was delivered late on Thursday 30th April and over the hundred heavily armed policemen and soldiers were at the Regional House of Chiefs to maintain law and order.

Immediately after the judgment which simply was that it is the Abrewatia who nominates, all the eight kingmakers stormed the palace of the queen mother at Akropong that they wanted a nomination from the Abrewatia.

The queen mother said she was “asleep” so the kingmakers received the nomination from the Abrewatia and proceeded to confine Odehye Kwadwo Kesse Antwi. Friday was May Day, public holiday, Saturday, weekend, Sunday – outdooring of the new Okuapehene – Oseedeeyo Kwesi Akuffo II – every chief worth his salt came to swear allegiance to him.

Monday – working day – too late to file any appeal and motion for stay of execution!

The good news is that the new king is only 34 years old, the age of my second born, Kwabena. All things being equal, he will rule for the next 50 years!

I was not there myself, but I am told my main man, the Banmuhene took, one hour to walk a distance of just 20 metres to go and slaughter sheep to mark the installation of the new king. Even an ant would have covered that distance faster!

By Nkrabeah Effah Dartey

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