15.11.2003 Feature Article

REJOINDER : The History Of The Asante Kingdom--The Hard Facts

REJOINDER : The History Of The Asante Kingdom--The Hard Facts
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I have read all the publications on the above issue. Please permit me to contribute to the latest rejoinder issued by the Ga-Dangme Council which you deemed fit to publish in the Daily Graphic issue of Monday, November 10, 2003. The rejoinder was meant to debunk the spurious claims to the supremacy of the Asante Kingdom and to correct some distortions of historical facts by previous writers on the issue.

Historical facts are not " fairy tales" and should be respected as such. Any attempt to distort these facts and or adulterate same would be tantamount to intellectual genocide of the stupendous order. All persons who have written on Asante supremacy as well as those who have debunked same are scholars and should exercise restraint in their discourses lest, they mislead the ignorant masses. The worst kind of genocide against humanity is intellectual dishonesty. Throughout history, the masses have been the worst victims of this kind of genocide-- from politics to religion. Even Hitler could not change history though, he left his footprints in the sands of time

The study of history transcends all realms of knowledge- from accountancy to zoology. At one time in our recent political history when an Emeritus Professor of history stood for elections to the presidency, many were those who disdainfully descibed him as a " mere historian who had nothing to offer" . "Ghanaians do not eat history" they said. How sad! Historians always recall the names of persons or a group of persons whose actions or inactions brought about certain changes in society.Historians and commentators on historical issues should, therefore, be careful in recalling historical facts or events because , he who begins to count begins to err. Lying is easy but recanting is hard.

Adherents of history should look at Palestine and Israel. Coming back home, one should look at the precipitative causes of the current debate on " which is which" in Ghana regarding ethnic superiority and supremacy. Our current crop of traditional rulers of the various traditional areas of Ghana are scholars of high repute and have no time bashing in pomp and pageantry, past glory and arrogance. That is why you find the likes of the Asantehene, the Okyehene and the Dormaahene{ just to name a few} doing the rounds by concentrating on the educational and economic development of their areas. Their citizens, and for the matter , all citizens should emulate these examples and desist from holding themselves up as superior to other ethnic groups.

The greatest hero or heroine is the unsung. We have several of them and one would be surprised to read about or hear of their exploits. If a war tribunal were to be in place today, one tribe alone would take the guilty plea and be made to pay reparations to the people they trampled upon in the name of supremacy. Their "killer" Kings refered to as conquerors and warriors would have their skeletal remains exhumed and decapitated before reburial. The Asantes stepped on many toes in this country than any other tribe but , somewhere along the line they also had their fingers burnt and their claim to war supremacy will continue to be challenged so long as the facts{ be it written or oral} are there in support. I am an Akuapem Guan from the historic town of Larteh where many unsung heroes were born and raised. I will enumerate but a few: 1. The first Christian Matyr, Rev. Samuel Otu from Larteh was callously murdered in Techimantia in Ashanti. 2. The first lawyer to qualify to the Inner Temple was Lawyer Attakora a citizen of the town 3.This one is worthy of note: During the British Expedition of 1896 in Ashanti, the Chief of Larteh Nana Akrofi Oworae 111 single handedly mobilised 2000 troops for the British Expeditionary Forces and led them to cross the Subin River after which he physically captured King Prempeh1 amidst cross fire. He handed King Prempeh over to the British on condition that Prempeh should not be harmed. An Akuapem Chief saves an Ashanti King's life !. King Prempeh was exiled to the Seychelles and the Ashantis considered this defeat so humiliating that, the whole kingdom was thrown into inertia and became so overwhelmed by the magnanimity of the Larteh King until Yaa Asantewaa decided to try her hands on the trigger which triggered the Yaa Asantewaa War of 1900. She lost and no woman has ever gone to war since.

Consequent to the events of 1896, the British Monarchy honoured the Larteh Chief with a pure silver medal descibing him as" King of Valour and Gallantry". Based on this historical fact, in 1999 when the Queen of England and her husband, the Duke visited Ghana, this writer and the current Chief of Larteh; Osabarimah Asiedu Okoo Ababio111 and his elders had the rare honour of being among the highly selective guests to all the official functions organized in honour of the Royal Couple. When the Duke of Edinburgh saw the silver chain worn by our Chief, he remarked: "this medal is not meant for Chiefs but for Kings". He further went ahead to ask for the history behind it and when told, the Queen clapped; especially, when she learnt that it was her mother Queen Victoria who bestowed that honour on Nana Akrofi Oworae 111 who had broken the jinx and myth surrounding Asante supremacy

The rejoinder from the G-D Council was a masterpiece, however, I disagree with the assertion that " the Akuapems were among the enemies of the Ga- Dangme and Accra people who bowed and congratulated them for their victory over the Ashantis at Akatamansu". Akuapems have never been known to be enemies of the Ga -Adangme and the Accra people. During the war, we were rolling the heavy stones from on top the hills into the valley. Akuapem loyalty has no limitations. We fought for the Danes against the Dutch and also for the British as recounted above. The magnanimity , hospitality and loyalty of all Akuapems recieved honourable mention in dispatches by the successive Danish Governors who made Akuapem their home while directing affairs at the Christianborg Castle some 250 years ago.

It can be categorically and empirically proven that the end of the slave trade came about due in part and in whole by the activities of the Akuapems and their relationships with the Danish Empire. Dr. Erdman Isert, the first Danish governor to the Gold Coast to settle permanently in Akuapem is reputed to have been the first advocate for an end to the slave trade, and his country Denmark, became the first slave trading nation to stop the " lucrative" but obnoxious business of the buying and selling of human beings. This decision was mooted and taken on the Akuapem Hills where Dr. Isert had his home and office. This became so when Isert proposed, recommended and ensured { at the peril of his life and reputation} that Denmark ended the slave trade. He proposed what he termed as " legitimate commerce" and recieved financial assistance for the establishment of the first commercially viable farm plantations on the Akuapem Hills as a better option to the trade in! human cargo. He made these calls on his home government based on a special report on the Akuapems sent to Denmark commending their honesty, loyalty and bravery among other qualities and attitudes towards the Danish Empire. On one of several voyages to the West Indies aboard a slave ship on which included Akuapem human cargo { some of whom perished at sea}, he decided on his return to send those recommendations and even threatened to resign if his requests were not met. These are people of real heroism who have remained unsung and have refused to lay claim to any supremacy over or subjugated any tribe to second fiddle.

I hereby congratulate the G-D Council for coming out both truthfully and intelletually. A new dawn has come where pride and prejudice have given way to humility and service. The Preident, J.A Kuffuor on assumption of office, immediately went to Kumasi and told his kinsmen in the face to cease making derogatory remarks about other people and their ethnic origins." No more peepefoor, ntaafoor and opotorfoor " he said. Here is a wise and humble president and the same qualities are personified in the Asantehene who is seriously figthing for economic emancipation not only for his tribesmen but, for Ghana as a whole. Education, it is said, cures the diseases of ignorance, poverty and fear. The Ga Dangme Council should , through this intellectual discussions, encourage and promote the necessary synergy among their ranks and file so as to achieve economic supemacy by tapping the white gold{salt} which is equal in value to the gold dust in Asanteman which they unfortunately exchanged for cowrie shells after their victory at Akatamansu. Thank you Mr. Editor.

Daniel Thomas Darko
56 Salem Road, Osu Kuku Hill
P.O.Box ct 1453
tel. 020 811 8168
email. [email protected]

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