THE ASANTEHENE, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, has observed that lack of self-confidence in Africans is the bane to the continent's development.
He said even though the forebears of the continent left the current generation a rich cultural heritage, Africans had sacrificed their culture and tradition on the altar of foreign culture.
“We have allowed ourselves to be persuaded that there is nothing good in our tradition. As a consequence, we have almost jettisoned our tradition and culture, thinking that everything African is bad and everything foreign is good.”
Otumfuo, who is the 16th occupant of the Golden Stool, was speaking at a German state dinner at the medieval Eberbach Monastery Conference Centre, near Wiesbaden in Germany. The dinner was part of the ongoing 3rd German-African Forum initiated by the German President, Horst Köhler, two years ago.
The Asantehene, who was accompanied by the Omanhene of Juabeng, Nana Otuo Siriboe, said unless Africans realised the importance of their tradition and used it to address their situation, they might continue to grope for solutions in foreign cultures, which might not necessarily be the answers to their problems.
Touching on the forum's theme, “The Challenges Of Change-African and German Responses”, Otumfuo Osei Tutu said since both tradition and modernity had their respective roles in the socio-economic development of every society, there was the need for a delicate balance to be struck between the two, without sacrificing one for the other.
“Tradition and modernity should work together. They must not be seen as mutually exclusive but rather complementary to each other,”
The Asantehene, whose passion was to ensure that the traditional institution became the social and rallying point for development especially in rural areas within his domain, contended that his burning desire was to lead his people to prosperity in his capacity as the spiritual link between the living and the dead.
He mentioned some development projects such as the institution of the Otumfuo Education Fund, resolving land and chieftaincy disputes in his kingdom and his role in the mediation process of the Dagbon crisis as among the issues dear to his heart since he assumed leadership eight years ago.
The Asantehene, who was resplendently dressed in his traditional regalia to the delight of the hundreds of guests, called for peace in every part of the world as that was the foundation of development.
President Köhler, who had earlier spoken, singled Asantehene out as a great leader who was effectively employing both tradition and modernity to rule effectively.
He said his German-Africa Dialogue was to find a common ground for Africa and Germany to tackle globalisation by adopting tradition and modernity.
By that means, he said, the peoples of the two places could gain a foothold in these days of globalisation and that “tradition and modernity be used to solve problems”.
The three-day forum which is being attended by intellectuals, artists, civil society organisations, politicians and the private sector from Germany and 12 African countries including Ghana, would look at topics such as migration and integration, the individual and state, and tradition and modernity.
Among the African leaders present were Umaru Musa Yar'Adua of Nigeria, Thomas Boni Yayi of Benin, Amando Guebuza of Mozambique, Marc Ravalomanana of Madagascar and Festus Mogae of Botswana.
From Sylvanus Nana Kumi, Wiesbaden, Germany