And The Whole Of Ghana Moved To Kumasi – Otumfuo: Pillar Of Quiet Diplomacy
“The good Lord gifted you to Asanteman and Ghana two decades ago. He has guided you to live up to expectation and to his glory. You have brought honour and grace to the chieftaincy institution of Ghana. Your wisdom in judging cases has become proverbial. You have sought unity among your own subjects and in Ghana.”
Most Rev. Peter Kwasi Sarpong
Catholic Archbishop Emeritus of Kumasi
In Congratulatory Message to Otumfuo
Osei Tutu (Asantehene)
'RIP VAN WINKLE' by Washington Irving (1819) tells the sad story of a hen-pecked man who runs from his nagging wife, Dame Winkle, in his village at Catskill, New York. He falls into the hands of a ghost-like brigade whose offer of some liquor sends him on a 20-year slumber. He awakes to find everything changed!
Last Sunday was the day the whole of Ghana moved to Kumasi to join Otumfuo to celebrate his 20-year reign as Asantehene. With the presence of former Presidents Jerry John Rawlings, John Agyekum Kufuor, John Mahama, and the current President, Nana Addo, together with the Speaker of Parliament, Prof. Aaron Oquaye, the Chief Justice, Sophia Akuffo, the IGP David Asante-Apeatu, Service Commanders, Ministers of State, Members of Parliament, the clergy and people from all walks of life, who could not see the reality in the day government was run from Kumasi? (We are not talking of the political reality of Cote d'Ivoire's capital in Yamousoukro away from Abidjan, nor Nigeria's Abuja over Lagos; not Tanzania's capital from Dar-es-Salaam to Dodorna, nor Bazil's capital from overcrowded Rio de Janeiro to Brasilia, nor Argentina's capital Santiago del Estero away from Buenos Aires).
Lawyer Paul Adu Gyamfi described the scene as 'fantastic'; Lawyer Owusu Sekyere saw it as 'splendid', and we saw it as 'fantabulous.' The theme was: “Deepening Our Cultural Heritage through Socio-Economic Development”. The monarch had always said that what his forebears had done through wars he was going to do through education and diplomacy, and he had done exactly that!
In his welcome address, Otumfuo stated: “We are pleased to welcome His Excellency, the Vice-President of the Republic of Suriname… to our own head of state, His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo… for leading our elder statesmen and former heads of state, and, indeed, the whole nation as our special guest of honour.” The presence of Mr. Obasanjo, former President of Nigeria, was duly acknowledged. So was that of the people of Diaspora.
The welcome message had taken note of his ascension of the Golden Stool on 26th April, 1999 and his interaction with all five presidents under the Fourth Republic Constitution (Jerry John Rawlings, John Agyekum Kufuor, the late John Evans Atta Mills, John Dramani Mahama and currently, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo). Otumfuo recalled the past when economic development was the preserve of government. On acceding to the Golden Stool, he had changed the status quo, making traditional rulers partners in development.
King Osei Tutu disclosed the bond of brotherhood between Kofi Karikari in 1865, “… that pact led to the establishment of the Anloga community which still thrives in Kumasi. Today, Togbui Sri and his entourage are back with us to reaffirm our cherished friendship and remove any artificially contrived discord with the potential to undermine the stability of our nation.” The powerful message from the office of the Awoamezi read in parts: “A 20th coronation Anniversary of a great King is many things – a cause of celebration, a reason to pause and re-evaluate, a remembrance day, an inspiration and a time to love and admire a noble compatriot. On this day, all over our country and the world, we cannot but admire both the steps taken by His Royal Majesty to better the lives of his people and others in our country. An important lesson we have learnt over the 20 years of Your Reign is that Royalty is still relevant in administration of the modern state. For good governance to advance, chieftaincy must advance.”
Okyenhene Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panin's flowery message spoke volumes. He noted: “… It has been tremendous and immense development, promotion and the advancement of Asanteman, and by extension, the Nation of Ghana, mainly in the fields of education, cultural diversity, health, just to mention a few. You have brought profound respect to the institution of chieftaincy – we salute you.”
Yaa-Naa Abukari II, the eminent royal of Dagbon, was all-praise for Otumfuo for the “extraordinary sacrifice” he made in resolving the near-intractable Dagbon conflict. He noted: “The Asante royal family and the people of Asante should feel proud that their King, because of his wisdom, steadfastness, tact, and diplomacy, was made Chairman of the Mediation Committee to restore peace to Dagbon. You successfully accomplished the mission to the administration of the people of Dagbon and Ghana.”
The ride of his entourage on horseback, the enthusiasm of his people in Kumasi and his genuine display of brotherliness made an elated Yaa-Naa love the atmosphere, especially when the King of Asante noted: “I will appeal to the President, former Presidents and political party leaders to work towards deepening the peace and unity of this country to boost proper development to enhance the lives of the citizenry”.
J. Rawlings's enchanting message read: “… (his) relationship with the leadership of various political parties has contributed to the deepening of political development. He has on multiple occasions intervened when deep-seated differences have arisen between major political players without allowing the allure of political bias to cloud his better judgment.” So, now you see why he is called 'King Solomon'? Nana, nya nkwa daa!
In his speech, the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, extolled the distinctive leadership of Otumfuo Osei Tutu II as a pillar behind Ghana's development agenda, paying tribute to his education drive and other initiatives which had not been limited to his traditional authority but the entire country. Indeed, if Henry Alfred Kissinger, U.S. Secretary of State under Presidents Nixon and Ford could be a master of “shuttle diplomacy”, Otumfuo could be dubbed a master of the “quiet diplomacy”, and as Isaac Goldberg says: “Diplomacy is to do and say the nastiest thing in the nicest way.” Of course, one cannot fault Barack Obama for saying: “In a world of complex threats, our security and leadership depend on all elements of our power – including strong and principled diplomacy.”
Back in Accra, a noble, historic event was taking place that same Sunday. The Chief Imam Sheikh Osman Nuhu Sharubutu was attending a Church Service at Christ The King Catholic Church. A happy birthday song was sang for him by the congregation led by the Parish Priest Father Andrew Campbell. A hundred years of existence in Ghana, he must have seen it all just as some of us sexagenarians, septuagenarians, octogenarians, nonagenarians: the rampage, the looting, the tortures, and as was said of Simeon (Luke 2:26-30): “And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Messiah … Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace…” All of us alive now can depart this earth, happy in the knowledge that we are bequeathing to our offspring a peaceful Ghana, panelled into shape by our indefatigable leaders.
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