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02.05.2019 Feature Article

The Greatness Of Otumfuo Asantehene

Otumfuo Osei Tutu II

Malvolio: “Be not afraid of greatness; some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.”

Twelfth Night – William Shakespeare

“Don't blow off another man's candle for it won't make yours shine brighter”

Jaachynma N. E. A. Agu

“Because of your patience, God will uplift you”, Most Rev. Professor Daniel Yinkah Sarfo stated when he eulogised Otumfuo Osei Tutu II in a Thanksgiving Service to mark the 20th Anniversary of the ascension of the King to the Golden Stool at the St. Cyprian's Cathedral at Fanti New Town. “Today is your day” Prof. Yinkah Sarfo extolled Otumfuo.

It was a well-arranged programme at which every moment was accurately calculated, thanks to the dexterity of the managers of the Cathedral, including the indefatigable James Adjei. Otumfuo Osei Tutu, though baptized by Archbishop Emeritus Most Reverend Doctor Akwasi Sarpong of the Catholic faith, was following the tradition of Nananom, after a Christianised King Prempeh I returned to Kumasi from exile in the Seychelles Island in 1926.

A team of prelates from other denominations including Most Reverend Anokye Catholic Archbishop of Kumasi, Rev. Dr. Akrofi of CPWA, Rev. Dr. Yeboah – Asamoah (Sunyani), Rev. Christopher Nyarko Andam of Kumasi Methodist, Rev. Dr. Steve Asante (Asokwa Church of Pentecost), and others like Lay Canon Oheneba Agyemang Badu (Atipinhene) and Lay Canon Kwame Asiedu Basoah, Registrar, were present. Prof. Yinkah explained why they had chosen Most Reverend Dr. Peter Akwasi Sarpong to deliver the sermon: Yennsan kokromotie ho mmo po (you can't ignore the thumb in tying a knot).

Most Reverend Akwasi Sarpong prefaced his sermon with these words: “God has chosen Otumfuo to bring peace to Ghana.” In an exquisite delivery, the Archbishop Emeritus exhorted Otumfuo to be a King with a difference – a forgiving King. He prayed for the time in Ghana when (as found in Isaiah 11:6-7) “… the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together and a little boy shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.”

The symbolic device used in this passage points to 'peace' and the Emeritus Archbishop opined that peace-seeking is the aspiration of every man, perhaps just like the 1830s painting by the American Quaker Edward Hicks with the theme: 'Peaceable Kingdom'. The Emeritus Archbishop saw the 'Beatitude'… (Blessed are the poor in spirit…, blessed are they who mourn…, blessed are the meek…, blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness…, blessed are the merciful…, blessed are the pure in heart…, blessed are the peacemakers…, blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness) as the Magna Carta of Christianity. (The Magna Carta Libertatum – Great Charter of Liberties – signed by King John of Runnymede in 1215 talked of 'liberties' and 'rights' of barons, including church rights, protection from illegal imprisonment, access to swift justice).

It was revealing that King Osei Tutu II had given immense assistance to the Ghana Institute of Linguistics, Literacy and Bible Translation to translate the Bible to Ahanta language of the Western Region. Like the German Frederick the Wise who supported Martin Luther to translate the Bible to German and British King James who lent his support to the translation of the Bible into English, Otumfuo Osei Tutu thought of extending this task to cover all local languages.

The climax of the activities of the day was the hosting of the Asantehene to a state banquet by the President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. Extolling Otumfuo, the President remarked: “For me, his achievement that runs as his very best was when he worked with other stakeholders to find a lasting solution to the Dagbon impasse.” The long-standing bond of friendship between the two great men could not escape either of them. Otumfuo recalled: “He was my lawyer who never asked me for a fee for his good service he rendered to me.” The words of the 18th U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant (1869 -1877) became relevant: “The friend in my adversity, I shall always cherish most. I can better trust those who helped to relieve the gloom of my dark hours than those who are so ready to enjoy with me the sunshine of my prosperity.”

In a night that saw a parade of the greats in Ghana at the moment, Kojo Antwi, Amakye Dede, the Police Women's Band and the National Symphony Orchestra gave a good account of themselves as far as music is concerned.

You could not miss Madam Akosua Frema Osei Opare, Chief of Staff, Nana Otuo Sereboe II, Chairman of the Coucil of State and Juabenhene; nor could you miss Daasebre Osei Bonsu, Mamponghene; Nana Adusei Atwerewa Ampem, Tepahene; Nana Amakye Ansah, Asokore Mamponghene and Nifahene of the Kumasi Traditional Council and Baafour Asare Owusu Amankwatia, Bantamahene. Of course, how could anyone miss my good old Professor, Mike Oquaye, Speaker of Parliament. And their wives … Lady Julia of Adadientem to whom also the night belonged was her cool self; the First Lady, Mrs. Rebecca Akufo-Addo was bewitching and, as for the former First Lady, Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings, you had to pause seeing the intricate syncopations she made on the floor.

The philosophy in Lawyer Kwame Awuah made itself manifest in his analysis of Malvolio's speech in 'Twelfth Night': Is it not possible for one man to combine the three: born great, achieve greatness; have greatness thrust upon him? Alexander III, King of Macedon (Greece) was not given the epithet 'Great' (Alexandri Magnum) by the Romans only because he conquered Persia circa 330 BC, but also because of involving his generals in a cultural diffusion (marrying into the conquered nations) and the encouragement of syncretism (assimilation of discrete traditions).

Bertrand Russell said in “Reflection on my Eightieth Birthday”: “I have lived in the pursuit of a vision, both personal and social. Personal: to care for what is noble, for what is beautiful, for what is gentle; to allow moments of insight to give wisdom at more mundane times. Social: to see in imagination the society that is to be created, where individuals grow freely and where hate and envy die because there is nothing to nourish them. These things I believe, and the world, for all its horrors, has left me unshaken.”

In Shakespeare's “As You Like It”, Jaques tells Duke Senior: “All the world's a stage, And all the men women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts, His acts being seven ages – (infant, school boy, lover, soldier, justice, pantalone, old age). Last scene of all, that ends this strange eventful history, is second childishness and mere oblivion, sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.” Totus mundus agit histrionem (All the world plays the actor).

Hopefully, Nana Otumfuo will reflect on this and ask himself: “What did Asanteman and Ghana look like in 1819, 1919? What do they look like in 2019 and what will they look like in 2119? Our bodies will have been frittered away, absorbed into the soil: “Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust” – but our deeds and words shall remain for posterity. His Excellency J. A. Kufuor, ex-President prays for God's guidance, Amen.

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From Africanus Owusu-Ansah

Africanus Owusu - Ansah
Africanus Owusu - Ansah, © 2019

This author has authored 115 publications on Modern Ghana. Author column: AfricanusOwusuAnsah

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