Five years into his reign as the Omanhene of the New Juaben Traditional Area, Daasebre Prof. Oti Boateng instituted the Akwantukese Festival, which has remained an important part of the people since 1997.
The Akwantukese Festival is marked annually in the month of November to commemorate the great migration of the ancestors of the chiefs and people of New Juaben from the Ashanti over a century ago.
Fostering development in unity is at the fulcrum of the festival, which will be climaxed on November 23, 2019 with a grand durbar of the chiefs and people in Koforidua, the seat of the New Juaben Traditional Area.
The Akwantukese, a highly esteemed festival celebrated by the chiefs and people of New Juaben, according to the Omanhene of the New Juaben Traditional Area, Daasebre (Emeritus) Professor Oti Boateng, provides a linkage to their historic past and a united platform for socio-economic development.
“It commemorates the 'Akwantukese' or the Great Migration of the Juabens and their allies from their ancestral homes in Asante to establish the autonomous New Juaben settlement in the Eastern Region of Ghana in the 1870s”, he said.
History and Importance
The festival was instituted in 1997 with a mission of "development in unity for the welfare of the people.
As celebrated over the years, the Akwantukese promotes socio-economic progress by closely following its cardinal objectives of strengthening the unity of the chiefs and people of the area, mobilising them for more self-help and development projects, educating them, especially the youth on the origins, migration, tradition and customs of the area; reinforcing the ancestral bond of unity between Asante and New Juaben and serving as a cultural and tourist attraction for Ghana and the rest of the world.
Daasebre Professor Oti Boateng said the Akwantukese Festival had achieved a singular feat by institutionalising the first post-independence traditional festival in Ghana and bringing a missing but crucial and major historic event of Asante history into contemporary prominence.
“It constitutes the ceremonial high point of the chiefs and people of New Juaben, instilling the spirit of unity and resoluteness among them to build a long-term stable and sustainable society.
“In addition, it rekindles the innovative spirit of the chiefs and people of New Juaben which underlines their creative successes.
Thus, the Akwantukese Festival is a highly-prized event, not only to remind us of our history and relationships with our ancestors but also as a platform to renew our commitment to forge unity for development,” he stated.
Over the years the festival has attracted the participation of chiefs and people from all regions of Ghana to provide cross-cultural displays to further enhance the socio-cultural value of the festival.
Foreign and local organisations and dignitaries have also been participating to promote domestic and international tourism, Daasebre stated.
“The 1999 Akwantukese Festival, for example, successfully hosted about 1,500 delegates attending the World Tourism Organisation meeting in Accra.
Moreover, delegates attending several United Nations and other international meetings in Accra often participate in the festival.
Furthermore, with Koforidua, the spiritual capital of New Juaben as well as the Eastern Regional capital, emerging as an important tourist destination in Ghana, many people strategically plan their visits to coincide with the Akwantukese Festival.
The Livingston Chamber of Commerce in Western New York has signed an accord with the Traditional Council for cultural exchange, including participation in the festival while MOTEC-Life UK continues its regular participation since 2007,” he added.
The 2017 Akwantukese Festival
The 2017 Akwantukese Festival was uniquely celebrated as it marked the Silver Jubilee anniversary of Daasebre Professor (Emeritus) Oti Boateng's enstoolment as Omanhene of New Juaben State (1992-2017), the 20th anniversary of the institution of the Akwantukese Festival (1997-2017) and the momentous planting of a perpetual seed of holistic education to benefit Ghana and beyond.
In line with its objectives, the Akwantukese Festival gives special emphasis to education, which according to Daasebre, was a core strategic asset for growth and development, as the best way forward to provide the requisite knowledge and skills-set for national and global competitiveness.
“The inauguration of the Akwantukese Education Board to promote education in the traditional area, the initiation of annual Akwantukese quiz competitions among students with appropriate trophies at all educational levels, the award of certificates, special jugs and handkerchiefs to about 1,300 best pupils and students from 250 schools in New Juaben were all meant to solidify the avid pursuit of education in the traditional area to benefit Ghana and beyond.
This year, a special day, according to Daasebre Prof. Oti Boateng, has been set aside as ‘The Traditional Area Development Day’(TADD) to initiate and sustain the implementation of his Root-based Economic Development (rBED) Model.
The New Juaben Traditional Area is made up of 12 communities which are Jumapo, Oyoko, Suhyen, Asokore, Effiduase, Akwadum, Ada/ Zongo/ Kru Town/Anlo Town, Beto, Nsukwao, Srodae/Adweso, Nyamekrom and Oguaa.