Diasporian News of Tuesday, 10 September 2013
Source: G. Ofori Anor
New York, Nana Okofo Ayeh Bekoe I
The ancestral stool in Obosomase Akuapem has a new occupant. He is Supi Bekoe of Chicago, Illinois. The long time resident of the Midway City of Chicago, Illinois ascended the throne earlier this year and has since been inaugurated on May 5 in a colorful and solemn ceremony in the ancient Akuapem town.
Under the stool name Okofo Ayeh Bekoe I, he trails a long line of leaders who have managed the affairs of this rocky town whose historical and spiritual significance in Akuapem is as deep and mythical as the name it is known by.
During his inauguration, the new Nana let it be known loud and clear that he intends to seek solutions to the myriad of problems besetting the town and lift it into the cycle of respected towns in Akuapem. With "discipline " as the banner mantra, Nana says his main drive is towards youth education and empowerment. To this end, Nana Okofo Bekoe I has on the drawing board an education fund which would raise serious funds for a scholarship/tuition assistance program. This tuition assistance plan will help pay tuition for individuals through the SSS level. The vocational component of the plan centers around apprenticeship training for youngsters to help them acquire and develop technical skills needed for self employment. Upon graduation and employment, each beneficiary will in turn be required to sponsor someone else at a cost equivalent to what was expended on him or her. Those who fail to sponsor others after training and employment will be required to pay back their training costs with interest. As we write, Nana has already identified entrepreneurs in home decoration and basket making with whom a beginning partnership is being fashioned out for the apprenticeship program to begin.
To get a handle on perennial land misuse and disputes getting in the way of economic development in the town, Nana has asked the Department of Lands to issue permits only for new land purchases that bear his approval. He is looking to make it mandatory that land sold be developed within four years of purchase or be bought back by the town at a discounted rate. Money realized through the discount system would go towards the education fund. That way, he and the elders can monitor land sales and plan development of real estate in the town.
Nana Ayeh Boafo's plans are serious and challenging. He will undoubtedly need every bit of the knowledge and experience piled up in the 35 years that he's lived and worked in the United States. In those years, he held the position of Assistant Manager at Bally of Switzerland before going on to run his own import-export and textile manufacturing companies in the Chicago area. He played very prominent roles in the Ghanaian immigrant community in the area and maintained a very visible presence at community events. He is married to his wife of over 30 years and have five grown children. But for now, Nana Okofo Ayeh Bekoe I sees himself as the father of all the children of that historic town.
He has learned the ways of the big bear who does not cower in the face of challenges but fights fiercely to defend and protect the safety and interest of whoever is in his charge. He has sworn the sacred oath to be there for his people in all circumstances. And that is exactly what he intends to do or his title is not Okofo which means "Warrior".
And boy is his work cut out for him! Obosomase is indeed an historic town that has fallen on very hard times. It is one of the least developed towns on the ridge. Other than pride, an imposing all-stone Presbyterian church tower, a steep, unforgiving incline that connects it to the next town Tutu and a "forget Christianity" name, Obosomase can aptly be described as a town that progress and development left behind a long time ago. The citizens are struggling to keep the first cycle schools in the town operational. There virtually are no social infrastructures such as streets, drains, public places of conveniences etc to talk about. You will not find a market, a community center, a post office or any business that can employ 2 workers in the village. A library or internet cafe is definitely a luxury item.
Obosomase is in this sad state despite the fact that a sleuth of highly accomplished public servants -- high ranking police officers and army generals, teachers, lawyers, doctors, musicians, college professors, government officials, businessmen etc have roots solidly embedded in this town. In fact, one of the iconic family dynasties in Ghana is to Obosomase as Akuffo is to Akropong!!
Long before Europeans arrogated unto themselves the right to invade and meddle in African affairs, communities in this part of Africa were cephalous societies with priests serving as lawgivers and adjudicators of civil strives. Obosomase was (still is) the home base of a powerful deity that over time became the war god of all communities in the area. The priests of Chenku, the deity, thus wielded immense spiritual power and authority on the ridge. In fact history, has it that it was at the shrine of this Chenku deity that the Abotakye Accord of 1733 that created the Akuapem Union was “signed’ and made sacred. You can say that Obosomase/Chenku was to Akuapems what the Pope/Vatican City is to the Catholics.
Nana Okofo Ayeh Bekoe I says he is very much aware of the enormity of the task that lays ahead. He is not unaware of the role that the people must play in reversing the trend of neglect and apathy that has gotten "OBS" to this stage. He calls on his people to come together under the banner of discipline, determination, and a willingness to give a little more towards ensuring that progress in Obosomase matches the enormous pride of its citizens worldwide. He deserves the support of all.
PS: I am not just the writer of this piece. I am also a true blooded son of Obosomase! Yes Sir!