Feature Article of Sunday, 11 March 2012
Columnist: Banzana, Kofi
By Kofi Banzana
ESSUMEJA, (ASANTEMANSO) which is the Benkum wing of Asanteman, has gone without a chief (Omanhene) the past nine years (obviously the longest period ever the Essumeja Aduana stool has remained vacant) following the demise of Nana Oduro Numapau III in 2003.
The Essumeja Aduana Stool has since been vacant thus creating a vacuum in the composition of Asanteman which is currently without a Benkumhene in the person of a substantive chief of Essumeja who heads the Benkum Division of the Asante Kingdom. Attempts to install a chief by the Queen mother have hit the rock because her eligibility to the stool she has occupied the past 30 years and over has been questioned.
As a result, the Asanteman Council have had to intervene by setting up a committee to determine the eligibility or otherwise of the queen mother. In May 2008, afive-member Judicial Committee headed by the Achirensuahene, Agyewodin Adu Gyamfi Ampem was appointed but determination has not been smooth.
On March 16, 2010 the five-member Committee established in its report that Nana Pokuaa Nyankropon is not a royal and that she was imposed on the people some 31 years ago. Other members of the Committee are Nana Owusu Ankoma, Seikwahene, Kyeame Boakye Yam, Nana Sabronum and Nana Adu Baa Ansah, Yamfohene. The queen mother raised an objection to the findings of the committee before the Asanteman Council could endorse the decision insisting that she is a royal of the stool as a result of which the Asanteman Council agreed to re-examine evidence including video recordings of proceedings in three days (March 29 to 31, 2010) against the Committee’s report. When the Council met on April 1, 2010 to pronounce verdict, 16 chiefs overturned the Committee’s report by siding with the claims of the queen mother that she was eligible to the stool while a few others supported the stand of the Committee.
Chiefs who backed the queen mother’s claim are Manso-Nkwantahene, Bechemhene, Asokwa Mamponghene, Asafo Akwamu, Offinsohene, Tafohene, Mabanhene, Ejisuhene, Bekwaihene, Kokofuhene, Oyoko Bremanhene, Kwamanghene and the Adontenhene. The Hiahene, Paramount chiefs of Banda, Adankrangya, Nsuta, Ankobiahene, Adumhene, Atipinhene and the Nkosuohenewere in support of the stand of the Committee.
The final determination of the case was then fixed for April 8, 2010 but the queen mother failed to turn up claiming she was indisposed on the strength of a medical report.
When Asanteman Council resumed sitting on Essumeja over three days, (November 15-17, 2010) Nana Nyankropon fumbled in arguing her case before the august Asanteman Council presided over by Otumfuo Osei Tutu II.
The queen mother’s challenger, Madam Adwoa Aboraa through her spokesman, was however, unblemished with her family tree to convince the Council that the late Odeneho Oduro Numapau hailed from Tikrom and therefore was not of the Essumeja royal blood. Consequently his installation of the Queen mother was absolutely improper.
She said because the late Oduro Numapau was not from the royal house, the elders invoked Otumfuo’s Ntamkesie (Great Oath) against him but had to be absorbed by Otumfuo Opoku Ware II and allowed to be on the stool for which reason Nana Oduro Numapau never saw eye to eye with the then Queen mother, Nana Frema II.
It was narrated that it was on the death of Nana Frema that Oduro Numapau installed Obro Nyankropon as the Queen mother even though she is not a royal hence the Ntamkesie against the Queen mother to regain their rightful possession.
Looking confused and completely dazed by the weight of evidence that she was put on the stool illegitimately, the Kokofuhene, her neighbor, came in to her rescue and saved the Queen mother of Essumeja from further onslaught by her challenger. Following Kokofuhene’s intervention, the case was adjourned for a week to enable the Kokofuhene to advise the Queen mother. But the much anticipated resolution in December 2010 could not come on as the Queen mother rejected the mediation efforts by Barima Offe Kwasi Okogyeasuo. She told Otumfuo that she wished to give her testimony and contest the claim that she is not a legitimate queen mother which Otumfuo obliged.
When Asanteman Council met on February 17, 2011the Queen mother sent in an excuse-duty from a Bekwai hospital to the effect that she needed one month rest.
Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, the Asantehene had no other alternative but to grant her wish which turned out to be the end of the case. The past one year plus, the dispute which seemed over when the parties made submissions to the Asanteman Council, is in stalemate.
One would have expected that the Asanteman Council would have given priority to the Essumeja stool affairs which determination would have also paved the way for the successful celebration of Odwira festival which has repeatedly been postponed against Otumfuo’s wish to settle the Essumeja issue as soon as possible to enable him tackles other equally important issues like Kumawu and Adansi Stool Affairs.
Media reports indicate that the youth of Essumeja are up in arms against a seeming travesty of justice and are crying loud for those concerned to be up and doing. Questions concerned people are asking are several and varied. Some of the questions are:
1. Why has it taken the Asanteman Council all this while to convene a meeting to determine the matter once and for all especially when other pertinent issues including Kumawu and Fomena chieftaincy issues are still pending for deliberation before the Asanteman Council?
2. Who is holding the Essumeja Stool to ransom? Could it be the indecision of the Asanteman Council or the influence of some of the chiefs?
3. What about the role of the Kokofuhene, who the Youth of Essumeja now accuse of causing the stalemate? 4. Is it a case of collaboration between the Queen mother, stool elders, some Amanhene including Nana Kokofuhene and the Asanteman Council in general for Essumeja to go without a chief all this while?
5. Is Kokofuhene bigger than Asanteman Council that it cannot sanction him for not producing the Queen mother as was directed by the Asanteman Council?
6. Are the acting President and Krontithene of Essumeja, Nana Ntim Banahene and his cohorts the stumbling block as claimed by the queen mother?
7. Can the situation be attributed to the selfish motive of the queen mother, whose attitude so far, indicates that she is not concerned about the deteriorating conditions in Essumeja?
8. Are the stool elders of Essumeja also blamable? Since August 29, 2009 the black stool of Essumeja has been reported missing and in spite of several royal admonitions by His Royal Majesty, Otumfuo Osei Tutu to the kingmakers and elders to retrieve the said black stool nothing concrete seem to have been achieved in this direction.
9. Has “King Solomon” lost the magic touch which enabled him to effortlessly resolve issues on his ascension to the Golden Stool?
10. Or is it the secret agenda and resolve of the Asantehene to see Essumeja deteriorate to such an extent?
11. If the situation is not what I am thinking, when is the Asanteman Council sitting next to finally determine the Essumeja case to end the stalemate?
12. Whither is Asanteman Council drifting?
Today, Essumeja is but just a pale shadow of its former self. The Benkumhene, Adontehenhene, Aduanahene and Asokwahene and Kyeame Gyebi all of Essumeja are all deceased. The adikro of Kyekyewere and Betinko, Ankobiahene, Nana Kwadwo Sani, Sanaahene Owusu Koko; Gyasehene, Twum Barima Appau II; Krontihene, Nana Ntim Banahene, Twafahene, Nana Kwakye Tiaa and Akwamuhene, Nana Kwabena Nyarko are divided and hardly observe Akwasidae in the town. (Gyase, Sanaa and Ankobia celebrate Akwasidae). For some of us who are watching from afar, I think it is unthinkable for the Asanteman Council to sit aloof and watch the slow disintegration of Asanteman in delight. The Asanteman Council should wake up from its long slumber and stamp its authority on the matter in order to regain its entirety and be seen as a whole entity.
The Essumeja case is one case the Asanteman Council cannot close its eyes to, if it wants to assert itself a basis of Asante Kingdom. I don’t think Essumeja is asking for more. It is the least the Asante King can do for Asanteman.
A word to the wise ………