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General News of Tuesday, 23 March 1999

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Okyenhene's death announced to Okyeman Council

Kyebi (Eastern Region) 23 March ?99

The sudden death of the Okyenhene and paramount chief of the Akim Abuakwa traditional area, Osagyefo Kuntunkununku the second in Accra last Wednesday was formally announced to an emergency meeting of the Okyeman Council at the Ofori Panin Fie (palace) Kyebi on Sunday.

Osabarima Kena Ampaw the second, Adontenhene of the traditional area who has assumed the position of acting president of the council, made the announcement. The Okyenhene, who was also President of the National House of Chiefs, died at the 37 Military Hospital in Accra at dawn on Wednesday, March 17, having been suddenly taken ill the previous evening, he said.

The announcement to the hushed meeting was immediately followed by the sounding of the 'fontonfrom' drums and the wailing of women who thronged the palace to listen to the confirmation of the death reported in the media on March 18. Osabarima Ampaw paid glowing tribute to the Osagyefuo, who was a member of the council of state, for his "dedicated leadership role" in the traditional area, the Eastern region and the nation.

The meeting was also attended by a government delegation, led by the Eastern Regional Minister, Miss Patience Adow, the deputy regional minister, Mr Samuel Ofosu-Ampofo, district chief executive for East Akim, Mr Mike Odame Darkwa, and the New Juaben Municipal chief executive, Mr E. Adu Boateng. In line with custom, Osabarima Ampaw presented six rams and six bottles of schnapps to the council, after which libation was poured and two of the rams slaughtered at the forecourt of the palace. The regional minister, on behalf of the government, also presented 12 bottles of schnapps, 2 cartons of beer and two crates of minerals to the council. Miss Adow expressed regret about the "great vacuum" created by the death of the Okyenhene in the chieftaincy institution, especially at the regional level, saying by his death, the Eastern regional house of chiefs could not form a quorum for sometime to come.

This, she explained, was due to the vacancies earlier created by the deaths of the paramount chiefs of Akim Bosome, Nana Oware Agyekum, Akim Kotoku, Nana Agyeman Attafua and Boso-Guan, Nana Nyarko Yeboah, over the past two years. She said the stools of Akwamu and Manya Krobo are also yet to be occupied because of litigation which followed the deaths of Nana Kwafo Akoto and Nene Azu Mate Korle. The only remaining members of the 11-member regional house include those of New Juaben, Akuapem, Yilo Krobo, Kwahu and Anum traditional areas. Miss Adow appealed for a peaceful atmosphere to prevail in the areas without paramount chiefs until successors are enstooled Apart from the death of the Okyenhene, Akim Abuakwa has been without a substantive queenmother since 1997, following the death of Nana Sekyeraa the second.

But Osabarima Ampaw told newsmen that despite the situation, "everything will go on smoothly, including the finding of a successor to the Okyenhene, since it's the family which selects the candidate to be announced to the kingmakers by the queenmother". The council would soon meet to plan the burial arrangements. The late Okyenhene, known in private life as Dr Alexander Kwadwo Fredua Agyeman, was born on February 22, 1942, at Asiakwa and installed on August 2, 1976 as the 34th occupant of the Ofori Panin Stool at the age of 34. He succeeded his uncle, Nana Ofori Atta the third. He was educated at the Asiakwa, Asamankese and Old Tafo Presbyterian schools, Prempeh college (1957-61) and Accra Academy (1961-62), before proceeding to the Sofia State University in Bulgaria to study medicine. On his return in 1969, Dr Fredua Agyeman worked at Korle Bu Teaching Hospital and later at the Ridge hospital until his enstoolment.

Osagyefo Kuntunkununku served two-terms as President of the Eastern regional house of chiefs (1994-98), before his election as national president in December 1998 and becoming a member of the Council of State.