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Opinions of Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Columnist: Nana Opoku Frefre | Kwabre & Otumfuo Gyaase (Manhyia - Obuabasa Stool House)

Chief or King? An open letter to Edward Bawa

Dear Sir,

I bring you warm greetings from Asanteman. Now let me go straight to the point. Although it would be tiring an exercise for you, I would humbly request that you dedicate some time to read it carefully, and even go further to interrogate the facts I am about to lay bare. As a son of Otumfuo Gyaase or Otumfuo Buabasa Royal House, I owe it a duty to Asanteman and the Golden Stool which my grandfathers and great-grandfathers before me served, to educate, explain, and as well help you get well informed so far as the dynamics and intricacies of our traditional polity are concerned.

Our forebears, in my case, the dreaded military leader of Asante, General Opoku Frefre (Fr?d?fr?d?), known for his military prowess, and other Asante warriors, of whom I am a lineal descendant, and prides myself with, used the sword to defend and advance the interest of Asanteman. But, we, Asanteman of contemporary times, use knowledge, pen, sacred facts and superior arguments: to educate and enlighten the ignorant, to expose the mischievous persons and detractors who seek to spite the heritage and legacy our forebears bequeathed to us, to defend and preserve the rich and beautiful heritage and legacy we inherited from our forebears, amongst others. And of course, we find passion and pride in doing these. Sir, respectfully, in your case, I could tell you spoke out of sheer ignorance. However, to us, this is a call to duty. A duty to teach and help you learn about our heritage.

As I once indicated to Abdul Malik Kweku Baako...to the Asantes and Asanteman, the Asantehene is our king, and we accord him the utmost reverence a king should enjoy from his subjects regardless what the constitution of Ghana says. To Asanteman, he is our king and not the king of Ghana. To Asanteman, we don't need the constitution of Ghana to validate the status of our king. Because it wasn't the constitution of Ghana or any other country or group of people that established our 'Aban-dwa' on which Osei Tutu I ascended as the first Asantehene in the 18th century. It was established and validated by Asanteman and Asantes ourselves. To us, Asantehene's source of power/authority is derived from the Sika Dwa, his subjects and nothing else.

The Asantehene is to Asanteman what, who and how we regard him...and we regard him as our king. The opinion of others doesn't matter to us. It doesn't even change anything. He is the only traditional authority in the country who has the powers to create Paramountcies and elevate traditional authorities to the status of Paramountcies. As we speak, he has about 65 Paramount chiefs who swear and owe allegiance to the Golden Stool (Sika Dwa Kofi). And these Paramountcies are found in the Ashanti, Eastern, Brong Ahafo and Volta regions.

The point is, the fact is, the reality is, the Asantehene has no obligation whatsoever or enjoined by any law, to consult any of the Regional Houses of Chiefs in the aforementioned regions before elevating chiefs, who owe allegiance to the Golden Stool, or traditional areas under his jurisdiction, to a Paramount status. For the records, the Asantehene is not even a member of the National House of Chiefs although its Head office is at Manhyia, Kumasi. Also, any of his Paramount chiefs who are members of the various regional Houses of Chiefs can be elected to serve as the President of the National House Of Chiefs and would still owe allegiance to the Golden Stool and its occupant, the Asantehene. Oh yes, the immediate past President of the Brong Ahafo Regional House of Chiefs, Osahene Kwaku Ateryi II, Paramount Chief of Kukuom Traditional Area, owes allegiance to the Golden Stool and its occupant, the Asantehene.

Sir, the Asantehene's authority and influence extend beyond the boundaries of the Ashanti region, and even beyond the boundaries of Ghana, to the Ivory Coast. Yes, La Cote d'Ivoire. The former President of Ivory Coast, Henri Konan Bedie, a chieftain and royal of Baoule, whose capital is Yamoussoukro, on behalf of the Baoules, on April 8, 2018, reemphasized their recognition of the Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II as their king during the Akwasidae celebrations at the Manhyia Palace in Kumasi.

Now let me take the pain, eeerrm, the pride rather, to list the Asanteman Paramountcies to aid you in understanding the complexities in a much more simple manner.