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Opinions of Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Columnist: Adofo, Rockson

How, Why and When is an “Obrempon” Elevated to the Status of “Omanhene” in Asanteman?

How, Why and When is an “Obrempon” (Sub-chief) Elevated to the Status of “Omanhene” in Asanteman?

Many an Akan, especially those of Asante extraction or those belonging to Asanteman, has a nagging doubt about how, why and when "Abremponfo3" (sub-chiefs) are elevated to the positions of "Amanhene" (paramount chiefs) within Asanteman. Being someone with an avid interest in the welfare of Ghanaians in general, and especially in Kumawuman citizens, coupled with an obvious determination to fight the injustices confronting them, I have decided to highlight their worries in the public domain.

It must be noted by the public, and particularly by those interested in history that the ancient Asante Confederacy formed over three centuries ago was abolished in 1896 upon the capture and exile of Asantehene Nana Agyemang Prempeh I, to Seychelles. It was subsequently restored in 1935, a few years after his death. The old Asante Confederacy has now morphed into the current Asanteman Council with some of the former members left for a reason or the other. Some of those left include Dormaa-Ahenkro, Berekum, Techiman and most recently Atebubu, all in the Brong-Ahafo region.

The Asanteman Council is made up of individual traditional States or Divisions. They came together to form a single powerful group for various reasons as once revealed in one of my recent publications. As in unity lies strength but in division we fall, this major reason, although one among many, motivated them; pushing them into coming together as a powerful force over three hundred (300) years ago. By this, they were able to conquer their then powerful enemy States among whom was Denkyira, with relative ease.

In those days, and up until today, places like Kwamang (now Kumasi), Nsuta, Mampong, Bekwai, Juaben, Apemso (now Kumawu), Kokofu, Essumaja etc., were, and are, stringently considered as States or Divisions. Each Division is an authority in its own right, but a member of the Confederate States now called Asanteman.

Each Division had, and still have, their paramount chief ("Omanhene"). Each has their own numerous sub-chiefs ("Abremponfo3") normally called "Adikro". A single sub-chief is an "Odikro", but when they are many, they are called "Adikro".

Let me make my point clearer to my readers and, or upcoming Ghanaian historians, through graphic analyses or citing of analogical examples. Kumasi (formerly Kwamang) as a whole is a Division within Asanteman. The entire Kumasi with her suburbs inclusive is one Division. Kumasi comprises Bantama, Amakom, Krofrom, Ashtown, Asokwa, Dekyemso, Nhyiaeso, etc. Kumasi has one Omanhene called Kumasihene who de facto becomes the Ceremonial Head of Asanteman, otherwise called Asantehene. All the other traditional heads of the suburbs (minor townships or villages as mentioned above, and are within Kumasi) of Kumasi are variously and individually called "Obrempon" or "Odikro"

In much the same way, Mampong is a Division with sub-towns/villages like Effiduase, Sekyeredumase, and Edwira etc. Each of these three towns or villages are far bigger than most of the suburbs of Kumasi as mentioned above.

Juaben is a Division with towns or villages like Konongo, Juaso, Odumase, Asiampa, Abetenim etc. incorporated. Juaso, being part of Juabenhene's jurisdiction, has for some time now under the despotic rule of Asantehene Osei Tutu II, become a thorny issue. I will leave this issue for future in-depth discussion.

Kumawu is a Division. It comprises towns/villages like Akotoso, Bodwease, Wonoo, Kumawu, Abotanso, Abenaso, Besore, Temaate, Drobonso, Bodomase, Woraso, Amanfrom, etc.

All the chiefs, or the traditional heads of the towns and villages under the principal towns after which the Divisions are named, e.g. Kumasi, Kumawu, Mampong, Juaben, Nsuta, Bekwai, Kokofu, Essumja, Bechem etc., are called "Abrempon" or "Adikro" (sub-chiefs). We say, Kumawu Division/State, Juaben Division/State, and Kumasi Division/State etc.

Therefore, Effiduase (its chief is the Kontrihene of Mampong Division but he is an "Obrempon" or "Odikro"), Edwira, Sekyeredumase, Wonoo, Bodomase, Besoro, Bantama, Fante Newtown, Nhyiaeso, Asokwa, Konongo, Asiampa etc., chiefs are all "Abrempon" or "Adikro" irrespective of how small or big their locality is. Additionally, the size of their population does not in any way play a role in changing their status of "Abrempon" to anything higher, as far as I know.

However, let me put this question to the entire Asanteman people and more so, to the representatives of the various divisions called Amanhene: –

WHY, HOW and When is an Obrempon elevated to the status of an Omanhene? Who has the authority to raise an Obrempon to the status of an Omanhene, although there are categories of Amanhene within Asanteman? I am very much aware of there being Grade I, Grade II and Grade III listed Amanhene. Kumawu, Kumasi, Mampong and Juaben are all Grade I listed chiefs.

My question to Asanteman Council is what is the criterion or are the criteria for promoting one from the grade of Obrempon to an Omanhene? Is the authority to uplift one from a lower position (Obrempon/Odikro) to a more enhanced position (Omanhene) vested solely in one member of the Council, thus, Kumasihene, who doubles as the Ceremonial Asantehene, or it is the collective decision of all the Amanhene regardless of their grade listing?

I know, Bantamahene, has been made an Omanhene. Who promoted him? Was he not an Obrempon of Bantama equal status as the chief, of course, the Obrempon of Effiduase, Konongo or Bodomase? What makes Bantama so special to worth the status of a Division/State (Oman)? I require answers from all the entire Asanteman Council.

Were there any laid down procedures that were thoroughly followed through before his elevation, or it was only prompted by someone's capricious mindedness, for the fact of the person prompted being a feared despot?

Has any properly recognised Omanhene of the Divisions/States within Asanteman the mandate to uplift their "Abrempon" to the status of Omanhene as and when they like? Or, they do not have that power to do that?

Is it not wrong, or is it not to the disadvantage of the other Amanhene if, and only if, the Kumasihene who is the de facto Asantehene, Ceremonial Head so to speak, is mandated, either officially or otherwise, to elevate his Kumasi Abrempon or other Abrempon to the position of Omanhene?

I quite remember Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II elevate one of the sub-chiefs (Abrempon) in Tuoabodom township in the Brong-Ahafo region to the status of Omanhene. This is not long ago. Did he do that all alone, or he did it in concertation with his near-co-equal paramount chiefs (Amanhene)? The personal problems and the commotion his move caused to the then just elevated Tuobodomhene and Techiman & Tuobodom townships respectively became a national issue. I shall not go over that issue as it is not the central point of my inquiry or discussion. However, it must be noted by the public, especially by those reading this write-up that Tuobodom township has two chiefs, one belonging to Asanteman and the other serving Techimanhene.

Manhyia Palace does not belong to Kumasi as a Division within Asanteman, but to the entire Asanteman. That is why only Amanhene should normally be allowed to participate in discussions on matters of general interests to, or affecting, Asanteman. However, you often see Kumasi Kontrehene, Nifahene, Benkumhene etc., who are themselves not appointed from among the recognised Amanhene, participating in discussions, always supporting the view point of their Kumasihene, Ceremonial Asantehene. Is it fair on the other Amanhene?

I hope Otumfuo is not unilaterally elevating these Kumasi Abrempon in the hope of courting their support during voting on their Manhyia deliberations, to always arrive at decisions favourable to him as the supposed Overlord of Asanteman. I shall write extensively on this issue in the coming days if I do not get satisfaction with the answers the public, the Amanhene or Otumfuo will volunteer, if at all they will.

Yes, an already existing Omanhene can still be an Omanhene when his land or Division is encroached upon by another Division, due to the other town growing in size. When a Division is engulfed by the other, not by war but by acts of social developments; expansion in population with the concomitant urbanisation through infrastructural (building, roads) developments, then the encroached upon Division's chief will still remain Omanhene e.g. Kumasi and Kumasi Tafo. But not Bantama that has always been integral part of Kumasi from the very inception of the formation of Kumasi and Asanteman.

Anyway, I do not care that much if Bantama, Asokwa, Oforikurom, etc., all become proper Divisions with their Abrempon elevated to Amanhene. All that I care about at the moment is to ensure no Omanhene or Asanteman involves themselves needlessly maliciously in Kumawuman affairs. If they do, they shall not only be told off, but vehemently resisted!

When a sub-chief becomes an Omanhene, a territory of the Division from which he has been elevated must be completely ceded to him as his, without the original Division having any powers over him from thence. Do people know this? He will thenceforth be responsible only to Manhyia Palace, thus, to the Asanteman Council.

MORE TO COME SO STAY TUNED!

Rockson Adofo