Feature Article of Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Columnist: Plato, Osuani

I Pity Odeefuo Boa Amponsem Iii, Denkyirahene

“I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go." John 21:18
For the people who were not active news followers until mid-2000, your knowledge of the Odeefuo Boa Amponsem III may be based on scanty images painted by what you have heard people say about him or on what so-called spokespersons for him have said on his behalf, especially in these past few months concerning the issue of the split in the Twifo Hemang Lower Denkyira district. For such people, I think it is very befitting to have a quick fill-in so as to be able to appreciate the issue in question. I pity Odeefuo Boa-Amponsem III, Denkyirahene.
Born in the early 1930’s, Odeefuo was one of the very few people who had the chance to serve and lead their traditional people in 1955 at young age of about 22 in colonial Gold Coast struggling to be independent. The throne having been bequeathed to him by his uncle Nana Owusu Bore II, who actually abdicated, Odeefuo had to run a Denkyira state harboring a living former Denkyirahene, under a colonial government and as part of a grand move for self-rule. That was not all, his chiefdom, Denkyira, was (and still) divided into Lower and Upper Denkyira, separated by the Twifos and Morkwaa all in the Central Region of Ghana. It had to take a lot of diplomatic astuteness from a young man to be able to leverage the enormous responsibility placed upon his shoulders. He managed to meander his way through all the expectations of the different groups without unnecessarily unleashing the displeasure of a faction. I pity Odeefuo Boa-Amponsem III, Denkyirahene.
Odeefuo Boa Amponsem III ruled under Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and all those who came after him, through all the coups and the most difficult political times in Ghana, as Denkyirahene and he did not at any point in time meddle in politics or ventures that would disadvantage his subjects. The archive of National House of Chiefs is replete with his valued contributions to the image of chieftaincy and good governance in Ghana. This, he continued doing until somewhere in 2000, when the Denkyira overlord had to vacate his position as the president of the National House of Chiefs due to ill-health. I pity Odeefuo Boa-Amponsem III, Denkyirahene.
Since his incapacitation I have followed quite keenly, though surreptitiously, the events and happenings in the Denkyira state and there is a lot to be worried about. The first issue I felt worrying was the shameful inability of the traditional council, the Denkyira hemaa and the Denkyira people to organize their own Odwira festival from 2000 to 2005. In fact, for the 12 years that Odeefuo has been unwell, they have managed to organize only two boring Odwira Festivals….. 2006 and 2010. No wonder a school child was marked wrong for writing in a test that Odwira is celebrated by Denkyiras right in Jukwa, the traditional capital of Denkyira. I must concede that even when the old man was active the festival was not celebrated frequently but in all those years that the festival was not celebrated, there was Mpaatum, which was a mini-festival. Where is that now? I pity Odeefuo Boa-Amponsem III, Denkyirahene.

The year 2005 was a very significant year for the people of Denkyira. It marked the 50th anniversary of the reign of Odeefuo Boa-Amponsem III. I looked keenly if they would mark it for the old man, they didn’t. Some people are seriously marking 10th Anniversaries and 20th Anniversaries and it’s a shame that 50th anniversary was left unnoticed. 50 years on the Denkyira Bankamdwa, and the Denkyirahemaa and her retinue left this uncelebrated. Oh! I pity Odeefuo Boa-Amponsem III, Denkyirahene.

The Akans have a saying “S3 wennya biribi amma w’ase a y3mm) no kr)no” to wit “If you cannot give to anything to your in-laws, do not rob them of what they have”. In these past few months, events in Jukwa have left me to worry more for the old man. The issues surrounding the creation of the new Hemang Lower Denkyira District have exposed the attenuating reputation of the Denkyirahene to the greatest challenge ever. Already the powers-that-be around him have been unable to hype his legacy and do anything to promote him. Now they tread the path to make him unpopular at these dying embers of his reign. People organize press conferences and speak in the most undiplomatic tone and say it is coming from the old man. Someone, in his bid to gain recognition and personal aggrandizement, goes on air and spews out utter ignorance… and he says “thus says Odeefuo Boa-Amponsem”. Seriously, I pity Odeefuo Boa-Amponsem III, Denkyirahene.

Indeed, Jukwa has not been given the capital of the new district and truly the old man would be unhappy. But to the extent that people around the old man took the decision to boycott the inauguration of the district and ban all chiefs and assembly members from attending the function… the old man would never have sanctioned this decision if he was “He”. Now the Jukwa Mbem chief faces distoolment charges for attending the function, and my sources tell me there are clashes in the area due to this development. The old man is too experienced to be engaging in these trivialities and unacceptable levels of diplomatic blunder. All this mess is being presided over by some newly-graduated lawyer and his sister in the name of Odeefuo Boa Amponsem, who for now is unwell and unable to be involved in these matters. Whatever the Bible says is true (read the quote above)… when Odeefuo was strong he took wise decisions for his people but now, the people are deciding for him. Although the decisions are unwholesome, posterity will credit it to him and whatever its consequences will be in his memory. Some people’s parochial interests are determining these decisions but they all go into the account of the old man. You see, that is why I pity Odeefuo Boa-Amponsem III, Denkyirahene.