The history of Ghana can never be told without making mention of the great Asante Empire. A great empire in the middle of a thick forest but managed to conquer greater parts of the country and even extend to parts of modern day La Cote D’ivoire. An Empire with the most prominent, audacious and visionary leaders who carefully guided the small state through crisis such wars and made sure they were always a step ahead of their enemies as well access to best of market routes and foodstuffs to become the most fearsome Empire in West Africa. As democracy and diplomacy takes over rule of law, kings and rulers have been to known to affect no or minimal effect on the livelihood of the people but this is totally different for the chief and supreme ruler of the Asante kingdom, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II.
Born as Nana Barima Kwaku Duah, Otumfuo ascended the prestigious golden throne on 26th April, 1999 after the peaceful passage of his predecessor Otumfuo Opoku Ware II. By name, he is the direct succession of the founder and first leader of the empire Otumfuo Osei tutu I. Otumfuo Osei tutu II has successfully reigned for two decades and his time has seen lots of growth, developments, achievements and milestones in the country as well West Africa. His achievements are from education, peace mediation, technology as well as humanitarian services and many others.
I therefore scripted some of these distinguishing achievements of Otumfuo’s tenure.
In this fast developing world, the key to bridging the gap in Africa is education. As a wise chief, Otumfuo knows, understands and appreciates this which is why right after his enstoolment in 1999, he set up an educational fund. This fund was aimed at helping the under privileged with good qualifications to attain better education. By so doing, he helped increase the literacy rate in the Asante region tremendously and the nation on a larger scale. In 2000, Otumfuo embarked on a national campaign to raise attention and interest from youth in the fund. The idea was to help them understand the benefits of the individual or group scholarships. Since the inception of the fund, the Otumfuo Educational fund has aided over 5,000 students at various levels of education. His excellence has never gone unnoticed as currently, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II is the chancellor of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) . He also received the commendation of the association of Commonwealth Universities, conferring on him the Symons Award in April, 2000.
One duty of a chief or ruler is to be a good mediator. He presides over all matters of his people and ensures that justice is attained. This quality has been a hallmark of the king seated on the golden stool. He knows the importance of peace and stability and how it affects growth and development hence he entreats his people to always seek arbitration rather than litigation. Before his ascension, land litigation had plagued Asanteman but through his wisdom majority of such issues have all been resolved as over 500 Chieftancy and land disputes have been peacefully resolved. In October 2018, riots broke out in KNUST as students rebelled. As chancellor of the school, he intervened as he successfully helped the school to be reopened after it was closed indefinitely by the Ashanti Regional Minister. The Asantehene led a committee of eminent chiefs to help restore peace and enskinment of a chief for the Dagbon people. The committee was set up by the then president John Agyekum Kuffuor in 20002 after Ya Na Yakubu Andani regent of Dagbon was murdered. Under his leadership, peaceful talks were finally held between the Andani n Abudu royal families. The committee drew a roadmap to lead to peace restoration and finally the enskinment of Ya Na Abukari Mahama as king of Dagbon kingdom.
In his own initiative, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II obtained a World Bank with the backing of the Government of Ghana. The grant was to be used for a project titled Promoting Partnerships with Traditional Authorities Project (PPTAP). He also set up a foundation to help take care of children who have been unfortunate victims of HIV/AIDs pandemic. This is known as the Serwaa Ampem AIDs Foundation which is under the leadership of his wife, Lady Julia Osei Tutu.
Another initiative worth a mention is the health fund. This fund was to help provide financial and material support to help decrease maternal mortality as well as infant death, glaucoma, buruli ulcer, guinea worm disease, etc. Otumfuo has also implemented the Asanteman Economic Revitalization plan, this is to help promote corporate and private investments in local businesses, afforestation and irrigation programs.
In April 2019, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II unveiled a 10-year development plan. The idea was to industrialize the local economy to increase employment and bring about wealth and good standard of living in Asanteman. Though it has not been achieved yet as we still have nine more years left, should be it be a success, it will be the biggest legacy the great king will ever accomplish.
Opoku ware I has always been accredited with making the Asante Empire fierce and great. It is under his reign that the kingdom expanded the most. Otumfuo Osei Tutu is proven as the best by far as he has been able to merge tradition with modernism to achieve education, health and economic development of his people, Ghana and West Africa as a whole.
Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, the royal and imperial ruler of Asanteman, rules impartially and fairly over his people from the golden stool, the stool that is the envy of all but it is his heart of pure gold that I celebrate here today.