14th Asantehene’s Greatest Wish Fulfilled

The chief wish of the late Otumfuo Sir Osei Agyeman Prempeh II, the 14th King of the Asante Kingdom, has been accomplished under the reign of Otumfuo Osei Tutu II in the final compilation and publication of separately written historical antecedents.

Otumfuo Agyeman Prempeh’s authored book, “The Asante History” was launched on Tuesday, February 6, 2024, during an event to commemorate the Sagrenti War of 1874 at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).

Present at the event were His Majesty Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, the Monarch of the Asante Kingdom; Justice Kwasi Anin-Yeboah, former Chief Justice and Chair of the event; Hon Simon Osei Mensah, the Ashanti Regional Minister; Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum, Minister for Education; Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, Minister for Energy; and the Vice Chancellor of KNUST, Prof Rita Akosua Dickson.

Paramount chiefs, sub-chiefs and queen mothers who form the kingdom also showed up for the commemoration.

Schools including Kumasi Girls’ Senior High, Opoku Ware Senior High, Prempeh College, and some Junior High Schools had their students duly represented.

During the book launch, the Minister for Education, Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum, emphasized that the publication and distribution of the 700-page book, edited by Dr. Tom McCaskie, fulfilled the late King’s greatest wish.

Transition From Oral To Written History
According to Juanbenhene Nana Otuo Serebuo, the Asantes’ usual mode of passing on their tradition, culture, custom, history and value saw a paradigm shift when Sir Prempeh II- the first Asante King to gain formal education- saw the need to make use of the emerging written mode to preserve tradition.

“The mode of transmitting our history, values, our culture and our morals was through the spoken word. In the evening, the young men would assemble the young ones and then tell them about the wars of the old, our customs, our traditions, games and other things. It was compulsory for children to attend to these calls hence we coined the statement “tete ka aso mu” meaning the past resides in the ears, however, with the introduction of the written word and calligraphy, the ear became less receptive to the past. Therefore the mode had to be introduced to maintain and retain our history and to transmit it from one generation to another.”

He thus employed the services of a nine-member committee with one more person added to put down his recounted version of Asante history when he ascended the Golden Stool in 1931.

They included Barima Kwadwo Owusu Ansah, C. E. Osei, J. W. K. Appiah, I. K. Agyemang, Oheneba Boakye Dankwa, Edward Owen, George Asafo Agyei, Kyeame Baffour Akoto and Alex Atta Yaw Kyerematen.

Their work began in 1939.

The Juabenhene characterized the version as a “veritable history of Asante from our own perspective without any biases, contradictions or without any enlargements and diminution”.

Though efforts to outdoor the book took half a century, it was finally launched on Tuesday thanks to Otumfuo Osei II, Prof Adu Boahen, Prof Emmanuel Acheampong and Prof Tom McCaskie.

More than 30 of the books autographed by Otumfuo Osei Tutu II were auctioned with buyers winning certificates and tickets to the 74th birthday dinner of the King on May 6.

The book is priced between GHC1,000 and GHC5,000 on the market, as announced.

About the Book
In his book, Sir Agyemang Prempeh gave an account of the Asante origins and connections with the biblical 12 tribes of Jacob and their subsequent migration through the Middle East to the present habitation in Asanteman.

He highlighted incidents during the reign of 13 preceding Kings of the Kingdom as well as a brief account of his reign and the Asante Confederation.

The Education Minister characterized the book as the most comprehensive and definitive history of the Asante Kings, the people of Asanteman and their dealings with their neighbours in pre-colonial Gold Coast.

Dr Adutwum reckons that students of history will have a wealth of material to enrich their knowledge and stimulate research to expand the current volume.

“It is a must-read for all and sundry and should find its way into every house, library, educational institution and bookstock.”

He also encouraged writers to develop kids’ versions of the book for basic schools.

Sir Agyeman Honoured By Son
Otumfuo Akomfrehene Nana Akwasi Abayie who is one of the four out of the 21 surviving children of Sir Agyeman Prempeh paid GHC100,000 to get each of his 22 descendants- 6 children and 16 grandchildren- a copy of the book.

The visibly grateful and proud son of the late King noted that the act was to honour his father.

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