ADDRESS BY HIS MAJESTY OTUMFUO OSEI TUTU II, ASANTEHENE, AT THE COMMEMORATION OF THE 75TH ANNIVERSARY OF NANA SIR OFOR ATTA I, AT KYEBI

We are grateful to Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panin and Okyeman for the invitation to be the Guests of Honour at this commemoration of the life and times of one of the towering figures to grace our institution of chieftaincy in Ghana. We are grateful because it affords us the opportunity not only to salute his immense achievements, but to also acknowledge with gratitude, a powerful voice which spoke out for Asante in her hour of darkness.

Barima Kwadwo Dua or Aaron Emmanuel Boakye Danquah as he later came to be known ascended the Ofori Panin Stool as Nana Ofori Atta in1912 at the darkest moment in Asante’s history. A little over a decade earlier, King Prempeh I had opted to sacrifice himself rather than expose the lives of his brave people to needless bloodshed in another war with the British. He had been exiled to the Seychelles Islands and Asante obliged to become a part of the Gold Coast colony. But Asantes would not exchange loyalty to the Golden Stool for any other nor would they be detached from their King. So against all the efforts to wean them from the Golden Stool, they clamoured unceasingly for the return of King Prempeh. This clamour found support in nationalist leaders in the Aborigines Rights Protection Society and when Nana Ofori Atta became a member of the Legislative Council, he recognised the travails of Asante and threw his considerable weight behind their clamour.

We have no doubt that the advocacy of Nana Sir Ofori Atta, contributed in no small measure to the eventual decision of the colonial government to permit the return of King Prempeh I in 1924, even if with unwelcome diminution of his status.

Understandably, Prempeh and Ofori Atta later forged an excellent working relationship and consulted regularly on matters of common interest. Inspite of his experience in exile, Prempeh worked hard to cement Asante’s integration into the Gold Coast until he was called to his village in 1933. His successor my uncle, Osei Agyemang Prempeh II, intensified the cooperation with the Okyenhene while reassuring the colonial government that Asante’s commitment to peace and to union with the rest of the Gold Coast were absolute and irreversible. The integrity of leadership and the unwavering loyalty of the people coupled with the fruitful cooperation with distinguished Paramount Chiefs like Nana Ofori Atta combined to persuade the British to grant the restoration of the Asante Confederacy and the full status of Asantehene.

Otumfuo Osei Agyemang Prempeh II and Nana Ofori Atta both applied their energies to the pursuit of the social and economic development of their people, especially in education where their shared passion reflected in the number of secondary schools established during their reign, and in the level of education attained by their children. It was not by accident that the first Ghanaian female doctor, Susana Ofori Atta, the daughter of Sir Ofori Atta was first posted to Kumasi to set up the children’s hospital.

Nana Sir Ofori Atta was blessed with a long and meritorious reign spanning over three decades. The people of Akyem Abuakwa celebrate him as a legendary leader, a visionary whose administration set a standard few could achieve. Historians celebrate him as the longest serving member of the Legislative Council of the Gold Coast and a sterling influence in the administration of the entire colony. But we celebrate him as the symbol of the umbilical cord linking Asante and Akyem, and on whose foundations his successors have helped to build the free sovereign state of Ghana today.

I am happy to disclose today that it was the cooperation between his successor Nana Ofori Atta II and Otumfuo Sir Osei Agyemang Prempeh II that laid the foundations for the political values of democracy and moderation that has shaped the independent state of Ghana to this day.

You will recall the hectic days of the early fifties when the agitation for independence had reached a peak and radicalism had taken hold. The chiefs across the country were in despair about the direction of the struggle and concerned that the moderate voices among the politicians were failing. The government had introduced measures which were deemed inimical to the interests of cocoa farmers. Nana Ofori Atta II came to Manhyia to meet with Otumfuo for over two hours. His message was that there was looming danger for the country unless something was done to stem the tide of radicalism. He had consulted other influential chiefs who felt that the task should not be left to the politicians and he had come to convey their appeal to Otumfuo to step in and lead the way in mobilizing the people to reverse the tide. Following the conversation, other politicians, including Dr. J.B. Danquah, also came to meet Otumfuo in Kumasi.

Otumfuo conferred with Nananom, and thereafter invited some of the distinguished Asante elite then with links to the government for consultations. Within days, Mr. Joe Appiah, then the unofficial representative of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah in the United Kingdom (UK), Mr. R. R. Amponsah, then representative of the Cocoa Marketing Board in Germany, and Mr. Victor Owusu all stepped down from the CPP to join hands with Dr. Danquah and others.

It was from these encounters that Otumfuo persuaded Asanteman to sanction the launch of the National Liberation and for his trusted senior linguist Baffuor Osei Yaw Akoto to serve as Chairman.

The consequences of the formation of the NLM, the sacrifices borne by Asante and Akyem are all part of the history of Ghana’s struggle for independence. But however painful the memories may be, it left an indelible, indeed a golden imprint upon the history of our nation. The NLM gave birth to the United Party. The United Party metamorphosed into the Progress Party and the Progress Party became the Popular Front Party which finally transformed into the New Patriotic Party.

Here then is where the ideological line in the politics of Ghana was concretized. So when we speak of the liberal political tradition that has shaped the politics of modern Ghana, and given us the Presidency of John Agyekum Kufuor and Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo, we must know that the voice may be that of Esau but the skin is manifestly that of Joseph. And it should be evident to us all that from Nana Sir Ofori Atta, to this day, co-operation between the Ofori Panin Stool and the Golden Stool have been pivotal to the advancement of the whole nation.

That is why we have come to Kyebi with all the majesty and all the respect Asante can bestow upon their brothers and sisters, upon Nana Sir Ofori Atta I and the hard-working Nana Amoatia Ofori Panin who has so nobly stepped into his eminent sandals and above all to that great son His Excellency the President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo-Addo.

We have come from Adansi where centuries ago you departed from Ayaasi in one of the migrations by which our common heritage spread beyond our ancestral lands. We have come from Offinso, Manso Nkwanta and Ejisu where your kith and kin settled as you journeyed into the forests that became your home. And we have also come with representatives of each one of the eight clans making the Akan heritage, from Bono to Ahafo and across the country to Worawora. All of them are proud and loyal servants of the Golden Stool, and they have come to Kyebi to reaffirm that time cannot wither nor distance untie the bonds that tie brother to brother.

Three years ago, we undertook a solemn journey to Awukugua and Akropong in the Akwapim hills where your brother Ofori Kuma settled and created the Akwapim state after your migration. It was in those hills stretching to Akwamu that I roamed nearly five centuries ago. It was here that word was received about the passing of my uncle and I was invited to return home to lead my people. The Akwamuhene provided me a retinue of body guards to guide me on my journey home but most of all, it was from these hills that destiny joined me to that mighty spirit, Obiri Komfo Anokye by whose hands the Golden Stool emerged and the new Kingdom of Asante was created.

We cannot forget and have never forgotten that the spirit that brought the Golden Stool and shaped the Asante Kingdom had its roots from the hills and forests which also provided a home to our wandering brothers. So let it not be forgotten that in spirit as by blood, we are but one people, perhaps separated now by circumstances but welded together by a common heritage and culture.

It is one of nature’s laws that the teeth will now and again bite the tongue, but they are destined to live forever together. Any pain inflicted is endured by the whole body and the body does not disintegrate as a consequence. In the real world and especially in the particular epoch in human history, it was impossible that a people with such innate zest for adventure such as we were could escape sibling squabbles and it is no surprise that we were a Warrior Nation, whose constituent states often found themselves at loggerheads. That was then and brave men live with their past, warts and all, and are never burdened by the ides of the past.

So we learnt the value of reconciliation and strive not to allow the clouds of conflict to hover indefinitely above us. Instead, the tears we shed and the blood we spilled yesterday have become the spring waters nourishing the soil from which the seed of peace germinate, bearing the fruits of love, charity and progress. That is what defines Asante’s relations at home and underpins the friendship between Asante and Britain today. It is the light we want to shine on a world traumatised by historic grievances.

Amidst the serious challenges of our times, we see hope on the horizon. Hope in the courageous programme to guarantee every Ghanaian child free education up to Senior High School and in other policies to expand the economy and provide jobs for the people. And we are thrilled by the renewed drive to improve our nation’s broken infrastructure. Our prayer remains that the will continue to enjoy the support and cooperation of the people to deliver on his mandate.

As we celebrate the memory of one of the great leaders of our past, we pray our leader today is blessed with the same sense of mission and duty to stamp his name firmly in the pantheon of greatness in the years ahead.

Finally, let me end on a personal note. I thank Akyem for giving me the most beautiful, adorable woman to be my wife. We are sorry Lady Julia cannot be with us today but you can be sure, as home is where the heart is, that our hearts are joined together in love and gratitude to the land that gave her birth.

Thank you, Osagyefo for this wonderful day. Thank you Nana Okyehemaa, Nana Adutwumwaa Dokua, Royals and Elders of Ofori Panin Stool. Thank you His Excellency President Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo-Addo.

May the unity of Asante and Akyem forever endure.

God bless us all !!!!