Resurgence Of Military Coups Not A Rejection Of Democracy, Asantehene Affirms

Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, the revered KIng of the Asante Kingdom, has made a powerful case against viewing the resurgence of military coups in Africa as a rejection of democracy. 

He believes that the current wave of military takeovers raises questions about the structures within African democracies.

While he does not advocate for the abandonment of democratic principles, he suggests that it is time to reassess and potentially adapt these structures.

Delivering the keynote address at the St Andrews Africa Summit (SAASUM) on September 16, 2023, he challenged the misconception that political parties are the sole vehicles for representing people’s interests and argues that traditional beliefs continue to play a significant role in African societies. 

“I take issue with the notion that our traditional systems of governance are wholly undemocratic and that political parties can better relate to and represent the interests of the people… However, the cultural and traditional beliefs of every African transcend his political beliefs and therefore while they may split along political lines, they remain bound together by their traditional beliefs.”

According to him,  the fusion of traditional systems with modern democratic elements could create a more robust and sustainable democratic structure.

Highlighting the democratic nature of traditional governance, the King illustrated the workings of the Asante Kingdom’s system. 

He explained that every Akan citizen and family is connected to a clan, with each clan intricately linked to a traditional stool. 

These stools are occupied by chiefs who form the core of traditional councils, serving as direct representatives of all families within the state. 

Remarkably, the Asante Kingdom has gone a step further by creating stools for non-citizen resident communities, ensuring representation for various groups within the Kumasi Traditional Council.

“Deliberations are open and as rigorous and intense as you will find in any state legislature but underpinning it all is inviolable respect for traditional order,” he said. 

Every chief is afforded the opportunity to consult advisors before expressing their conclusions, resulting in a democratic process that has successfully managed disputes and litigations.

With this perspective in mind, the King raised a challenging question: why is it still perceived as impossible to fuse traditional governance systems with modern democratic elements to establish a robust and sustainable structure? 

This question serves as a thought-provoking catalyst for reevaluating the potential of traditional governance in Africa’s democratic evolution.

Story by Adwoa Serwaa Danso

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