THE REIGN OF NANA OPOKU WARE II
( 1970 – 1999 )
The great tree of Asante Kingdom , Nana Osei Agyeman Prempeh II fell on 27th of May 1970. At that time his nephew , Barima Kwaku Adusei , known in business field as Mathew Poku , a lawyer by profession and Ghana’s
Ambassador designate to Italy was on familiarisation tour of the country when he was intercepted at the northern bank of River Volta after he had crossed the ferry from Yeji. The Assistant commissioner of Police from Tamale who was waiting for him at the Northern bank of the Volta showed him a telegram which read, ” Intercept Mathew Poku’s tour . To return to Accra immediately “No reason was given but that became the turning point of his life. It was at the castle that he was told of the death of his uncle Nana Osei Agyeman Prempeh II.
After the burial of the late King, Barima Kwaku Adusei was nominated as the 15th King of Asante Kingdom on 15th June 1970. His nomination was accepted by the Kumase Traditional Council . The Asanteman Council met on 13th June 1970, deliberated on the nomination and accepted him as the 15th Asantehene. Nana Opoku Ware II was enstooled as the 15th Asantehene on 27th July 1970 at the age of 51. Barima Kwaku Adusei started life as a Building Inspector of Kumase Town Council from 1937 – 1940. He also worked with the Public Works Department and the Royal Airforce as Building Draughtsman and Surveyor from 1941 -1943. He again worked at the Asantehene’s Lands Office from 1943 – 1951. He became a Barrister at law in 1962 and commissioner for Communication in 1968. He was appointed Ambassador to Italy in 1970 but before he could take up the appointed, he was nominated to the highest position of the Asante Kingdom following the death of his uncle, Nana Osei Agyeman Prempeh II.
Nana Opoku Ware II became the King of Asante Kingdom when the once celebrated Asante Kingdom had been divided by party politics. Like his uncle Nana Osei Agyeman Prempeh II and being a diplomat , he had to steer his way through the turbulent state carefully. In his early years on the Golden Stool , he met challenges like struggle for the Presidency of the National House of Chiefs which had been the monopoly of Asantehene , and the dispute over allegiance of Brong – Ahafo chiefs to the Golden Stool. In the case of presidency of National House of Chiefs, Nana Opoku Ware II first served as the President of the house for two terms. After those members of the house passed a resolution for the amendment of the provision in the chieftaincy Act 370 of 1971 to enable him serve a third term. However, there were some chiefs who were agitating to ascend the presidential throne of the National House of Chiefs. Nana Opoku Ware II realised that it was proper that the Presidency rotates as desired by some of the chiefs. However he found out that , it was not customary for the occupant of the Golden Stool who was also the King over many paramount chiefs in Asante to come under a paramount chief whose status was equal to that of any of his paramount chiefs. He therefore stayed out of the race and out of the National House of Chiefs. This allowed his paramount chiefs the chance to vie for the post of the president of the National House of Chiefs. This yielded dividend and before his death , one of his paramount chiefs , Nana Oduro Numapau II , the paramount chief of Asumegya Traditional area had run two terms as the President of the National House of Chiefs (1992- 1998)
In Brong- Ahafo chieftaincy affair, the question at stake was why the Region was created. Was it for administrative convenience or to give independence from Asante rule?. While it has
been the belief of many that the Region was created for administrative convenience, the anti – Asante elements in the Region understood it to mean independence from Asante Traditional Authority. As such Otis not uncommon to get two chiefs in some of the towns , one owing allegiance to the Golden Stool and the other regarding himself as independent from Asante rule. There had been some provocative events which would have resulted in civil war between Asante Kingdom and some states in Brong- Ahafo Region , if Nana Opoku Ware II had not exercised restraint. In one of these instances , between 1981 and 1985, Nana Opoku Ware II elevated seven stools in Asante Region and sixteen in the Brong- Ahafo Region to paramountcy status . Ofuman stool was among the sixteen elevated in the Brong-Ahafo Region . Unfortunately the anti- Asante elements of Ofuman rose against the elevated chief of Ofuman , murdered him in cold blood and burnt his body. This gruesome murder sparked such anger that many people volunteered to join the army that Nana Opoku Ware II would raise to go and punish the perpetrators , but Nana Opoku Ware II in his usual calm pasture , after meeting with his chiefs, cooled them down and advised them not to advocate for more bloodshed. In the second instance When Nana Opoku Ware II elevated four stools in Brong- Ahafo Region to paramountcy status in 1996, the anti-Asante elements started attacking the supporters . The trouble was fuelled from Takyiman . The supporters were driven from their towns and were refused entry into Takyiman market . The result would have been civil war between Asante Kingdom and Takyiman state but Nana Opoku Ware II in his usual calm nature calmed his people down at a meeting with the chiefs held on 12th February 1996 and advised that ” Two wrongs do not make one right”
Since the problems had something to do with the stability of the country, after the first instance, the Government appointed a commission of enquiry to go into the case and report . The findings have not come out. Because of the peaceful way Nana Opoku Ware II resolved the Brong-Ahafo problems, the Anglican Church of Ghana conferred the title ” PRINCE OF PEACE” on Nana Opoku Ware II on 27th July 1995 when he celebrated his Silver Jubilee on the Golden Stool. The citation accompanying the award read “CONGRATULATIONS. The arch Bishop’s , Clergy and Laity of the Anglican Church wish to offer THE ANGLICAN PEACE PRIZE to you OTUMFUO OPOKU WARE II on the occasion of the Silver Jubilee of your enstoolment as the Asantehene in 1970. Indeed there were some provocations and conflicts in these years of your reign but through your strong Christian life of love and peace , you broke the powers of Hell and Evil to share your victory with your people. Your celebration theme of peace is like the Rainbow that influences the living condition of people. Indeed by your personal life-style , we have witnessed that a Christian can be a King and a King can be a Christian. We congratulate you for helping to establish Ghana National Association of Christian Chiefs and Queen Mothers .
Long live Otumfuo Opoku Ware II
Long live the Kingdom of Asante
Long live the Nation of Ghana
Rt. Rev. D. EDMUND YEBOAH
(Anglican Bishop of Kumase)
The position of Kumase as the centre of Ghana makes Kumase play host to people of different ethnic groups. Many of those who came to Kumase refused to go to their areas and remained
permanently in Kumase. Most of the strangers inhabitants have named the places they occupy with the names of their ethnic tribe e.g Anloga for Ewes in Kumase, Accra town for Gas of Kumase, Fante new town for Fantes of Kumase and Zongo for people of Northern Ghana and countries bordering the northern parts of Ghana . Each ethnic group had her chief or leader who is accepted at Asantehene’s palace as the leader of the group. During the reign of Otumfuo Opoku Ware II , he saw to it that all the ethnic groups lived peacefully with their neighbours and the Asante people . There were times when some Asante Nationals went to the states of some of the ethnic groups and were ill- treated but Otumfuo Opoku Ware II saw to it that their Nationals on Asante soil were not maltreated . He would advise his people against retaliation and always stated that ” Two wrongs never make one right” .
During the 1979 Revolution , some senior public officers were executed . Five out of the number were Asante Nationals. These were : General Acheampong , General Afrifa , Airforce Commander , Yaw Boakye, Justice Cecilia Koranteng-Addo and Justice Acheampong. In some countries, this would have been classified as FINE CASE to start ethnic troubles in the country, but Nana Opoku Ware II advised his subjects against retaliation . His reconciliatory character earned him another title” The Rainbow King” from the Anglican Church of Ghana for holding together different ethnic groups in Asante peacefully and protecting them even in the face of provocation. Another fact that earned him the title Rainbow King was how he steered the affairs of Asante Kingdom through the turbulent political scene of the country successfully . His reign saw the constant changes of the Government of the country. He was enstooled when the Progress Party (P P) of Dr. Busia was in power. This followed by Acheampong’s National Redemption Council (N R C) , Acheampong,s Supreme Military Council (S M C), Akuffo,s Supreme Military Council 2 (S M C 2) , Rawlingss Armed Forces Revolutionary ( A R F C), Dr. Liman’s People’s National Party ( P N P), Rawling’s National Defence Council ( P N D C) and Rawling’s National Democratic Congress(N D C). In effect Nana Opoku Ware II worked with eight different governments but he played his role as the father and counsellor for all the eight governments. He was not partisan and would not mince words when advising the various governments. He would praise when praise was due and would condemn when needed to do so . One such example was when he called a meeting of Asanteman Council in July 1983 and sent a petition to the PNDC government on Army and Police Brutalities.
On the political scene, Nana Opoku Ware II married National affairs with his duty as the custodian of the Golden Stool. He served as adviser to the various governments. He also played host to international figures who visited the country. In 1977, he received Her Royal Highness Princess Ann at the Manhyia Palace. Others who were received at the palace were: His Holiness Pope John Paul II, 1980 and Prince Edward in 1993. Otumfuo Opoku Ware II could also be described as the Cultural Ambassador of Ghana. In 1972, two years after his enstoolment as Asantehene , he was officially invited by the Birtish Government to tour the United Kingdom as guest of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. This tour strengthened the relationship between Ghana and Britain. In 1974 , Otumfuo Opoku Ware II was invited by the Italian Government and was the guest of the Government. In 1978 , he was in Romania as guest of the Romanian Government , His excellency Caecescu was the President of Romania. Otumfuo Opoku Ware II once led an official Ghana Government delegation to the Republic of IRAN during the Acheampong Regime and that led to the establishment of formal Diplomatic relations with the country . His visit led to the opening of Ghana Embassy in the Republic of IRAN and a vice versa (The opening of IRAN,S Embassy in Ghana) . He was the guest of Brazilian President in June
- He was also guest of Sa. Majesty de Moro Naba Baongo, Emprerer Demossi in Ouagadougou in 1979. Otumfuo Opoku Ware II travelled the length and breath of the world demonstrating the culture of Asante and Ghana in general . Otumfuo Opoku Ware II was the first Asante King to tour England and United States with his retinue , which demonstrated the pomp and pageantry of Asante Kingdom to the outside world. He opened the exhibition entitled ” Asante Kingdom of Gold” mounted by the American Museum of Natural History in New York USA in 1984. The visits of Great Britain and United States Of America brought pride and fame to the Asante Kingdom, Ghana and Africa . Now ,the African American can boast of rich culture in his ancestral homeland.
Back home , Otumfuo Opoku Ware II did a lot to fit the image of the Asante Kingdom . When he was enstooled as the King of Asante Kingdom, he first assigned himself the task of building a modern palace for the Asante Kingdom. He therefore built the present Manhyia Palace. His next target was the creation of environment for development . He sold the idea of development to his people by recognising the deeds of people who have contributed to the development of the Kingdom. He therefore created the Nkosuo stool for one Osei Nkwantabisa for the role he played in the development of the Asante Kingdom. He further charged the chief,s to creat the Nkosuo stool in their various states and honour those who help develop the state. Though he created the stool for Nana Osei Nkwantabisa,s clan family and his children , the various states modified this and created the stool for whoever helped to develop their states whether they were Asante Nationality or not. This created a sort of competition among the people , with the people being heard on the radio day in and out on the development projects being undertaken by individuals to uplift the life of their people. Other tribes in the Country too have created the Nkosuo stool in their regions and towns
Otumfuo Opoku Ware II , like Nana Opoku Ware I who came to consolidate the first Asante Confederacy started by Nana Osei Tutu , also contributed to the consolidation of the second Asante Confederacy started by his Uncle Nana Osei Agyemang Prempeh II . He fought for the establishment of a Medical School at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology . Other developments he embarked upon included the expansion of the Timber industry in Kumase in his Kingdom. He advised the Timber Companies to process the raw logs into plywood and veneer which brought about expansions of the Timber Industry. Apart from the Timber industry , many industries sprang up,during his time . Some of them included Guiness Brewery and GNTC Bottling Department which produce soft drinks for the Northern sector of the country. Another achievement of Otumfuo Opoku Ware II was the expansion of Asante Kingdom beyond his boundaries . He ascended on the Golden Stool when wars had ceased therefore he could not gain territories through the use of arms as his great uncle Nana Opoku Ware I did. However as a man with diplomatic skills , he adopted the diplomatic way of territorial expansion. Otumfuo Opoku Ware II encouraged Asante Nationals who lived in the various countries to form Asante Communities in the various countries and choose their chiefs who would solve the problems they encounter in those countries. After the formation of the communities , they were advised to let the government of those countries know of their existence so that they could contribute meaningfully to the development of their countries of abode and extend their gains also to the Asante Kingdom. Such Chiefs were recognised as Asante Ambassador of the various countries. Countries like United States of America ,Britain ,Canada , Belgium , Germany , France , and Holland have these organisation and their chiefs. Sometimes , after the Asante Nationals in a particular country had elected their chief, they called
for representative from Otumfuo Opoku Ware II to be present at the inauguration of their chief. The chiefs so appointed mobilise their people to come to help in cash or kind any development project embarked upon by Asante Kingdom.
Locally , Otumfuo Opoku Ware II was an apostle of decentralisation . He demonstrated this by the decentralisation of Asante administration . Here , he raised the stools of some of the chiefs to paramountcy status in his Kingdom to effect the smooth and easy running of the states. Nana Opoku Ware II came to meet 14 paramountcies in Asante Region . These were: Kumase , Mampong , Dwaben , Asumegya , Bekwai , Kokofu , Nsuta , Edweso , Offinso , Agona , Denyase , Asokore , Adanse and Kumawu. Between 1981 and 1985, Otumfuo Opoku Ware II elevated 7 more stools to paramountcy status to augment the number. Those elevated stools were : Agogo , Obogu , Tepa , Manso- Nkwanta , Ofoase , Bompata , and Asankare to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of his ascension of the Golden Stool.
In 1996, Otumfuo Opoku Ware II elevated 14 more stools to paramountcy status to bring up the number of paramount chiefs in Asante Region to 35. The stools he elevated were: Beposo , Kwaman , Domeabra , Dwansa , Asuboa , Kontenase , Kokofu- Asaman , Amoafo , Adankrannya , Sabronom , Mpasaso No 1 , Mamfo , Maaban and Gyadam. Otumfuo Opoku Ware II did not leave Brong-Ahafo behind . He also elevated some stools in Brong-Ahafo to paramountcy status too. It must be noted that before the creation of Brong-Ahafo Region , there were some paramount chiefs in the region who owed allegiance to the Golden Stool. These states were: Gyaman , Mo, Takyiman , Atebubu , Berekum , Wankyi , Dormaa-Ahenkro , Wam-Pamu , Nkoranza , Abease and Banda. However, with the creation of the Region , the paramount chiefs ceased attending the confederacy meeting . Otumfuo Opoku Ware II therefore elevated the stools of the following towns to paramountcy status: Mim , Sankore , Bekyem , Akyerensua , Yamfo , Nsokow , Gyapekrom , Goaso , Hwediem , Knyase No 1, Knyase No 2 , Akordie , Amanten , Sampa , Kukuom and Ofuman. In 1996, Otumfuo Opoku Ware II again elevated the following stools in Brong-Ahafo to paramountcy status and the stools are as follows: Tuobodom , Tanoso , Tanoboase and Buoyam.
On Education , Otumfuo Opoku Ware II established the Opoku Ware Jubilee Foundation which was charged with the soliciting of funds to cater for needy students in the Kingdom to enable them climb the academic ladder without financial constrains. He stated that the Asanteman scholarship scheme was in existence during the reign of Nana Osei Agyeman Prempeh II and it was that scheme that helped in the education of some of the prominent citizens of Asante Kingdom. He therefore, revived the scheme to boost the quest for higher education on Asante Land. On tourism too, Otumfuo Opoku Ware II converted the old Manhyia Palace which was the Palace for Nana Prempeh I and Nana Osei Agyeman Prempeh II into a Museum and commissioned it on 12th August 1995 . The Museum also was placed under Otumfuo Opoku Ware Jubilee Foundation to generate Founds for the work of the Foundation . The operation of the Museum has attracted many Tourist to the Asante Capital. The Museum wan the Regional Tourist Attraction award for 1997 , and the National Tourist Attraction award for 1998.
Otumfuo Opoku Ware II was able to achieve much during his 29 years rule as Asantehene( Asante King) because he did not discriminate when it came to seeking advice. He would invite nobles as well as commoners to his Palace and discuss problems with them and seek their advice in their solutions. However, to some Asante Nationals his open door policy which gave
him chance to all to visit Manhyia was misunderstood as being too liberal. Otumfuo Opoku Ware II was not all success and progress . He inherited one big problem which was chieftaincy problem . During the reign of Nana Osei Agyeman Prempeh II , statistics show that , Mampong stool experienced four destoolments , Offinso stool also four destoolments , Dwaben stool experienced four destoolments , Bekwai stool experienced four destoolments , Kontanase stool experienced three destoolments, Agona stool experienced three destoolments and Nsuta stool experienced two destoolments. The people expected him to have found antidote to the frequent destoolments in Asante area of jurisdiction , but this problem was tackled early enough.
Statistics show that during the reign of Otumfuo Opoku Ware II , Mampong stool experienced two destoolments , Kontanase stool experienced one destoolments , Nsuta stool experienced one destoolment and Bekwai stool experienced one destoolment. It was in the later years of his reign when he found out that chieftaincy problem was impeding the progress of the states that he started serious solution of the problem . States like Mampong , Adanse , Kokofu , Bekwai , Agona and Tepa had no chiefs. Other places like Tafo and Ankaase had chieftaincy disputes characterised by factional violence resulting in deaths. Other chieftaincy problems were pending at the National House of Chiefs judiciary committees . He Therefore started solving them state by state. He was able to get Mampong and Adanse cases resolved and chiefs were enstooled. He then tackled the Ankaase problem and resolved it . He again tackled Kokofu and Tafo cases. He was on the two cases when he was called to eternity leaving a tough legacy for his successor to address. The peaceful manner in which Nana Opoku Ware II was called to eternity proves that he deserved the title ” Prince of Peace” which was conferred on him by the Anglican Church.
On 25th February 1999, Nana Opoku Ware II sat in state for one of his chiefs, Asuonwinihene to swear the oath of allegiance to him. After that , he received a delegation of doctors who had called on him at his hall.
When all discussions were fInished and the delegation left, Otumfuo Opoku Ware II left the hall, walking to his bedroom for some rest . It was on his way that he stopped , breathed his last and called to eternity.
Nana Opoku Ware II was succeeded in April 1999 by his younger brother , Nana Osei Tutu II known in private name as Barima Kwaku Dua, a businessman and Managing Director of Transpomech Company Limited.