It was a very colorful ceremony at Akropong -Akuapim– The traditional capital of the Akuapeman and the Akuapim North Municipality of the Eastern Region on 5th December 2017, when the Queen mother of the Okuapeman Traditional Area, Nana Afua Nketiaa Obuo II together with Nana Kwesi Omenako II the Asonahene of the Okuapeman Traditional Area and the Adum Hene -Nana Addo payin
followed the due process to install a new Okuapehene.
The candidate was in the name of Fredrick Kwesi Akuffo giving credence to the fact that Akwapims are noted for their calm and civil co-existence.
Okuapeman has a great opportunity to demonstrate to the rest of the country and the world at large that it is more united, has fellow-feeling, orderliness and respect for authority and due process. Indeed, Okuapeman has the opportunity to solidify its reputation as “home of discipline”.
The tension and anxiety this time round was when the Bamuhene arrogated powers to himself and single handedly also tried installing a second candidate, Nana Kwesi Ohene Kessieh, who is decorated with tattooed arms to waist as the next occupant of the sacred seat.
If installed, this would be a radical shift from the immediate past Omanhene, the late Oseadeeyo Addo Dankwa III, who was installed the Paramount Chief of the Akuapem Traditional Area in 1974 at the age of 44 and reigned continuously for 41 years before passing on in August 2015.
The late King of the Akuapem Traditional Area occupied the scared seat of Akuapem Asona, one of the seven major Akan clans – for 41 years. He is, therefore, reputed to be the longest reigning Okuapehene since the formation of the Akuapim State.
But the Bumuhene with no locus in Okuapeman tried defying the time-tested tradition of disqualifying royals ‘tainted’ by scars and marks on the skin.And were defiant and insisting on imposing a young candidate with tattoos on the body, which is considered a sacrilege and forbidden in the traditional area. Who has been disqualified?
Per the tradition and norms it’s the queen mothers role is to appoint an Okuapehene as tradition demands. A 1974 Supreme Court ruling (Nana Addo Danquah III vrs Kwesi Akuffo) which mandates her and the Asona Hene to name a candidate for consideration after consultations with the Royal Sakyabia House.Which they did.
The said Supreme Court ruling also gave a road map for the nomination and installation of a new Okuapehene (upon the death of Nana Addo Danquah), directing that the succession goes to the royal Sakyiabia House, which then nominates the successor to the Okuapehemaa.
According to the road map, the Okuapehemaa would, subsequently, inform the kingmakers that they now have a legitimate
candidate for consideration. All these process she followed.
But this is not because of the usual controversy and bitter litigation over royal lineage of the contesting candidates and the legitimacy of the royal families vying for the new Okuapehene. Disrespecting what the Okuapehemaa has already done.
Some traditionalists in the area have been explaining that the process of appointing and enstooling a chief say has been characterized by dispute over the past 100 years.
Once a stool or skin becomes vacant, greed and self-interest take the better part of the kingmakers/elders (the very people who should know better) and we see them slapping truth in the face, side-stepping custom, tradition and laid down process which end up creating confusion on which and from which they gladly feed at the expense of peace and development of their communities.
That is what is happening in Akropong now. Per rotational basis based on the announcement of the demise of the Okuapehene, three royal houses – Nketia, Amma Ogyaa and Sakyiabea – of Akropong clothed with the royal lineage to choose and install the successor.
Currently, it’s the turn of the Sakyiabea royal family to choose the next Okuapehene. This, everybody in Okuapeman accepts.
The current controversy has been ignited by not only the choice of the next Omanhene. There’s also the lingering issue of Abrewa Tia.
The Abusaupayin of the Sakyiabea royal families, Nana Obuobisa Newman, of Akropong, resigned his position during the reign of the late Okuapehene, Oseadeeyo Addo Dankwa lll. Soon after the death of the late chief, he came back to saying his mandate was not accepted by the late chief so he is still the Abusuapayin.
Kwesi Akuffo is the biological the son of the Abrewtia Georgina head of (House of Mastrich )who served the late Okuapehene.
The Akuapem paramount cry has been characterized by strife and dissension since 1907. Records at the National Archives indicate that in 1895 when Nana F.W. Kwasi Akuffo took over the mantle from his uncle, he struggled to rule until he gave way to Nana Owusu Ansah in October 1907, who also had a difficult tenure till 1914 when he bowed out.
Nana Ofori Kuma II took over in 1914 from his elder brother, Nana Owusu Ansah, and faced similar internal and external wrangling till he bowed out eventually in June 1919.
For four years, there was no king in Akuapem; it was not because there was no qualified candidate but because different groups of Osiahene had their interests. Litigation and dissension followed.
By: Maxwell Okamafo Asamani Addo