All is set for the royal mega anniversary in Kumasi tomorrow when the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, marks 15 years of his enthronement.
For Asanteman, and indeed many others who have religiously followed Otumfuo Osei Tutu II’s reign as Asantehene, celebrating the period of progress and prosperity on the Golden Stool with pomp and circumstance is deserving of the 64-year-old king.
Over the years, Otumfuo Osei Tutu has demonstrated what chieftaincy is all about in the modern age.
That is why an electrifying atmosphere dominated by rich culture awaits all who will be part of the celebration of the Akwasidae Kese to climax the anniversary.
President to attend
The President, Mr John Dramani Mahama, who returned from the Ashanti Region just a week ago after a three-day working visit, is returning to Kumasi to grace the occasion as the Special Guest of Honour.
The President has been an admirer of Otumfuo Osei Tutu’s industry and his presence will enrich the programme.
One of the biggest attractions of the day will be the parading of the much-revered Golden Stool (known in Asante as Sika Dwa Kofi) in public.
The stool, believed to have been commanded from the heavens by the great priest, Okomfo Anokye, on a Friday (hence the name Kofi), provides enough history to attract thousands to witness the grandiose celebration.
According to history, the stool, covered with unadulterated gold, landed on the laps of Opemsuo Osei Tutu, the founder of the Asante Kingdom, on a Friday when Okomfo Anokye commanded it to fall from the skies.
That was in the 17th century and the period marked the birth of the Asante Kingdom, as that was the time all the fragmented units came together to form a common kingdom.
Revered as it is, the Golden Stool never touches the ground. It always sits on a piece of blanket, as it is believed that when it touches the ground, the power of the Asante Kingdom will crumble.
Asantes have, over the years, fiercely and religiously guarded the stool, to such an extent that even the British colonial army, with all the arsenals at its disposal, could not get to it during the famous Yaa Asantewaa War of 1900.
While it travels all the way from the Manhyia Palace to the Baba Yara Stadium tomorrow, carried by a member of the Nkonwasoafo Division (Royal Stool carriers) and heavily guarded by Royal guards supported by state police, it will provide a spectacle to behold.
Journalists and tourists
Scores of tourists and international journalists have already arrived in Kumasi, eager to be part of the grand occasion.
Reports indicate that some 100 international journalists have registered with the Manhyia Palace to cover the event.
The celebration also provides an opportunity for tourists to taste the rich culture of Asante. Notwithstanding the fact that modernity has crept into the chieftaincy institution, several important traditions and customs have been kept intact.
Ban on funerals
Typical with Asante custom and traditions, over the last two months funeral rites have been prohibited in Asanteman, which encompasses the entire Ashanti Region, as well as parts of the Brong Ahafo and Volta regions where the chiefs owe allegiance to the Asantehene.
The burial of the dead is, however, exempted.
The ban will be lifted after the grand occasion.
Security will be very tight around the city.
The police say they are deploying about 2,000 officers and men in the city to ensure security for the celebrants.
The journey to the stadium
Otumfuo Osei Tutu, who, as tradition demands, will be adorned with pure gold, will sit in a palanquin from Adum to the Baba Yara Stadium at Amakom.
The journey to the stadium will be slow, and as he rides in the palanquin, he will dance to fontonfrom, as well as be treated to rhythmic appellations, while the horn blowers also do their own thing to add flavour to the whole procession.
The name Osei Tutu
The saying that there is something in a name typifies what the name Osei Tutu stands for.
Taking his name from his direct descendant and founder of the Asante nation, Opemsuo Osei Tutu, the current Asantehene exemplifies the industry and resourcefulness of the former.
Perhaps the only difference between the two is that while Opemsuo Osei Tutu gave a better part of his reign to wars of conquest, the current Asantehene has waged wars against poverty, ignorance and all the negatives that draw back progress.
That has resulted in initiatives, including the Otumfuo Education Fund, which has benefitted thousands of brilliant, needy students, and the Serwaa Ampem AIDS Foundation, headed by his better half, Lady Julia Osei Tutu.
About three years ago, an epoch-making event took place at the Manhyia Palace when the first Otumfuo Teachers Awards were held, at which 10 teachers in deprived areas in each of the 10 regions were honoured by the Asante King.
Since then, the awards, which are meant to entice teachers to accept posting to deprived communities, have been organised every year.
The expected assembly of chiefs from other parts of the country and beyond will lend credence to Otumfuo’s acclaimed image as a man of peace and a unifier.
He has worked hard to bridge the differences that existed between Asanteman and some stools.
A typical example is the peace that prevails now between the Techiman Omanhene and the Asantehene. This was on display recently when a delegation from the Techimanhene went to Manhyia to show solidarity with the Asantehene after rumours that Otumfuo was dead turned out to be false.
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