Last Thursday, April 26, 2018, marked 19 years of the coronation of Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II as the 16th occupant of the Golden Stool and Asanteman will be counting the achievements he has chalked up since then.
He succeeded Otumfuo Opoku Ware II, who died on February 25, 1999.
It was a momentous occasion on that day, April 26, 1999, when the then 49-year-old, riding in a palanquin and wearing the “batarikese,” the war-dress of the early Asante kings, entered a packed 60,000 capacity Baba Yara Stadium to rapturous cheers from Asantes and other well-wishers.
Before the coronation at the stadium, several rituals were performed in line with custom, including the swearing of the customary oath to the chiefs of the Kumasi Traditional Area at Dwabrem at the Manhyia Palace where he chose the stool name Otumfuo Osei Tutu II.
At Dwabrem, he held the “Mponponsuo,” (state sword) in his right hand, and with his kuntunkuni (black cloth) dropped to his waist, hailed the tradition and customs of his ancestors while pledging to follow the path they cut.
One of the early initiatives he undertook was the setting up of the Otumfuo Education Fund.
Having realised that financing education was a major challenge in his domain, the Asantehene instituted the scheme to complement government’s efforts to address the problem.
Today, thousands of young people, not only from Asanteman but also other parts of the country, have benefitted from the scheme, many of whom are working in responsible positions in Ghana and abroad.
In 2003 the World Bank, under its Promoting Partnerships with Traditional Authorities Project, gave a grant to the Asanteman Council for the implementation of community-based rural development projects and programmes.
It included the provision of educational infrastructure, fight against HIV and AIDS, income generation for the underprivileged and also enabled the Asantehene to sustain his cultural heritage programme.
It was the first time the World Bank collaborated with a traditional ruler to drive socio-economic change in the lives of his people.
The World Bank was impressed with the way various projects and programmes were implemented with the grant.
In recognition of Otumfuo’s immense contribution to education, particularly the institution of the Otumfuo Education Fund and his efforts to re-energise the chieftaincy institution, the University of Ghana conferred an honorary doctorate degree on him.
Chieftaincy disputes, which were a source of concern in Asanteman, were given serious attention when Otumfuo Osei Tutu ascended the Golden Stool.
He ordered parties to all disputes pending in court to withdraw them for settlement in his court.
This went a long way to bring peace to many communities.
To date, chieftaincy disputes, no matter how serious they are, are settled in the Asantehene’s court rather than the law courts where the process is usually antagonistic.
The Asantehene has also been tough on chiefs who illegally sell lands to the detriment of their people and have destooled a number of them to serve as a deterrent to others.
On illegal mining, he has constantly warned his chiefs not to meddle in it or face destoolment.
These and many other initiatives at home made his people confer on him the accolade “King Solomon”.
He has also mediated in other national landmark chieftaincy disputes such as the prevailing Dagbon chieftaincy matters.
In the past 19 years, the Asantehene has performed a number of international engagements where he projected Ghana as the best place to do business in Africa.
For instance, in August 2016, he gave a lecture on Africa’s democratic advances and development at the British Houses of Parliament in London where he spoke on Africa’s democratic path and the search for economic transformation.
Otumfuo Osei Tutu II was educated at the Sefwi Wiawso Secondary School and Osei Kyeretwie Secondary School (OKESS) in Kumasi and continued to study Accounting at the Institute of Professional Studies (IPS), now University of Professional Studies, Accra in 1971, before proceeding to the United Kingdom to enrol at the Kilburn Polytechnic in North-West London to pursue Accounting studies.
Two years later, he changed his programme of study and enrolled at the University of North London to read Human Resource Development and Public Administration.
He worked variously as a senior consultant with the Ontario Mutual Insurance Group in Toronto, Canada, and as an accounts officer at Oxo, a British food manufacturing firm.
He also joined the Manpower Services Commission attached to the Brent Council in North London, where he helped to develop and oversee projects to assist unemployed youth from deprived communities to get into viable employment.
Otumfuo Osei Tutu II returned to Ghana in 1989 to set up his own business. He, at the same time, acted as a representative of some reputable British and European companies in the mining sector.