The Egyptians discovered gold in the Nile River as long ago as 5000 BC, according to the Minerals Council of Australia. The metal was considered divine and indestructible. The royal tomb was called the House of Gold; the Sun God was known as the Mountain of Gold; and the Pharaohs became the Golden Horus. The Egyptians believed ingesting gold could purify the body, mind, and spirit.
Research has also highlighted that for centuries, the Chinese believed gold could cure or prevent everything from smallpox to measles. Some rural villagers in China still cook their rice with a gold coin to replenish the minerals in their bodies. Apparently, scientists have affirmed that gold is one of the many elements that make up the human body. Gold flows through the human veins, although in very small quantities, perhaps to avoid human harvesting. God is a genius!
The weight of gold, or purity, is measured in karats. A high karat signifies the high purity of gold. 24-karat gold is 100 per cent pure gold. And such is the purity of the achievements of Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, the King of Ashanti, and perhaps the reason the Bank of Ghana approved and issued a 24-karat gold coin to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the King. I wish I had one. Ofori Attah Tomtom must read this.
As we mark the ’24-karat golden years’ of Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, I cannot help but reflect on the remarkable statement made by President Nana Akufo-Addo, that Otumfuo has served not only Asanteman but the Ghanaian people and Africa as a whole with his visionary leadership, selflessness, and respect for people, whether they were his subjects or not. In confirmation of the King’s selflessness and abiding service to Ghana, former President John Mahama recounted how Otumfuo was instrumental in Ghana’s effort to secure an Extended Credit Facility from the IMF in 2016 to strengthen the economy. He noted that in 2012, upon request from his government, Otumfuo agreed to travel to the United States to negotiate with the IMF through his institutional contacts with the World Bank, which, therefore, prepared the path for the country to qualify for the Extended Credit Facility.
Earlier, former President John Agyekum Kufuor extolled the King for his contribution to Ghana’s exit from the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative, at a time when the IMF was hesitant about Ghana’s qualification. Former President Kufuor stated that the King persuaded the IMF and prevented the country from being taken out of the programme.
Recently, the former Minister of Education and current Minister of Energy, Dr Mathew Opoku Prempeh, narrated how the King used his position to secure $174 million in financial support for Ghana’s educational sector when the World Bank was reluctant to release the funds. He stated, “I asked the Asantehene, who was about to visit the World Bank in the United States, to intervene on our behalf, and consequently, the funds were released. Ohene aye ade3, na y3npre no! (The King has done well, so let’s applaud him.)
An American businessman and writer, Max dePree, once said the first responsibility of a leader is to define reality, and scholar Warren Bennis also added that leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality. Upon his assumption as King of Asante in 1999, Otumfuo first confronted chieftaincy and land disputes in his own territory. He resolved chieftaincy and litigation cases that had lagged for several years. A typical case was the Effiduase traditional dispute, which had dragged on for 23 years. Other chieftaincy cases in Bekwai, Kokofu, and Akwaboah were solved in record time.
‘Charity begins at home’ is a popular quotation from Thomas Fuller, but the original quote was “Charity begins at home but should not end there”. It is, therefore, not surprising that the King extended his mediation and arbitration skills to solve disputes outside of his jurisdiction. Former President ‘Agyewodin’ Flight Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings, in a tribute to the King, wrote: “For over a decade, Otumfuo has worked tirelessly in partnership with Yagbonwura, Tuntumba Boresa Sulemana Jakpa I, and Nayiri, Naa Bohogu Abdulai Mahami Sheriga, to resolve the complex Dagbon crises. The processes leading to the enskinment of a new Yaa Naa are a clear manifestation of the virtues that His Majesty possesses as our celebrated King’.
On his part, the Overlord of Dagbon, Yaa Naa Abubakari Mahama II, noted “Your Majesty, we cannot overemphasise our gratitude to you for the gift of peace you have presented to the people of Dagbon, and I shall commit the rest of my active life, be it long or short, to unite Dagbon and work towards everlasting peace, progress, and prosperity for the people”.
Possibly, this singular feat is the paramount motivation for which the Africa Premier Leadership Award bestowed the title “Pillar of Peace” on His Majesty in recognition of the extraordinary role he played in restoring peace to Dagbon, among others.
Ohene aye ade3, na y3npre no!
As world leaders adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in a historic UN summit in 2015 to mobilise efforts to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities, and ensure inclusive and equitable education, Otumfuo established the Otumfuo Education Fund in 1997 to enhance access to quality education through the provision of scholarships to needy but brilliant children in Ghana. Over 400,000 children had benefited from the fund by 2019. Besides, the King instituted an award scheme in 2009 to motivate and recognise the commitment of teachers and non-teaching staff of the Ghana Education Service who, in the course of their duty, go through challenging conditions in remote and deprived areas. Every year, 100 teachers are selected from all 16 regions of the country to receive an award.
Ohene aye ade3, na y3npre no!
W. Rodney, in 1969, wrote that before the slave trade began at the end of the 17th century, gold was the lever of power in the budding Ashanti Kingdom. The founder of the kingdom, Osei Tutu I, made gold mines royal possessions. He also made gold dust the circulating currency of the empire. In the 1700s, the economy of the Ashanti Empire largely depended on the gold trade, while the people mined responsibly, protecting water bodies and the environment.
Today, according to the Ghana Extractive Industries and Transparency Initiative, large acres of land in the Ashanti and Central regions have been devastated by galamsey operators and, to some extent, small-scale miners. Various governments’ strategies have not been able to succeed in flushing out illegal small-scale miners in the country. The expose and counter-exposure between the Jubilee House and Professor Frimpong Boateng, former Environment Minister and chairman of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining, indicate clearly that all is not well in the fight against illegal mining.
Therefore, His Majesty, through the Commemorative Gold Coin Project, is instituting measures for the formation of the Asanteman Task Force Against Illegal Mining to restore sanity through responsible gold mining.
Ohene aye ade3, na y3npre no!
The accomplishments of the King are many and beyond the capacity of space, and I wish every journalist had the opportunity to travel with the King to cover his events. Mine has occurred many times, but the most profound trip was the journey to a country situated in the Indian Ocean, Seychelles. The King was the guest of honour for the Fifth Annual Carnaval International de Victoria. The trip was super colourful and memorable. In the next episode, I will share with you my historical version of the King’s visit to the Seychelles. For now, I am still looking for more space to highlight more achievements in the 24-karat golden years of Otumfuo Osei Tutu II. King of Kings ay3 ade3 na y3npr3 no… yeeeeee!
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