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The Day Okyenhene “Cursed” Nkrumah.



The Day Okyenhene "Cursed" Nkrumah. 46



In the latter days of 1957, Okyenhene Ofori-Atta II appeared before a multitude gathered infront of his palace holding two eggs. One was an ancient egg brought from the stool room and the other, a very creepy looking egg, spoilt egg. Now, use your imagination.

Somewhere after independence, Ofori-Atta was destooled by an executive act. Prior to his “derecognition,” he was visited by Interior Minsiter Krobo Edusei with a message from government to henceforth stay out of politics.

Santehene Prempeh II was also called on by Krobo Edusei with the same message additionally hinting that the King had been and was being ill-advised by a few around him. This hint would prove fateful.

Both Monarchs issued public statements to that effect.

But Nkrumah was determined to stamp out or make the Institution irrelevant. To do that, the two most powerful Institutions, Asante and Akyem, were to be used as examples. The rest would fall in line or vanish consequently.

Besides, these institutions had aligned with the opposition. And herein lies the contradiction and insincerity of Nkrumah’s aims which were more political and personal than any need to stamp out an institution which he deemed antithetical to democracy. For Nkrumah would not go after chiefs who had supported the CPP.

Thus it wasn’t enough that the two Monarchs had “recanted” publicly, Nkrumah went on to destool Ofori-Atta II. But why not the Asantehene?

The Kukuruantumihene, who was the Adontenhene of Akyem Abuakwa and Pro-CPP, officially performed the rites of destoolment albeit disregarded all custom and tradition ie less than 30% of the Kingmakers were present.

The Joint Provincial Council -of chiefs ie future House of Chiefs- (JPC) appealed. A Committee of Enquiry was set up by Government which upheld the “derecognition.”

Ofori-Atta was to be exiled from Akyem land. And thus the Okyehene appeared before his nation holding two eggs that fateful day. He was eventually escorted out of Kyebi by a hundred police men into exile in Accra.

Over a hundred Akyem Abuakwa chiefs and Adikro were also destooled subsequently. And in their stead, pro-CPP chiefs installed.
For example, Nana Amoako-Atta IV, Ofori-Atta’s successor, was a staunch CPP.

With Akyem Abuakwa decimated, Nkrumah turned to Asante but with a different strategy.

For Nkrumah knew he could not depose Prempeh II without a fight and get the same results as witnessed in Akyem. Asante was still on the edge. The residue of the near civil war atmosphere in Asante from 1954 to 1956 still hung in the air. Three strategies were therefore employed: carve up Asante, the influencing of the Asanteman council and revenue.

The first strategy resulted in the Bono Ahafo region which was then known as Western Asante.

The second strategy was more systematic. The Asanteman Council ie Asantemanhyiamu is a democratic council. Democracy means votes. Votes means numbers.

First, most anti-CPP ACTIVIST chiefs were destooled. Then pro-CPP chiefs who were not paramountcys were elevated. For example, Offinsohene Wiafe Akenten II was destooled. So was the Dwabenhene who was succeeded by pro-CPP NANA DWABEN SEIWAA II. Effiduasehene was elevated to paramountcy. Duayawnkwanta was demoted.

All these “gerrymandering” were calculated to influence the Asanteman Council with Pro-CPP chiefs. And they were to attend Council meetings.

The third strategy was through the Ashanti Land Act which placed all Asante lands under the central government thus cutting off a primary source of revenue for the King and his chief.

In the end, Prempeh II at a council meeting told his chiefs to henceforth emulate the Queen of England who was above politics yet ruled with every party in power or government.

Prempeh II even begun to oversee the swearing-in of CPP installed chiefs. The King was resigned to “rule” with Nkrumah as the Queen ruled with Macmillan.

But Nkrumah was not done. He was about to deliver the coup de grace to Prempeh II. Remember the hint about “ill-advised” Krobo Edusei had given Prempeh II? The hint was about to bear fruit.

Nkrumah thus demanded that the Asantehene give up his linguist and founder of the National Liberation Movement, Baffour Akoto or the Asanteman Council would be desolved.

Prempeh humbly gave up Akoto who was sent to detention and then destooled in absentia.

Nkrumah had won. But had he?

In 1966, the NLC Decree 112 restored the status quo in the Chieftancy Institution.

Nana Ofori-Atta II died in 1974.