There is nothing so obnoxious as aggressive arrogance. When an ignoramus puts on a cassock of ignorance and is then able to con and control people whom he then converts into zombies; the concoction can be toxic and putrid.
Every word that the ignoramus utters is then met with cheers and ululations of ‘preach on.’ Such is the modus operandi of latter day “Pastors” in Ghana. Most of whom traffic in lies, and adorn themselves with utterly fake titles, and fake education. But hey, to each his own. I’m not here to knock down “Pastors,” and their “Congregation.” My grandfather (a Jamaican Presbyterian Missionary), and my father, served as Pastors. I have street credentials in that field. They respected Kings and Authority. Like Jesus, they were born into royalty. They never knocked down ‘traditions.’
From about 1838 onwards, European missionaries visited the Asante Kingdom. One of them was Thomas Birch Freeman, a Methodist who visited Kumase several times. Rev. Riis of the Basel Mission also visited. Missionaries from Holland also visited. They all arrived to tell the people about their God (Whiteman’s God, or Oburonii Nyame).
These events reached a crescendo during the reign of Asantehene Kwaku Dua I, 1834-1867. He received them politely, and allowed them a hearing. Mind you Asantefuo had their own Religion. Their Supreme Being is called Onyankropon, which translates into English as the One Great God. Onyankropon is also referred to as ONYAME, which translates into English as “the one who fulfils” or the hunger tamer…. Onyame: Se wo Nya no a, na Wo amei.
According to Reverend Freeman’s own recollection in his book, he was preaching to some curious Asantes under the shade of a tree, when a leave fell on his Bible. Freeman picked it up, and asked the people, ‘who made this leave.” In unison, they people responded “Onyankropon made the leave.”
He then ask them where does this Onyame reside. Again, they responded, “Onyame lives in ESORO/EWIEM, which translates as the Sky above. Reverend Freeman remarked, “then, you already know God.” Case closed. He didn’t have to tell us. We already knew our Onyame. We worship Onyame. We lived under the protection of Onyankropon.
Successive Asantehene, Kofi Kaakari, 1867-1874; Mensa Bonsu, 1874-1884; Kwaku Dua III, aka Agyeman Prempe I, 1888-1931, all granted European missionaries access to Asanteman. The only caveat was that, their preaching must be done using the Asante language TWI, the better to understand, and monitor what the hell they were imparting to the people. Secondly, that they must respect our culture; customs, and traditions.
The Christian Missionaries refused to respect Asante Culture. After all, they had faced no such demands and restrictions in the Gold Coast Colony. That ended the Christian missionary effort in Asante Kingdom. Otumfuo Asantehene shut them down and shut them out. This insistence of Asantehene to accept Christianity on our own terms, led some ignorant people in the Gold Coast Colony to claim that “Asantefuo do not like school.” Tweaa, ignoramus. Do the Math. Go read Revered F.A. Ramseyer (Basel Missionary’s) book titled “Four Years in Ashantee.”
Now comes one Dag Heward Mills who operates within the fraternity that I call “Jesus Hustlers.” He is among the Bible Entrepreneurs, who have taken root in Ghana especially since the 1980s. Like the Missionaries of old, he has ignorantly unloaded a frontal attack on our Culture.
I want people to note and also understand that Dag Heward Mills did not attack Otumfo? per se. Rather, he attacked all Ghanaians. He sought to degrade and denigrate the bedrock of our traditions, customs, and therefore, of our very being. He assaulted the Chieftaincy Institution, cornerstone institution of the Ghana tapestry. The One who is recognized as the epitome of that institution is Otumfuo Asantehene. The One acknowledged as the Symbol of the institution is Otumfuo Asantehene.
Thus, in targeting Otumfuo, Heward Mills is attacking ALL other Chiefs in Ghana. So, why has the National House of Chiefs remained silent. Perhaps for historical reasons,. Some of them are probably elated, and clapping their bedecked hands. Not that we care about their deafening silence.
There’s been universal condemnation of Heward Mills. I have seen and glanced responses that seek to answer and provide Heward Mills with a laundry list of Otumfuo’s “accomplishments.” I find that laughable and tawdry. What is the passing mark of that. We shouldn’t be playing to the fools gallery.
Even if we accept Heward Mills claim that the Audio was made 16 to 10 years ago (I believe that is correct based on the time line), it still does not exonerate him from his foolishness. The dog did not eat Heward Mills homework. He ought be smart enough to know that Otumfuo’s resources were taken over by the v\central government some 120 years ago. When was the last time Heward Mills paid taxes to anyone. It is simply asinine to blame Otumfuo Asantehene for the underdevelopment of the Nation. He doesn’t control your Treasury. Direct your attention to the central government.
By the time he parroted his falsities and outright lies, Heward Mills was very much aware that Otumfuo had established the Scholarship Fund, that provided academic scholarships and bursaries to needy students irrespective of ethnicity..
He was aware that the popularity and success of the scheme, had inspired and encouraged private individuals, Firms, and even some Pastors to emulate what Otumfuo had started.
Heward Mills was very much aware of the impact of Otumfuo Asantehene, a few years after his enstoolment in 1999. Heward Mills was aware that the government of Ghana had acknowledged Otumfuo as a peacemaker, and had appointed him at the head of a Committee of Eminent Chiefs to resolve the thorny Dagbon Skin crisis.
What the evangelist baby with sharp teeth callously did, was to close his mind to the truth and reality, and then nonchalantly unleash his childish tantrums made up of lies and baseless insinuations. He deserves no list of Otumfuo’s accomplishments. After all, the fool has said in his heart that there is no Otumfuo.
He claims that Ghana has the “most useless Chiefs.” A little education will aver to the ignorant baby with sharp teeth, and afford him some knowledge, and erudition on how Otumfuo Asantehene is not only USEFUL, but remains the precolonial authority, still relevant in the post-colonial polity. He has accomplished much, with the little that he has.
In 1894, Asantehene Prempeh I, laid out a blueprint for the development and transformation of the independent Asante Kingdom. He intended to construct Railways; build Waterways by dredging River Pra, River Offin to make them accessible to Steamers as onward transport to the coast. Heward Mills probably has never heard of that.
The blueprint of Otumfuo Prempeh I included the construction of hospitals and schools. Otumfuo also wanted to modernize Gold Mining, set up Sawmills, and modernize the Timber sector. By 1894 Rubber and Palm Oil production from the Asante Kingdom had made Britain the leading producer of those commodities in the Word. The agriculture business would also be enhanced and production increased. The automobile had not been developed yet, but foot roads were to be widened for traders journeying to Axim, Accra, Elmina Banda; Sampa; Bontuku; Mopti (Mali), etc., freer access to conduct business. Heward Mills and his lame ducks did not know that.
In a nutshell, Otumfuo Asantehene had the blueprint for the economic transformation of Asante Kingdom, from an agrarian society to an industrialized one, at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, and at the turn of the 20th century. Japan, China, countries in Eastern Europe, Russia, and others were at the time also laying out plans for the ‘technology transfer’ afforded by the nascent Industrial Revolution. Dag Heward Mills did not know that, either.
There was an emerging Asante Civil Service which was started during the administration of Asantehene Mensa Bonsu, staffed by educated Asantes and hired Europeans. We were on course. There was Law, Order, Good Governance, and Accountability. A Police Service had even been set by Otumfuo Mensa Bonsu mainly with cashiered Hausa recruits. The British had brought the Hausa from Sokoto and Kano in Nigeria to help fight Asante. Some of them settled in Asante after their service. This is how the Kumase Zongo started. New cash crops like Cocoa and Cofee were in the horizon. Otumfuo Prempeh I had plans. And he also knew how to finance our projects.
I could go on, and on. If Heward Mills were aware of how relevant and up-to-date Otumfuo Asantehene is, he would be better informed, and could have saved himself from embarrassment, and sacrilege.
How was Asante going to pay for all those projects. Simple. We had Gold, Timber (all in abundance), Rubber, and Palm Oil production, as well as fertile farm suitable for Agriculture.
In late 1894, Otumfuo Prempeh dispatched an Asante delegation to solicit investors in Denmark and Holland, and Britain. The delegation was led by Ohenenana John Owusu Ansa, grandson of Asantehene Osei Bonsu. He had attended college in England, and was quite familiar with the terrain, and the psyche of Europeans vis-à-vis Africans.
In London, Owusu Ansa was prevented from meeting potential investors, and insurmountable roadblocks were put in his way. In 1895, Joseph Chamberlain, the Colonial Secretary declared in the House of Commons, that “Asante independence was an intolerable nuisance.” They wanted our Gold, and all our abundant natural resources for themselves. Heward Mills didn’t know that.
In 1996, the BBC did a documentary on the centenary of the exile of Asantehene Prempe I. The Actor who played John Owusu Ansa said that the ship that he and the delegation traveled on the return journey in 1895, was the same ship that brought General Robert Baden Powell and his soldiers to the Gold Coast to fight Asante.
Otumfuo Prempeh I, surrendered in January 1896, to avoid another destructive war. On the trip to the coast, after crossing River Pra, they met British miners at Assin Praso. The British were on their way to Obuasi. This is how Ashanti Goldfields started, in 1896. With Nana Prempeh safely out of Asanteman, the British were free to take our land, and our resources. From then on Asanteman resources have remained firmly in the grip of the government of Ghana, and used to develop Ghana since 1896.
In 1946, Asantehene Prempe II was invited to Accra to preside over the promulgation of the Gold Coast (Burns) Constitution which merged the administration of ASANTE and Gold Coast. Upon his return to Kumase, Otumfuo Prempe II established Prempe College, Kumase Central Hospital (now Okomfo Anokye Hospital), Kumase College of Technology, now KNUST. He established Opoku Ware Secondary School, laid the foundation for Asante Youth Secondary School (started by Asante Youth Association) in 1954, and now known as Asanteman Secondary School.
In 1947, the British decoded to establish a university in Ibadan, Nigeria to cater for all the four British colonies in West Africa. Gold Coast leaders wanted one of their own. The British countered that if they could raise three hundred thousand pounds, they could have a university built in Accra. Dr. J.B. Danqua and others journeyed to Oseikrom to seek funds from Asantehene Prempe II. Nana Prempe put a levy on every load of Cocoa produced in Asanteman (Asante and later Bono-Ahafo Regions.). Otumfuo Prempe II raised about Eight Hundred Thousand Pounds. This is how the University of Ghana got started. Akuafo Hall of Residence was named after the Cocoa Farmers who made Legon possible. Heward Mills absolutely has no knowledge of this.
Asantehene Prempeh II, also set up the Asanteman Cocoa Scholarship Fund. Kwame Nkrumah forced him to abolish it. President Nkrumah renamed it Cocoa Marketing Board Scholarship. And, people who have never seen a Cocoa tree have all benefited from that, to the disadvantage of actual Cocoa farmers children. Dag Heward Mills probably is unaware of this.
Not only is Dag Heward Mills arrogant and disrespectful, He betrays complete ignorance. His mention of the ancient Israel King Solomon as a benchmark is totally uncouth. People referred to Otumfuo Osei Tutu as “King Solomon” because he showed wisdom in judgement akin to that of old King Solomon. When the King Solomon refence started a few weeks after his enstoolment in 1999, Otumfuo dissociated himself from that. Not because he dislikes Solomon; rather, he is OSEI TUTU ABABIO. He reflects the wisdom of Osei Tutu Opemsuo, a thoroughly Asante innate trait which needs no validation by being linked to foreign objects.
But it was the baby with sharp teeth claim that he saw a statue of “King” Voltaire in France that nearly got me falling off my chair with laughter. This arrogant ignorant brat, who dismissively talked down Authority, has no knowledge of French History. Voltaire was NOT a king of France. He was a commoner, a member of the Third Estate. A brilliant philosopher whose writings contributed the French intellectual movement known as The Enlightenment. He built NO schools or anything, other than his house. The Lycee Voltaire was built in 1890 and named after him. Voltaire himself died in 1778.
The statue he claims to have seen with a list of deeds, is probably a statue of someone else. Voltaire was a great mind. But he was also a Racist; anti-Religion; anti-Semitic, but not a king. If Voltaire was a King, Dag Heward Mills would unemployed. He hated Religion. In the wake of international demonstration decrying Racism following the police killing of George Floyd in the USA, Voltaire’s name cropped up. There’s an ongoing debate to take down his statues in France.
I leave Dag Heward Mills with just one Voltaire quote: “Common sense is not so common.” And, one quote from the street: SHUT THE F… UP. Concentrate on defrauding your flock with your Bible. We have no qualms with that.
By Sankofa Asante