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Asante Kings of the Twentieth Century -Sir Nana Osei Tutu Agyeman Prempeh II (1931 - 1970) KBE, OOV

After the difficult and turbulent reign of Prempeh I, Kwame Kyiretwie was enstooled after the death of Prempeh I initially as Kumasihene and later as the first "official" Asantehene in the Twentieth Century, with the stool name Nana Osei Tutu Agyeman Prempeh II. Kwame Kyiretwie was born in 1892 to Nana Abakoma, daughter of Nana Yaa Akyaa, Queen of Asante, and Okyeame Kwaku Owusu of Ejisu. Legend has it that on the day he was born a lion appeared in Kumasi and was caught, hence the name Kyiretwie. He was employed at the Kumasi Officer's Mess in 1905 for two years, where he obtained funds to attend Kumasi Methodist School from 1907 to 1915 and then the government school in Kumasi .

As a young man he played an active part in the social life of his people. He took particular interest in football and singing and became a chorister at the Methodist church. He was also a founding member of the Asante Kotoko Society which played a leading role in the repatriation of Prempeh I from the Seychelles .

In 1931 he was installed as Kumasihene. In that same year he imme­diately began to work vigorously for the restoration of Asante Confederacy which was eventually accomplished in 1935. Accordingly his status was raised from that of Kumasihene to Asantehene. This was one of his greatest achievements.

Other Achievements During his reign he managed to get large parts of Asante lands, which had been taken over by the British, restored to the Golden Stool. He also established friendly relations between Asante and the other states in Ghana .

In 1937 he was honoured by His Majesty the King of England with the insignia of Knight of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire . In August 1965, he was decorated with the personal gold medal of His Holiness, Pope John. President Tubman of Liberia also decorated him with the Humane Order of African Redemption in 1968.

During his reign many schools and colleges were constructed; and he also gave a large tract of land for the construction of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. In 1969, the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi , awarded him an honourary degree of Doctor of Science. On September 30th 1969, the Government of Ghana conferred the Order of the Volta on him and a month later he was made President of the National House of Chiefs and again in the same month, elected to the Council of State. It was during the reign of Prempeh II that the Kumasi Cultural Centre was constructed. He actively partici­pated with other Asante chiefs and the educated elite in the quest for inde­pendence. Their quest for a federal system of government led to a protest movement, which resulted in violent confrontation with the CPP. However, when the CPP won the election, the king co-operated with the new government in the interest of peace and national unity prevailed. "

Prempeh II believed in traditional values and devoted himself, to the study of his people. He at all times tried to uphold the dignity, pomp and pageantry that should characterise the institution of chieftaincy. He was an authority in Akan constitutional and historical matters. Backed by his knowledge, Prempeh II administered customary law and justice with fairness, thoroughness and splendour. His court in Manhyia re-established itself as the great seat of learning in Akan history, tradition and culture.

Otumfuo Sir Agyeman Prempeh II was a man with a good sense of humour, and the greatest generosity. He received visitors with open arms and shared his experiences and knowledge about the rich Asante customs, traditions and history with them. His integrity, sincere devotion, cordial sympathy, comprehensive knowledge, authority and his unequalled expe­rience in chieftaincy and traditional matters earned him acclamation as a fountain of wisdom to all people. He died at the age of 78 years at the Manhyia Palace , Kumasi in May 1970.

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