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Asante Kings of the Twentieth Century - Otumfuo Osei Tutu II (1999 - to date)

Otumfuo Osei Tutu II is the 16 th Asantehene, King of the Asante . He ascended the Golden Stool on 26 th April, 1999 . He is a direct descendant of the founder of the Asante Kingdom Osei Tutu I.

Born on 6 th May, 1950 and named Barima Kwaku Dua, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II is the youngest of the five children of Nana Afua Kobi Serwaa Ampem II, Asantehemaa (Queen mother of Asante ). From early childhood, Barima Kwaku Dua came under the tutelage of his Uncle, Oheneba Mensah Bonsu who had been enstooled as Hiahene in 1952.

Oheneba Mensah Bonsu, therefore, ensured that Barima Kwaku Dua benefited from a childhood of careful grooming in Asante traditions and statecraft ( the young royal was given his Secondary Education at Sefwi Wiawso Secondary School in the Western Region of Ghana) where for five years, his guardian was Nana Kwadwo Aduhene II, Omanhene ( Paramount Chief) of Sefwi Wiawso Traditional Area.

Barima Kwaku Dua returned to Kumasi in 1969 and enrolled at the Osei Kyeretwie Secondary School . He then moved to Accra in 1971 and was admitted at the Institute of Professional Studies , Legon for a course in Accountancy.

Two years later, he travelled to the United Kingdom and continued his Accountancy Studies at the Kilburn Polytechnic. He later attended the University of North London where he read Human Resource Development and Pubic Administration.

By the time he returned the Ghana in 1989 to establish his own business, Transpomech International ( Ghana ) Ltd., he had behind him a wealth of experience which he had gathered working as Senior Consultant with Mutual of Omaha Insurance Company of Toronto; Finance Officer at the British firm Oxo, in London; and as Personnel Administrator at the Manpower Services Commission attached to Brent Council in London.

Barima Kwaku Dua's nomination to succeed his late brother Otumfuo Opoku Ware II, as Asantehene, was received with universal acclaim in the Asante Kingdom and Ghana general. He ascended the Golden Stool with a natural gift of calm and radiance, which instantly inspires loyalty and motivates people round him. He learnt values of courtesy and tact in dealing with both his peers and subjects; he had grown up with a conviction that traditional leadership rests on a capacity to reconcile, mend, heal wounds and motivate people.

Otumfuo Osei Tutu II has won great admiration for the unique brand of leadership he has provided the people of Asante , in particular, and Ghana in general, since he assumed the high office of Asantehene and the enormous responsibilities that go with the position. Ever mindful of the importance of peace and stability to good governance, one of his first tasks was to encourage his people to seek the path of arbitration instead of litigation in numerous land and succession disputes that had plagued Asanteman for decades. This task, he has performed with great wisdom and tenacity of purpose, earning for himself remarkable respect among the people. The vision of Otumfuo Osei Tutu II encompasses education, health and economic development.

He set up the Otumfuo Education Fund to generate resources, effort to provide opportunities for quality Primary, Secondary, Tertiary and Vocational Education not only in his Kingdom, but also in Ghana generally. In 2000, he embarked upon a vigorous campaign to draw attention to the benefits of individual/group sponsorship of the education of orphaned children. Over the first five years, the Otumfuo Education Fund has benefited over 4,000 students at various levels of education.

It was his keen determination to enhance the quality of education of Ghanaians that he received the commendation of the Association of Commonwealth Universities, conferring on him the Symons Award in April, 2000.

Besides, five Universities including Glasgow University , University of Maryland , Eastern Shore , Essex Country College , University of Ghana Legon and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology have given him honorary Doctorate degrees. To crown it he has been appointed Chancellor of one of the most prestigious Universities in Africa – Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi .

Another initiative of Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, is the Health Fund he has established to pursue a basic health care plan whose laudable objectives include financial and material support for the reduction of maternal and infant mortality, Glaucoma and other eye diseases, Buruli Ulcer (which has become the bane of many rural dwellers in the country), as well as the eradication of Guinea Worm disease. In this direction, Otumfuo has already begun supporting Rotary Club's campaign to promote inoculation of children against the six killer diseases including polio.

He had also set up the Serwah Ampem Aids Foundation for children under the leadership of his wife, Lady Julia Osei Tutu to help children who have become victims of the HIV/AIDS Pandemic.

In his own initiative Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, secured a World Bank Project with the approval of the Government of Ghana. Entitled; ‘Promoting Partnership with Traditional Authorities Project;, it has thrown a challenge to our Traditional Leaders to demonstrate their capacity to use their own resources in response to financial support made available by the Government or the World Bank to help develop their communities.

Under the Project, new school, buildings have been built, old ones have been rehabilitated, and teachers residential quarters have been erected with facilities for potable water and electricity supply; HIV/AIDS and general health campaign in co-operation with the state agencies has be stepped up in the rural areas.

The Project has put our traditional leaders into a new learning process to lead their people in community development programmes, and has created awareness of the value of our cultural heritage, including art and artefacts, as well as our traditional court systems in conflict resolution.

Otumfuo's vision includes the setting up of an Asanteman Economic Revitalisation Plan to promote private and corporate investment in Local Industries, re-afforestation, and irrigation programmes. He has already extended invitation to all prospective investors to Ashanti , with a firm promise of easy access to land.

Otumfuo Osei Tutu II has brought peace and reconciliation to his Kingdom within the short span of five years that he has been in power. He has settled over 400 chieftaincy and land disputes: he has established a solid foundation for co-operation between tradition and modernism, by emphasizing the need for tradition to redefine itself in a rapidly changing world without losing its essence.

Since ascending the throne Otumfuo has been the official guest of many world dignitaries including, Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain , Queen Beatrix of Holland , Mr. Jim Wolfonnson President of the World Bank, Mr. Kofi Annan, U.N. Secretary General, President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, Mr. Nelson Mandela, Mr. Don McKinnon, Commonwealth Secretary-General, the President of Ethiopia, the Archbishop of Canterbury, President Alhaji Tejan Kabbah of Sierra Leone, President Muammar Al Quathafi of Libya and King Mohammed VI of Morocco.

He has also played host to heads of state including President Alhaji Ahmed Tejan Kabbah, Col. Muammar Alqathafi of Libya , Alpha Konare of Mali, Blaise Campoari of Burkina Faso , Lauren Gbagbo of Cote d'Ivoire . Other dignitaries are Messrs Jim Wolfonson, Kofi Annan, Dan McKinnon, Prince Al-Aweed of Saudi Arabia , Prince Alexandre of Netherlands , Head of World-Wide Ahmediyya Muslim Mission, Archbishop of Canterbury, King of Bafokeng of South Africa, President Mwanawasa of Zambia , other Statesmen, International Business Executives and high profile religious leaders and celebrities.

He has also addressed the International Cocoa Organization, London , the Plenary session of the Economic Commission for Africa , Addis Ababa and many business flora in South Africa , Europe and the United States , including the Distinguished Africa Address in Harvard University , and as Royal Guest of Honour to the 7 th Session of the Anyiam-Osigwe Lecture in Lagos .

He recently addressed staff and students of China Foreign Affairs University in China at the invitation of Chinese Peoples Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries.

Otumfuo Osei Tutu II stands tall as a visionary, a great leader of Asanteman, leading in the preservation of cultural heritage as well as combining modernism and tradition to promote the education, health, and economic development of his people.

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