Opoku Ware II

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Opoku Ware II
Asantehene of Asanteman; Kumasehene of Kumasi
Ashantehene.jpg
Opoku Ware II
king of the Asante Kingdom
Reign6 July 1970 – 25 February 1999
Coronation6 July 1970
PredecessorPrempeh II
SuccessorOtumfuo Nana Osei Tutu II
Born(1919-11-30)30 November 1919
Kumasi, Ashanti Protectorate
Died26 February 1999(1999-02-26) (aged 79)
Kumasi, Ashanti
SpousePrincess Victoria Opoku Ware
IssueNana Osei, Gifty (1950-2018) and Leslie Poku
Names
Otumfuo Opoku Ware II
House Oyoko Dynasty

Otumfuo Opoku Ware II (30 November 1919 – 26 February 1999) was the 15th Asantehene. He succeeded his uncle Osei Tutu Agyeman Prempeh II in 1970 and ruled for 29 years before passing away in February 1999.[1][2]He was succeeded by Otumfuo Nana Osei Tutu II [3]

Early life and education[edit]

The future monarch was born under the name Jacob Matthew Poku in Kumasi the capital of Ashanti, then the Ashanti Protectorate, in 1919 into the Ashanti royal family. At the time, Prempeh I was Asantehene, as the Ashanti Emperor-King is called, before being succeeded by his nephew Prempeh II in 1931. Prempeh II in turn was Opoku Ware II's uncle, making the boy one of several candidates to succeed him, as to be decided by the Queen-mother, or Nana Asantehemaa. After attending Anglican school, Poku went to Adisadel College in Cape Coast. After working in the public sector for a while, in the 1950s, he moved to the United Kingdom to study law at the Middle Temple and was admitted to the bar in 1962.[4]

Career[edit]

Then, he worked as a building inspector and later for the Public Works department from 1937 to 1943. After that, he was trained as a surveyor and worked on the Kumasi Traditional Council Hall and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.[4]

Returning to the Gold Coast now Ghana after being called to the bar in 1962, he worked in the capital Accra first and then set up a firm in Kumasi. Through his success as a lawyer, Poku was able attain a great respect in Ashanti politics.[5] Following the coup that overthrew Ghana's first president, Kwame Nkrumah in 1966, the National Liberation Council military government appointed Poku to their executive board as Commissioner of Communications (equivalent to minister of communications) in 1968.[4]

Reign[edit]

In 1970, he was named ambassador to Italy, but shortly thereafter his uncle, the King of the Ashanti, Prempeh II, died. Due to his legal and political successes, he was chosen to succeed his uncle and enthroned as the Asantehene. As King, Opoku Ware II maintained a good relationship with Ghana's President Ignatius Acheampong, and later Jerry Rawlings.[5][4]

He focused on trying to implement the traditional justice of the Ashanti tribe, rather than becoming involved in national politics.[4] Much like his predecessors, he rarely appeared in public and usually had a spokesman represent him. When he did appear, he was as tradition demands covered in gold and wore an intricately woven kente cloth.[5]

In 1985 the stool Nkosuostool (Development stool) was created by Asantehene, Otumfuo Opoku Ware II, as a catalyst for development in Kumasi and beyond.[6]Since then the trend of bestowing the title of nkosuohene or hemaa on notable people in Ghana has gained prominence.[6]

In August 1995 he marked his silver jubilee celebration representing 25 years of his reign as Otumfuo Asantehene.[7][8]

Personal life and death[edit]

In 1945, he married another member of the royal family, Victoria. In 1996, Opoku Ware II's wife Victoria passed away.[4][5] On February 26, 1999, the King himself died.[1] He was given a state and Ashanti cultural funeral spanning four days of ceremonies blending both African and Christian traditions and buried on 25 March 1999 after a month of mourning at the Royal Mausoleum.[9][10][11] He was succeeded on April 26 by Otumfuo Nana Osei Tutu II after a period of mourning.[12][13] He was survived by his three children Nana Osei, Gifty (1950-2018) and Leslie Poku.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Portrait of Otumfuo Opoku Ware as a Young Man". www.ghanaweb.com. 9 March 1999. Retrieved 2021-01-14.
  2. ^ Refugees, United Nations High Commissioner for. "Refworld | Chronology for Ashanti in Ghana". Refworld. Retrieved 2021-01-14.
  3. ^ "The King Osei Tutu II". World Meets In Ghana. Retrieved 2021-01-14.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Walker, James: "Obituary: King Opoku Ware II of Ashanti". The Independent. March 5, 1999.
  5. ^ a b c d Kaufman, Michael T.:"Opoku Ware II, King of Asante, Is Dead at 89". New York Times, 4 March 1999.
  6. ^ a b Bob-Milliar, George M. (2009-10-01). "Chieftaincy, Diaspora, and Development: The Institution of Nksuohene in Ghana". African Affairs. 108 (433): 541–558. doi:10.1093/afraf/adp045. ISSN 0001-9909.
  7. ^ Sitting in state at the jubilee, the Asantehene Opoku Ware II surveys his royal court. 25th anniversary jubilee celebrations of Ghana's Asantehene, Opoku Ware II, Kumase, Ghana, retrieved 2021-01-14
  8. ^ Otumfuo Opoku Ware II: Silver Jubilee Anniversery, 1970-1995. Anansesem Publications. 1995.
  9. ^ "Elaborate funeral for Asantehene". www.ghanaweb.com. 18 March 1999. Retrieved 2021-01-14.
  10. ^ Ghana News Agency (29 March 1999). "Ashanti king buried, focus on successor". Modern Ghana. Retrieved 2021-01-14.
  11. ^ "Burial Rites Of The Late Otumfuo Opoku Ware I I on JSTOR". www.jstor.org. Retrieved 2021-01-14.
  12. ^ "Hail The New King". Africa News Service. 29 April 1999.
  13. ^ "The long and deep story of how Kweku Dua became Otumfuo Osei Tutu II". www.ghanaweb.com. 2019-04-04. Retrieved 2021-01-14.