Opinion

Daasebre Nana Kwaku Boateng II, Doyen Omanhene of New Juaben

It was July 1975, I was on admission at the central hospital, recuperating from coongenital hernia surgery. It was about 3.pm, when I observed a confident and somewhat, flamboyant guy, and two other men enter the male ward.

He was at the male ward to see a sick relative.
Visiting hours were 4-6 pm, and I was wondering how someone would be allowed by the nurses, to visit the ward at that hour.

I turned to the guy who was lying on the bed, next to mine and asked: “who is this guy?”.

He whispered to me: “The Omanhene”.
Nana Kwaku Boateng was wearing a blue jeans pants, white shirt and a red baseball cup, tall and handsome. I had, previously thought chiefs wore clothes only, when coming out from their palaces, so I never expected the Omanhene to be so fashionable. I could not help but admire, such an athletic looking Daasebre Omanhene.

Nana Kwaku Boateng was the seventh Daasebre Omanhene of New Juaben. He ascended the throne in 1962, following the death of the then New Juabeng Omanhene; Nana Akrasi earlier that year.

NEW JUABEN HISTORY.
New Juaben was established by Asante refugees from the second Asante Union-Juaben civil war.

By 1874, the 2 largest towns in the Asante-union were Kumasi and Juaben. ‘Sibling rivalry’ took over the relationship between Juaben and Kumasi.

After the Sir Garnet Wolseley war, Juaben together with Asokore, Affidwase and Nsuta, seceded from the Asante-union. While Kumasi was able to purchase arms from the coast, Juaben had no such chance, due to the partial ban on the sale of Arms, by the colonial government.

Having ran out of ammunitions and unable to repel the Asante Union militancy, the people of Juaben and their neighboring towns, led by three chiefs: Asafo Agyei (Juabenhene), Anka Akyeamfour (Asokorehene) and Yaw Omane (Afidwasehene), sought refuge at Akyem Abuakwa, for a second time, in October 1875

(They had, 43 years earlier, in 1832, fled to Kyebi, after being defeated by the Asante union in the first civil war.)

The huge refugee population was causing social menace. This pushed the government to find a way to regulate and define a settlement area for the refugees.

Governor Sanford Freeling (12/1876-05/1878), in early 1878, helped the settlers to secure a large virgin forest owned by the stool of Kukurantumi.

This land is now called New Juaben.
The settlers initially formed communities, based on their places of origin in Old juaben. Those from Asokore aggregated and formed Asokore community, those from Oyoko and Afidwase came together to build Oyoko and Afidwase communities, respectively. Other refugees settled at Suhyien, Jumapo, Akwadum, Okorase, Ada, Akwadum and Koforidua.

Not all the refugees reached and settled in New Juaben. We do have relatives who settled, along the way, at Obo Kwahu, Adasewase, Kankan(Sekyere) and Enyirensi.

Most of the refugees, including Amma Serwaah, the Juaben Queen-mother, returned to Asante Juaben, when “tempest went down”.

My mom had told me, on several occasions that, we originally came from Adansi Asokwa, and settled at Asante Afidwase, prior to the wars.

The substantive Juaben chief, Nana Asafo Agyei, had been exiled to Lagos, for his persistent attempts to restart the War with Kumasi, even as a refugee.

In 1879, Nana Asafo Boateng, ex-Kontihene of Asante juabeng, was tasked to look after all the settlers. Following the death of Nana Asafo Agyei in exile at Lagos, in 1880, Asafo Boateng became the first New Juaben Omanhene. He ruled New Juabeng for 33 years, until his death in 1913.

Daasebre Kwaku Boateng II, was the only Omanhene I knew, while growing up.

As “a show-boy”, lots of allegations and hearsays were spread about him. He was very young, when he ascended the throne. He ruled New Juaben for 28 years.

It was during his reign and with help from the indefatigable Colonel George Minyila, that Koforidua saw a transformation from an old town to a modern city, befitting the status of a regional capital in Ghana. He made lands available for schools and other socioeconomic developments, in Koftown. Adweso estates, Old estates, New Zongo all came into existence, through his initiatives.

In 1987, sister Gloria, a nurse at the central hospital, suggested to me to go and introduce myself, as a “Juaben Ba”, to the Omanhene at his palace. I spent about 1 hour with Daasebre, alone discussing trends and issues about Koftown. He offered me schnapps to drink, and I couldn’t refuse. I found him to be affable and very intelligent.

Daasebre’s Mom was the New Juaben hemaa, Nana Juaben Serwaah. The last time I saw Juaben serwaa was at the pioneer tobacco company/Embassy sponsored Miss Ghana beauty pageant and dance competition, in 1994, held at EREDEC Hotel.

As a dignitary, Juaben Serwaah was one of the invited guests who had to dance, during the musical interludes.

I happened to be one of the judges for the beauty pageant, that year. She was dancing towards my direction and I, being culturally naïve at that time, did not know how to respond. I sat in my chair and gave her the victory sign. She was none too impressed.

Living in Koftown, while growing up was great and priceless.

Entertainement was not lacking. I did not know how to dance, (and people always jeered and laughed at my dance). I was, therefore, not a fun of EREDEC. I went to EREDEC to watch cultural displays, listen to highlife and Christian music, and for other ceremonies where active participation was not required.

Reo cinema was showing Indian movies on Friday nights. My brother and I and other friends from my neighborhood, were at Reo cinema, every Friday night for movies. Movies like “shaft in Africa” have left permanent marks on my memory.

Koforidua offered lot of Culinary dishes. The popular Food spots included the Omotuo at EREDECs, Kenkey at Traffic Light, Kelewele near the commercial bank and Kande’s waakye.

While at Pojoss, Kande was bringing her waakye to sell at the school. Her waakye and stew were the best in town, and she never disappointed. I wondered how she prepared her stew. She would fry her red pepper in such a way that, it wasn’t spicy, but very delicious. Years later, when I began working at the central hospital, I continued to buy waakye from her, near the Ghana commercial bank. She always ‘heaped my plate’ with the Waakye, and I am forever, grateful.

One evening, I stopped in front of old GNTC building, (MELCOM area) to buy bread. I was coming from the hospital, on my way to Adweso. I kept my front windows down. I thought I would be able to keep an eye on my car, while buying the bread from a kiosk.

The bread seller, a male, did not have an immediate change for the money, I gave him. After much time delay and having engaged all my attention on the bread seller, I came back to my car, only to realize that my “Doctor’s bag”, that I had left on the front passenger seat, was gone. I had my stethoscope, a hair comb and a few other non-valuable items, in that bag.

Hindsight, I believe the bread seller saw and knew about the theft but he declined to offer me any help, a “corrupt bread seller”.

I was narrating the story about my missing bag to a group of people, when someone suggested: “Let the Omanhene know about it, you would get your bag back”. (I however, decided not to alert him, since there was no valuable item in that bag.) This was how powerful and influential, the Daasebre was.

Alex Sarkodie MD

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