Final Journey: Denkyirahene Goes To Baamu
(Day 7) Activities : Burial Rites Of Odeefuo Boa-Amponsem III [IMAGES & VIDEOS]
Prior to being King , Odeefuo was known as John Kwame Amofa Appiah. John Kwame Amofa was born on 11th November, 1923 at Jukwa to Odehyie Abena Tweneboaa of the royal family and Nana Kwesi Appiagyei of Kwadwomfie.
His parents died when he and his siblings Akosua Babah Safori were still tender. He was therefore raised by relatives. From 1940 to 1948, he attended Roman Catholic School at Dunkwa-on-Offin, completing his Gold Coast Primary School Leaving examination with distinction.
In 1949, immediately thereafter, John Amofa enrolled at St, Augustine’s College in Cape Const, Where he obtained the Cambridge School Certificate in 1952, At St. Augustine’s, apart from the astute academic laurels, he applied himself seriously in sport and music. His compatriots remember him as a footballer playing at defense and a school choir leader.
He had a short stint as a pupil teacher at the Dunkwa Roman Catholic School from 1953 to 1954, but he preferred to work with his hand, and so he proceeded to the Railway Technical School in Takoradi where he acquired a Competence Certificate in August 1954. He got employment at the Ghana Railway Corporation and was stationed at Assin Fosu as a Railway Technical Staff Grade lil. The promising young engineer whom colleagues described as “intelligent and bold, with an affable nature which endeared him to all the junior and senior officers at his station” soon had to leave his chosen career to respond to the call by the elders of Denkyiraman. For the humble diligent Railway Engineer was also a royal and indeed the heir apparent to the great Bankam stool. He was 32 years then.John Amofa Appiah succeeded his uncle Nana Owusu Bori Il as the 25th King of Denkyira.
He was installed on the 14th of February 1955 with the stool name Odeefuo Boa Amponsem Ili. There was great hope and anticipation as the Boa Amponsem name on the stool connoted a spirit of significant growth of the Kingdom. Cognizant of his deficiency in public management, the young king journeyed in June 1955 to the United States of America to pursue further studies in Public Administration at the Lincoln University. He returned in September 1957 after his diploma to assume his duty as Denkyirahene in independent Ghana.
From 1959 and 1960, Odeefuo Boa Amponsem Ili embarked on a comprehensive tour throughout his Kingdom, trekking all the challenging roads to visit all the settlements, meeting with chiefs, elders and the people. This personal interaction with the new King was greeted as a welcome change by many citizens and this helped to mobilize them towards unity. During the tour of Denkyira, Odeefuo identified and took notes of many of his subjects concerns and suggestions for peace in the Kingdom. He immediately resourced his Courts at Jukwa and Dunkwa and facilitated fasttracking the resolution of as many disputes as possible, continually instituting measures to prevent the occurrence and rejuvenation of such disputes. This single action immediately increased and boosted the people’s confidence in their King and established his position as a reliable leader indeed.
John Kwame Amofa Appiah was born into tradition but his Father Nana Appiagyei and brother Chief Gyabrah were among the first Catholics baptized at Jukwa. Odeefuo was thus born into a Christian family and even when the father died at an early age, his Uncle Denkyirahene Nana Owusu Bori II took him to Dunkwa Catholic School. He showed immediate interest n church music and he learned music composition and conducting. At school, he became the choir leader and on vacations was very active in building church choirs at Dunkwa.
In the early 1980s he relocated to Jukwa at a time when the Catholic Church there was facing many challenges with the town’s active youth having relocated to Nigeria to seek economic prospects. Odeefuo worked with his chief linguist under the guidance of Rev. Fr. Nketsia and revived the Catholic Church in Lower Denkyira. He is known to have personally moved from station to station mobilizing the youth to form choirs and facilitating other liturgical activities.Eventually, he was appointed the President of Catholic Choir Associations under the Fourth Ridge Parish.
To reverse the brain drain, the young king facilitated employment for some of the Catholic youth in the government and large private commercial farms so they would remain within Denkyira and support church activities. Eventually the Catholic Church re-blossomed at Lower Denkyira with choirs, youth and women’s groups at Jukwa, Krobo, Abrafo, Mfuom, Bremang, Watreso, Ankaako, Wawase, Frame and others.
Odeefuo could not hide his joy over this huge sense of accomplishment especially when the Jukwa station was declared a Parish by the Archbishop of Cape Coast. Yes! Truly Odeefuo was born into tradition but became a devout Catholic. On the centenary celebration of the Catholic Church in Lower Denkyira, he was recognized by the Roman Catholic Church and was awarded with Membership of the Order of St. Gregory the Great by Pope Francis I.
ODEEFUO & EDUCATION
Odeefuo’s passion for education is well celebrated in Denkyiraman: whenever he visited any town in the kingdom, the schools were his focus, after his first call at the palace. He abhorred truancy among the pupils, holding parents directly responsible. He inspired and motivated Denkyira youth to pursue education. In 1966, he was made member of the Board of Governors for Dunkwa Training College and Dunkwa Secondary School (which was later renamed Boa Amponsem Secondary School). Odeefuo moved his seat from Dunkwa to Jukwa in the mid-1980s.
He started rebuilding his new capital by putting together a team of eminent educationists in the persons of J.K Anokye, J.K Kumah and A.K Mensah – to facilitate the establishment of a junior secondary school and two model primary schools. By the early 1990s, Jukwa could boast of the Jukwa Senior High School, the Jukwa Catholic Primary and Junior Secondary and DA Primary and Junior Secondary Schools. His final attempt at completing his educational vision was the establishment of a Denkyira Education Fund to provide sponsorship for brilliant but needy children of Denkyira in 1999 .
Unfortunately, ill health thwarted this effort. It took another 4) Yermts fig the Fund to be established in 2019 by the Denkyira Traditional Cnnwt pty dedicated the large span of land between Dunkwa and Mfuom to become an enclave for educational and sporting facilities. His attention to Jukwa’s physical development was unequalled.
In 1997, for obvious reasons, Odeefuo enrolled in the University of CapeCoast , History Department to study for his Master of Arts degree in History.
His thesis was on the topic ‘The Odwira Festival of Denkyira’, Ill health however truncated this ambition in 2000, but the years on campus yielded initial manuscripts that will certainly add to the annals of Denkyira, Akan and Ghana history, His age then and his enthusiasm for education to educate and to be educated characterized him as a very liberal person.
ODEEFUO AND SOCIO – ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Odeefuo Boa Amponsem Ill was a man driven by three distinct desires: to lead his people and promote the tradition of Denkyira, to contribute to the development of Ghana, and to promote the growth of the Catholic Church. As a man of his people and his tradition, he related very well with his chiefs, the “gyaase” team at the palaces at Dunkwa and Jukwa, and even directly with his subjects. A typical morning at Odeefuo’s palace witnessed a retinue of people waiting to engage the King, discussing with him their issues. He supervised his chiefs to arbitrate cases and judge fairly. Odeefuo recognized early the economic difficulties facing his people, and so he made available land for the establishment of State Farms as well as lands for cocoa production. While it created job opportunities for citizens, it also supported the development of many private cocoa and oil palm farms. It changed the economy and nature of Denkyira. Towns such as Dunkwa, Jukwa, Diaso and Ayanfori established weekly markets in Central Region, becoming major extension centers which provided many agro-economic centers, Till today, cocoa and oil palm form the bedrock of the Denkyira economy.
His lobbying skills brought government and key private institutions to Dunkwa. COCOBOD, Social Security and National Insurance Trust, Ghana Water and Sewerage Corporation, and many other public institutions established their regional offices at Dunkwa. Odeefuo also developed close ties with the Town and Country Department at Dunkwa and even physically accompanied their experts to the field on their duties to ensure that the town was well layout.
Mining may have been an old economic activity in Denkyira, but because of challenges to the environment and particularly to the sacred Offin River, Odeefuo used a combination of civil and traditional rules to manage the ecology. It was only after ill health distracted him that galamsey creeped in and eventually took a centre stage in Denkyira, resulting in the desecration of the Offin River. When news of the river’s pollution reached the king, he grieved.
He worked tirelessly Co establish the weekly market and the Agricultural Extension Office both seen today as important epitaphs. Given that his immediate predecessor abdicated the Bankam stool, the young king had the onerous task of reuniting Denkyira and mobilizing its citizens towards the development of the Kingdom.
ODEEFUO’S STATE’S PERSONALITY
Under the PNDC, again Odeefuo employed his diplomatic acumen to join a group of nationalists to bring the country back to civilian rule. By 1985, the Chairman of the PNDC was often a guest at the king’s palace, many times unofficial.
When a delegation of the Denkyira Traditional Council paid President Rawlings a visit in 2016, he revealed that he named an armoured vehicle of the Ghana Army ‘Odeefuo Boa Amponsem because the King was brave,frank and patriotic.
In 1985 he accepted to be a member of the Central Regional Consultative Council.
After the publication of the report of D. F Annan Committee in 1991 ,he was appointed a member of the National Constituent Assembly for the drafting of the 4th Republican Constitution in 1992.
He was noted as the key advocate for Article 276 which prevents chiefs from participating in active party politics. Upon his enstoolment in 1955, Odeefug Boa Amponsem Ill was made the President of Denkyira Traditional Council and subsequently a member of the Regional House of Chiefs.
He became an active member of the Central Regional House of Chiefs when he returned from his, studies in the U.S.
He was elected by the Central Regional House of Chiefs as one of the representatives to the National House of Chiefs in 1969 where he remained until 2015.
In 1973 he was elected as the President of the Central Regional House of Chiefs and he served two terms until 1979. From 1973 to 1979, he was appointed Chairman of the Select Research Committee at the National House of Chiefs, while at the same time chairing the Regional committee at the Central Regional House of Chiefs. Having served the House of Chiefs for four decades, Odeefuo was deservedly elected the Vice President of the National House of Chiefs in 1995 and eventually as the President in 1999, Boa Amponsem Ill’s ascendency to the presidency occurred at a critical time as two important events were unraveling: First, the critical civilian election after 19 years of military rule, and the change of guard to the NPP government led by President Agyekum Kuffour (who traces his ancestry to the royal house of Denkyira). Odeefuo’s job was to ensure a peaceful environment for both events in 1994 and 2001.
The second key event was when his dear friend Otumfuor Opoku Ware Il of Asante joined the ancestors. The fitting burial and enstoolment of Otumfuor Osei Tutu Il demanded the highest tact, diplomacy, and wisdom. Odeefuo rose to the occasion as the President of the National House of Chiefs, riding for six hours in a palanquin from Apromso to Manyhia in Kumasi.
Much earlier, when it was mooted at the National House of Chiefs that the offices of the House of Chiefs be transferred from Kumasi to Accra, Odeefuo formed a committee that opposed and eventually prevented the move. This tightened the historical ties between Asante and Denkyira and stretched to cover the entirety of the Akan group at the House. It also built a strong friendship between him and then president Odeneho Oduro Nimapau of Esumeja.
One of the many significant things Odeefuo accomplished during his tenure at the National House of Chiefs was the promotion of traditional festivals and other positive cultural observances. He travelled far and wide throughout the country to facilitate the settlement of chieftaincy disputes and the removal of impediments hindering the celebration of traditional festivals. He largely succeeded in these pursuits and the dividend was the huge rise in tourism revenue to Ghana. Odeefuo personally nurtured many chiefs in the Central Region in particular and nationally as well. He facilitated their elevation to paramount chief status. At the turn of the millennium, the nation deemed it appropriate to say ‘Ayekoo’ to her favorite son by conferring on the Denkyirahene Odeefuo Boa Amponsem III the highest civilian honor in Ghana: Member of the Order of the Volta (MV Volta).
Alas, he fell ill the following year (2001). Ill health did not slow him down though: many of his peer chiefs and other traditional leaders continued to throng Jukwa palace to wish him well ana indeed solicit his counsel. Even on his sick bed, he continued to work, advocating for the establishment of a development advisory council for the local governments chaired by a paramount chief.
SOME MILESTONES CATALOGUE OF POSITIONS & AFFILIATIONS HELD BY ODEEFUO
COLONIAL ERA: Member, Standing Committee of the erstwhile Joint Provincial Council (JPC)
1966: Member, Political Committee of the National Liberation Council (N.L.C)
1966: Member, Regional Executive Board of Center for Civic Education
1966: Member, Board of Governors, Boa Amponsem Secondary School
1966: Member, Board of Governors, Dunkwa Training College
1968: Patron, Central Regional Sports Council
1971: Member, National Family Planning Council
1955-2015: Member, Central Region House of Chiefs
1969-2015: Member, National House of Chiefs
1973 – 1979: President, Central Region House of Chiefs
1970 – 1972: Chairman, Board of Directors, New Times Corporation
1970 – 1972: Member, Central Regional Committee, National Service Corps
1976 – 1978: Member, Central Regional and National Charter Committee
1973 – 1979: Chairman, Select Research Committee, National House of Chiefs
1973 – 1979: Chairman, Select Research Committee, Central Region House of Chiefs
1968: Member, National Constituent Assembly (Drafters of the 1969 Constitution)
1970 – 1979: Member, Standing Committee, National House of Chiefs
1978: Member, National Constituent Assembly (Drafters of the 1979 Constitution)
1978: President, Central Co-operative Builders Society, Cape Coast
1978 – 1984: President, Ghana Cooperative Council
1978 – 1983: Chairman, Interim Management Committee, Ghana Cooperative Bank
1985: Central, Region Consultative Council 1991: Member, National Consultative Assembly (Drafters of the 1992 Constitution)
1995 – 1998: President, Central Region House of Chiefs : VicePresident, National House of Chiefs
1999: President, National House of Chiefs
1999: Member, Council of State
1999: Member, Order of the Volta (MV), Civic Division
Odeefuo Photo Gallery