#Kwahuandproud: An interview with Daasebre Akuamoah Agyapong II, Kwahuhene and President of the Kwahu Traditional Council

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Our Young King!

At a very young age of just 34 years, he was enstooled as the King of Kwahu. For someone who had received no grooming for the role whatsoever and who found out late in his life that he was even from a royal family, how has Kingship been for him, especially presiding over a dynamic, entrepreneurial, and successful group of people like the Kwahus? What is his vision and what would he want to be remembered for one day?

Well, we had a chat with Daasebre, who is also the Vice President of the Eastern Regional House of Chiefs to get answers to all our questions. It was indeed an interesting and insightful conversation. Have a read.

Interviewer: Give us a brief account of yourself-growing up, your educational background, essentially who you are.

Daasebre: So, I was born on 12th June 1983, and I was given the name Eugene Kwasi Asante Boadi. I am the first born, my parents had three children in all, and I am the only boy. Two girls come after me, twins, actually. I was born in Accra but lived in Suhum for a while with my grandparents. I was about 6 years when we left Suhum for Accra. I started schooling in Suhum, so I continued when we eventually came to Accra.

Education

So, the greater part of my growing up was in Accra. In Suhum I schooled at SOS then enrolled at Association International School in Accra where I did Kindergarten to JSS 3. Somewhere in 1998, I completed my BECE and then came to St. Peters in Kwahu on 5th February 1999. That was one of the few times I’d visited Kwahu then.

During the school selection process, I chose Presec, however, my dad who was an old boy of St. Peters encouraged me to choose it since I had not really stayed outside of Accra before. I was there for three years and I read business.

From there I got admission at Legon in 2002 to study business administration, accounting option. I completed in 2006 and then right after that joined KPMG as an Audit Associate and worked with them till about 2009. I then left to the USA to do my master’s in Finance and Investment Banking at Lincoln University after which I came back to Ghana in December 2010.

Work

Getting a job when I came back was quite challenging, however in May 2011, I secured a 6-month consultancy job with Goldfields Ghana Limited, Damang, specifically to do Asset Verification. Three months into the contract, one of their management staff-the capital accountant resigned and I was asked to take up the position.

I worked with them till 2013 when I left to start my own consultancy. Then in 2015, I got a consultancy job in Kumasi. That job was sub-contracted to me by my former boss at Goldfields. I worked on that job for about a year with one of the big firms there-Tonket, later they made me the financial controller there, however in early 2017, I resigned. The Kwahu entrepreneurial spirit in me would just not allow me to work for someone so I left and concentrated on my own business till my enstoolment.

Interviewer: You have quite a rich experience in the world of world, working for others, then for yourself…that is quite an exciting account of your life there.

Daasebre: It’s been rough as well, especially during my time in the US when I had to work different jobs to be able to pay my fees. It has not been that smooth. I started “any work,” during my time at Legon. We would go and hustle in the States and UK and then buy ourselves all the flashy things just as any youth will do.

But, I had quite a strict dad who had worked for everything he had and so he was quite keen on directing me on the right path. He was instrumental in my starting my ACCA whilst in legon level 200 and so by the time I was done with University, I had just four papers to write, I did that and then chartered as an accountant, so I am a Chartered Accountant. Currently though, I am reading law, so if I go through it successfully, then I will become a lawyer too.

Interviewer: So Daasbre, how has Kingship affected your private life?

Daasebre: Now, that question you asked has drawn spontaneous laughter from my people here. You know, I took up this position at a very young age. In fact, I was enstooled as the king just 5 days after my 34th birthday, so as you can imagine, my private life is virtually non-existent. I am the very outgoing type, I loved outings and having fun back then.

I remember during my enstoolment when I was being counselled by the elders, I was told that I cannot move with my friends as I did in the past and neither can I go to just any place at will. So, I am a “young old man now”. I am always indoors and even my kids do not get to see me as often as they would like. I always have to move with people too, it is quite challenging, I must say, but I am adjusting and enjoying every bit of it. It is a call to serve.

To harmonise cultural diversity, Daasebre has enstooled a Zongohene to oversee activities of all Zongos in Kwahu

Interviewer: So how were you groomed for this and how prepared were you when the time came?

Daasebre: I was never groomed, because I was never told when I was growing up that I was from a royal family. My parents brought us up just like any well-meaning parents would, they were very strict and instilled a lot of disciplined in us. In fact, it was around 2004, 2005 when I was in Legon that a friend rather told me that I was a royal. I was surprised and so I asked my mum, she merely brushed it off and that was the end of that discussion.  I believe they did not want to me to be swollen headed.

The next time it came up was when my uncle Daasebre Akuamoah Boateng II passed away, then my mum informed me that I am eligible to be the Kwahuhene. My sisters and I flatly declined and even joked over it, but as its obvious now I am the king. But of course, the most important learning from this is that if I had known, maybe I would have participated in Kwahu and its developments more enthusiastically then. However, I believe my parents wanted me to have a “normal” childhood and working life as anyone else. On hindsight, it helped me a lot.

Interviewer: Now, let us move to Kwahu, you preside over the entire Kwahu Kingdom, what would you say is your vision, say in the next 5 years.

Daasebre: That is a good question and quite loaded too. First off, I count myself lucky to be in this position although its challenging as I’ve said already so the vision is for Kwahu to be the best in every facet of life, education, business, academia, etc. and indeed more so in academia where others are surprised to see Kwahus excelling because we are rather known to be very astute and successful traders.

We are very hardworking and industrious too; what I think we seem to be lacking and should work on very seriously is unity so that we can get things done. Since I was enstooled, I have met with various key Kwahu groups, communities, and towns to discuss areas of concern and mutual interest and also put together a development plan. I have also instituted an advisory board with representation from the various towns and they have a development plan that they are supposed to work with.

This will ensure that development will cover all areas-healthcare, agric, jobs, business, etc so we can develop Kwahu holistically. Because indeed if we want Kwahu to develop and work, we need to work with a master plan with clear KPIs, like any well-functioning conglomerate or business concern does. For instance, we are looking at building a university someday, we have vast lands here and should be able to push Agric very aggressively so we can feed ourselves and the country then export the excess abroad.

A case in point is an AFDB report that was put together by using Afram Plains as a case study. It was what resulted in Afram Plains being referred to as the food basket of Ghana. So that resource is available even as a starting point. So, there is a lot that we can and must do to put Kwahu on the map.

When you take tourism also, I do not know which traditional area or region can compare their tourist sites to Kwahu, we have so many amazing tourist sites and attractions, yet we have not been able to fully harness it because of this lack of cohesion and unity that I spoke about earlier.

We have Bryan Acheampong for Abetifi, for instance, who has put up a very wonderful hotel, there are other guys who are also coming up with other hotels and investing in the service industry, but they need to be encouraged and given all the support there is so they can excel.

If we have a good plan, we can offer very good tourism packages, look at even our weather, it is comparable to Switzerland and part of Europe. -so people can stay here for a week sightseeing, holidaying, enjoying good food, riding on the Afram River, visiting our caves and mountains, bird watching, paragliding, enjoying our bustling markets etc.

So, in the next five years, my main vision is to unite Kwahu-with a common purpose of development. The individual towns Nkwatia, Obo, Abene, Abetifi, Pepease etc cannot be stand alone and succeed, but rather it should be about a concerted Kwahu. Because even in introducing ourselves to others, we identify ourselves first as Kwahus before we mention the Kwahu town that we hail from. So, we need to work together before we can do anything significant and be taken seriously.

Personally, I am a Kwahu and a proud one and wherever, I find myself I will not reject a Kwahu but rather defend them in Ghana or the world out there, I believe the name Kwahu can be branded, there’s already a very positive goodwill about being a Kwahu and we ought to enhance it the more. We have good schools here, a town like Abetifi has every level of education from basic, SHS, teacher training to a university, we have some of the most beautiful country homes, our people are very warm and welcoming etc. and infact it is not impossible to even live in Kwahu here and work in Accra someday.

I used to commute two hours to work when I was in the US and from Kwahu to Accra is just about the same. So really, all that is needed is good roads, a good rail system, an airport, etc. so Kwahu people can even live here, contribute meaningfully to development here whilst still doing other businesses in Accra and elsewhere. It is very possible, very possible. We have an ambitious agenda and goal but without unity we cannot achieve anything.

Daasebre with some members of the Kwahu Professionals Network

Interviewer: Let us backtrack a bit Daasebre, what was the state of Kwahu when you were enstooled, I believe you are building on that so kindly share some more details with us on it.

Daasebre: Ok, I was enstooled after the demise of my uncle Daasebre Akuamoah Boateng II, 2017, after some protracted litigations. And I must say the vacuum really helped me because those years were used to groom me before my ascension.  And unity like I said was the main challenge then and still is now, thankfully we’re more united now, but it can be better. I would want Kwahu’s in workplaces to help their own and offer them every support they can. In essence I buy into the KPN mantra of “Helping a kwahu, to help a kwahu”.

We need to rally behind our Kwahu kinsmen who are doing exploits and great things both in Kwahu here and beyond.

Because even politically not being united does not augur well for us. When you are not united, you cannot speak with one voice to even put across your concerns and get the needed development for the Kwahu area. So, unity is key and that is what we must work at.

Current MP for Mpraeso, OPK exchanges pleasantries with the King as a member of Daasebre Adae’s team

Interviewer: On this same issue of unity, how does it pan out with you and your sub-chiefs, do you get the needed support for your initiatives and vision?

Daasebre: definitely, I do, initially though some of them were not too comfortable with the new energies and new plans but now, gradually we are getting their buy-in and things are looking better.  This is mainly due to the success of the advisory board that I instituted because we consult with them individually on ideas, projects, and initiatives so that by the time we meet as a traditional council, we are all on the same page and progress is easier and smoother.

It is working quite well, last year for instance I went to the Afram Plains to celebrate Akwasidae with my people there as a way of letting them know that they are very much a part of Kwahu. The interactions were good, and everyone was happy, so gradually, the new ideas being introduced are being embraced and they are working.

Daasebre giving his remarks during a visit by the President, Nana Akufo-Addo

Interviewer: Kwahu has become synonymous with Easter, but Daasebre, would you say it has helped us in any way?

Daasebre: The answer is yes and no. for the yes, one of the ways is the fact that it has projected and promoted Kwahu’s name in Ghana and beyond. But my no, has to do with the gains- have we gained anything at all from it? I am not so sure. Some have even suggested that we cash in on the traffic generated by the huge numbers of people who come here by collecting tolls that can be used for specific developmental projects.

So really, I can’t say that we have gained much from it considering how long Easter has been celebrated in Kwahu. Perhaps just the signature chants of Kwahu ooo Kwahu, which although has projected our name is not significant to be considered an achievement in that respect. So, we need to repackage it so we can own it and have substantial benefits from it. In fact, it should not just be about Easter but something that can be beneficial to us all year round.

Inspection of guards at the Forifori Camp Prison during a visit to the Afram Plains

Interviewer: Covid has obviously affected Easter celebrations in Kwahu, last year being a case in point-What is the plan for this year?

Daasebre: It has had dire consequences on it, no doubt. We have met on it as a traditional council and the decision is that we put it on hold till next year. Even when we look at it from the health perspective we need to hold on, because if people get infected, even Atibie hospital cannot manage it as it is currently undergoing renovation.

So of course, there will be no public gatherings, but it is a time for families to reunite and infact history has it that most young people used it as an opportunity to get their life partners. So, Kwahu natives will definitely come home. This year’s Easter falls on an adae, Sunday is Akwasidae so I will sit on Saturday and Sunday to receive guests and family however it’ll be scaled down. I also encourage my people to organise small family gatherings and take stock of their lives and plan for the year ahead. The jams and reveling can return next year.

Interviewer: Whilst wrapping up, is there anything that you do as a past time and any advice you would like to give the young people?

Daasebre: Well, I had quite a bit of fun when growing up, but one of the things my dad did that I have developed interest in now and which I do very assiduously is farming, he had a 20-acre mango farm that he took me to all the time to work in.

So, when I became a king, I decided to continue with it so I could engage myself in something productive during my down times. So, I had that discussion with my chiefs, and we started farming, at least if for nothing at all to provide jobs for the youth. Initially I did not like it that much but now it has become my passion; I currently have a 200-acre farm that I spend most of my time on. Last year I cultivated 100 acres of watermelon and other crops. This year I am doing maize and other crops on a large scale.

A chief swearing an oath to Daasebre at Abene

Interviewer: Now, let us talk about Kwahu Professionals Network, what do you think about the network and its vision and how can you support us?

Daasebre: I was part of the founding members, the ideation and all, and of course I remain committed and ever ready to help push the agenda once it is towards the development of Kwahu. I am youthful and I think that makes it very easy. We need to work together to the admiration of the older Kwahu generation so they will also buy into the vision. So, I believe in the vision and I remain hopeful that KPN will be a success.

Interviewer: Daasebre, thanks a lot for your time; this has been a very insightful interview and we will come home more often to play our part as Kwahu natives.

 

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