When development meets tradition – The Ashanti in Ghana
His Majesty Akyempimhene Oheneba Adusei Poku, Vice-King of the Ashanti
When development meets tradition – The Ashanti in Ghana / Akyempimhene Oheneba Adusei Poku, Vice-King of the Ashanti | f.ize | Forum Internationale Zusammenarbeit für Nachhaltige Entwicklung
11.05.2009, 19:00 Uhr
GTZ-Haus Berlin, Reichpietschufer 20
While most societies in the Western world have settled in democracy, market economy, nucleus families and other so called modern social structures, the same is not true for a large part of societies in Africa. There, alternative concepts like extended family and ethnicity continue to play an important role parallel to the official state structures.
For a long time elements of traditional societies were considered just unwelcome remains of past time, which would vanish sooner or later as the development of the countries sped up. The Berlin Conference in 1884/5 drew the colonial border in Africa (which for the most part still remain today) regardless of preexistent social structures. After colonial independence many African countries were ruled by modernist regimes, which tried to erase the traces of those social structures.
However, many of the so called traditional structures persisted and established themselves next to modern institutions like the state and the government. Furthermore they are nowadays perceived more positively. Cultural heritage is today seen as a relevant factor for the successful development of countries.
Ghana is a case in point. Being among the economically and politically more successful African states, Ghana is a country which managed the transition of colonial state structures into a well-functioning modern society. The kingdom of the Ashanti, which is currently headed by Asantehene (King of Ashanti) Otumfuo Osei Tutu II works together with the state institutions to ensure the successful Ghanaian development.
His Majesty Otumfuo Osei Tutu II put the challenge of his position into his own words, when he spoke in Lagos, Nigeria: “Africa will develop faster if its leaders, intellectuals and the people rid themselves of the mindset that traditional institutions must be relegated to the background in favor of Euro-centric and western ways of thinking.”
Those words strongly question current models of international cooperation, which very often carry the social values of the donor countries and especially in the way African societies are dealt with. Therefore a number of issues can be addressed in this regard, e.g.:
Which way of development should be taken by African societies? How can African leaders, intellectuals and peoples confront 'western ways of thinking'?
How can the different levels of state and the social structures existing parallel to it be integrated so that the official government can benefit from the legitimacy provided by the latter without risking ethnic competition?
How do the values promoted by and represented in the institution of the king or a chief go together with concepts of liberty, equality and human rights?
Economic systems in traditional societies may be based on values which run counter to a modern market economy. How can those become a basis for the participation in the global market without destroying the social value they carry?
His Majesty Akyempimhene Oheneba Adusei Poku is the vice-king of the Ashanti people who form approximately 14% of the Ghanaian population and also represent significant groups in neighboring countries. While not being part of the official government himself some of his people hold high positions in the Ghanaian government. His role is to give advice to and support for the Ashanti in the crucial decisions they may face.
Together with His Majesty we want to discuss some of the above mentioned issues. E.g. how does he perceive his role? How does he try to preserve the culture and the values of the Ashanti and do those stand in contrast to modern ideas of society? Which influence can he exceed on critical decisions regarding the economic, social and cultural development in Ghana that will also affect the Ashanti?
The f.ize discussion evening will take place on Monday 11 May at 7:00 pm in the GTZ Haus Berlin, Reichspietschufer 20 (near Potsdamer Platz). As always the number of participants is limited to 12 people. If you are interested in participating in the discussion evening please send your application through our website until 6 May 2009.
The discussion will be held in English.